Acting Up in 2020
Q: What does SIC mean to you?
A: SIC has been an active and reactive activism organization for more than 10 years. I’ve been a part of it since my freshman year and I’ve occupied different positions throughout my college career. SIC for me is the place I go to when I need things to get done. It is probably the most comfortable space on campus, where I get to be myself the most. I can organize, I can get things done, and I feel safe and supported there. In addition to activism, we are a family of like-minded people. Each one of us is very different, but we all share the same ultimate goal of improving Beloit College and pushing for necessary changes. We truly love this place and our goal is to make it better, which is something the administration knows and understands, and that is why they respond to us really well and are willing to work with us despite the fact that we are autonomous from the college.
Q: Please share with us a little bit about the work you did this summer and what drove you to action.
R:On May 29th, 2020 (of course I remember the date), George Floyd was murdered, and I felt very hopeless and powerless. Those are not feelings that I often feel because I work hard to make myself feel powerful, impactful and effective. But police brutality, anti-Blackness and racism are something that I can not pretend do not impact me emotionally. I remember how awful I was feeling, not knowing what to do about it, yet I was not about to just sit there and feel powerless without doing anything. So I started crowd funding on my Instagram and reaching people.
I was just saying: you need to take a more active role and you need to be better, and people started responding. I raised something close to $5,000, which I redistributed to organizers in Milwaukee, organizers in Minnesota, and mutual aid funds. My family was very impacted by COVID-19 so I felt the need to protect Black people who were organizing and protesting amid the pandemic. I raised money to give out hand sanitizer, masks, care packages, and test site information. At first, I was doing all of this work by myself while being a research assistant at the University of Michigan, doing immigration advocacy work with a public health lab. But then I thought, wait, I have this group who has always been with me and has my back, so I bought all the past SIC members together and we started a summer impromptu group.
We started sharing action items to promote activism that would be tangible, manageable and sustainable–not too hard, not too big, but also lasting and impactful. Support, ally-ship, accomplice-ship are not one-time things that are needed–they require a constant commitment, so we were sharing ways to sustainably engage and educate our community in a revolutionary way. We wanted to make the unknown accessible, putting it into language and words that everyone could understand. SIC has been the community that I’ve needed to be effective and it has also provided that extra push to reach more people at Beloit who I was not reaching from my own account.
Q: What did you learn from all of this?
R: Last summer was probably the most impactful time that I´ve ever had to learn, to experience, to work with communities. I was able to use all of my knowledge from my work in SIC, from my education, from my experiences, and I learned so much. This summer taught me exactly what to do and how to get into action. I got to learn from community activists and organizers who have been doing this for years and got connected in their inner circles to know what is needed. This summer allowed me to be with my community in a way that I had never been before and to do that while being impactful.
I know that I reached so many people, I was able to help educate, help put things on people’s minds that were previously not there, to redistribute the money to so many people, and it was great. I got a message from someone saying, “Your friendship and your kindness is what is bringing me in. I don’t necessarily have the same thoughts, but I’m trying to learn. Thank you.” And that was revolutionary to me. To think that it is not just about getting everyone on the same exact page, but utilizing the trust people have of you, these relationships that I’ve been establishing since I was in sixth grade, and the kindness I’ve shown to others outside of a political or racial context to get people to listen and help out.