We are North Carolina SONG. We are artists and organizers, educators, students, and parents. We are fighters, survivors, lovers and rebels, and bookworms who work in coffee shops, punk kids who bus tables at the diner, and butch queens who tune cars all week. Black, brown, queer, and not leaving. We live in the South, where our roots run deep in the red Carolina clay, generations strong, thick and resilient. Even as many of our ancestors were pushed off the land and out beyond the rocky tops of the Appalachian mountains, still, there were some of us who could not be pushed and stayed.
These roots hold us here, where our foremothers, brought in shackles to plantations like Somerset and Stagville, tucked cowry shells between walls of slave shacks in Horton Grove. Here, in Durham, where SONG was born over 20 years ago, we move in this legacy, which is still with us – alive.
Bull City, where porch-sit is a verb, and late afternoon sounds like a train whistling into town, banda music jumping from car windows, sirens blowing by, thunderstorms washing away your footprints, the music of dogs and fireworks in the distance, bass coming from cars outside the tattoo shop, the squealing brakes of school busses giving children back to their mothers, and whirring cars that need repair but are holding on for now.
In our town, schools are too often places where young people – our hope, and our future – are slipping through the cracks, bullied and harassed, profiled and pushed out. On these streets, the police do not serve and protect us. Traffic stops and checkpoints pad county budgets, and mark the beginning of a descent into detention, deportation, and loss. We know this is not the “new” South, although developers try to sell us back the tobacco and textile mills where our grandparents toiled, as gated lofts and restaurants where we can’t afford to eat. This is our home.
So we celebrate our survival here, seeking the spaces where we can connect to each other and to what is real. We build family like patchwork quilts, from the remnants, stitched together, stronger at the seams. We know our liberation depends on us coming together across lines of difference, and we are all part of one another.
We long for Durham to be a place where all of our children can be safe in our streets and in their schools. Toward that vision, we are engaged in SONG’s regional campaign – building BeLoved Community around young people in the heart of the South. Our work begins with listening closely to their voices, asking them what they experience and what they need to feel safe. It calls us even deeper into community, finding our people at the High School GSA, the gay bar downtown, the skate park, and the mall. We are collecting stories because they help us see the connections in our struggles, strengthen our analysis, and target the site where power can be transformed. We are gathering people, building trust and alignment, sharing skills and rooting deep. We need your help.
North Carolina Field Organizer
To find out how you can get involved, please contact serena@southernersonnewground.