Celebrating the Ways We Never Let Them Kill Us
Our second day began with a Rider conversation that reflected back on our day with Trevecca. We met amazing, brave students, and we had a lot of questions about them after our first day.
Our Riders worked through many of the queries that organizers often wrestle with. How do we engage with students that experience an entirely different kind of spiritual violence than we do? How do we make sure that we are linking them to resources and support from Soulforce at every turn? How do we support a student in crisis? How do we connect students to resources for the day after the Ride?
In the evening we invited students from a local Christian college's underground GSA to meet with us. Under the veil of anonymity, we sat together in the living room of the church that we have been staying at, and proceeded to share stories about the powerful and strategic organizing work that these students were taking on at their schools so that they would be able to survive.
Most of our Riders had never attended a Christian college before, or even had friends there. Jahniece named a new understanding of a constant fear that the students we met would be caught organizing and would be retaliated against. It made us Riders all nervous.
Are we doing the right thing? This Ride stuff is scary. And tricky. We are coming up against an institution that could very well pummel the students therein because of the school's fear that their college, their values, their theology, will unravel in the face of liberation for our people. The schools are right to be fearful, we decided.
In the afternoon our Ride took a pit stop at the Civil Rights exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. As Rider DJ Hudson invoked the histories of the Black revolutionaries who organized the Civil Rights Movement through direct action and civil disobedience, we paid homage to the incredible legacy of youth organizing work that has come before us.
We know that the original Equality Ride was modeled after the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights movement itself. It is in this spirit that we build power. We study and honor the tactics of the students of SNCC and other forces of nature, we listen to the words of our elders and ancestors as they work to speak to us through our bodies.
We work to survive. We know, we have been told over and over again, that we help others, to survive.
Their stories, juxtaposed with the gravity of our time this afternoon studying the tactics of SNCC and the questions we found ourselves working to tackle as organizers, calls me to the risks we take as youth, every day, to transform the conditions around us. Students, well equipped with the time and energy, have a tendency toward justice work that is as old as the collegiate institution itself, and we as Riders live into a legacy of claiming that tactic despite the calls for our hushed voices and folded hands.
To disrupt business as usual – whether it's with proud witness to our Awesome God, with happy and joyful noise, or with loud and angry mourning for our dead – is more than a tactic. It is a celebration of all the many ways we never let them kill us. We continue to tell the stories of Rides past, of sit-ins past, of rebellions past; here, in our stories, in our ancestors, we will celebrate.