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Archive for the tag “radical cheerleading”

Making Socialist Resolutions: An Activist’s New Year

Making Socialist Resolutions:

An Activist’s New Year

by H. Bradford

12/13/16


New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, so I have spent the month doing an audit of my goals and hopes for 2016.  While some socialists are known to make revolutions, I am prone to making resolutions.  This year I tracked my goals in a small journal, which has provided me with a lot of data on how this year went.  I had over 50 New Year’s Resolutions last year and completed around half of them.  The goals I didn’t complete are probably more interesting and revealing than the ones that I did.  One of the goals on the list was to attend 40 political events.  I wrote that goal without any idea of how many events that I actually attend during the year.  As of today, I am at over 75 events!  Of course, life should be about quality over quantity.  However, the number attests to how active I was during this year!  With that said, here are some highlights of a year in activism.


  1. Socialism and a Slice:  This is a once a month current event discussion group which meets at Pizza Luce to discuss news from an anti-capitalist perspective.  There is a fun group of core people who have been attending.  The group tends to focus on local events and the discussions have helped us coordinate and plan things as activists.
  1. Anti-Rape Protest: Take back the Park: This event was organized in response to a pro-rape meetup that was supposed to happen in Duluth.  It is bizarre to think that there are men who actually believe that rape should be legalized and that rape is a legitimate activity within the privacy of their homes.  It is scary!  It is scary that they wanted to meet up!  Dozens of people held a vigil on February 6th, 2016 at Leif Erickson Park to stand against rape and rape culture.  It was awesome!  To my knowledge, no pro-rape activists showed up.
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    1. AFSCME Meetings/Steward Training:  Since June I have been attending monthly AFSCME meetings.  I am proud to be one of the 11% of workers who belong to a union.  It is also great to connect with other people who are labor activists working in the nonprofit sector.  Another highlight was that in November I attended a training to become a steward.

 


  1. Homeless Bill of Rights: I have attended some meetings and events as time permits.  I was proud that I was able to contribute to the group by getting my union local 3558 to endorse the Homeless Bill of Rights.  It is only one of two union locals who endorsed it.  Though, the entire Central Labor body endorsed it.  I also feel glad that I collected a few pages of signatures for the petition in support of the Homeless Bill of Rights.   The City Council may vote on it in February, but the struggle will continue as we try to provide accessible bathrooms for the homeless community.

 

    1. Feminist Frolics:  This is a new activity which is sponsored by the Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition.  Once a month we host an outdoor activity combined with an educational presentation.  A highlight was researching a feminist history of Halloween, then going on a spooky night time hike to an abandoned cemetery.  The point of these events is to build community and raise feminist consciousness.

 

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    1. Chalk for Choice:  This was another new event that the TPWRC sponsored/participated in.  This involved creating beautiful art and messages to support the women who work and use services at the Building for Women.  We did a few Chalk for Choice events and look forward to doing more in the future.

 

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    1. 40 Days of Choice:  Each Friday during the 40 days of Life, the TPWRC organized two counter protests of the anti-choice vigil outside the building.  One of the highlights of the 40 Days for Choice was wearing our Candy Land themed Halloween costumes on the final event.  I made protest signs to match our costumes.  Keep Abortion Safe, Legal, and Minty!

 

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    1. Pride: There are some years that I don’t attend the local pride festival at all.  This year I didn’t work so I had the opportunity to run in the Hummingbird 5k, table at the festival with Safe Haven, and walk in the pride parade with Grandmother’s for Peace.  This made for a fun, vibrant, memorable Pride weekend!

 

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  1. Radical Cheerleaders:  Back in 2010, I organized a radical cheerleading group called the Rah Rah Revolutionaries.  The group evaporated when I moved to Mankato for graduate school.   This year, I revived the group on a modest scale.   Hopefully, it can be a spring/summer project.  The Rah Rah Revolutionaries are a modest ad hoc group, but we did contribute to Take Back the Night by welcoming people to the event with our cheers.  We also did some cheers and chants at an anti-war picket on the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.  Finally, we appeared at one of the 40 Days of Choice events.  It is fun to put on a cheerleading costume and do chants for reproductive rights or against war.

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10.Pandemonium:  Pandemonium was started up in October and meets once a month for “Bi with Pie.”   I have wanted to be a part of a bi+ group for some time, since I think that bisexuality is not a very visible and legitimate sexuality in our society.  One of the catalysts for creating the group was attending a vigil for the victims of the Orlando night club massacre last June.  I was asked to be interviewed but felt shy because I didn’t feel like I was queer enough.  I think that a bi group is important for bisexuals so that they can develop identity and community and better connect with the larger LGBTQ community.


11.Islamophobia Protest:  What better way can a person spend Valentine’s Day than with a picket that shows love and support for the Muslim community.  The event was organized by Break the Bonds (an Israel divestment group) and Kym Young after Superior Mayor, Bruce Hagen made disparaging remarks about Muslims.


  1. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Vigil: This event is organized each August by Veterans for Peace and Grandmothers for Peace.  It was a beautiful event hosted at the Japanese garden at Enger Tower.   This was my first year attending.  Oddly enough, they were short on speakers so I was asked to speak (from a script).  That was neat.  Hiroshima/Nagasaki has always interested/concerned me.  When I was in high school, I went to state for a speech on the topic of the atomic bombings.  As a student in Korea, I went on a weekend adventure with some fellow students to Hiroshima.  It is startling and horrific what our nation did to two civilian populations.  Zombie movies have nothing on the grotesque reality of our militant foreign policy.

 

    1. Letters for Prisoners: I have only attended two meetings of this group, but wrote my first letters to prisoners.  I wrote to Oscar Lopez Rivera and Leonard Peltier, but members of the group can write to any prisoner (famous or not).  I wrote Rivera about a trip to Puerto Rico this spring and my impressions of it as a pseudo-colony.  I wasn’t sure what to write because I am not very knowledgeable about the Puerto Rican independence movement.  I wrote Leonard Peltier about a local picket that Socialist Action hosts on his birthday each year and some local Standing Rock actions that have happened (I have only attended a few Standing Rock events, so I just mentioned my impressions of those events).

 


  1. Social Events: Socialist Action hosts a few social events each year.  This year we did a “commie con” themed Marxmas Party, which was attended by about 25 people.  We also did a Fall of Capitalism Party in October, which included trivia, fall foods, and a visit from Karen Schraufnagel (Socialist Action’s Vice President Candidate).  Our final social event was a Bolshevik Bonfire on Wisconsin Point.

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  1. Speaking to a Class: I was invited to speak informally to a class at UMD about domestic violence and working at a shelter.  It was a wonderful opportunity and made me feel like my experiences matter and that I have knowledge worth sharing.

This is just a sample from my list of 75 events.  Since some of these groups or events happened more than once, it quickly added up to that total.  Based upon the list, I would say that I am weak on my participation in racial justice and environmental issues.  I have started to attend a few SURJ meetings, so perhaps that can help me become a better ally in the area of racial justice.  As for the environment, I attended a documentary last night, but it was focused on marketizing carbon and buying electric cars to solve climate change (which isn’t the anti-capitalist solution I am looking for).  As a whole, I am proud of my engagement.  This stems from being a socialist.  Once a person becomes anti-capitalist, it is hard to see issues in isolation.  A person cannot fight sexism without also fighting racism, ableism, and classism.  A person cannot promote the interests of workers at the expense of the environment or promote environmentalism without looking at how classism, racism, gender, and ability intersect with environmental issues.  War is also an issue of feminism, class, race, and environment. Thus, I am not attending events for the sake of reaching a magical number, but trying to be engaged on many fronts in the war against capitalism.  The numbers encourage me and make me feel proud for trying hard to be a “good” activist.  Since activism is pretty thankless and misunderstood, I think it is okay to give myself a pat on the back for doing my best this year!

The Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition

    The Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition

H. Bradford

(The following was written for the University of MN-Duluth’s Women and Gender Studies Department Newsletter)

Many people may not be aware that Duluth has its own feminist activist group, so I would like to take a moment to introduce you to the Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition (TPWRC).  TPWRC was founded in September 2014 by a group of activists who were involved with ad hoc protests of the 40 Days for Life.  For those unfamiliar with the 40 Days for Life, it is an international anti-choice event wherein volunteers spend forty days outside of abortion providers with the hope of ending abortion through prayer and protest.  The anti-choice campaign began in 2004, is organized through local churches, and happens in the fall and spring each year.  Last spring, the event mobilized 120,000 volunteers through 4,700 churches.  Locally, the 40 Days for Life is held in September through the end of October outside of the Building for Women from 8 am to 8 pm.  Counter protesting them is important because their presence shames women who use the clinic and seeks to sway public opinion against abortion.  Because 95% of Minnesota counties do not have abortion providers, defending our clinic in Duluth is essential for ensuring that women in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin continue to have access to abortion services.  Furthermore,  over the last forty years, abortion rights have been whittled away by a relentless onslaught of anti-choice legislation that mandates biased counseling, parental consent, waiting periods, and funding restrictions.  With this in mind, the activists who founded the Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition have hosted regular protests of the 40 Days for Life since 2010.  We sought create an organization which could continue these protests into the future and organize other feminist actions in the community.  This is how the organization came into fruition in 2014.


Since its founding in 2014, the group has organized a variety of feminist events.  Aside from the counter protest of the 40 Days for Life, TPWRC has organized a support picket of Roe v. Wade.  Last year, this involved a “glo-test” wherein participants carried signs and wore glow sticks.  We have also organized “Chalk for Choice” events this fall, which entails using chalk to create positive messages and artwork in the plaza of the Building for Women. The group has also organized a feminist book club, which will resume this winter.  Other events include panels for International Women’s Day and Roe v. Wade and monthly “Feminist Frolics.”  Feminist Frolics combine education with outdoor adventure.  For instance, in August we went for a hike after listening to a brief lecture about how patriarchy shapes our relationship to nature.  In September, we went foraging for wild food while learning about the history and economics of foraging and gleaning.  Another exciting project that our group has been working on is launching a radical cheerleading group.  The Rah Rah Revolutionaries has participated in several local protests since their re-launch this fall.  Through these various activities, the TPWRC seeks to promote feminist activism while educate ourselves and our community about feminism.


Admittedly, our activist group is modest.  At many of our events, we have less than a dozen attendees.  Our level of activity ebbs and flows with the work schedules of our organizers.  However, the call to feminist activism has hardly been greater.  Feminism is misunderstood and misrepresented in society.  At the same time, women continue to be underpaid and undervalued in the economy.  They continue to be sexually assaulted and abused, then blamed and shamed for the violence against them.  Abortion rights are curtailed, while students are provided skeletal sex education, daycare is as expensive as rent, and we are the one of three nations in the world that does not provide women with paid maternity leave.  Shockingly, denying voting rights to women has become a popular demand in some circles!  It seems that even the most basic rights granted to women have been called into question.  Feminism should be not feared and averted, but should be reclaimed and asserted to make the powers of capitalist patriarchy tremble with fear.  If you would like to join this fight, the Twin Ports Women’s Rights Coalition can be found on Facebook or can be contacted via email at Hbradford@Css.edu


Radical Cheerleading Chronicles: 15th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

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Lately,  I’ve been feeling old.   Well, nothing makes me feel old like the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.  Seriously…15 years?!  That began 15 years ago?!  I remember sitting in a foreign policy class with that sexist professor from CSS.  I remember being cynical when we dropped food and messages on the population, followed by bombs.  I remember celebrating the 11th anniversary with a small picket in Mankato.  A student snickered a few weeks later when it was announced that the troops were being drawn down.  Our small picket ended the war, he laughed.  Yeah, yeah, we aren’t changing the world.  Rub it in.  Really it seems that we have been “drawing down” for five years.  The Northland Anti-War Coalition disbanded in 2014 under the pretense that we would draw down the troops to half in 2015.  Here we are, 2016, and there are still 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.  And, no one knows and no one cares.  I didn’t even know.  I was shocked when I read a report that cited the Department of Defense…that indeed, we still have almost 10,000 soldiers there.


Anti-war work has a special place in my heart.  My very first activism was anti-war activism.  War is one of those big things.  At least to me it seems pretty easy and obvious to be against war.  Abortion rights can be complicated to explain.  But, war is expensive and it kills adult people…children….pregnant…women…fetuses….animals…environments.   It seems that anyone who generally does not like the idea of things dying or becoming permanently injured, would be wary about war.  This gets confounded by patriotism, fear, and hate, of course.  But, if not death…the enormous price tag should deter some.   The Afghanistan war could cost up to 6 trillion dollars.  Currently, the war has cost about 680 billion dollars.  I read that per American, the Afghanistan war has cost $33,000. Of course, there are different websites with different numbers.  I imagine that it is hard to calculate or anticipate the full price tag of the war.   On the low end, we have killed 30,000 Afghan civilians or on the high end, over 200,000.  We have created six million Afghan refugees.  At the same time, there is little improvement in the country.  The Taliban has been steadily gaining territory and ISIS has been gaining a foothold in the south.  Opium production is actually 35 times greater today than in 2001.  Really, this is a black hole sucking up American resources with little benefit to the population there.  The worst thing is that it is entirely invisible in the public discourse.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans are talking about it.  Yet, both are responsible for this prolonged and pointless war that benefits no one- spare some defense contractors and warlords who siphon off aid.


It would be wonderful if the 15th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan was a catalyst to renew the anti-war movement.  Alas, it is an invisible anniversary for a forgotten war.  Locally, we planned a picket in Superior with the Veterans for Peace and Grandmothers for Peace.  The Rah Rah Revolutionaries decided to make an appearance, even though the event was modest.  Three radical cheerleaders showed up.  It was bitterly cold for October.  Our cheerleading costumes were not enough for the unexpected cold.  However, our chanting and cheering kept us warm.  The pompoms also kept our hands from freezing.  Like Take Back the Night, it was myself, Lucas, and Alexa.  In total, there were eleven people at the picket.  It is sad that there were fewer people at the protest than there were years of war!!  But, this is the sorry state of the anti-war movement and I am glad that there are some die-hard activists.  Eleven is better than zero.

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Although we froze our butts off, there were a few things that made it worth it.  For one, I think that the older activists, especially those who were in the Grandmothers for Peace, were glad that the cheerleaders were there.  Even though we are in our 30s, they were happy to see “young” people there.  Someday I will be an old lady who has done decades of activism-looking to the future.  We are the future.  We are young in the sense we have many decades left to fight.  So, while the 15th anniversary sure makes me feel old, it can also make me feel young when I see the Grandmothers for Peace.  Another plus was that we had a great response from cars that passed by.  We were a bunch of frozen weirdoes with peace signs.  Yet, we had many honks and waves.  People don’t like war.  Maybe they forget that it is still going on, but it is encouraging that they support our efforts.  Finally, it was nice to do cheers as the cheerleaders.  It made the time go quickly.  It kept us warm. And, I now have cheers to re-use for the 16th…and I predict, the 20th anniversary of this war.  Here are the cheers in case any other radical cheerleader group wants to use them:

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Anti-war Chants

I can’t stand,

Another year in Afghanistan,

Fifteen years is way too long,

For a costly war that’s clearly wrong!

15…15

So much war is just obscene!

10,000 troops are still too much!

In country we shouldn’t touch!

15…15

We armed the mujahedeen!

How many years until we see!

War is our policy!

Bush, Obama…Hillary next?

War goes on no matter who we elect!

That’s why we’re here, doing this cheer!

This is a chant all parties must hear!

Hey hey, understand!

We’re still in Afghanistan

We never beat the Taliban,

Even now they’re gaining land!

Hey, hey, understand!

This forgotten war is a sham!

600 billion since 2002,

What on earth should America do?!

31 thousand civilians dead,

Spend that money on peace instead!

No matter how many troops we send

This war goes on without end!

No matter how much money we spend,

This war goes on without end!

We’re anti-war and we couldn’t be prouder

If you can’t hear us, we’ll shout a little louder!

One, we’re anti-war (point to self)

Two, you should be too! (point out)

Three, troops home now!

No more war, war, war, war!

Troops home now! (Clap, clap, clap, clap)

we’ll show you how! (clap, clap, clap, clap)

Take to the streets (clap, clap, clap, clap)

Unite for peace! (clap, clap, clap, clap)

Salam, Pace, Mir

We’re for peace

It’s why we’re here

Paz, peace, amani

No more war,

Just harmony!

1,2,3,4

We cheer for anti-war

5,6,7,8

No more fear, no more hate!

9,10,11,12

Put our weapons on the shelf!

Who was the one who started the assault,

Bush, Bush,

without a doubt!

Who had the urge, to do a troop surge?

Obama, Obama!

Continued the drama

Who is next in November?

Will this war go on forever?

Stop stop

TROOPS OUT NOW! (raise fist)

Six million refugees

Stop this war

Stop it please!

Rah rah rah,

Peace is patriotic

No duh, duh, duh (thumbs down)

War is idiotic

Alexander the Great

Genghis Khan

The Mughal Empire

The list goes on

The Sikhs and

The British too!

All defeated by you know who!

The Soviet Union,

And Now the US

Why we’re there is anyone’s guess!

It could be contracts

Or the war machine!

This endless war is so obscene!

Tell me, tell me

What would you do?

If I gave 30 grand to you?

Would you save for a home, go to college, get a car?

If you didn’t pay for the Afghanistan war

Tell me, tell me,

How would it be?

If we pooled all that money?

Who would be poor or going hungry?

With a new priority!

We want justice

We want peace

U.S. out of the Middle East!

No more wars for corporations,

No more drones and occupations!

Not a penny, not a dollar

We won’t pay for endless slaughter!

Money for jobs and education

Not for war and occupation!

 

Black sites

Drones

Opium Farms

These are the ways our

War does harm!

Radical Cheerleading Chronicles: Take Back the Night

Radical Cheerleading Chronicles: Take Back the Night

 

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This fall was the re-launch of the Rah Rah Revolutionaries, a radical cheerleading group that I started in 2010.  To be sure, it has been a very modest beginning.  However, I am happy that a few people are interested.  Really, it is remarkable that I can find any other human being in the world who wants to dress up like a cheerleader and protest things with me.  This is a brief chronicle of what we have been up to.


Our very first event was Take back the Night, which was held in early October at UM-Duluth.  Take back the Night is an international event against sexual violence/violence, which began in the 1970s with protests against pornography and violence against women.  While I don’t have an official count of how many people attended last year, it seems that there were four times the people who attended this year.  The march went on for many blocks and included a large number of students from CSS.  It was the largest march that I have attended in Duluth for many years.  I can not be certain why there was such an increase of CSS students, but perhaps the high profile rape that occurred to a CSS student who was studying abroad in Ireland was a catalyst for the college to become involved.  Since I was not an organizer of the event, I can only speculate.

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I did not have much vision of what our participation in Take Back the Night would actually entail.  I figured I would bring my collection of pompoms, some signs, make up some chants, and some extra costumes.  With a garbage bag full of gear, I met up with Alexa and Lucas, the only two members of our group to show up.  Well, there was three of us.  That was a start.  Since we didn’t have a table,  I suggested that we could go out into the hallway and welcome people with some cheers.  I asked the volunteers at the registration table if they minded if we cheered across from them.  They seemed enthusiastic about our impromptu welcoming committee.  So, we stood there….together…holding signs and doing the cheers I had prepared.  Some of the cheers were found online.  Others I made myself.  I will post them so that other cheerleader groups may use them in the future.

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We generally had a good response to the cheers.  People seemed curious about what we were doing.  A news station wanted to interview us.  We even had a few people join us.  In all, three additional people joined us for some pre-march chanting.  Since it was in the hallway, it wasn’t particularly disruptive to the Take back the Night resource fair with was happening nearby.  Once the speakers began, we stopped the cheers and joined the event.  This was followed by a march.  We did not use any of our own cheers during the march, as the organizers had their own chant.  However, we did walk together and tried to add some energy to the front of the march by shaking our pompoms and shouting the chants.  The march was pretty amazing since it included hundreds of people.  There were community members as well as a large contingent of male athletes.

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Although it was a modest beginning for our radical cheerleader group, I am proud of our work.  I think we added a little color and energy to the event.  Take back the Night is a serious event.  There is a lot of painful testimonies and raw poetry.  At the same time, there is an atmosphere of power and celebration.  It is an event where those painful experiences are turned into unity and determination for social change.  I think that the cheerleaders added to the celebratory aspects of trying to overcome sexual/intimate violence in society.  As a whole, I draw a positive balance sheet.  I think that next year I would like to see more cheerleaders there.  I would also like to perhaps work with the organizers so that they can direct us to what kind of role they would like us to have (as I would not want to step on anyone’s toes by accident).  Finally, it would be useful to have our own table at the resource fair (though this would take away from our ability to stand outside the hall and cheer).   With that said, it is a start.  Every start is a little rough, but I am very thankful to the small core of cheerleaders who have helped make this project a reality.

Take back the Night Cheers:

 

Give me an N: N!

Give me an O: O!

When I say no

You’ve got to go!


Nei, Nein, Nyet, Tidak

When I say no

You step back

Ei, Nee, An-iyo,

When I say no

It’s time to go!


Feminists Unite

Take back the night!


2,4,6,8

Stop violence, stop rape

3,5,7,9

If there’s no consent, it’s a crime!


Say it once,

Say it again,

Stop violent women and men.


Consent, consent, you gotta have consent

If she’s been drinking

Don’t be thinking

You’ve got consent

Consent, you gotta have consent!

If she says no,

You gotta go,

Consent, consent, you gotta have consent!

If she says nothing,

Don’t try something!

Consent, consent, you gotta have consent!


We have the right

To go out at night!

That’s we are here,

We won’t live in fear!

We won’t stand silence

When there is violence

We won’t stand still

When some will kill

We won’t look away

Until abusers pay!


Hey, hey you

If she says rape

It must be true

Hey, hey you

If he says rape

Believe him too!


Whatever we wear

Wherever we go

Yes means yes

And No means No!


No means no,

It doesn’t mean maybe

Do not touch me

I’m not your baby


The night is for the moon and stars

Not tears, bruises, and unseen scars

The night is for women and girls

To stand together and change our world


Bases, home, campus, dorm,

Everywhere assault is the norm

Pastor, spouse, coach, dad

It makes me angry

It makes me mad

Protests, classes, shelters, strikes

That is how we’ll win this fight.


We’re going to fight

For our right

To walk the streets

And Take Back the Night!


Rise up!

Rise up!

Rise up, up, up, up


Tell me why,

In this day and age,

Are women raped and underpaid


For all the women, who live in fear

We come together,

It’s why we’re here.

For all the women, who live in shame,

We fight for you,

We’re all the same!


We’re the feminists,

And we couldn’t be prouder

If you can’t hear us,

We’ll shout a little louder!


Hey hey, ho ho,

Patriarchy has got to go!

 

My Short Stint as a Radical Cheerleader

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Back in 2010, I started up a radical cheerleading group called the Rah Rah Revolutionaries.   You might ask, what is radical cheerleading?  Well, it is a form of performance based activism that began in the mid-1990s by three sisters in Florida (Aimee, Coleen, and Cara Jennings). Generally speaking, it has an anarchist, anti-capitalist, feminist history.  I am not an anarchist, but I enjoy the idea of appropriating cheerleading and twisting it into something subversive.  By the time that I started the group, radical cheerleading was in decline nationally.  This isn’t surprising, as social movements in general were in decline after the Bush years.  Nevertheless, 2010/2011 saw a resurgence of protest and I am glad that the cheerleaders were a tiny part of that.


When I started the group, I had a lot of energy for activism.  I had just returned from a semester abroad in South Korea and I was looking to re-engage in my community.  The trip was a bit of a political isolation chamber.  Weird ideas fester in isolation.  I wanted to start up a radical clowning group at the same time.  For better or worse, that idea never took off.  Anyway, the idea of radical cheerleading had appealed to me for some time, though I am not sure how I first became familiar with the idea.  It seemed like a way to add something fun and interesting to the run of the mill protests that I had been attending.  Admittedly, my main motivation was probably the fact that I had been a cheerleader in high school.  Granted, I was the worst cheerleader in the history of cheerleading.  I was so awful that I actually got hate mail asking me to quit the squad.  This makes for a funny story, especially because the sender did not add a stamp to the letter.  I had to pay postage for my own hatemail.  I feel that paying postage for your hate mail pretty much means you fail at life.  None of this traumatized me enough to squash my fantasy of being an adult communist cheerleader.  To this end, I made some handmade fliers and put them up around Duluth.  I assembled some cheering clothes and recruited a few interested friends.  Thus, this is how the Rah Rah Revolutionaries was born.


The group really came into fruition when we tabled at the Duluth/Superior Pride Festival that year.  This helped us establish an email list.  This is also where we did our first action as the Rah Rah Revolutionaries, which involved cheering and chanting at a group of religious activists who were there to protest the Pride Festival.  In all, I have good memories of tabling at this event as many young people and members of the LGBT community showed interest in our group.

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Following the event at Pride, we had a few meetings at my house.  We never practiced any chants or routines, but we planned some events we could attend.  Our events that fall included a fundraiser for CASDA  (a local domestic violence shelter) and an anti-war rally.  We were able to lead the anti-war march and lead the protesters in chants.  We were also involved in a few “Cheer for Choice” events.  In these events, we counter protested the 40 Days for Life picket outside of the Building for Women.  We did this several times during their 40 day vigil.  Because of my affinity for costumes and red and black clothes, I provided most of the uniforms/clothes to my friends.  After these fall events, the group went on hiatus during the winter.  It re-emerged in February 2011 with a few protests against Scott Walker’s attack against collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin.  We also did a few “Cheer for Choice” events that spring in front of Planned Parenthood as a way to counter protest .  In all, only about a half dozen people were actively involved in the group, with a dozen participants altogether. rah6


Unfortunately, I graduated in the spring of 2011 and moved to Mankato in fall 2011 for graduate school.  The group did not continue after I moved away.  Years passed, and while I looked back at the brief stint at a cheerleader with fondness, I figured that it was something that would forever remain a brief moment in the past.  However, after attending the Pride Festival this year, I once again became nostalgic for my pompons and cheerleader outfit.  As I saw young politicized youth wandering around the festival, I thought that they might enjoy radical cheerleading.  Perhaps it would be a way to make protesting fun and accessible.  At the very least, it could add some color and noise to local protests and pickets.  Around the country, there are not many active radical cheerleading groups these days.  I myself am pretty busy with other things.  But, the magnetism of nostalgia and possibility pulls me back to that past moment.  So, I am preparing for round two of the cheerleading squad.  Hopefully we can cheer on the masses to, “Rise up!  Rise up! Rise Up up up up!”

 

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