Van Jones hosted the We Rise Tour powered the Love Army to Nashville at the Vanderbilt Langford Auditorium on Tuesday August 15 and it could not have been a better time.
Sponsors for the event included Rock Nation, Tidal, and music by Victory // @thesoundofvictory and I’m here to keep you up to date on the forum as well as all the arms” (no pun intended) to the movement.
We gathered at Vanderbilt for the forum to start at 8 pm. I arrived around 7: 50 pm to the sounds of DJ Ready Rob //@djreadyrob as the crowd settled into their seats.
Approximately 8:15 the event host Tem Blessed // @temblessed entered the stage to kick off the event.
After introductions and setting the tone, the guest of honor Van Jones walked onto the stage to standing ovation. With that Van gave us the overview of the agenda. We would be hearing from a lady named “Constance” who was also hit by the car that was driven into the crowd during the terrorist attack in Charlottesville. Next, we would hear from Demi Lovato, a song from an artist named Victory, and then Van Jones would give his final remarks.
Constance, in the midst of her recovery from being hit by the car, found it important enough to fly down to Nashville to share her experience. I was in tears as she hobbled on stage on crutches to a standing ovation. The seriousness of the Charlottesville incident really hit home as I saw a lady who literally almost lost her life fighting for what is right. We only got to know her as “Constance” because she is fearful of her safety and does not give out her last name.
(My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Heather Heyer who lost her life in the terrorist attack in Charlottesville.)
As audience members, we got a chance to hear first hand her experience of being in the midst of the protest. Here are a few quotables from Constance’s talk:
“Something about sitting with fear when you know you are doing the right thing.”
“We’ve experienced the hatred since its inception and have had enough.”
“We strategically incorporated white people [during the protest] in order to feel safe.”
A protestor said to her: “I wish I could lynch you and then blew her a kiss.”
“They were armed. [There were} more police, and little to no ambulances.
After the incident, a peaceful protestor helped her get medical attention.
It was so quiet in the auditorium that you could hear a pin drop.
When asked if she had any words for the president, Constance stated that she would like for him to call the family of Heather Heyer, to attend her funeral and that as a victim of a terrorist, she is scared and fearful of the direction of the country.
Oh, Demi. She tried it. While I think she is a beautiful person, she absolutely watered down the impact of the event. She spoke about her experience in bullying (which I felt absolutely minimized the experience of racism and terrorism), how she knows her music can help someone, and encouraged the Nashville creatives to not to be afraid to share their experiences via the arts. The girl she tried. I personally felt she was being careful. It was great to see her in person, but I was left unimpacted by her story.
Van Jones spoke of the truth of where we are in America as it relates to racism and inequality. He also implored our friend and family members to not only denounce racism but to speak out to others.
Here are some of his quotables:
“No more cheap patriotism. We want deep patriotism.”
“The only Patriots are the ones who are fighting for the beauty of the dream: liberty and justice for all.”
“Last year I’ve been hurting and uncertain.”
“The truth will set you free. It will piss you off first.”
“We are so good at fighting what we are against. But not as hard as what we are for. Our greatness.”
“Good is not enough, we have to be great. We have to do what we were born to do!”
“Both political parties suck. They draw their circles too small and leave out folks who need help.”
“Common pain and no common purpose. “
“They want us to turn against each other instead of turning to each other.”
“It’s hard to love right now. There is an opioids crisis now but nobody cared when there was a crack epidemic.”
“The Obamas suffered daily in the White House: n-word, monkey, ape. And the Obamas called them constituents.”
“When they go low, we go high.”
“You won’t be successful building a movement on hatred.”
“People suck at hating someone. We are not made for this.”
“If we let our light go out, how dark will it be?”
I’m more than tired I’m weary. It’s real yall. The white privilege, the racism, the bigotry, the sexism. It’s so real and I’ve experienced ALL of it. It’s painful and truly rocks your core sense of hope and fairness. I’ve experienced it in all levels of education, in my career, in the justice system, in relationships, and in social settings. It really sucks and downright hurts. Part of the reason I’m so bold now is an attempt to make room for who I am as a black woman in a world that marginalizes you and your experience. My black is beautiful. Stop telling me in all your indirect ways that it is not. We are all HUMAN with ONE life that is more precious than words.
While this attack publicly displays where we truly are as a country, I’m more concerned about these same nationalists being our politicians, loan officers, teachers, police officers, and judges, impacting the livelihoods of everyday people on a daily basis. The systemic institutions that are overrun with this bias and hate. That’s what I personally fear the most and what I fear daily.
Way to Get Involved
Visit www. Lovearmy.org for more details on the different avenues you can get involved:
- #LoveArmy: The #LoveArmy is working for an America where everyone counts. We are a home for change makers who seek to build community and deepen solidarity. Through education, connection and action, the #LoveArmy builds “Love + Power.”
- #cut50: #cut50 makes communities safer while reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails. Using evidence-based solutions and unlikely alliances, we can keep communities safe, families together, and the economy strong for all Americans.
- #YesWeCode: #YesWeCode is building a diverse pipeline of ‘homegrown’ tech talent to meet the demand for workers in the tech sector and boost local economies. Be a part of our movement to increase opportunities in the tech sector.
- Green For All: Green For All fights pollution with solutions. We work to get solar panels, healthy food, and good jobs into communities that have little money or power. We want to build an inclusive, green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
#lovearmy #fightdifferent #werisetour2017 #werise
Karla (KB) Burnett is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Life. She loves coffee and donuts. She is a Nashville Native and Lifestyle Blogger; a Free Spirit, and a Music Lover. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Say hi, I’ll say hi back: firstname.lastname@example.org