Michael Sullivan

Photographer
    
National Student Walkout
Location: Madison, WI
Nationality: American
Biography: Michael Sullivan is a humanistic photographer located in Madison, Wisconsin. As a child, Michael recalls there being Polaroid and Instamatic camera’s used to capture special moments and every day happenings. Seeing his youth preserved in a... MORE
Public Story
National Student Walkout
Copyright Michael Sullivan 2024
Date of Work Oct 2023 - Oct 2023
Updated Nov 2023
Topics Activism, Genocide, Human Rights, Journalism, Oppression, Personal Projects, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, Protests, Religion, Reportage, Social Justice, US Politics
Summary
Photos from a "National Student Walkout" at the University of Wisconsin Madison in support of Palestine.

Madison, WI

10/25/2023

Today there was a student walkout at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Students gathered in Library Mall around the now closed for winter fountain, between Memorial Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society buildings. A group of about hundred encircled the fountain to listen to speakers and to chant messages of support for the people of Palestine, and express disgust for government leaders support, especially from president Joe Biden, for Israel’s all-out assault on Gaza, its people (Hamas or not), and with what appears to be a goal of making extinct those who live there.

Speakers pointed out the atrocities happening to the Palestinian people, comparing it to genocide perpetrated on other disenfranchised peoples over the centuries. Many in attendance were from some of the populations that have had genocide attempted against them and their ancestors; with the desire to wipeout people from certain races by white nationalists in the US and around the world still occurring today.

I talked with a Jewish student who was angry with the rhetoric from the speakers at the event, perpetuating the trope of Jews caring only about money. In addition, it was suggested that Jewish student groups should not be allowed to continue on campus. This concerns me, as does any censorship, because where will it stop? As this was being espoused by the speaker, I was looking at the Red Gym where the multicultural centers are located for many underrepresented groups on campus. This prompted me to wonder, what if the person speaking said we should get rid of those organizations? I’m certain that wouldn’t be cheered by the group of people gathered here today. So why is it okay to suggest organizations for Jewish students should be disbanded?

Another disconcerting moment was when a speaker praised Hamas for treating those they kidnapped well and with respect. They went in to say this good treatment doesn’t happen to Palestinians captured by Israel. While the latter certainly is not okay, should we be praising a terrorist group who kidnapped innocent people be praised for their treatment of those they kidnapped in the first place?

I am against the assault of Hamas on Israel. I am against the assault on Palestinian women and children by the Israeli’s. Killing a people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or overall identity is wrong and there is no justification for it. An ‘Eye for an Eye’ mentality is not a way either side can win. The last thing this country and world needed was more war to further divide the global community, of which we are all apart of, and upon whom we all rely on for our survival as a species, whether we each believe it or not, it’s the truth. Thus, chanting ‘Free Palestine’ should not bring ire and hatred to those who espouse this, and do not wish to see children being slaughtered. Nor should it be a battle cry in support the annihilation of Jews by Hamas. As is the case in history, it is the governments who are making the decisions to attack, not the average people on the street being affected by the bombings, kidnappings, and slaughter.

My conversation with the Jewish student provided him with an opportunity to share his frustrations in the moment and to not walk away as angry as he was when arrived. Listening to him and to the speakers made it clear to me: what is happening is not black and white, it’s gray. I would argue that the gray area is being ignored in conversations. The gray area is where the majority of life is lived, at least from my perspective. And of course my perspective, while somewhat-educated, is still white, male, and privileged.

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National Student Walkout by Michael Sullivan
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