Thoughts of a Chicana Feminist

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Equity is in the details

I've done activist work for over 10 years in a variety of forms. I've done leafleting, petitions, door-to-door campaigning, organizing and participating in rallies/sit-ins/demonstrations, developing non-profit programs, making speeches, staffing influencial people, fundraising, and now online activism. Through it all, you know what I've learned? Sometimes people in the "business" of social change actually think too big. For most people equity; fairness; social justice is in the details of life. Sometimes it is the small things that make the biggest difference in people's lives. It gives them the personal courage and space to step out and do what is right - not just what is easy or expected.

What got me thinking about this is the movie Car Wash. Its a movie from the 1970's about a bunch of guys and some women - mostly black - who work at a car wash in Los Angeles. The plot is entertaining. The characters are well-developed and humorous. The music gives it heart. What really impresses me is the social and political commentary it makes in the details of the movie. Watch the movie and the first thing you may notice is that all of the actors in the ensemble cast are listed alphabetically. The BIG stars like Richard Prior are given no more recognition than the lesser knowns. Equity in the details.

Later releases of the movie lose this detail. Evidence of this can be seen in the different types of posters that were produced for them. In most recent version I checked out through Netflix the cover hails Richard Prior and George Carlin. They are great actors/comedians, but by giving them first billing the social equity the movie supported is lost.

Equity is in the details. It is something I need to remember when I am at work trying to "market" my non-profit/social justice programs.