In today’s world, it has become increasingly impossible to just sit idle as injustice lays over the land. It is hard to look the other way when other people are suffering; some turn that hurt into action and activism. This doesn’t only mean protests and petitions, but also art. Art, especially through media, has transformed the way we can educate ourselves, enlighten each other, and show solidarity with those around us.
Each of us is made up of a billion different stories that illustrate the thread of our own tales. Imagine how many stories you haven’t heard, how many have been kept silent. The stories of people who have swallowed tears, climbed mountains, and created pathways hold so much power. The power to influence and power to make a change. These stories should be heard, understood, and responded to.
Chloe Halvorson (she/they), a student at CU Boulder, has taken her activism through the film route, creating a documentary illuminating the importance of solidarity over charity. We sat down on Zoom to speak about activism, how today’s media can be beneficial to social justice, and of course, the film.
- Her Campus CU Boulder: “What guided you towards your passion for activism?”
Chloe Halvorson: “It’s something that I’ve always kind of been aware of. I grew up in a lot of poor immigrant communities in Miami, I’m also a queer person and so even before I could articulate those things – like the nuances of the way society works were definitely very evident, just in how I interacted with the world. I’m a bit of a yes-man, a bit of a people pleaser, I always want to help others and activism is what makes sense. The more I learned about it, the harder it got for me to not do anything, especially after moving here. I live in a radical co-op in South Boulder and co-ops are historically really radicalizing spaces, especially in the U.S. Before I was doing more activism and stuff, people were always filtering in and out, who were super involved, including other filmmaker‘s and stuff as well, so I’ve always been lucky enough to be really well situated to do all this kind of stuff which is really neat. I knew a ton of people who were involved with the Aurora ICE facility situation; a couple of my housemates actually made a different movie about it, but I’ve been very connected, particularly in terms of radical grassroots activism and mutual aid networks. In Boulder, mostly with homeless people. In Denver, the flavor of the activist movement is really strongly tied to immigrant rights, particularly for undocumented people, because there’s that detension facility in Aurora.”
*One of the organizations Chloe mentioned to be a big supporter of is Sanctuary for All Colorado. It is a grassroots immigrant rights organization that focuses on helping mostly undocumented immigrants through mutual aid and actions. They do this program, the Solidarity Meals Program, that advertises a meal cooked by an immigrant woman that people can order a week in advance and pay through Venmo. Most of these women are currently seeking sanctuary at the Unitarian churches around the area; they are undocumented and had lost their income streams due to COVID-19. Sanctuary for All Colorado created this mutual aid program and 100% of the money goes to the women who cook the meals.
- HCCU: “This past year has been huge in terms of social justice activism in the media – how do you see this impacting the work being done?”
CH: “We’re definitely seeing a massive resurgence of political justice movements, the question becomes: how do we sustain that activism beyond those summer months? Big protests and little programs like the ones I’ve mentioned are some of the best ways, in my opinion, of building that community resilience, fostering empathy and giving people the agency to make their whole community a better place. Much of America, especially white America, is very stuck in the idea of activism and the idea of supporting all of these movements. It’s very easy for people in a place of privilege to turn into a virtue signaling echo chamber, and I don’t blame people for that… for the most part… because there aren’t really any resources to turn your ideas and opinions into praxis. This is really why I try to get involved and why when I got an opportunity to make something, I chose to make it about this. Praxis is so important and we need to make that activism sustainable and equitable. We are running out of chances to take our time. I want to see these ideas come to life. In the classes we take, whether that be Ethic Studies or Political Science, there are actual constructive ideas, like intersectionality and critical theory. Those things are just starting to take off within people. Now, we have spaces through the internet and social media that can be truly radicalizing and in ways that are inherently connected to praxis. Our news is, ‘this is the thing that’s going on and this is what you do about it.’ That’s something that I really love about the way social justice media has evolved.”
- HCCU: “Tell us about the documentary! What is it about?”
CH: “It’s focusing around that idea of solidarity versus charity. It is definitely not a sad music, downer movie, it’s not meant to present these people as hard suffering people, who are nothing more than their pain. It’s definitely about these people; what makes them happy and what they want. We’re having some of the main organizers very involved in the filmmaking process, and who are going to approve final cuts to make sure that we are telling a story that they want to be told. The majority of people working on this project are white people. We do have a translator, one of my roommates who is a native Mexican, but we are white people and we take that very seriously. We make sure that we are not telling our narrative, but rather we are using our position as creators, especially with white bodies, to be telling the stories of marginalized people in the way that they want to be portrayed. That’s definitely something that’s really big in our mind. We’re working very hard to communicate that and structure the documentary around that. Solidarity not charity, actionable ways of sustaining activism, and building resilient communities is the main theme of the film, essentially. We’re showing this through the lens of the Solidarity Meals Program, who we’ve been following for the past few weeks. We’ve also been interviewing some really prominent activists. Jeanette Vizguerra is one of the leaders of Sanctuary for All, she’s such a crazy impressive woman and I’ve been aware of her activism for years. She was on the Time Top 100 People list a couple years back and she’s been just so great in helping us do this and letting us talk to her. We’re also focusing on the sanctuary programs that the Unitarian Churches in the area have. All the women that we’ve interviewed are living in these churches right now. [This film] is about family, solidarity and resilience.”
Solidarity and praxis; the basic ingredients for compassion, unity, and cooperation. Being that we are all alive on this planet at the same time, we owe it to ourselves and one another to build each other up. We owe it to ourselves and one another to work together in the name of equity, in the name of justice. Chloe’s documentary is something I, personally, am very much looking forward to. Stories that are silenced and ignored are being highlighted, and the women are being celebrated. Our stories, each of them, deserve to be heard, loved, and praised. Our people, everyone, deserves to be recognized, represented, and free. My heart is filled with warmth, because I know so many of us out there wake each day with a plan – one of resilience, solidarity and action.
*Chloe’s team is still on the lookout to allocate funding for the project!
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