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Throughout the week of March 30th to April 5th, Hollaback! Boston participated in an international movement to end street harassment. Folks all over the world stood up to bring awareness to street harassment and gender-based violence, and its negative effect on our communities. Throughout the week we hosted events all over our beloved city, including: HOLLA Offline at Boston Common Coffee, a screening of the documentary “War Zone” at Hosteling International, and a college version of TBTB at Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square. We even published our first zine! Our final event for International Anti-Street Harassment Week was our chalk walk in Copley Square on Saturday.
We couldn’t have been happier with the turnout for this event, we even ran out of chalk at one point and needed to make trip to get more!
At noon, I sat in front of Trinity Church and created a sign, so I could be visible for those who were interested in joining in the chalking festivities. A student who was living in Boston approached me: she was writing an article for her school paper and wanted to interview me. She asked me to talk a bit more in detail about the goal for our event, what other organizations were participating in International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and how I became involved in Hollaback!. After she was done interviewing me a group of 30 youth from InIt! Initiative of the YWCA in Copley (a social justice group for teens!) showed up in full force! The group leaders and I introduced ourselves and I gave a brief intro to Hollaback! Boston to them, the definition of street harassment, the goals of the chalk walk, and suggestions for slogans to write.
What they ended up writing basically brought me to tears: “I love my Dark Skin. I love my Light Skin,” “Just because I’m black, doesn’t mean I”m dumb,” “F***** is NOT my name,” “My Shape is Not my Character” and, “Trans is MORE than OK.”
They really understood and went above and beyond with their chalking; you can learn more about their organization and the incredible work that they do in Boston, here.
Soon after the group left, I realized we were really low on chalk, luckily Rosa and her friend Alice arrived, giving me time to run to a store in Symphony to get more!
When I returned with a whole lot of chalk (thanks, True Value!), we got down to chalking! The sidewalk in front of Trinity Church was completely covered with awesome slogans that got people walking by curious about the event and they eventually found us closer to the side of street by the library. With flyers in one hand, creeper cards in the other, Rosa and I answered their questions. A few even joined in with us, telling us their experiences of being street harassed and wanting Hollaback! Boston to come to their schools!
A young woman from CA stopped me while I was chalking, “If we look uncomfortable we probably are,” and asked what organization we were with. She nearly jumped up and down when I replied, Hollaback!. She said someone really needs to start one in the Bay Area, and I told her there was one in San Francisco!
One family joined in and chalked, “Not all Muslims are terrorists!” A nice young man who was sitting on a bench for a bit came over and chalked, too! He really enjoyed it when I chalked, “You put the ass in harasser.”
We ended the event writing in rainbow colors, “The LGBTQ community deserves to feel safe!” and “International Anti-Street Harassment Week” for those who weren’t sure what all our chalking was for, and took a few pics of our rad volunteers! You all are great, thank you so much for taking the time to come down to Copley to tell folks they can Hollaback! to end street harassment in Boston.
image credits: Brandie Skorker
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