Name: Audrey Burnett
Relationship to the Collective (or the event): Student Worker for the 787 Collective; Attended Christians Dreaming Dreams with Dreamers at the Texas Capitol: April 9, 2018
Describe the event in three sentences or less:
This was a public performance/protest that took place in our state capitol as a way to show solidarity with DACA recipients. We arrived at the rotunda with our banner, pillows and in our pajamas ready to read Bible verses, lay down, and sing Frère Jacques in English. All of the participants were women (80% white, 20% people of color) and the piece took us about 20 minutes total.
What did you notice during or about this event?
I was struck by the impatience of those visiting the Capitol. We had reserved the Rotunda for this performance, and there were some who blatantly expressed their displeasure with that in various ways. One person straddled our banner while we were setting up, to take a picture. Another sang “go back home” at us while we were singing and aggressively stomped around our heads and the space where we were laying down. When we finished, another said, “Great, we can start our tour now.” All three of these people were white and male.
What impacted you the most?
I was very uncomfortable preceding and during this event. I typically don’t publicly display my political leanings because I grew up in a family that is on the opposite side of the political spectrum as I am. So I’m accustomed to silencing or even hiding that part of myself to avoid drama or disagreements. Since the last presidential election, I’ve tried to be less silent within my family and friends, but I still haven’t taken my opinions online, let alone in front of strangers. This event was my second or third week on the job for the 787 Collective and I was excited to participate in a way that would get me out of my comfort zone but I was also nervous. This event gave all of us the ability to experience a tiny, microscopic piece of what DACA recipients might feel: vulnerability, negativity, and what seems like irrational hatred. We were told to “go back home.” This experience made me want to speaking out more against injustice.
What impacted you the least?
I want to say that the man singing against us impacted me the least, but I would be lying. He terrified me when he stomped around us and he made me extremely uncomfortable when he sang. I think the best thing about his reaction was how much it affected other observers and even inspired them to come talk to us afterwards.
What about this event struck you as spiritual and/or carried spiritual significance for you?
I was touched that the people who approached us afterwards wanted to see our Bible verses or were so grateful for our performance that they wanted to thank us and know more about the 787 Collective. I also felt affirmed by the Bible passages we used during the performance. They were powerful and clear in their message of hope and love for all people. One of the scriptures was from Leviticus 19:33-34 and says: When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
What new or next thing, if anything, did this experience inspire you to do/be/or try in the future?
This taught me to embrace the things that might be scary or uncomfortable. To speak up more and be an advocate. To pay attention to those unaware of their own privilege and continue to see and explore how we might address this with love and grace in the future.