How to get me to pay attention
[Update: Rolling Stone has issues a lame apology for it’s poor reporting. And people seem to think this changes much – it does not. There are lots of reasons why, and the best summary i have found so far is here. Thanks Abigail for the link.]
i tend to miss introverts who visit the community. And so it was with Charlotte. Acorn had a big visitor group and i had only heard her say a few words in the first couple weeks of her visitor period.
i had noticed that she was hovering around the edge of a number of the better conversations which pop up regularly at Acorn in the kitchen, or various living rooms or the smoke shack. And while she did not say anything, it was clear that she was listening.
Nine of us went to the anti-rape action at UVa which resulted in 4 communards getting arrested.
The way it is supposed to happen at an arrest action is the people who are risking arrest are trained. They do a non-violence direct action workshop in which they roll play getting arrested including how to deal with different levels of threatening and physically assertive police. You are given a lawyers number, often written in marker on your arm. You are insured there will be people waiting for you. If you end up stuck in jail, your plants will get watered and someone outside will be monitoring the system to make sure you don’t get forgotten. And the reason we do all this is so activists will be prepared for getting arrested, so they wont have to worry.
Charlotte skipped all that. No training, no prep, no reassurances, it was not actually even supposed to be an arrest action. Instead of these things she just showed up with the conviction that rape is wrong and injustice should not be tolerated. She also did not want her new friends to be arrested alone. She stepped out of her comfort zone and into the arms of the begrudging police who kept telling us the action did not matter.
Except that it did. I’ve never been in such a small remote arrest action which got so much press. The New York Times, the LA Times, The Washington Post, the International Business Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, Slate, NBC, The NY Daily News, Washington DC news, and a host of other media. And the University is feeling the pressure. They are talking zero tolerance, which of course means nothing if the system is broken badly enough. But if the current pressure persists, it will quite likely break the institutionalized rape culture which has flourished inside the fraternity system. And truth told, if there is anyway this broken system is going to get better, it is by people being willing to step way out of their comfort zones to express rage about it.
People are talking and protesting about rape on campus for the same reason they are talking and protesting about cops killing unarmed black kids. It is a huge on-going problem and the system in place was relatively comfortable ignoring it, until now.
Charlotte saw this was wrong and stepped up to do something. Now she has my attention.
Charlotte was recently accepted as a member at Acorn. i am happy she will be around more.