My Creating Change Experience 2012
Analysis & Reflections | Karen Hall | Wednesday February 29, 2012 7:05
I have so much to say that I don’t even know where to start! Creating change was epic and the high light of my 17-year-old life! I remember looking at myself in the hotel room mirror and wondering if my mom was going to notice a change in my physical appearance from my experience and growth in wisdom that had occurred during that week. There were many factors that contributed to that feeling and the biggest one was for the first time in my life I was treated like an adult and was seen as an equal to members and staff of FIERCE who were significantly older than me.
During my stay in Baltimore I roomed with Evonna, Tiph, Anna, Donita and Sofie in a Hilton which was a great experience because they were all very open minded and accepting people who were easy to feel conferrable around.
The first and honestly the only workshop I attended besides FIERCE’s was, Queers for Economic Justice’s day-long workshop on Thursday. I fell in love with the organization because they were for all the things I’m for: ending racism, ageism, classism, ableism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia. I loved the wheel of oppression they used in the workshop. They had an activity were the whole room split up into different groups and they had to share why they were interested in attending the workshop. Most people in my group said that they wanted to learn to support others that weren’t as fortunate as them. One woman even said that she was part of the 1% and wanted to learn about people who weren’t.
As more people said that, I felt more and more uncomfortable because I was not only coming from a very poor family but I was also the youngest person attending the workshop. Later on I realized that the only people who weren’t of upper class came to creating change with either an organization or with their college because the cost of creating change excluded people who weren’t rich. Hopefully not on purpose.
Kenyon Farrow at QEJ's Day-Long "Class More Than Ever" Institute
The most memorable part of my week was the trans pool party that happened on a Friday night. I’ve gone to the dyke march before but had never felt comfortable enough to take off my top. What made this party a safe space for me to do this was knowing that I wasn’t going to find a picture of it the next day on the internet and if anyone did take pictures, it wasn’t to sell them online as child pornography. When I entered the pool, a female bodied youth called out “FOR GENDER EQUALITY!” and took off her top and others joined cheerfully. Now I feel comfortable enough to go topless at the dyke march because I feel I need to make the statement: All bodies are equal! Stop sexism!
The biggest highlight of Creating Change 2012 for FIERCE members who attended was calling out Obama’s administration on Saturday morning. I was extremely tired from the night before but forced myself to get up that morning because Tara thought it was a good idea to go and that we had to mic check them for all of the wrongs they had been doing. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity for my voice be heard by people who have power because as a youth of color my voice is always silenced in the media so it never reaches the people who actually can do anything about it. When I walked in the room I realized how much of a big deal this was going to be because the room was really small and the only people there were mostly white and dressed up. I came in wearing a tank top, jeans, and rain boots which out-casted me from the group of people already there. I came out of the room to make myself coffee and over heard a white man saying in a snobby voice “I wonder where the 99% is” and I half awake turned to him and said, “I am!” Later on I discovered that he was a part of the Obama’s administration. During the whole time I was there I kept a close eye on him because I’d already made an opinion about him and it wasn’t a good one.
The Obama administration representatives introduced themselves then asked if there were any questions. No one raised their hands so then they continued rambling about how great they were and the good things they were doing. Then as planned, Tara interrupted and called out “MIC CHECK!” and everyone in the room turned around to view the row of the only youth of color in the room in complete embarrassment. I started to feel a little embarrassed too and felt a bit of doubt but then I felt a little betrayed by the LGBT people in that room. I soon found myself feeling above the people who were staring at us like that because they were not standing up for their rights and letting their voices be heard. All they did was try to fit in and suck up to the White House reps by trying to act and seem heteronormative. They were probably people who spent all of their lives trying to prove to the straight community that they were just like them so that they would feel accepted and unalienated in their everyday lives. I understand why they act like that on a regular basis. It is their survival mechanism but with in the walls of a LGBT friendly space called ‘Creating Change’ it is a loss of opportunity to act as if they would be in danger if stepping out of the status quo.
The next day Tiph, Ana, Donita, Evonna, Dulani, Tara and I met up for lunch at Panera to brainstorm possible ideas for a blog post on the event that had happened the day before. Everyone had a lot to say about what had happened and were really passionate about getting our message out to others. Dulani scribed while every one went around in a circle describing their experience being a youth and person of color at creating change. We wanted to get the message out to everyone at creating change so we planned to post a blog by that night . We also planned to interview lgbt youth of color and ask them about their experience. While interviewing I noticed that most people said the same thing. They didn’t feel ignored but they also didn’t feel very welcomed to participate and raise their hands in the workshops. They were silenced by ageism and one person’s excuse was “well, the other people seemed more knowledgeable and like they had more experience” which at a place like creating change should not matter. Every one has their own experience that is worth sharing.
Since this event I’ve had a really easy time networking by using it was a starting point for conversation. People get really interested in hearing about FIERCE’s work and tell me that “FIERCE is a really dope organization!” So far the video of FIERCE challenging Obama’s administration has only gotten around 3,000 views in the 1st week but I have confidence that it will get to a million views by the end of February and continue to go viral.