Anti-Chief Protest Express Concerns

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I know you believe you understand what
you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize
that what you heard is not what I meant.
This quote truly sums up the nature of most
public conversations about ‘the chief.’
I’ve been actively involved in fighting
against the mascot for several years now,
and I’ve been to more rallies, protests, and
marches than I can count. So, it was without
any particular enthusiasm that I headed
over Saturday to yet another protest outside
of the Assembly Hall, where Students
for Chief Illiniwek staged an event titled
‘The Next Dance’. A newly selected ‘chief’
was slated to continue the decades old U of
I tradition of playing Indian, albeit this
time supposedly without official sanction,
given that the University had been forced
to ‘retire’ the chief back in 2007.
My friend Allyson and I had decided to
document the protest. Now, as I said, I’ve
been doing this sort of thing for years, so
you’d think I’d be a bit jaded about the
whole process. But I have to say that I don’t
remember ever feeling such a thrill run
through me as I did when we made came
upon the fiery group of protesters who
were stationed near the front doors of the Hall. They were organized, energetic, and
disciplined, and it seemed to me that the
chants never stopped going the entire time
we were there. But beyond their enthusiasm
which was instantly infectious, the
most exciting part for me personally was
the sea of new faces! This was an entirely
new group of people who clearly intended
to stay right where they were, until they’d
made a difference. And they did!
United, we were there on that cold Saturday
afternoon to fight an ideology and a
practice that we believe is wrong. The indefensible
nature of the pro-chief position is
such that they, instead, saw fit only to
attack us as people. Yet, despite the insults
they hurled, I guarantee that no one left the
event without being forced to reconsider
their position on the chief. Despite their
entrenched views, they had to think about
what we were saying and what they were
doing. And if the intensity of their hostility
is any indication, our mere presence made
them feel very, very uncomfortable. And
that, to me, is a big success, and one that I
was very proud to be a part of.

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