Hub anti-war rally lacking in diversity

Associated Press | 10/15/2008, 4:18 a.m.
City Councilor Chuck Turner speaks to activists gathered at Boston Common to protest continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq last Saturday. Turner was one of relatively few faces of color at the event, a fact that troubled some in attendance. Talia Whyte

One veteran in attendance at the Boston rally, Los Angeles native Jabbar Magruder, was in the Army National Guard for eight years before he began his tour in Iraq. During his one year in Tikrit, Magruder said, he saw firsthand the destruction and fear created by the U.S. military.

Since returning to the U.S. two years ago, he has been active with Iraq Veterans Against the War, advocating for more Americans to hold Washington accountable for the war on terror.

“This war is based on a lie,” Magruder said. “We need to reach out more to communities of color by using specific strategies to make it clear to them that this is a lie — like organizing with trusted community and church leaders. That is where it has to start.”

Omar Baddar, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he was disappointed by the dearth of people of color at the rally but suggested the underwhelming turnout could serve as an opportunity to rethink how to bring more diverse voices into the fold.

“Most Americans are tired of this war,” he said. “We need to focus on the issues regarding this war that we can agree on and use it to reach out communities of color and other groups.”

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner said that most Americans, regardless of color, agree that bringing home the troops is not the root of the problem.

“The roots are in a foreign policy that doesn’t support peace,” he said. “We can create change by getting rid of the roots.”