Chain of Alliance
I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how I would go about this project/paper. I was concerned that I would not be able to properly project my thoughts regarding alliances, and “right relationships” and activism. I know many of us, including myself, were moved and motivated by Eve Ensler’s “Over It,” but I was concerned about trying to tackle the issue of rape for several reasons. I was also considering doing some sort of anti-bullying campaign or video, but there are already so many existing alliances out there (www.itgetsbetter.org/, www.thetrevorproject.org/), and they are wonderful resources that offer support and encouragement for queer, questioning, and LGBT youth.
This led me to begin thinking about several concepts of our class, including entanglements, bodies in alliance, and Judith Butler’s concept (then later, our discussion of the right to appear), and what it means to appear, and the ways that bodies can come together and make a difference, or an impact. I started thinking about bodies in motion and public space. I was reminded of our discussion of abortion rights, which sparked contributions from escorts who worked at abortion clinics involving their experiences with “human shields” and the protection that a human shield offers. I began conceptualizing a shield, bodies of amour, and the power and safety of numbers. One body is strong. One thousand bodies are unbreakable. In 1986, the event Hands Across America, a project of USA for Africa, was held (no pun intended) to raise money and awareness of famine in Africa. A passage from the website describes the event;
“As compassion flowed, our eyes turned inward and saw a problem at home that was too long ignored. It was a powerful sight to behold. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, over mountains, rivers and through deserts seven million Americans holding hands over 4,124 miles across America bringing attention to the plight of the nation's hungry and homeless. People of all races, religions and political persuasions… of all sizes and abilities, on one day, at one moment, captured the world's imagination by simply standing together, thousands of miles long, and saying we must care. There were new babies and people over 100 years old, prison inmates, the physically challenged and the physically gifted. And most importantly on that historic day -- May 25, 1986 -- included in that number were the very people for whom the public demonstration was designed to help; the hungry and homeless.” (http://www.usaforafrica.org/legacy_handsacrossamerica.html).
The event brought people across America together for one cause. I began thinking about my own idea of bodies coming together, while considering the impact and importance of the fact that some people are not ready, or simply do not want to appear, or “come out” in order to form an alliance or participate in a public activity. So I propose this; For the community at Bryn Mawr College, and any other person who wishes to join, I would like to organize a call to arms, of sorts. A call, that on a specified date and at a specific time, people come out – of classes, of the library, of their dorms, and link arms, to form a human chain. We will stand in solidarity – against violence, against rape, against bullying, against inequality.
We will form a human chain. A chain to ward off harm, a chain to repel hate and inequality, a chain to silently speak the millions of unheard voices who say NO against rape, against assault. A chain to stand up for transgender rights, gay rights, women’s rights and human rights. We will link arms and stand together in alliance, and while we will be publically displaying our bodies, we can remain silent on why we choose to stand, and link arms. Silence in action, bodies in alliance. You have a right to appear, and a right to remain protected.
As a dancer, I understand the power in choreographed bodies coming together. Bodies can become mechanisms for power and speech. A ballerina does not speak a word through her mouth, because her bodily movements and actions tell a story much more powerful than words could convey. I realize that this is an ambitious activity that I am considering organizing, especially given the fact that it is my first year at Bryn Mawr, but I worked for a long time to earn the right to come to a school and align myself with like-minded individuals who want to make a difference in the world any way they can. So I ask my fellow peers, and professors, and deans, to come together and join in a small effort to feel powerful, raise awareness, and make a difference. For yourself, for someone you love, or for someone whom you’ve never met, let’s take arms, and form a shield of armor, a chain of alliance. And in doing so, let’s recognize that for one moment we will all be bound together – entangled in strength and support, but let’s forever remember that love is always within arm’s reach.