When I was in high school, a brilliant teacher told me that the root of solving most of the world's problems lies in establishing equality for women, and to this day I believe very strongly in that. My focus narrowed to the Middle East after I read Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, a book I think should be on all of our to-do lists lately. So as I started hearing news about the elections in Iran, I became completely absorbed in it. I was praying that Mousavi, with his female-friendly rhetoric, would come out victorious.
Upon the announcement of the 'results,' I was outraged, but fascinated at the role that women were playing in the following protests. Their uprising threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the regime itself. I was obsessed with the images and reports of women taking to the streets and urging men to do the same. And then, I read about Neda, a woman who was shot in the street as she approached a protest. A bystander had filmed her death and managed to spread it through viral means, despite the country's restrictions on the Internet and foreign reporting. By all accounts Neda, while sympathetic to the protests, had not been involved with any. Her senseless murder started to become the face of the growing revolution.
It took me a while to muster up the courage to watch the video of Neda's death, and when I did that was it for me. I cried for a half an hour, partly because of how terrible it was, and partly because of how helpless I felt over here, at my age, in my position. I hated sitting on my couch feverishly reading the latest updates and not being able to do the slightest damn thing about it. In the next few days I started seeing signs reading 'Neda is my daughter, I have one just like her,' and I couldn't take it anymore.
I made the shirt because I am just like Neda, we all are.
I made the shirt because the only real difference between us is that I can make a shirt like this, and wear it in public, while she gets shot to death in the street just for being young, female and near a protest.
I made the shirt because I want to honor her and all of the Iranians, men and women alike, who are fighting and dying for something that I believe is a natural, human right.
I planned to wear it now and then throughout however long the protests will last and expected it to just be another well-meaning message that went right over people's heads.I was right. But it yielded the best possible results.
During my thirty-minute commute to BUST this morning, on a route not particularly known for its political awareness, I was stopped three times to be asked about my shirt. I wanted to be angry that people were so unaware, but then I realized that this was the way I could help, so I stopped and explained. I might've educated only three people today about the situation in Iran, but I'm hoping it'll have a ripple effect and the knowledge and outrage will grow throughout America and throughout the world. And if I can say that I had even the slightest part to do with it, then I can be a bit happier.
For the task of scrounging up a plain Tshirt and a Sharpie, you can too.
If you do make a shirt, take a picture of yourself wearing it and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org If I get a collection, like I'm hoping, I will put them up all in one spot and maybe it'll help spread the word. -Celeste