Making Media Making Change Student Blogger Study USA

Below, Behind and Underneath

hands holding dirt with visible mycelium roots in shades of brown and white

Each term, one participant from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Carter Starkey (he/him/his) is HECUA’s student blogger for Making Media, Making Change Spring 2021. He is student at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, majoring in communications. Read on for his next post!

[content warning: police violence]

I’ve found myself at a bit of a crossroads this semester. In class, we just finished up our “Story of Now” films. One is about current labor issues among essential workers in Minneapolis, and the other is an Anti-capitalist view on personal mental health. The feeling of fulfillment that I’d expect at the end of a project like this was missing for me. It felt so hard for me to be proud of what we worked on, because in that moment, I saw a lot more harm in the world than good.

View of skyline over train tracks, seen through a wire fence.
Pictured: a view from my neighborhood, a place that’s become important to me.

I stood out in the rain on Friday. I stood and I just got wet. I wasn’t exactly looking for a therapeutic experience, nor was I searching for any big revelations, but to some extent, I found both. I was on the tail end of a really tough week, and I found myself with a little extra time on my hands while at my internship site, Lily Springs Farm, so I found a tree to use as cover, and I softly reflected on what has been a strange and difficult time to be alive. 

In the aftermath of yet another police murder in our community, it feels like the city of Minneapolis has been getting rained on without respite or remorse. Many brave souls, community members, have sacrificed their dryness in solidarity. In my personal life, and in the greater context of my community, I believed that I was below the systems of power that cause so much harm, behind on my personal responsibilities, and underneath so much dread and sadness for those who have suffered as of late.

Even efforts to make community what I believe it should be were masked by involuntary cynicism in my head. The abundant opportunity for mutual aid signified to me ‘need’ more than ‘help.” Protests seemed to either fall on unlistening ears or under the boot of further oppression. Standing on the other side of this metaphorical storm, I know these things are and were important and I have an overwhelming thankfulness for those who could throw themselves full heartedly at the cause.

Pictured: A beautiful treeline I encountered while on spring break recently.

Discussion of these events has been abundant in our class meetings. From all sides of the situation, we offered each other perspective, support, and love, yet another thing for which I am thankful. One thing that has been comforting me from our class discussions is our conversation on what it means to be radical. 

‘Radical’ is a term we so often hear thrown malevolently at groups of people on the news. It’s often a word that is associated with different groups and the fear any particular source would like you to feel when looking at said group. In reality, radical means ‘of the root’. Radical organizing and Radical activism is about attacking our societal problems where they start. Conversations around police brutality or wealth inequality have different goals under a radical lens. The goal being, to attack the root of the problem. To cause its hold on our society to deteriorate from underneath the ground, from under its cover.

Radical organizing is about bringing the evil in the world out into the light of day, into the light of justice, and seeing how well hate can really stand against love and compassion. Anyone with half a brain and a functioning heart will tell you that love wins out every time. So I’ll be digging up roots this spring, I’ll point the light of the people right at them, and we’ll see what happens.

I’d love for you to join me.


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