In wake of the Trayvon Martin murder trial, movements led by young people who embrace hoodies, tattoos, hip-hop culture and rebellion are proving that a powerful voice in this nation can defy stereotypes or expectations.
While media pundits and lawmakers continue to bicker over the destructive ethos of American society, organizations like the Dream Defenders, the Million Hoodies Movement and the Trayvon Martin Foundation have taken their concerns to the streets.
They’re camped out. They’re marching Washington. They’re demanding that laws be changed and they’re forcing the government to listen.
An uprising not unlike civil rights movements of the past, these youth activists have utilized social media, new technology and the provocative antics of hip-hop to make a difference, and they don’t intend to stop.
“We are powerful because we are a product of our generation,” Ciara Taylor, political director for the Dream Defenders, tells theGrio. “We show the world that yes, you can listen to rap music, and yes, you can sag your pants, yes, you can have tattoos and wear snapbacks, but you can also stand up for yourself and your community.”
The Dream Defenders: #TAKEOVERFL
After occupying the Florida State House for three weeks to demand repeal of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Taylor’s team demonstrated their influence this weekend when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced he would hold hearings on the subject this fall.
The victory arrives after the organization, primarily made of twenty-somethings and college students, rallied legislators, drafted letters and sought approval from the Secretary of State to bring the matter to its feet.
According to Tallahassee.com, the protest has cost the government $182,362, including $68,777 in overtime for law enforcement officers.
“I’m thinking I’m going to lose my job,” says Taylor, who works part-time at the American Civil Liberties Union and has taken significant time off to lead the protest.
Thanks to two nearby churches, the group has been able to shower periodically, but they also bathe with baby wipes over the weekends when they can’t leave and return to the building. Food is delivered, though not in large amounts.