What better way to spend a Saturday morning, then joining fellow comrades in protesting the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan?  This is my 7th anti-war march, and though I have seen the crowds shrink from nearly 20,000 to 5,000, I am still deeply inspired by the crowds of students, immigrants, women, workers, children, families, and people of color that continue to come out.

Lissett Lazo

During the march, I talked to Lissett Lazo.  She is a 19 year old political organizer with an organization called the Labor Community Strategy Center.  She goes to Santa Monica College and is studying Sociology and History.  I was drawn to her by her passionate energy as she led a drum and chant group of strong women, Korean elders, Chicano men, mothers, students, white allies, LBGT, and Aztec Dancers.  She held her first high chanting, “From Iraq to Palestine, Occupation is a crime!”

I was able to talk to her after the anti-war march and ask her a few questions:

Me: Why did you come out to the anti-war march?
Lissett: I went because I think that it is absolutely necessary to come out and support this event.  There is a sense in communities of color that because we have this new black president all of our problems (including this war) are going to be solved, when in fact Obama has not done anything to end the war that has been going on for 7 years now. He has actually installed private contractors that do not have to abide by any humyn rights principles, which makes it even more dangerous for the civilians in the areas that the U.S. is occupying.  So by coming out, it is my way of pressuring the government to stop the mass killing of innocent people and to start restoring those resources [being the money spent on the war] into our country
Me: That’s awesome.  Being a young student and activist, how do you feel when you see other students from elementary to high school at the march?
Lissett: It makes me so happy to see young people that are being raised in this counter culture that is resisting this rape and violence culture.  So many of us, including myself, were raised in a bubble where we do not even know about these issues, so seeing youth exposed and their consciousness being challenged and transformed is very exciting.
Me: I’m doing a blog based on inspiration in my life.  What inspires you?
Lissett: Being around people who -even if it is for one day- are fighting to end this matrix of domination. Doing the work of an organizer can be really challenging emotionally, so coming to a march like this, where hundreds of people aspire to reach the same goal as me is a really good feeling and it motivates me to keep going.
Me: What steps do you take in your daily life to keep on doing the work you are doing?
Lissett: I try to proactively practice a lifestyle of resistance where I am constantly seeking to dismantle the racist, patriarchal, classist, etc that I have been socialized to believe. I reach out to find the facts, I inform my peers about it, I try to be conscious of my role as a queer womyn of color as i work towards being a good example to other womyn like me
Me:  Is it hard to stay so resilient?

Lissett: Yah.  It’s hard to find a balance for me because I want to be able to do as much as i can but I don’t want to burn myself out either. The best thing that i have found helpful is being in cultural spaces where people of color are celebrated. I am also invested in my spirituality because ultimately this is where my strength comes- the spirit of those before me and the ones after me that keep me resilient.

Interpretive dancers portraying their vision of war's destruction to communities.

Many indigenous groups came out to relay a shared history of war and occupation

A wide array of groups came out to show their support and relay their own personal message of how they feel the war is affecting their communities.

“Get up, stand up; Stand up for your rights.” Bob Marley