You Better Werk: 5 Protest Organizers Mobilizing for Change
In recent weeks, there have been numerous nationwide protests against the epidemic of racial injustice in the United States, including the unfair treatment of Black LGBTQ+ people. Many of the protests have resulted in several important laws and legislations being passed, all in favor of keeping Black queer people protected.
These marches take a great deal of time and work and rarely do those who organize them get the credit that they deserve. For Pride month, BLOOP profiled several of the organizers and activists who have put their lives on the line in the fight for equality and liberation.
There are so many reasons why Blossom Brown deserves their flowers. From calling out white supremacy at the CNN Townhall to leading several of the recent marches in Beverly Hills, CA, Brown is committed to being a voice for the needs of Black trans women.
When asked what it means for her to be an organizer, she shared that it’s about her not being afraid to get her hands dirty. “Being an organizer is about really getting down in the trenches and doing the work,” she says. “It’s about the deep learning that comes with this work.”
When asked what advice she would give to folks wanting to help organizers in the movement right now she says, “I want people to know that this work takes patience”, she shared. “We have to make sure things are strategically implemented, but also we have to make sure things are consistent. Like, you can’t start and stop. You gotta be consistent because the work is consistent."
For this SoCal native, the work is something that Angie Balderas has always known. “It’s always been in my blood really,” she stated, noting that her grandfather and most of her family have been organizing since the days that she could remember. “My family was heavily involved in the Cesar Chavez movement and the work in the fields. My grandfather was a teamster and my uncle was part of the communication workers.”
As for the work that she is most proud of, she noted that much of it started in her own efforts to make education more accessible to marginalized people. “When I got back from California State University, Northridge, I was at San Bernardino Valley College and I just began organizing,” she says. Much of that work led her to be known throughout the Inland Empire region as a voice for queer people of color. “I saw the hate and I just knew I had to do something about it.”
When asked what advice she would give to folks right now who want to help organizers in the movement, she says to remember how important self-care in these movements are. “Always take care of you,” she stated, reminding us that this work can and will burn us out if we let it. “Life is already giving us a hard time, make sure you are taking care of you and each other.”
After years of being disproportionately affected by the prison industrial complex, Dominique Morgan made it their life’s work to make sure that no other queer Black/brown person would ever have to experience it. “Being an organizer for me is not just about being a voice,” they shared, “but about knowing the power behind your voice and who you can lead with it.”
As the Executive Director of Black and Pink, they have had many opportunities to help in life changing work. From providing services to the homeless to helping in abolitionist work, they are committed to making sure that queer people feel like they have a home no matter where they go. “I never want folks to feel like I did when I left the Nebraska Department of Corrections in 2009,” they said. “This is why I do what I do with Lighting House—to make sure that people know that truly safe spaces exist.”
When asked what advice they might have for folks looking to help in the movement, it’s about understanding how we got here and what it’s going to take to change it. “People need to understand history beyond what is taught in education,” they explained. “And when I say education, I am not just talking about college. We have to be committed to reading the work of Fred Hampton and Huey P. Newton. We can all learn from the words of Marsha P. Johnson. The information is out there. Don’t be afraid to sit in a room, shut your mouth and listen.”
For some activists, being an organizer is about the doing but for Matt Abularach-Macias, it’s a way of thought. “Being an organizer for me is a mentality”, he told BLOOP. “It’s about the ways in which you move throughout the world and more so than that, it’s about building long term power and changing the systems.”
As an UCLA alum who did a lot of organizing around the needs of marginalized students, they have rooted a lot of their work in the power of knowledge and how they can use said tools to dismantle oppression. “A lot of my time as an organizer is spent with me learning,” he states. “I know I have the tools to understand how the system of oppression is designed and how said design isn’t an accident. But, getting a degree helped me understand how power is tied to identity and the political aspect of my identity because, the personal is political.”
When asked about what advice they would give folks who are wanting to support the current movement, for them it’s all about listening more than doing. “In order for real change to happen, you have to be committed to listening,” he explains. “We have to recognize that shared experiences often help us better understand the problem. As you listen, you learn, and as you learn, you have a responsibility to do, right? The dynamic of the people isn’t singular—so with that, demonstrate solidarity in how you listen and respond to the issues.”
They often say that there is power in numbers. For Jason Rosenberg, doing this work means exactly that—even if that means putting himself in harms way for the liberation of the people. “For me, being an organizer is about showing up in full capacity,” he noted. “It’s about putting your body on the line and creating space in a really revolutionary and radical way.”
As someone who has had their hand in extensive moments of history that have helped the LGBTQ+ community progress, for him it’s not just about what he’s done, but about who he has been able to be in community with during the work. “I value the moments most where I have been able to be with our queer elders,” he shared. “They really guided how I show up and how I value the work we do to move towards greater liberation, Black/queer liberation.”
In speaking about about what people can do to help organizers in this current time, Rosenberg wants people to not be afraid to step up. “What we can learn from the protest surrounding Tony Mcdade and other trans women of color who are killed is that anyone can show up,” he expressed. “You can support both spiritually and physically. Just show up and lend support in any way that you can. Now is the time to donate less to the HRC’s and the GLAAD’s and give more to the Black trans led groups that are really doing the work for housing, healthcare and economic justice. This is what the people need the most.”