We’re introducing a new blog feature this month: Partnerships for Change. Curious about the name? Our inspiration comes directly from HECUA’s mission statement. We are driven to “build academic-community partnerships for social change.” Please check this tag for writings, reflections, critiques, and calls to action from HECUA staff, faculty, students, community partners, and alumni. Please submit your own writings as well! Keep in mind: these are individual perspectives from our community, not necessarily institutional positions from HECUA.
We’re excited to offer this opportunity to our community stakeholders! Each month we will invite writing around a monthly theme. This month we’ve chosen Resistance. If you’d like to share a piece of writing on the theme of Resistance in March, please email our Marketing and Communications Director, Laney Ohmans: email@example.com. The inaugural post for this series comes from HECUA’s Manager of Internships and Community Partnerships: Emily Seru.
On Resistance, Rivers, and Resilience
By Emily Seru
In the first 100 days of the Trump presidency I have seen a great swell of energy, interest, and news coverage of protest and resistance –– from small acts of kindness, to phone calls to legislators, to national and sometimes spontaneous protests. Every day, my news feed is flooded with the latest proclamations, appointments, and verbal abuses coming from the White House, all of which go against every core value I hold dear, and are often direct threats to people that I love. At the same time, my usual steady river of event invites, email blasts, and calls to action has become a flood of requests and statements with the #resist tagline ever present. I must admit that it feels overwhelming, that I sometimes feel I am drowning and need to take refuge in small boats of friends and family and in hikes in nature with my son. I cringe at the rush to brand movements, at individuals taking credit and ownership for social justice movements that people have been working in and dying for for years. (For example: http://fergusonresponse.
The struggle is not new. Corruption and cruelty and bigotry in our national leadership is not new. And yet it can not, should not be normal. And with social media, words and acts of hate and bigotry are now more public, more known than ever.
This semester in HECUA’s Twin Cities programs, our students are diving into these movements mid-stream—during a flood. The community partners that host our students are not new to the work, yet each of them is balancing urgent immediate responses with the ongoing work of building movements by investing in people and relationships. HECUA students are learning how to find out what drives individuals, including themselves, to want to not only work for change, but to make it a lifelong pursuit. They are learning how to resist apathy, even hatred, in the face of the flood.
Just a few examples of what Twin Cities HECUA students are working on this spring:
- Inequality in America students interning with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change are helping to organize and facilitate house parties in suburban and rural communities. Friends and neighbors can build and strengthen relationships at these parties, in order to resist fascist, misogynist, white nationalist actions, events, and policies that impact their community.
- Inequality in America students interning with Take Action Minnesota are helping to coordinate a state wide immigration rapid response team that makes weekly calls to activists across the state, mobilizing communities to take a stand against whatever attack they are facing that week.
- Making Media Making Change students interning with SPNN are out in the community filming and editing live coverage of local events such as the March 25th event 1,000 Who CAIR, Call to Action: Challenging Islamophobia, Defending Civil Rights.
- Art for Social Change students are participating in community dialogues that will collectively determine how In the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s annual May Day Parade responds to the Trump administration through the theme of the parade and the message it sends to the tens of thousands who will gather on May 7th in Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis seeking collective vision for a better world.
This is the kind of resistance that I feel is perhaps most important. That which strengthens our own resiliency and that of our communities so that we can ride this wild river and come out on the other side stronger together.