Editorial: complexities of war in Ukraine

Editorial: complexities of war in Ukraine

On Feb. 24, 2022, the Russian regime began the invasion of Ukraine. Despite the Russian military blowing up people’s homes, shooting innocent Ukrainian civilians and destroying meaningful land, Ukrainian soldiers have not backed down from the fight. It is without a doubt that the long-lasting effects of this conflict will stay with the people of Ukraine for decades to come.

As Ukrainians flood into surrounding countries, people of color attempting to flee face an additional obstacle: racism—which the media has largely ignored. On the borders of Poland, there have been multiple instances in which Black people have not been allowed to cross the border.

According to TIME Magazine, people of color fleeing Ukraine have encountered extreme racial bias. Upon reaching a part of Ukraine near the Polish border, the Ukrainian military separated those fleeing into “white” and “non-white” groups. Men of color were also being horribly beaten by military personnel.

We must acknowledge the atrocities facing all Ukranians, while simultaneously recognizing that Ukranians of color are facing racism in addition to the invasion of their country. Just as the invasion highlights the atrocities of violence and war, it similarly puts on display the sheer intensity of racism in our world.

The destruction in Ukraine and the associated discrimination is not confined to be felt only in the emotions of those directly involved. Students at the high school, all the way across the sea, are also being affected. This conflict may not be something most students think about on a daily basis, but for some students, this is a nightmare. With family members’ lives on the line and men being drafted to defend their home, some students have no guarantee of seeing their loved ones ever again.

Unfortunately, the amount of insensitive jokes made towards the invasion cultivates a culture where making fun of something incredibly serious is normalized. You never know how people are connected, and somebody sitting in class next to you could have family in the heart of all of this. Your desensitization is privilege, and your jokes are someone else’s reality.

As we sit halfway across the world watching this unfold from our homes, it is easy to forget that the videos that we see of families and children are real people. The Ukrainian citizens that are staying behind to fight on the front lines of their country are loved ones—just the same as all of us. More importantly, however, is that they are in a situation that is vastly different from one that Brookline has ever seen.

And yet, people walk the halls of Brookline High School making jokes about this conflict laughing with their friends about being drafted and the idea of the impending doom of “World War III.” What some of us might find ridiculous and vaguely dystopian is somebody else’s reality—we must not forget this.

Lastly, we should strive to keep in mind that although this exercise of tyranny has been dubbed the “Russia and Ukraine conflict,” an overwhelming amount of Russians do not support the invasion. Russia’s militant police force and security forces have essentially eliminated any organized opposition to the regime. According to the Cable News Network (CNN), the Russian assembly (or the Duma) passed a bill outlawing the spread of “false information” about the war effort.

These actions are reminiscent of the imperial powers of the early 20th century in both foriegn policy and in the crackdown on civil liberties. The media has been completely corrupted with government influence and scare tactics. Despite this, according to CNN, over 13,000 protestors have been arrested in Russia for antiwar picketing, emphasizing the need to differentiate the citizens from their government.

In the high school community, the Russian Club organized a gathering outside the school to show that they stand in solidarity with Ukraine and do not stand with the actions which Russia is currently taking. Just as countless people in Russia are doing, this small action is demonstrating to the community that despite the club being associated with Russia, they are against Putin’s invasion.