As part of the art exhibit that the youth in AYA are doing this summer, we went out to the community today to ask people in New York what they thought of police violence, violence against women, and/or violence against LGBTQ members. Some of the youth spent a lot of time planning the script and the action details. We finally got our groups together and went out today to talk to people. My group went to Union Square. It was a nice sunny day after the rain in the morning. There weren't a lot of youth and youth of color during that time of the day.
We spotted a couple of people wearing a pink vest that seems to be from some sort of NGO working on girl's rights, and we thought, hey, they must have something to say about gender-based violence, right? Let's ask one of them.
We approached one of the young men and it was a truly uncomfortable experience that we should've walked away from, no, I should've led them to walk away from, as soon as we realized how uncomfortable it was going to be.
This person was rude, condescending, interruptive, touchy, and creepy. He called me mean, he basically harassed all three of us who were females, and demanded a group hug at the end. And he had the nerve to say he thinks women being harassed is horrible because men who harass women on the streets have no respect and blah blah blah. Yet there he was being rude and making us feel uncomfortable as women. How can you advocate against other people enacting violence against women if you were doing it yourself? Especially if you're doing street outreach and trying to talk to other people as a representative of an NGO that supposedly supports women's rights. I was outraged, and I asked to speak to one of the supervisors present. He acted like he understood how I felt, but he could not commit to doing anything beyond telling that person's supervisor what happened. He told me multiple times to just go "to the higher ups" and complain to public outreach. Right, thank you for teaching me how to make effective complaints because otherwise I wouldn't have known, and thank you for doing nothing to stand up for violence against women.
Other than that, we spoke to some other public strangers who had interesting things to say about police violence and gender based violence. We didn't get to talk to as many people as we would like, but I enjoyed my time getting to know the youth I worked with and I think we worked with each other pretty well to make sure the action went smoothly... for the most part.
We'll hopefully process the photos of people we took and select key quotes from what each person says reflecting on the different topics, and put them up on Facebook soon. So much work to be done!