It has become apparent that an important discussion needs to be had regarding mothers, children and citizen journalism in the context of the ongoing global revolution. As a journalist, an activist and a mother of young children who is friends and in sisterhood with other activist and journalist mothers of young children, I feel I have a relevant contribution to make.
I am also a supporter of both BellaEiko & CitizenStreams and feel both deserve recognition and solidarity.
@CitizenStreams is a no-frills account that has amplified for livestreamers for a very long time. I have a lot of respect for anyone who amplifies the streamers because I know from being extremely close to our media team streamers, the price they pay to do what they do. They literally need all the help they can get and I’m not particularly fussy what form that comes in so long as they are supported in performing the invaluable service of providing a first-person eye-witness counter-narrative to the mass-produced bullshit formulaic crap that mainstream media passes off as “news”.
@BellaEiko is the living embodiment of a livestreamer. Being female and gutsy, she is what we call here in New Zealand “wahine toa” (woman warrior). Indeed she was selected by our media team to rep USA in our series “Women Warriors of the Global Revolution”, where we interviewed Bella alongside Birgitta Jonsdottir (Iceland), Sara Kerrison (Australia), Min Reyes (Canada) and Marama Davidson (New Zealand). In the intro of that interview we wrote of Bella “It is impossible to overstate the historic importance of her very existence, or the sheer crap she endures to continue to play her part.” Anyone who has seen the video in this, our first article about her, or her recent work in #Ferguson, cannot deny it.
Recently @CitizenStreams removed Bella from their stream list because she was at an evening protest with her young son. Bella’s son is one of the children that arguably exists as a result of the movements occurring and playing out as they have – a child of fate, and I would no sooner judge as a third party that Bella should or shouldn’t take her son to an action than I would have told a young Afeni Shakur not to take Tupac to Black Panther meetings.
In the years since our interview of Marama Davidson in the same series, she has become a rising star of Kiwi politics, representing the Green Party, building a massive social media network, standing tall and repping indigenous and womens rights across our country. She is also a proud mother, and chooses to involve her children in her activism.
To understand Marama’s heritage (and the history of New Zealand activism) you should watch the incredible film “Patu” here at NZ on Screen. It studies in-depth and shows footage of the Kiwi equivalent of the civil rights movement in the early ’80s, in which Marama’s father, iconic Kiwi actor and director Rawiri Paratene was a participant.
Marama grew up within an activism environment and it is to all of our benefit that she did. Her children, too, are growing up with invaluable first-hand exposure to the realities of the world, that will only equip them better to deal with it. We can never forget that it is our children who will carry the burdens we leave them – be it environmental like Fukushima, economic like inequality, or political like the decaying shell of the outdated two-party-system.
When we look back at footage of Marama standing in the hazy aftermath of the famous December 8, 2012 #TPPANoWay shutdown, daughter on hip, pouring her heart out to the crowd in front of a line of riot police, she is the embodiment of wahine toa and it is another historic moment in Kiwi activism history – our generation’s 1981.
To disavow or disallow the participation of women and children in movements defies historical precedent and logic.
That said, there are some women, myself included, who either seldom or do not at all involve their children in their activism or journalism and that is entirely our prerogative. Every parent has a different situation, different considerations, circumstances and mitigating factors. It is not for any of us to sit in judgment as to what choices an individual makes for their children. There is no single ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choice that can be made; it is solely the province of the parent to determine, and much like the breast-feeding debate, those with no breasts should by-in-large, butt out, and those that have them but do not show solidarity with a women’s right to choose in all regards, should mind their own children!
For it is only when we try to exercise our human rights that we find out whether or not they actually exist.
Having read Bella’s statement, Citizen Stream’s statement and now Bella’s response, it is clear the communication barrier needs to be broken down and amends made. While America is described as “a litigious nation” it could go either way in this case. Citizen Streams may have been provoked into fearing legal action for carrying footage of children engaged in 1st Amendment activities (does the Constitution have an age limit? Anyone?) from rabid Darren-Wilson-supporting trolls, however they have also done a disservice by publicly implying via the stream removal that Bella is a ‘bad mother’ for taking a child to a protest.
CitizenStreams – I believe that you’ve done a great job for years out of your own pocket and had to deal with all kinds of co-ordinated assholishness from various factions. That said, making your ‘About’ page a reference specifically to Bella and this incident is tacky at best, and I agree you should step up and support mothers in the movement who are forced into vulnerable positions just merely by being parents that care about the planet and what is happening to it.
Bella – I think if CS apologises for not talking to you first one-to-one and has open dialogue going forward, that this could be a valuable lesson for everyone movement-wide and I hope you know we appreciate that many of the risks you are forced to take are due to the suppression of your and all our rights moreso than any decision on your part. The trolls haunting you are a classic example of that. They need not exist, and perhaps we need more attention on why and how they do, to prevent them being so cowardly and damaging in their attacks on parents of young children. Shame!
[This post was blogged live. Thank you for reading and sharing.]
Written by Suzie Dawson
Official Website: Suzi3d.com
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