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Arin DeGroff: Conversation Transcript

Alex 1:43
Arin, this is your first time and for anybody joining us for the first time, this is our second base Range Community conversation. We were here last month in August. We were looking to talk to Andre LoVelle. Today, we have Arin (DeGroff)... She is very involved with activism these days. She's an artist. And she's also out here with us in Los Angeles. And we're lucky to talk to her about her activism and what she is doing to bring change.

Arin 3:15
I am an artist I tap into different mediums of painting, writing, photography, bodywork, energy work, massage therapy, activism in the last five months, four months. And right now my world, aside from my art consists of being kind of on the front lines here in LA as the revolution unfolds in America so yeah, that's that's a short, very condensed version of my life right now.

Alex Question 3:54
Well, yeah, so you did say five months. So your organization's called we know We The Movement, right? And so how did you get involved? What is that story? And, you know, how's it going now?

Arin 4:08
So, on May 30th, Los Angeles experienced a series of riots and police brutality, and just a very large moment of distress in our community. For those of the people that are on here that are from LA, at Pam Pacific Park, but also just near Fairfax, so that side of town on May 30th, some unfortunate events went down. And that following week, a series of really large protests kind of exploded all around the city. And so that Tuesday, myself and a friend of mine went out to Hollywood to a protest that YG called, and YG did not show up so there was like, 2000 if not more people just
aimlessly wandering the streets. Me and a group of people that I did not know and they did not know me, kind of all just naturally started leading and organizing peacefully by the end of the protests, we got people home safely. There was no arrest. No casualties like nothing that had been happening happened with that group. And so it was kind of beautiful to us. Then by the end of it, we were like, Okay, let's do a protest again, tomorrow and the next day. And then by the end of the week, we had broken the record for the largest protest in LA. Now we hold that second ranking because there's been a lot more protests, which is beautiful. We love it. But yeah, we became a group a week, a week after protesting together consecutively for that first week of meeting one another. And now we're about four months, five months in right now.
Dydine Question 5:58
Within We The Movement, what’s the age group that are you guys in?

Arin 6:03
So our youngest is just turned 21. I think we might still have someone that's 20 years old, which is awesome. And I think our eldest is about 35. We're 17 strong, but we also have people like in terms of our core group, but we also have so many age like, bigger than that of age ranges supporting us. So it's beautiful honestly, to see everyone come together.
Dydine Question 6:35
When you look back before May 30th, before you guys started the small things, do you think your life has changed drastically? How do you see life now?

Arin 6:46
Um, I think I think it's double parted right, like everyone in the world experienced Corona so everyone's lives drastically changed even in the last year. Like, yes, like this change, but it's also a point in my life where I feel everything that I have experienced has given me the tools and has built me to be prepared for what's happening now. So like, maybe in some subconscious part of my mind, I'm like, Yes, I'm here. This is gonna be how it happened. But either way, life has definitely changed.
And it's blows my mind every day.

Alex Question 7:30
Yeah, yeah. But it's good work, though, right? I mean, in five months, I'm sure you feel like you change personally. And I hope that you feel like you've encountered some sort of change from your own efforts from its efforts.

Arin 7:46
Yeah, most definitely. I think all change despite how uncomfortable it is, is great change. Whether you see it in the moment and you see it later. So there's definitely been parts of the movement and not even necessarily in the group just like that's happening right now in general, that have been challenging and emotional and difficult. But it's building this resilience in myself. And I also think in my group, the biggest change that I've seen just in LA and the community within my group, is this idea around unity and being able to like put our differences aside and still unify under one idea, which is, you know, we're looking for equality on all fronts, you know, the simple statement of Black Lives Matter, you know, so being able to unify under that. It's great. And like, I think that's the first step to seeing the bigger changes that we want to see.

Dydine Question 8:49
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. So when you wake up in the morning, and do you know that you're going to protest today, as a lot of us know For the world to watch them use it looks dangerous thing. And we are just so proud of young people who are there peacefully protesting and knowing also that they might be at risk. Then you're one of those who you're one of those young people, you know, how do you prepare in the morning and we'll come to your mind? Are you? Are you scared? Are you afraid? Are you like, I have to do this? How are your feelings before you go into the streets to peacefully protest?

Arin 9:29
I love that question. Honestly, each show is really different, like weekly, if not daily, things are changing on the front lines in the streets. So, you know, there's been some mornings that I've woken up knowing that I had to protest and I've been nervous, quite frankly, because of different attacks and certain energies and things that we've been seeing from our police force. And so there's been definitely days where nerves hit me. But I like to start every morning with like intentionally breathing, and intentionally like grounding myself and deciding before anything before I interact with anyone before I go out on the streets in this like collective energy of like, hey, things are going wrong here. I ground myself. So like when I'm out on the street, if anything does happen, I'm alert I'm aware. But more than anything, it fills, you know, that feeling that you have when it's something that you're supposed to be doing? And you do it and you're like, oh, wow, this feels good. Because I'm protests are peaceful. That is like what we pride ourselves in in terms of like the community that we've built.
I say that ultimately the feeling ends up being feeling like safe and protected and fairly unified with my with my people. So I don't necessarily like let the fear take over.

If that makes sense.

Alex Comment 11:19
Yes It sounds like you let her drive of what you know needs to be done kind of outweigh the fear and I'm happy to that you know that there is no nervousness there is still fear there because you're still human. Right? Like you're not fearless you know the risks but it's it's um, it's very admirable that you continue to do so anyway.

Arin 11:41
Yeah, honestly, everyone that has been like showing up consistently like, every single day, every single week, like, even when they're, you know, there's been times where I haven't been out and there's been people like 20 deep like facing an army full of police in front of them. You know, So it's definitely one of those things that like, it's not everyone doesn't have that in them. There's so many different ways to show up. But it's definitely not something to just like take lightly either.
It's like take lightly either, you know, we we know what we're getting ourselves into when when we go outside. Yeah, so shout out I commend everyone shout out to everyone doing what they are doing
Dydine Question 12:31
doing their for each other and protecting each other. Yeah, that's, that's, that's beautiful. So Arin, um, it gives a lot of different ability to be able to go out there, which I applaud you as well. And what do you think affordability? What does that mean to?

Arin 12:54
vulnerability facility to me the first word of feeling that comes to mind is that exactly. Smile You're giving me like, but honestly, like, it is probably the greatest gift of life to like step into anything vulnerable. Anything scary, like stepping into truth to me is vulnerability, whether that is your own truth or whether that's a truth that you're seeing outside of you, right? Being able to like engage with that and be have the courage to like step into those things and do the work. vulnerability is not something that is easy or meant to be easy, but it gets easier. I don't know that for a suggestion for really great videos for everybody. Rene brown on a TED talk. It's amazing. You should check it out. The yes brief answer to vulnerability that's it. That's another like can of worms to open.

Alex Question 13:56
So I'm just curious, and maybe you already touched on this, but Why do you feel so inclined to go out in the streets as a young person, we all can show our activism in different ways, why do you feel to go about it the way that you do?

Arin 14:44
Part of it is just feeling my instinct, it is work that has to be done. I feel in my heart, and in my life, and i have the tools and the capacity to show up.So I am, and everyone has been standing with me and beside me, I think feel similar ways. You know, it's just, it's like, no question. It's like, Okay, what else would I be doing right now? Well, I know there's plenty of other things to be doing. But either way, it's, I'm honored to show up and use my voice and encourage other people do the same thing and just share my story, share my tools. I think people are going back to this idea of vulnerability. It's our most vulnerable part of life right now. It's raw. You know, people are scared people don't know what to do. And there's so many lingering questions. So like if we can create a We The Movement can create, if in general, as communities, we can create safe spaces for people to be able to come and be vulnerable and speak and talk about all the
craziness going on. Even just that is like, how I want to keep showing up, you know.

Dydine Question 16:01
When when you talk to mom, do you have Do you remember? Because your mom is a generation before. In the 60s, they have a little different experience than we do. Here. Do you see from her stories? Do you see any relevant things are reoccurring that are happening again and again, like history repeating itself?

Arin 16:25
Yeah, the most plain and simple one concept still killing black people still murdering black people for something as simple as riding their bike in a neighborhood. Deon Kinsey died a couple weeks ago, a week and a half ago 10 minutes from my house riding a bike in his neighborhood. Yeah, you know on arm. So that right there alone still is still happening. I don't think too much has changed. I think it's just taken different shape in a different face. And Where we have the opportunity now to because of social media, but also just like our generation has the power to, to stand up and face it in a different, more unified way. You know, we have allies on our hand now that we did not have back in the 60s and 50s. And our parents function in a different way there was but it's everything is a little bit different now, which is to our benefit, I think. Right?
Alex Questions 17:31
Right. That's beautiful. Yeah, and, and more on allies, meaning your interaction with people may not be friends. So if you not be friends, and they come up to you in these protests, I'm sure. And they are curious about like, what they can do, like how can they help they see the issues as clear as day now you know, like you mentioned, we're in a pandemic, you know, we have our phones in our faces all the time. It's kind of hard to avoid these truths now.

So how do you embrace these allies who may not know exactly what to do? And what advice would you or do you give to them?

Arin 18:11
So a lot of allies are just showing up on their own accord, which is great. There's a family from San Diego that we love that has just been coming up. Like consistently, every protest, we've had every event that we've had. And they're my favorite example, showing up asking how they can help and be a part but really just like simply showing up by I asking, is them doing more than, like we could ask for and then being able to take their experience back to their communities and to their family, and show them and tell them hey, look, I was a part of a peaceful protest. Or, look, I have a community of people of color of black people around me now where we are engaged in their culture and In their events and have been brought around other people in their community and have enjoyed our time just I think showing up and engaging honestly is what I know for me what I encourage allies to keep doing it, personal experience for anyone despite your color is the greatest teacher though Yeah, that's that for me there's there's so many different avenues that I feel are allies and different groups or educating allies to take but really just continued education through personal experience and through showing up is my favorite route.

Dydine Question 19:39
And so when someone comes to you and quit, because I feel like always come from different come to companies they think to be backgrounds or different backgrounds, but also they have somehow less less knowledge about out about Black Lives Matter or get just started, or others have some ideas they think, how do you create space for all of them to feel in grasp and not feel shut down or be scared of people over even approaching? Someone wouldn't? Yeah.

Arin Answer 20:21
Yeah, that's a good question. I think it all comes down to like the language that we use and how we speak to people, right? There's a stark difference and being on a protest, right, and like screaming and yelling at people and like, letting our anger and our rage like come through vibrationally like when we're talking to people on marching. That's a complete different feeling than like going out and marching with people and engaging in conversation with them, showing people you know, hey, look, where we all come from a different place. We all may be feeling different, but like we're unified under one idea right now. Something that I like to do with the crowd. is asking a series of questions, right? to show people our likeness, but also to show our differences. So like, hey, “raise your hand, if in the last two months, you've been feeling sad, raise your hand. If in the last two months, you've been feeling angry, and you don't know how to show up”, I make everyone look around. And usually, everybody's hand is raised doesn't matter what color we Mexican.

Dydine 21:00
We’re all human!

Arin Comment 21:00
Yeah, exactly. They're all. So yeah, I think that alone makes people feel like, Oh, I'm in a safe community right now. Just outside on the streets with these, you know, a couple hundred people, if not less. And I feel then just creating that precedent allows people to feel safe to like, come and approach and share their point of view without feeling like oh, I'm gonna get attacked if I think or express myself differently than this person. Yeah. Yeah.

Dydine Question 21:56
Yeah. So, you've been protesting, you've been speaking out you've been active, like constantly every day, if not every other day. Do you see change? Or do you have hope? How's that look like for you?
I love this question. Yeah, I think hope is useful if action follows, right.
We can evoke or change of anything. But I think what our generation in our society all around the world now is realizing, okay, we can hope and wish and pray and meditate and want to manifest but like there's this real life element of like actually doing the work and taking divine action or just taking action in general to like, build towards what you're hoping for. So yeah, hope is useful. Yeah, I have hope. But I'm so focused right now on intention rather than hope and action, like action based hope.

Alex Comment23:12
Yeah, that's, that's a really good point. Because, yeah, I mean, even with people who want to do stuff, not just allies, but people who are kind of in the thick of it. A lot of times, it can either be scary, or it can be kind of demoralizing. You see all this, all these waves of negativity come through, and you're like, I don't, I don't know what to do. Like, I know this person is doing this, this person's doing that. But maybe if I just hope that something happens, you know, things are eventually gonna blow over. There's a lot of people's mindset. But I’m happy that you brought up action in that, you know, it's one thing that I hope and that's another thing too, you know, to the best of your ability, you
actually go forth and do stuff. You take as much as you can that suits you or your lifestyle, however you want to show up.

Dydine Comment 24:12
Yeah. And then having this conversation, you know, like, yeah, even if it would be public like this be live, but having it with your kids, having it with your parents, you know, it just creates that whole dialogue of like, making more humanity better.

Arin Comment 24:30
Yeah, that's it. I know, everything in the world right now is really uncomfortable, especially like the political climate and racial climate, everything is uncomfortable, but like, digging directly into that discomfort, you know, on the other side of that is true if it's something so beautiful, though, I really encourage people and that type of vulnerability to like, keep digging in. Because for generations, right, we've seen the same thing like “that's not happening. Oh, I don't see that?” That doesn't work anymore. It won't work for us. Old cycles have to be let go.

Alex Question 25:13
What brings you joy in life, through your work? What is fulfilling for you? At the end of the day, you can look back and be like “that was fulfilling. That was joyful”?

Arin 25:33
So, and on a personal outside of like the movement things joy for me looks like dancing, looks like singing, looks like being with my family with my friends, seeing joy in their lives, being able to like see people break through hard times, I think is also something that brings me a lot of joy. I feel like proud older sister. I love love. Love brings me joy. But inside the movement, I think the thing that has brought me the most joy is truly being out on the streets and chanting with people and like sharing this unified like pain and a
longing for like, you know, change and for things to shift to dramatically like, being able to not feel alone in that, you know, like, it's joy, but it's also just like, a sense of like, “Oh, I can breathe”, because I'm not the only one feeling all of these things right now. And I don't know how to like process it. So that alone is like a joyful sight just to see all types of people together, like, “Hey, cool. We're here we're showing up”

Alex Comment 26:57
To cultivate that community. And that’s sense of growth as one.
Dydine Question 27:06
So what what what's your message to young folks who are growing up right now or have already grown up? What's your message to them about, especially in our world today and for them and how they can, you know, make a difference, what steps they can take, things like that?

Arin Answer 27:35
First, we're in the age of information, right? So like educate yourself if you don't know something, you have ample amount of resources to research and find what you resonate with and find what's true for you in your life or in your country or in your state or wherever you are. And also to to look at the how history is cycling. Right. So, educating yourself on the past, finding tools to bring yourself present and know what's happening now and then start building foundations for the future. So that looks, you know, different for everybody and that's completely fine. So even in that, knowing that how I show up or Dydine how you show up, or Alex how you show up, that may look different for all of us, and that's okay. But when we find what works for us, honoring that and being in that and then toward and towards the future, you know, again, our generation both, you know, millennials and Gen Z.

(...) No, but all of us as as a collective right. Knowing that, like what we're doing right now and the work that Doing even if showing up, for example is like you sharing your art sharing your voice, knowing that doing that is encouraging someone else in the future to be able to do so. Like if we did not have the Civil Rights Movement, we wouldn't be encouraged to show up how we're showing up now.

Alex Comment 29:18
Right? Yeah, it's very much like these building blocks, right? And you're talking about passing the torch, passing the torch in spite of the generational thing. If you know the Civil Rights Movement, if MLK didn't do what he did if Malcolm X didn't do what he did, we wouldn't have this platform today. And the same thing goes for today. Like if we're not if we're not doing what we're doing today, and generation 20, 30, 40 years down the line, also won't have that, that thing. So it's a very cyclical thing. And I think hopefully, it's empowering us to, you know, make more change and things will get better, will get stronger voices will get stronger. And hopefully more unified as a result. Yeah,

Arin Comment 30:04
Hope action word. Hope actually.

Dydine 30:15
So for the next few minutes we dedicate our time to our audience so they can ask any questions.

Arin Comment 30:31
There's one that I saw that actually kind of caught my eye when I was talking. kind of got weird for a second but there's one from Black Lives Matter South Pasadena. Shout out to them. They've been holding it down. There's a comment about you know, the police raided black unity downtown LA B and arrested AK with news. I did not know that. That's new information to me as of right now. Black Unity has been protesting in front of City Hall downtown Los Angeles consistently for the last four and a half months sleeping outside and tense, like, straight up there every single day and Act With News follow him he is of phenomenal like phenomenal human, but also just someone who has been there on the grounds with us from like week one, documenting everything. Everything that's happening. So he's like, in and out of all the group's showing real life media and real time. What's actually happening on the streets. So yeah, thank you for letting me know about that.

Dydine Question 32:01
I would just I would just ask you a few questions myself.
Arin you you had an (car) accident a while back. And sometimes I feel like what the more things we go the more hard stuff we go through creates a thick skin in the way for us. Can you share a little bit of how you were doing before the accident and and how the accident changed your life, or your perspective towards life.
I feel like people relate to that.

Arin Answer 32:42
I was fairly young when the accident happened. I was a sophomore in college. So like what 20. The accident itself was an event that caused me to lose feeling on the entire segment body. For two years, so it was a journey of not knowing if I was ever going to like feel or be, you know, normal again. So it put my mind in this place of like, fight or flight, but also like being able to be functional and that like bodily experience. So it taught me a really valuable lesson of empathy, one for people who don't have an answer to their chronic pain, right, that there is no cure or there is
nothing anyone can do to help but also taught me resilience in a way that I hadn't learned it yet. So like, knowing Hey, despite the amount of pain that you're in, if you continue to move forward, right, like that's the best thing that you can do for yourself instead of like, continuing to let like the pain And all the things that come with that, like eat your spirit alive. So yeah, it changed me drastically it opened me and expanded me to further my my journey and my art. It opened me to really just like the divine magical part of life. Pain is, I think, our greatest teacher, if we allow it to be.

Dydine Comment 34:31
You know, I think those moments that are like highlights in our lives and they win their life differently and they're appreciate it even more because it's almost like a second chance you've just been given. So it helps to see life differently and be more graceful, I would think.

Arin Comment 35:00
That’s the biggest thing, grace, for ourselves and for other people.

Dydine Comment 35:09
So, for those of you who have been watching me who's been part of We The Movement, it's, they have an Instagram handle, we can just add it in our (comment section). @Wethemovement.la
You can find their page here. We like to support nonprofits here when we're doing these talks. So if you would like to support them, they have they have the link in their bio on their for their GoFundMe account. If you want to support them, you could just go on their on their bio. Click on that link and support them. So that's also another way of showing up

Arin Comment 36:03
But no it's that's the best part though like the so people know and are aware of the money goes towards us being able to like continue to put on more events so like for example, we did a Juneteenth event, a 4th of July but at some artists come all that showed up and did everything for free but even being able to just like keep you guys safe with like food and water and gas in our car so we can like keep people protected these type of things is what what he would be donating to. Also, if you don't want to support in that way, that is totally fine. I understand. It's a pandemic, like we all have coinage to safe. So we are we had a protest yesterday, in the neighborhood of Liberty Park you can show up that way and mark with us if you're local. If you're not local. Reach out over Instagram, message us, ask us questions. We have a go vote campaign rolling right now. So if you are in America go vote. Please.

Dydine Comment 37:07
That's another way to show up!

Arin 37:14
Yes. So we're, you know, honestly, there's so much that we can tap into, and a lot as a group that we're tapping into. So just follow us if anything at all. And we're going to continue to be a bit more active on social media as well as continuing to show up how we can in the streets.

Dydine Question 37:35
Yeah and there's something you mentioned the other day when we interviewed you for the podcast. And that one of your (organizations’) goals is to build the communities of color around the city, or around the country because they're more marginalized and other communities are That's one of your goals. Can be tap into it a little bit?

Arin Answer 38:06
Yeah, so the idea is wanting to do what we're already doing, in terms of like being able to just gather people within the black community, but allies, everyone gather people under one idea, you know, that were supported black lives. But we also, you know, it’s even further than black lives, I think we're fighting this, like, the powers that be and the people, if anything, so, really, I think the best thing that we as a collective of human beings right can do right now is continue to like build a new foundation. So like, if we can do what we're doing in LA and unify people under this name of like culture, black culture, right, and we can do that in other states as well. And that's really what we want to see recreated. But like, it's, it's not just We The Movements’s responsibilities, not just my responsibility. It's not just you two's responsibility, you know, there’s group's in every single state right now. There's people, individuals, collectives all showing up. And so I think as long as we continue to, like, do the work and make the noise and communicate unification on the scale that we're wanting it, is doable. And, you know, I don't think anyone has has a direct answer right now, but I do think building new foundation, you know, like showing people useful tools, right, like, even something as simple as like, “Okay, this is how you grow food. This is how you can get water and this is how you breathe and meditate and this is how we ground and maybe this is a tool you can use to ground yourself before you go and face the world outside.” So yeah, unify under that. I feel like I've said the word unify a trillion times, but it’s the most important.

Alex Comment 40:13
It’s the core of what you’re. The core of what we’re doing. One was doing, you know, having conversations with our lovely community here. And even just being able to be like to use the word or the phrase holding space, holding space for each other, and embracing ourselves, embracing the community, and particularly for those who aren't local, because I mean, there's a lot of people here who are overseas, not in the States. And for them to be able to be involved or at least just listen to this conversation and see that the only thing that anybody wants is that unity and is to be able to just embrace one another. I think that's that's an important thing. I'm lucky. Dydine I think you feel the same same way. We're all lucky to be in this moment and to share ourselves with everybody.

Arin Comment 41:09
Thank you guys, you you are king and queen of holding space right now.

Dydine Comment 41:22
Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom sharing your story, your work. To the audience, thank everybody who was able to stay on and asking questions and saying hi from France, Paris. All these countries. Denmark, everyone. We’re all human. All we want is happiness. So it's give it to one another and our world will be a better place. So, please go ahead and support We The Movement if you can or reach out to Arin and be part of the peaceful protesters happening.
These discussions happen every month, the second Sunday of every month. So we'll see you again on the second Sunday.

Alex Comment 42:27
Yeah. Well, thanks again for joining us and supporting us and embracing us for a second live stream. Once again, we're lucky to talk to Arin and just gain insight into what you know what different people are working to, to accomplish here. And we're just blessed to be able to, you know, to be here. So thank you. Thank you so much.