4th Anarchist Studies Network conference on Anarcha-Feminism: A Report

by Aga (she/her).

Lex and I went to this year’s Anarchist Studies conference in Loughborough, themed ‘Anarcha-Feminism’, and it was so weird! We spent a lot of time being guarded and/or angry at the conference itself but afterwards we felt both that it was a constructive and rewarding experience. PLUS: The conference was catered by the lovely vegan activists from veggies!

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Anarchist Studies Network Conference 4 Programme with badass artwork in it.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a bunch of men standing around everywhere, outside the door to the venue, inside the corridor and even more men in the room where the opening plenary took place. We were outnumbered by far. We were happy to see the main organiser, the awesome Elizabet, taking the space and giving a friendly, welcoming introduction. A bit of relief and a lot of solidarity for Elizabet speaking to a room filled with white academic men came over us.

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First attempt at reclaiming the bathroom as gender neutral.

The first thing we did was to put up gender neutral signs (easy peasy, take a piece of paper, write down ‘gender neutral toilet with or without urinals and with or without waste bins’ and stick it on the appropriate door). The first thing that the university that hosted us did, was to take them off. So we just kept reapplying the signs throughout the three-day event.

Soon we began to notice all the awesome people who stood their ground against mansplainers, wannabe-heroes and patronising know-it-alls. We heard amazing presentations on the binary restrictions of international law when it comes to gender, about transformative justice as well as the damaging hyper masculinity in charity campaigns helping male survivors of sexual violence (our menninist-guard was up for this one but it turned out to be a great talk!). We heard people speak on free love (as opposed to relationship anarchy) and sexuality. A group of settlers and first-nation allies from the unceded (stolen) Coast Salish territories in (what from a Eurocentric perspective is called ) Canada, came all the way to tell us about the work they are doing there to decolonise their region and undo themselves as the oppressor of the first nation communities. I also attended a workshop on consensus making, safer spaces and constitutions in anarchist spaces where I learned a lot and hopefully some of the men, strictly opposing any and all rules, understood why some sort of agreement, constitution or other document with established principles is important for people to feel that they can be themselves, express concerns and find allies in a group.

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Thank you to Richard for chairing and co-convening this panel with Livia and Will!

There were even three (!) panels on animal liberation, on one of which Lex and me gave talks. We both spoke about animalistion and dehumanisation from different perspectives ad presented ways in which human liberation and animal liberation is interconnected. We spoke about how important it is to be sensitive to human needs within the movement and beyond, if we want to achieve anything for the animals, and what possible tactics there are to practice anti-oppression across the board. We spoke about how we need to undo our privilege and how, we, as humans, have a responsibility to undo our relationships with animals whenever we possibly can, as every relationship we have with an animal in a human, Eurocentric and capitalist world, will by default be one in which we dominate the animals, and thus it will always be a speciesist relationship. Unfortunately some people in the audience couldn’t accept the fact that we can’t possibly ask animals for their consent to enter into relationships with us as enough of a reason to leave animals alone.

Of course we offered our zines as well and even met some awesome people who are now involved with us! 🙂 We were also happy to see the Black Pigeon Collective from Basel, who do the most amazing prisoner support work! We joined them in making a solidarity banner for a group picture taken with the attendees of the conference, to be sent to political prisoners across the globe and wrote letters and cards to them.

 

The conference finished with a discussion of safer space policies that will hopefully be applied by next year! In the roundup it became obvious what some of the main concerns were: binaristic (mis)gendering of people, assuming people’s academic status or that they have one at all (as one womxn put it: ‘I keep being asked who my thesis supervisor is. I AM the supervisor, I teach students!’), and of course, mansplaining and erasing womxn from history. So not too bad, just the classic, all too familiar stuff we deal with everyday!

Overall it was an exhausting but valuable conference and we couldn’t be more grateful to Elizabet for organising it and all the amazing non-binary people and womxn we met.

Lisa Kemmerer in London 06.09. 7PM

lisa banner

We are happy to announce that Dr. Lisa Kemmerer will spend an evening with us in London, speaking on ‘Ecofeminism: Bitches and Bollox’.

Dr. Kemmerer, professor of philosophy and religions at Montana State University Billings, is the author/editor of nine books and a hands-on activist for the animals, the environment and social justice.

Dr. Kemmerer will address ‘Ecofeminist theory [that] connects animal advocacy with other social justice movements, highlighting the importance of a more expansive vision of liberation. In this view, anymal activism requires solidarity with other social justice causes such as [those against] racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, and classism’

We are inviting people of all genders to join us for this very special evening at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC).

Free Entry!

The pre-party will begin at 6PM where our allies from the LARC will kindly provide vegan snacks (Thank You!) and you will have the opportunity to meet and chat with our organisers. Books, zines and art work will also be for sale.

Dr. Kemmerer’s talk will begin at 7pm. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions afterwards.

Please share this event widely!

Here are the details:

 

Address: 62 Fuelgate St., London, E1 1ES

Free Entry + All welcome

Doors open: 6pm

Talk begins: 7pm

Accessibility: The room is wheelchair accessible and there are also gender neutral toilets.

This event will operate under out Safer Space Agreement but please be aware that it is open to the general public. If there is anything specific we can do to ensure your safety beforehand, please let us know!

Music Monday with Cane Sugar

written by amy, she/her

Welcome to another Music Monday!

Cane Sugar is a queer vegan girl and Buddhist, with socialist-libertarian political leanings. Her main musical influences are Ruby Throat and Clams Casino (hearing “I’m God” was a particularly sound-defining moment).

Connect with Cane Sugar here:

Bandcamp        Twitter       Instagram

Any future suggestions for Music Monday? Let us know!

Music Monday with Sadfem

written by aga, she/her; amy, she/her


It’s Music Monday again, which means we have another vegan musician for you today!

Today we have Sadfem for you, a UK-based producer and rapper, mostly making electronic music and not shying away from incorporating real issues such as mental health into the lyrics. She frequently collaborates with female and trans artists, with her next album set to feature all-female remixes and vocals.

Get in touch with Sadfem here:

Bandcamp          Twitter          Soundcloud

Check out Sadfem’s track ‘when’ here:

Music Monday with The Sulkies

~ aga

Today is Music Monday, which means we have another vegan musician featured here for you! Today you are in for some queercore DIY pop music with anarchist lyrics that will inspire you to be free in everything you do!

Check out the Sulkies:
http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=616336730/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/


We are always happy to receive tips about vegan female or non-binary musicians. So if you heard someone good recently, let us know!

Apathetic Complacency

ffapatheticcompacency

Apathetic Complacency

~ elecia (she/her)

Mr. White walked into the office of his government desk job with a take-away coffee and briefcase in hand. He logged onto the computer and began his first task of the day – the email sort. Mr. White browsed through the hundreds of messages, subject lines barely registering before he stored them into marked folders.

Subject:  “Why my elderly Mother can’t pay for her home Nurse visits”

Subject: “Privatising local schools means treating our children like commodities”

Subject: “Mayor’s racist comments UNACCEPTABLE”

Mr. White methodically organised all of them into relevant files. An hour later, his boss appeared, placed a hand on his shoulder and requested a quick look over his work. Mr. White pointed at the folders labelled ‘Education’, ‘Transport’, ‘Health’ and ‘Other’.

His boss glanced over the subject lines. “We can’t do anything right now.”

Mr. White nodded in agreement. His boss ordered Mr. White to send out the standard letter.

Mr. White located the letter, the one that started with a thank-you-for-your-letter and ended with a we-are-working-hard-to-address-these-issues.

At the end of the day, Mr. White parked in the driveway of his four-bedroom house. He opened the door and walked through the hallway into the dining room. He sat at the table opposite his two children and was served dinner by his wife, a former psychologist taking a break from work while the kids were still young. The family smiled at each other over the food.

Mr. White wondered why other people were complaining so much. After all, no-one could do anything about it.

Music Monday with Perkie

~ aga

It’s Music Monday again, which means we are featuring vegan non-binary and female musicians on our blog! Today we have Perkie.

We particularly love Perkie’s song ‘Things that make us different’ from the Hunt Saboteurs Split.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3421242544/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

Head over to Perkie’s bandcamp page where you can download the split. All money will be donated to the Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Sabs. And, if you’re on facebook, give Perkie a like!


If you know of vegan non-binary person or womxn who makes music, please let us know, we would love to feature them on here! There music does not necessarily have to be animal themed.

A Case for Police Abolition

written by aga


CW: discussion of racist police brutality and murder

Police as part of kyriarchal oppression

The justice system in democratic capitalist countries – and with it the police and the prison industrial complex – are inherently white supremacist institutions enabling kyriarchy. Abolishing the police would mean chipping away a very potent piece of this imperialist and racist system that makes deviant bodies (non-white but also non-male, non-heterosexual, non-property-owning, non-human etc.) imperceptible and non-existent.

Kyriarchy makes sure to symbolically erase black production of meaning – in media and everyday conversations, in school curriculums, through marketing and consumer products, etc. The extent of this becomes obvious every time racist murders occur, globally or locally: The only way white allies seem to know how to express their outrage in these cases is by sharing footage of the acts, including the brutalised and dead bodies of black people. In doing so however, we only help kyriarchy perpetuate the image of the removed or dead black body. Further, by sharing these images, as white people, we traumatise communities of colour and so inflict additional pain (head over to Aphro-ism to delve deeper into this subject).

The police and prison system, as part of the white supremacist structure that is kyriarchy, is then responsible for upholding the prohibition of black expression and production of knowledge and meaning in this world through practically and literally removing and murdering black bodies merely for their existence in a white-dominated world, such as most recently Alton Sterling and the countless others who were killed by US police (click here for a video visualisation of names of the victims and the things they were doing when shot, indicating that white production of meaning constructs the black body as inherently suspicious and dangerous as well as worthless).

Abolish the police because Black Lives Matter

Amongst most white activists the fear of and hatred towards police begins with showing up to a demo or an action and ends by leaving it and returning to the safety of our homes. Yes, the cops terrorise some of us in our homes and they try to ruin our lives by criminalising us, but generally speaking they don’t brutalise us nor do they kill us and get away with it.

And yes, most of the police in the UK do not carry fire arms which statistically lowers the rate of murder victims killed by UK cops but this does not mean that the police here don’t discriminate against and brutalise black people (the MacPherson enquiry comes to mind, deeming the Metropolitan Police as ‘institutionally racist’).

So the fact remains that the police is an inherently racist institution established to protect the white rich status quo. To practice anti-racism then, as a logical consequence, we have to start rejecting and abolishing the police.

So instead of derailing the conversation from ‘Black Lives Matter’ to ‘All Lives Matter’ or comparing your white activist arrest to what is happening to the Baton Rouge protestors for example, white activists, including me, should shut up and listen. Inform yourself, get involved and remember that it is your job to dismantle white supremacy.

Police abolition – but how?

If you are new to the topic of prison/police abolition, a good start would be to read ‘Are Prisons Obsolete’ by Angela Davis, where she sketches a history of the prison industrial complex that shows exactly how prisons have been established as a means to remove black bodies from the city and uphold the white status quo. Davis takes her knowledge about the history and applies it to today’s white supremacist politics. By doing so she automatically invites the reader to question and reject the perceived connection between prisons and  protection, safety and justice.

As a next step head over to Imagine Alternatives where you can access one of the most thought provoking essays including a set of exercises that will help you navigate life with as little reliance on police as possible.

Googling ‘police abolition’, ‘restorative justice’, ‘community accountability’ will give you an additional flood of ideas on how to stop relying on police and how to start actively dismantling this dangerous, racist and classist arm of kyriarchy.

 

4 Reasons the ‘No More Chick Shredding’ Rhetoric is Problematic

written by: aga | she/her

CW: discussion of violence towards animals; (cis)sexism

The problematic message shown on this meme of 4 fluffy chicks has been making the rounds on social networking sites amongst animal advocates for the past year or so. It reads: ‘World First! Germany to end the mass slaughter of male chicks in the egg industry!’ (see picture below. Not sure who to credit for it but I think I saw it on Animals Australia first a long time ago).

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Picture of 4 chicks on light blue background. Top left corner in the colours of the German flag. Text: World First! Germany to end the mass slaughter of male chicks in the egg industry.

Chick Shredding is a thing?

Not only the meat, dairy and egg industries but any for-profit institution that depends on animals will always rely on the exploitability of those assigned female, so as to be able to reproduce the ‘goods’ they provide endlessly, be it flesh, eggs or milk. If you would like to learn more about how exploitative the egg industry is check out animal aid and viva! (the viva link will take you to a video still of a very ill factory farmed chicken) .

Whereas female assigned animals are exploited until they are killed when their reproductive organs give up, male assigned chicks, just as calves, are not profitable, and thus disposed of. Chicks conventionally go through a process called ‘sexing’, where humans decide which animal is male and which female. The male ones are picked out, thrown onto  a conveyor belt that transports them to their brutal death, being shredded or ground up, whilst conscious.

Another option, often used by smaller farms is to either gas the animals, suffocate them by means of a deadly foam, or simply to throw them into rubbish containers.

Political Background

In Germany the Green Party has been heavily involved in making chick shredding a political topic however their successes don’t have much impact upon individual animals nor onto chicks as a whole. Regulations such as forbidding 1-day old chicks to be killed in one part of Germany (North-Rhine Westphalia) have no impact whatsoever, and if anything just prolong the suffering these animals have to endure, keeping them alive in horrendous conditions for longer.

Now the German government is aiming to implement a technology that allows for the sex­determination of an embryonic chicken. The, amongst the scientific and animal activist community, highly celebrated technology is aimed at reducing the numbers of killed male chickens, by terminating their development during their embryonic stage (Leipzig University 2015). The idea is being developed by Leipzig University veterinarian scientist Prof. Dr. Maria ­Elisabeth Regina Krautwald­ Junghanns.

Let just quickly point out the betrayal by this woman who is, as I will show now, not only advancing capitalism but also misogyny. The whole sexing procedure has not only got misogynist effects but also major cissexist implications. What I find the most perverse about Krautwald Junghanns leading this development however, is that she is a veterinarian, a professional who is trained in the medical care for birds.

Why We Should Not Celebrate The End of Chick Shredding in Germany

1 Animal welfare perpetuates exploitation

The ‘No more chick shredding’ campaign is an attempt to improve the lives of chicks, whilst minimally compromising human gain. That is exactly what animal welfare is about. Welfare legislation changes are often just bureaucratic and the real life impact is so minimal because they are only put into place to keep consumers willing and interested in continuing their relationship with animal products. So animal welfare legislation actually benefits the industry in the long run.

Animal welfare improvements make it very easy for us to forget that it is indeed not normal, natural and necessary (Melanie Joy) to ingest animals. Supporting animal welfare decisions without interrogating their purpose, just as the meme above asks us to do, merely perpetuates speciesism and justifies our participation in animal exploitation.

2 Nationalism and heroism are part of the narrative

The colours of the German flag in the top left corner of the meme are not merely informative, telling us what country passed the law against chick shredding. It also creates so called ‘soft power’ (Joseph Nye) for Germany as a state. The ‘No More Chick Shredding’ campaign by the German government and the international narrative of celebration and victory for the animals surrounding it, positions Germany as a pioneer in science and animal welfare. This invites additional positive international attention and so gives soft power (as opposed to hard economic or military power) to Germany. The meme portrays the country as a hero for the animals: You look at the cute fluffy chicks, see the German flag, read the words ‘Germany to end mass slaughter’ and make a mental note of how good Germans must be if they care about these cuties. This might not be the biggest reason why this meme is problematic, but I feel that even the smallest instances of nationalism are worth to be rejected.

3 Bad for animals good for capitalism

As mentioned above, this campaign is not so much a win for the animals as it is for capitalism and the poultry industry specifically. It actually allows for more efficient mass slaughter, without all the extra costs the useless (that is inedible and thus unprofitable) male assigned chicks bring to the equation with the space and labour demand they create only to be killed. This also means it will be financially viable to increase the exploitation of female assigned chicks.

Veganism is a booming market and animal industries are aware of that. Companies profiting off animals need to keep themselves viable and so invest more into deceptive advertising and lobbying that allows them to spin their products as animal friendly. This ‘end of chick shredding’ campaign is one such example. It is nothing more than a response to increased consumer awareness and a growing dissatisfaction with animal exploitation.

4 A super sexist Idea

As mentioned above, the idea of embryonic sex determination is harmful and has far reaching consequences for our understanding of gender also amongst humans. I feel that this decision is also partly informed by the mainstream understanding of sex and gender and reproductive organs.

So by ‘sexing’ the chicken eggs we determine which egg is worthy of life (the female assigned one) and which one isn’t (the male assigned one). The worth of the egg then is equal to the exploitation potential the individual that the egg might turn into bears. If that individual turns out to have the right reproductive organs it is deemed valuable and will thus be subjected to a life of torture.

You know how doctors tell pregnant people whether their foetus will be a boy or a girl based on the genitals they can see? The parallel here is that, just like female assigned chickens are exploited for their reproductive organs, people who are commonly assigned female are also reduced to their reproductive organs and whether or not they are existent, functioning and available for men to use. This obviously also perpetuates the cissexist myth that your genitals determine your gender and that there are only two genders. So the sex determination process in animals is not isolated from the myths we learn about assigning genders to humans and vice versa. They both inform and justify each other. This is part of what Carol Adams calls the ‘Sexual Politics of Meat’.

References:

Melanie Joy – Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows

Joseph Nye – Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics

Carol Adams – ‘The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

7 Ways to Combat the Hostile Post-Brexit Atmosphere in Your Community

~ by aga


Only two days after Brexit I was greeted by a flood of outraged friends in my facebook feed, sharing horrible examples of xenophobia, racism and islamophobia happening in their communities. Of course these events aren’t new but it really seems like Brexit gave racists the validation they needed to become more active in their hateful ways.

Outrage is good but solidarity is better

The overwhelming amount of personal stories being shared on social networks in which people describe the hateful things happening to them and their friends since the British people decided to leave Europe is only contributing to my worries and fears. What will happen when I return to the UK after the summer, should I even bother coming back or would I be better off leaving my friends and my life behind and starting over elsewhere?

Of course  I am happy that the people on my facebook feed despise the hate and bigotry popping up across the country, yet their posts make me feel shit inside because they give a platform to – and thereby amplify – what a minority of British people have to say. Despite the Brexit result, I still believe that most people in Britain are not all horrible racists. I know that all my friends miss me and would love for me to come back. Yet seeing all these examples of hate makes me as an immigrant, feel unwelcome and sad.

So I started wondering what people, not just in the UK, can do to make refugees, immigrants, muslims and people of colour feel welcome and safe(r).

Here are five suggestions that anybody can go for right now.

1. Spread messages of solidarity

Write a message to a person who could be affected by anti-immigrant hate speech, ask them how they feel and let them know that despite what they are hearing in the media and on the streets, they are indeed welcome, valued and important.

Get some chalk and leave messages on the side walk and the street:

‘Refugees Welcome’, ‘I love my Eastern European friends’, ‘People of Colour are loved’, ‘Racists fuck off’, ‘My muslim friends rock’ etc.

Or write your messages on paper and stick them to trees, bus stops, lamp posts, leave them on public transport, around your school or university, etc. Here is an example of some signs our very own Casey made:

casey picture solidarity

 

You can also head over to the Active Distribution Shop and get some solidarity stickers to leave anywhere and everywhere you go.

2. Show your solidarity with tokens

Get some cookies, sweets, sandwiches or any other vegan snacks and put them on a stool or little table on the side walk near your house. Next to it, on a piece of cardboard, let people know who this is for and why:

‘For my Polish (or Rumanian, muslim, Asian, etc.) neighbours. We say no to Brexit (or racism, xenophobia, etc). Solidarity and Love to all of you. Enjoy’.

You can do this with anything, a thermos with tea/coffee and a few mugs, a bunch of books you won’t read ever again, board games, plush toys, or roses, such as a vendor in Bristol did (image shared by Best of Bristol):

bristol flowers for immigrants

A bucket of roses with a note that reads: If you are an immigrant to the UK please take a rose! And remember 62% of Bristolians voted to stay in the EU!

3. Organise a demo

This act of solidarity with the victims of a hate crime against a Polish community center in London is an amazing example of people coming together in protest agains xenophobic attacks bringing gifts and messages of solidarity. It probably didn’t need much organising and came about rather spontaneously as a direct response to hateful graffiti sprayed onto the community center’s walls.

Organising a protest or demo for the first time might sound like a huge endeavour and might be quite intimidating. It also is a very empowering experience that actually doesn’t need much prep work and can often work very well if it’s even just a spontaneous stunt. In England you don’t even need to register a static demonstration with the council or the police. If you are planning a moving march or parade you will have to get a permit first.

There is nothing stopping you from grabbing a few friends and/or creating a facebook event page for a static demo in a well visited public place. You can meet beforehand and paint some banners (recycle old cardboard, sheets or the back of advertising banners from shops) with messages of solidarity on them. You can stand there with your banners and chant (with or without a megaphone). Some of you could give out tokens of solidarity, such as flowers or fruit from vendors who would throw these items away at the end of the day. You can ‘leaflet’ by giving little notes of solidarity to member of the public. One of you could bring a guitar/a drum/ a tambourine for some noise. You can sing songs and celebrate your international friends. Anything goes and it will bring a smile to people passing by.

4. Use social media to spread the love

Use your social media accounts to share pictures of acts of kindness like the above. Write a status update reminding your friends that they are welcome in Britain and that they are important to you. Take a profile picture with yourself holding a sign with a solidarity message on it. These little things might seem like a cheap excuse for activism but they actually go a long way. I had my facebook account deactivated for a couple of months until the day of Brexit. I received so many emails from my concerned friends in the UK that day and yet I felt a bit alone, sitting in my room in far away in Sweden, staring at my inbox. I felt the need to log into facebook to be closer to my friends and to experience this shock together. This was vital for my well being as it reminded me that not everyone in the UK felt hateful towards immigrants. So, if reflecting your solidarity online is something you can do, go for it!

5. Volunteer for refugees

If you live near Calais, consider travelling there for a day or two over the weekend. Friendly faces and a lot of help are always needed down there. You can find many local action groups on facebook by searching facebook for these (or similar) key words: ‘calais refugee cambridge’ for example. There is also a map on google showing where refugee aid is needed the most (but it’s only updated during winter).

No matter how you decide to help, always listen to the refugees and be there to empower them not to patronise or decide for them. Show your support and don’t act without consent.

6. Wear a safety pin

You’ve probably seen this campaign on social media: To show your solidarity and to make yourself approachable by people who are suffering from the horrendous hate crimes you can simply wear a safety pin on your top. You can get a pack of 50 very cheap in Boots or Superdrug or any stationary shop. This way you will have enough pins to give out to your friends or to pin to every item of clothing you have.

Additionally, pin a little rainbow flag to your DIY brooch (you can even just draw one on a piece of paper and pin it to your clothes). This way MOGAI/ LGBTQAI+ refugees, muslims, European immgrants and people of colour who suffer from multiple hateful attacks will know they can turn to you.

7. Don’t be a bystander

If you bear witness to a hate crime, be it the smallest act of hate, do something. Make sure you are safe, but don’t be afraid to be the first one to speak out. It is very easy to succumb to the so called bystander effect. So when we find ourselves in a large group of people and someone needs our help, it is very easy for us to not feel responsible for providing help. This is because psychologically we tend to justify to ourselves that in the mass of people, there must at least one person who is faster or more qualified to help than we are. On the other hand, if we then see somebody providing help, it is easier for us to join in and take action ourselves. So chances are high if you’re in a mass of people, everybody will wait for someone else to take action and at the same time if they see you take action they might find it easier to join in.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to speak out against a xenophobic slur for example, a simple: ‘Shut your mouth!’ or ‘You’re not speaking for anybody else here’ could do the job. You don’t necessarily need to turn to the attacker. To disrupt the violence, you could simply engage the victim in a conversation. Take their attention away from the bigot. Smile at them. Ask them to talk to you. Ask them where they are headed, talk about the weather or what they had for lunch yesterday.

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Send us pics and videos of the examples of solidarity you have seen (we have a brand new instagram and twitter account). We want to spread the love to balance the few but dominant messages of hate out.