out perform // outlast // out work
When it comes to politics, Out of the Woodwork has rarely been the place for taking sides. We’re here to encourage people, to help them move forward with their artistic endeavors and promote a positive, progressive environment for them to showcase their talents. But when our very foundation is shaken, when the spirit of love that permeates this community is threatened, it is no time for silence. Let me be clear- we aren’t here to decide who you vote for. We aren’t here to push political agendas, but we absolutely will speak up when the people we love are threatened. The first few weeks under the new Trump administration have already been fraught with social upheaval. Protests seem to be the new norm as US citizens leave their jobs and daily lives to stand for those our new leaders would seek to oppress. Last week several of our friends took to the streets in the massive #WomensMarch, the biggest one-day protest in United States history. Their message was clear: regardless of whether you are Muslim, female, LGBT, black, or undocumented- we will stand up for you. That, too, is our message. We haven’t always been able to pull it off, but behind these interviews lives a deep desire to amplify marginalized voices through music, film, dance, and other media. That’s why today’s post is dedicated to the people on the ground- the ones physically showing up and altering their lives to speak up for all of us. I spoke with three artists from three different cities to get their take on why they showed up, what they saw, and why protests like these are so crucial to communities like Out of the Woodwork.
Pop/R&B singer Mawule, an outspoken advocate of gender and race equality, joined protesters in Denver’s Civic Center Park Saturday morning. “I attended the Women’s March on Denver because I wanted to support my friends in the protest and also show my support and protection for women’s rights,” he told us in an email a few days later, “At the Denver event I saw crowds of people, from varying ages to different race, genders, religious backgrounds, and ethnicities. I felt like a good spectrum of diversity was represented, all fighting with one goal in mind: social justice for women. I believe the event was well represented in the news, very well represented on the international and global scale. I think protests like these are important because they create awareness, start conversations, and foster community among like-minded people. They instill purpose and meaningfulness to the life we live, knowing that each protest is a stand and stride for equality, equity, and justice for human and civil rights.”
Leah Rhyne, author of several books including the YA novel Heartless, and her daughter joined the crowds gathered in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. When asked why she joined the protests, Rhyne responded, “The real and honest answer here is ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ I’m devastated by the current changes espoused by our new administration. I can’t stand the idea of someone legislating what goes on in and around my body. I can’t imagine my daughter growing up in a world of fear and hate. I always used to wonder what I’d have done in the 60s and 70s, had I been alive and a teenager or adult. Would I have marched? Now I know. Goddamn right I’d have marched. Sometimes you have to do what’s right.” She went on to discuss what she experienced on the scene, “I saw a lot of rain! It was pouring here in Charleston, almost the whole time we marched! I had a hat on, covered by a rain jacket and hood. But! I actually saw a lot of lovely things. There were so many people – like-minded people – holding signs of love and support for all the things I believe. My daughter – she’s eight – held a sign for a while that said, ‘Women’s rights are human rights.’ She held it until it disintegrated. Thanks, rain. I saw lots of cars full of men and women passing us by as we marched down Calhoun St. Many honked and waved as a show of support. I got chills each time. I saw so many people, young and old, coming together to support each other. It really was lovely. As for news representation – I have no idea! I don’t really watch the news! I mostly just read it online, and surely the photos of marches around the world got lots of page space on all the news outlets I follow.” Finally, Rhyne shared why protests like these are important communities like Out of the Woodwork. “We’re all in the arts, right? Writers, singers, actors, artists. And traditionally communities of people involved in the arts are more, shall we say that dirty L-word… liberal. We all spend lots of time thinking and contemplating. It’s what we do. So we’re pretty quick to react to injustices when we see them. And right now it feels like everything we love is threatened. God! Even NPR and the NEA are on the chopping block! How is this happening? The marching was great. It felt very concrete. We were making a statement, and it was important. Even more important now, though, is to keep up the activism. Call your congresspeople. Share your opinions. Share your voice. It’s more important now than ever! Our brothers and sisters around the world need us!”
Photographer/photojournalist Zoe Rain had a clear message for us: talking about protests is good, but we need all the support we can muster on the ground. “I went to the March because I believe you truly fight for something when you show up. Seeing one million shares of a Facebook article does nothing in comparison to one million walking chanting breathing humans swarming a city. Real change and progress only happens when people show up.” When it came to news coverage, Rain was optimistic, “I really enjoyed the perspective (literally) that the news gave. Being on the ground, it is hard to have a true idea of how many people you are with, but an overhead photo or video puts that into perspective. Watching DC covered in ant-like crowds was extremely satisfying and inspiring.” She had some words for Out of the Woodwork as well, “As a platform that embraces artists and people of all shapes and sizes, speaking on protests like this is extremely important. These issues affect everyone in the community, and a dialogue needs to continue to push through all news and blog sources to keep momentum going!”
Rain was kind enough to provide several photos of the event, including the one above and the first image we used in this article. The following images were taken by Rain at the Women’s March on Washingon, D.C. All were used with permission.