Fiction Featuring Activists
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Our POA Instagram series–Fiction Featuring Activists (FFA) Fridays, Protecting Activists, and others–are text and graphic dives into subjects useful for thinking about activist culture, keeping safe, and other aspects of the activist experience in reality and fiction.
Read all our posts below–no need to have an Instagram account. Visit our POA Instagram account to see our whole grid and interact with our posts.
Judas and the Black Messiah is a great example of fiction featuring activists that focuses on a critical aspect of revolutionary struggle, the use of informants and infiltration to undermine movements for justice. Especially Black-led movements, whether these are in Haiti, Africa or the US.”
#ProtectOurActivists #FictionFeaturingActivists #JudasAndTheBlackMessiah #BlackAugust #ShakaKing #DanielKaluuya #LaKeithStanfield #JessePlemons #DominiqueFishback #Sundance2021 #SundanceFilmFestival #FredHampton #WilliamONeal #BlackHistory #BlackCinema
This last week of July Cuban Americans advocating peaceful relations with the American people walked all the way from Miami to DC to protest the blockade, that imperialist act of war by a huge superpower against the tiny country of Cuba. Seems a good moment to recall a very well-received Cuban film from the seventies that explores an aspect of the Cuban revolution from the inside–the experience of a woman fighting for equality within her family.
Esta última semana de julio, un grupo de cubano americanos caminaron desde Miami hasta DC para protestar el bloqueo de EEUU, aquel acto de guerra imperialista de parte de una superpotencia contra el país muy pequeño de Cuba. Parece ser buen momento para recordar una película bien recibida de los años 70 que explora un aspecto de la revolución cubana desde adentro: la experiencia de una mujer que pelea por la igualdad dentro de su familia.
#cubasocialista #retratodeteresa #cinemacubano #nobloqueocuba #fictionfeaturingactivists #fictionfeaturingactivistsfridays #pastorvega #pastorvegadirector
The activism of the two main characters in this 1990 novel by Barbara Kingsolver uncannily echoes present-day real life struggles happening this very week. The fictional Codi and fellow Arizona activists may not have called themselves “water protectors” in Kingsolver’s story, but their struggle against a mining company points straight to the current fight of Indigenous folks and others to save the Shell River from the Enbridge 3 pipeline in MN. And if we get confused about politics in present-day Nicaragua–where on July 19th the people celebrated the 42nd anniversary of their popular revolution–Animal Dreams reminds us of the cruel US-led Contra War, with its all-too-real devastating effects both then and now.
#fictionfeaturingactivists #fiction #ficcion #waterprotectors #enbridgepipeline #honortheearth #stopendridge #Sandinista #contrawar
It’s good to recognize working people’s struggles in fiction, whether in 19th century France, as with Les Miserables (which Bastille Day reminds us of this week) or other revolutions celebrated in July: Nicaragua on the 19th, Cuba on the 26th. If you know any works of fiction featuring the last two, let us know!
#Bastille #lesmiserables #lesmis #revolution ##1832 #Sandinista #aniversariosandinista #19dejulio #fictionfeaturingactivists
To start of Pride Month we feature the movie Pride for our Fiction Featuring Activists Friday’s Post. Interestingly the movie os not directly about the struggle for gay rights so much as it is about the importance of connecting issues, struggling together, and challenging divisions in the larger movement for social justice. Regardless of shortcomings it is great to see a film that humanizes people fighting for worker and gay and lesbian ( the terminology had not expanded at that point) rights, and showing up close the interpersonal struggles to overcome cultural barriers and connect in solidarity.
The horrendous massacre of the black community in Tulsa OH known as Black Wall Street has been –Finaly!– much in the news. But what is often missed is the fact that is was black resistance to the threat of white violence ( press calls to lynch black youth) that set off the white rampage that destroyed their community. Whether police of lynch mobs, this irrational fear of black men ( and black people in general) is at the core of white supremacy and the extremely harsh white response to any attempt of black people to resist racism and defend themselves.
We lift up all kinds of fiction featuring activists, but the Wanted 18 is a flavor of FFA we especially love at Protect Our Activists: an engaging story of regular folk resisting injustice with humor and humanity, in the midst of struggle. In this case, Palestinian resistance.
People have been dying to protect the environment from rapaciousness for centuries, and continue to do so. The People Who Hugged the Trees is just one fable that tells the true story of those who risk their lives for the environment–whether in India, Brazil, Philippines or elsewhere around the world . Check out organizations like The Indigenous Environmental Network, @culturalsurvival, and @nrdc_org for resources. Contribute ideas of other resources for activist protection on our Activist Protection Resource page at the Protect Our Activists website (link in bio)! And of course, we hope you’ll consult and contribute to our growing Fiction Featuring Activists List!
Journalists constantly risk their safety when reporting on the frontlines of war, protests, etc. An Israeli airstrike targeted the media last week, an attack that is a war crime. Visit the @committeetoprotectjournalists IG page and website for more safety advice and resources.
This week’s Fiction Featuring Friday selection is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, celebrated Indian novelist, essayist and activist, fierce critic of injustice in her country and the world. Her work is part of the critical body of literature activists and all progressive folk need to familiarize ourselves with to inform our support of global struggles. Visit our Fiction Featuring Activists List for the entry on The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and many other works of fiction centering people working for social justice around the world. Suggest other works of fiction for the list!
Activists are always potentially in danger when they’re at protests. Now, we’re being targeted even more by proposed “anti-riot” laws in states across the country. Activists need protecting in many ways, but a particularly urgent need is to counter these attempts to make it physically more dangerous to raise our voices for justice and human rights.
Happy (belated) Earth Day! Protect Our Activists wants to especially recognize the environmental activists around the globe who risk their lives to protect the only planet we have against reckless exploitation and destruction. Our Fiction Featuring Friday selection is the movie “Kayak to Klemtu” (#KayaktoKlemtu) about a young girl’s odyssey in the fight against a fossil fuel pipeline.
Whistleblowers expose facts about government misconduct that officials ignore or actively cover up—like the murderous use of drones denounced by Daniel Hale. Following their consciences in this way often puts whistleblowers at great risk—of firing, ostracism, often jail. Protect Our Activists posts focus on different whistleblowers and on those who defend them. Check out the Activist Protection Resources List on our website. Please suggest post ideas or resources to include!
In our Fiction Featuring Activists List we mostly focus on collective action and social movements, and how these are portrayed. However, it is good to recall that in some cases individuals do engage in activist campaigns on their own, as this novel’s protagonist Janina does. And, as happens with Janina, these folks are often discounted as “crazy.” Even as we focus on the need for better representation of social change movements, it’s important to look at the role of courageous individuals in posing hard social questions and forging activist paths. Don’t hesitate to contribute your own suggestions to our FFA list!
In this month of Earth Day, Protect Our Activists recognizes the dangers faced by environmental activists. As documented by @global_witness and other organizations, in many countries the military, wealthy elites and corporations target defenders of the land and water who try to stop them from environmental destruction in the interest of profit. Protect Our Activists stands in solidarity with our Earth defenders and encourages people to check out and submit recommendations to our Activist Protection Resources List.
While fiction featuring activists is generally rare, the FFA topic we do see addressed most often in fiction is environmental activism. We’re excited to share this week’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday selection, Saving Annie’s Mountain. This picture book, illustrated by O’Ryan, was written for children by a group of young people we know from Wind Dance Farm School in Berkeley Springs, in the mountains of West Virginia, close to coal mining country. Based on what they researched and witnessed, the young authors tell a story of confronting the devastating practice of mountaintop removal. Published by Cold Run Books, the book was written by Lillie Gill-Newton, Maryam Keeley, Nicholas Mokhiber, and Elliot Stewart of Berkley Springs, WV.
Palestine Action, like many activists and social justice organizations, may well find itself targeted with harassment. Being on the frontlines as first responders to injustice is not only hard but also dangerous. Protect Our Activists contributes to activist safety by heightening awareness of this reality in these posts, and by compiling our Activist Protection Resources list (link in bio), where activists can find and share info on how to keep safe in the face of such targeting. This list is just getting started and we hope folks will consult and add to it!
It’s great to see love stories (and adventures, dramas, mysteries, etc.) featuring activists! This week’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday selection is “Union Made” by Eric Lotke. We hope you’ll support the full and fair portrayal of activists in fiction by
1) getting the book!
2) visiting our Fiction Featuring Activists List at ProtectOurActivists.org to see this and all our FFA Friday entries. We invite you to review and evaluate its portrayal of activists using our Fiction Featuring Activists Review Guide
The arrest of Andrea Sahouri was an attack on press freedoms and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Journalists are crucial to covering protests and holding people accountable for their actions. We cheer as Andrea Sahouri is acquitted, but as we saw in the protests that happened in 2020, journalists are simply not safe when covering protests. The organizations listed at the end of the post are great resources to check out if you’re a journalist covering protests.
Orange Is the New Black (@OITNB) is today’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday! This TV show is based on @piperkerman‘s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison. This show includes several instances of activism, rare in itself in TV dramas and rarer still showing prison activism–including a political prisoner (check out our last post!) and an inmate uprising demanding justice after a prisoner is killed by a guard.
Activists, especially Black and Brown activists, have long been targeted and imprisoned for speaking and acting for justice. While many prisoners become activists as they struggle against the extreme injustice of the entire system of incarceration, a certain number are directly targeted because of their activism. Check out this post for more information and organizations like @thejerichomovement and @all4globaljust who support and fight to release political prisoners.
This week’s Fiction Featuring Activist’s Friday selection is the film Little Pink House. Inspired by a true story, Susette Kelo leads the fight to protect her and her neighbors’ houses from corrupt local politicians’ push to use eminent domain to expropriate and bulldoze them to satisfy the interests of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. It’s a great selection to watch during #womenshistorymonth!
Happy Woman’s History month! Our first Fiction Featuring Fridays selection that highlights a woman activist is the 1979 feature film Norma Rae! This selection fits in with our latest posts of protecting workers and union organizers! Unions enable workers to ensure their right to safety and fairness in the workplace. The progressives and activists need to make protecting workers who organize and speak up for worker’s rights a priority!
Trader Joe’s fired employee Ben Bonnema last month after he sent the CEO a letter advocating for a safer workplace. Despite the illegality of such treatment, Trader Joe’s has long been trying to suppress union organizing among its employees. It is vital to defend the right of Trader Joe’s employees to organize and to demand safe workplaces. *On Wednesday evening, Trader Joe’s offered to reinstate Ben Bonnema.
Our final Black History Month Fiction Featuring Activists selection is Them by Nathan McCall, a snapshot of the reality of gentrification in Atlanta GA. Fiction Featuring Activists appreciates McCall’s portrayal of people hashing out this issue at the micro-grassroots level together, showing opposing viewpoints and feelings up close. Although Black History Month is coming to a close, at Protect Our Activists we’ll keep showcasing the work of Black creators, and sharing stories and resources about protecting Black activists.
Iris Meda, a Black nursing professor at Collins College in Texas, died of COVID-19 after coming out of retirement to teach home healthcare aids during the pandemic. Two of her colleagues, who were leading a union organizing drive at the College, have been fired. At Collins and at colleges and universities around the country, there is an urgent need to protect the right of university teachers and workers to organize and to demand safe workplaces.
@sorry2botheryou is our FFA Friday selection today! This 2018 American dark comedy film was written and directed by @BootsRiley. Sorry to Bother you follows a young Black telemarketer who adopts a white accent to succeed at his job. Swept into a corporate conspiracy, he must choose between profit and joining his activist friends to organize labor. Every Friday in February we will be honoring #BlackHistoryMonth with a #FictionFeaturingActivists selection that highlights Black activists and activism. Be sure to check out this film and all our fiction featuring activist entries on the FFA List (see bio for link!)
@redhouseonmississippi has been fighting to stop the foreclosure on the Kinney’s home. Black and Latino neighborhoods have seen twice as many evictions as white ones during this pandemic. Throughout history Black, Indigenous and other people of color, like the Kinney family featured in our post, have been evicted at far greater rates than Whites. From The Great Rent Strike War of 1932 in the Bronx, New York, to the eviction resistance at the Red House in Portland, OR, activist groups like @stompslumlords, @evictionfreesf, @housingjustice4all, @kctenants, @dallasstopsevictions and so many more are organizing against landlords who have no compunction about throwing families from their homes. Racial justice struggles must be economic justice struggles, including making decent affordable housing a right and defending against evicting Black families onto the streets.
A new administration doesn’t mean all our problems are suddenly fixed. The Biden administration is still trying to extradite Julian Assange from the UK to the US where he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Protect Our Activists stands in solidarity with Julian Assange and with all activist journalists who take risks to inform us of the misdeeds of the powerful in the belly of the Beast.
Happy #BlackHistoryMonth! Every Friday in February, Protect Our Activists will be highlighting a piece of fiction featuring Black activists. This week’s Fiction Featuring Activist Friday selection is Judas and the Black Messiah (@judasandtheblackmessiahfilm), which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (@sundanceorg) on February 1st! Director Shaka King dramatizes the story of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, and petty criminal William O’Neal, who helped the FBI assassinate him. Make sure to check the movie out when it starts streaming on HBO Max on Feb. 12! AND be sure to check out this film and all our fiction featuring activist entries on the FFA List.
It’s time to make the FBI (and other law enforcement entities) stop targeting Black leaders and activists! Protect Our Activists supports the American Civil Liberties Union’s campaign, #ProtectBlackDissent, and @aclu_nationwide‘s demand that the FBI turn over all their documents related to modern-day surveillance of Black activists. Sign the ACLU’s petition (click link in our bio) to add your name to this campaign to protect the rights of Black activists and halt this and all forms of intimidation, surveillance and repression against Black activists fighting for justice!
This week’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday selection is We are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, and Tlingit artist Michaela Goade. This children’s story is about a young Ojibwe girl resisting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. The Biden-Harris administration already canceled the Keystone XL pipeline permit, and with enough strong demand from Indigenous Water Protectors like those represented in this children’s story, the Dakota Access pipeline–the Black Snake of this story– can be halted as well. Stories like this make participating these struggles accessible and natural in the eyes of young children.
You might have noticed our #FictionFeaturingActivists #FFAFridays posts highlight different #novels, #tvshows, #movies and #booksforchildren that feature #activists and #activism.
Where do we find these selections? On our Fiction Featuring Activists List at ProtectOurActivists.org!
Some depictions on the list may not be completely full and fair representations of activists, and some may fall into all-too-common stereotyping of activists. But all take at least a step, and often more, in the right direction, showing folks fighting for social justice.
Every week, we post a new work of fiction featuring activists on our Instagram, and lately we’ve been trying to match the work of fiction featuring activists with a relevant theme or event for that day.
If YOU have any suggestions for our Fiction Featuring Activists list, please use the link in our bio to contribute to our list! If we use it as our Fiction Featuring Activists Friday selection you’ll get a shoutout!
This week, Protect Our Activists acknowledged the immigrants who help make our lives healthy, pleasant, and possible. Today’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday is Salt of the Earth, a film based on the true Salt of the Earth strike. The miners decided to strike, demanding an end to discriminatory working conditions and the dual wage system of two-tiered pay, different for Mexican and Mexican American workers as compared to white workers. To this day, immigrants continue to be discriminated against and treated poorly. As America transitions to a new administration, we hope to see the much needed turning point on immigration policy, provided there is a big popular movement push for it. As activists, we must continue to hold ourselves accountable and acknowledge the immigrants who have made our work possible.
The movie Selma is an obvious choice for today’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday, since the 15th is the actual birthday of Martin Luther King, the movie’s chief character, and because the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s-60s was, like this our present moment, a time of direct confrontation with violent racist forces.
Last week’s fascist, right-wing mob at the U.S. capitol raises a lot of questions to us at Protect Our Activists. As our goal is to protect activists, what is the safest way of doing so in response to the racist and violent riots that took place? There is no simple answer, which is why we chose to share the questions that we hope to explore as we continue our journey of protecting the protectors. On our website, we have begun an Activist Protection Resources List that is linked in our bio. We don’t have much on it and we’re looking to the activist community to contribute suggestions. Feel free to comment other questions you may have, or voice your own ideas in the comments below!
The Neighbors, a novel about Iran’s struggle for economic and political independence and the CIA instigated coup that toppled a progressive government there, is an apt Fiction Featuring Activists choice for this week. A week when a right wing coup was attempted in our own country, instigated by a authoritarian who if not stopped may well attack Iran yet again.
Trump would do so for selfish personal reasons, but nonetheless would be following a longstanding practice of US and British colonialism and imperialism.
Novels like The Neighbors inform us about that reality through the experiences of realistic people we can get to know.
Protect Our Activists stands in solidarity with Julian Assange and with all activist journalists who take risks to inform us of the misdeeds of the powerful in the belly of the Beast. Trump would do so for selfish personal reasons, but nonetheless would be following a longstanding practice of US and British colonialism and imperialism.
This New Year’s Day our Fiction Featuring Activists List highlights Parable of the Sower, by the incomparable novelist Octavia E. Butler, This first book of the two-part dystopian Earthseed series is particularly appropriate today for its message of new beginnings, which we’re all longing to see. The story portrays a diverse group of outsiders creating a community of social and racial justice in the face of great adversity, with the faith of the main character in her vision and in the future as the guiding force–which also connects Butler’s work with this last day of Kwanzaa, Imani (faith).
Why is this a good book to recommend for this year’s-end #holiday season? In the Northern Hemisphere where we’re located, we’ve come to the darkest, coldest time of year and are looking forward to the returning of light and warmth. The cold millions of this just published book are the shivering masses of US working people at the beginning of the 20th century, struggling with unemployment, neglect, and oppression, and, by the end of the book, the influenza pandemic also. The title also refers to the millions of dollars of the cold-hearted few who exploit, manipulate and brutalize them.
#Activism has a key role in the novel. Focusing on a youth named Rye, jailed for supporting the Industrial Workers of the World, and on the young but seasoned IWW leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, with whom Rye shares a dramatic few months of struggle. The book reminds us that even though popular struggles ebb and flow–like the year– in many ways we continually move a bit farther along the road to justice.
You might have noticed our #FictionFeaturingActivists Fridays posts highlight different #novels, #tvshows and #movies that feature #activists and #activism! Check out this post to learn more about our Fiction Featuring Activists #journal topic and look out for an upcoming featured POA Journal post under this topic soon!
Those of us hoping to take a relaxing winter break–as much as possible in these difficult days–can derive both entertainment and inspiration from the works on our Fiction Featuring Activists list. This POA Journal topic is all about the importance of full and fair representation of our indispensable activists, and we hope you’ll check out our posts on this and other topics at our website. See link to protectouractivists.org in our bio!
This week’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday is a children’s book. Betty Before X is inspired by the childhood of Civil Rights activist Betty Shabazz, told by Ilyasah Shabazz–daughter of Shabazz and Malcolm X– with Renée Watson.
During these holidays, we remind ourselves to be conscious gift-givers. In this year of rising up against racism, this story, and others like it, can help bring this ongoing movement into the lives of youngsters in a very relatable way. What better gifts than stories showing a young Black girl becoming part of a movement, and eventually a leader? Books like this one, giving an intimate, human glimpse into Betty’s life, thoughts and feelings as she evolves into an activist, play an important role in the struggle to transform the dominant culture, which punishes Black female leadership, into one where it is honored and normalized.
Get this book and other Fiction Featuring Activists at independent bookstores, especially BIPOC-owned ones. Say no to Amazon!
Labor singer Anne Feeney sings, “We just come to work here, we don’t come to die.” That’s what the “radium girls” were fighting for back in the 1920s. In honor of Human Rights Day (December 10) this Friday we highlight the movie Radium Girls, about women who struggled to uphold their basic right not to be exposed to the deadly poison radium in their workplace. Soon we expect to see movies about present day workers’ struggles for basic protection against the deadly coronavirus.
This week’s Fiction Featuring Activists Friday offering is The Jungle, by 20th century socialist writer Upton Sinclair, who authored an impressive number of anti-capitalist novels, in addition to this one he’s most noted for.
We applaud (with a smile) the Sunrise Movement’s call to celebrate “Black Friday,” as “Anti-Capitalism Day” by boycotting the shopping frenzy. How about instead diving into fiction featuring activists?
Check out #ProtectOurActivists’ FFA List today and every Friday. Link in our bio!
This week’s Fiction Featuring Activists entry is ‘Milk’ (2008) Directed by Gus Van Sant. Check out the fiction featuring activists list on protectouractivists.com and please contribute to the list if you know a work of fiction that features activists in a positive light. We’re working towards full and fair representation of activists in works of fiction!
Exciting news! Juliana Barnet’s article “Where are the Social Movements in Fiction?” has been published on Portside. Check it out using the link is in our bio! Also, don’t forget to join us on Thursday, November 12 at 7pm for a webinar on Fiction Featuring Activists. Sign up link is also in our bio!
Here is our first Fiction Featuring Activists Friday post, highlighting an episode of the TV series Anne with an E, where young Anne engages in organized, planned resistance to injustice. Check out Protect Our Activists’ Fiction Featuring Activists list for more suggestions, and follow our FFA Friday Instagram posts.
🔹Introducing FFA Friday! Every Friday, Protect Our Activists will be highlighting a work of fiction from our Fiction Featuring Activists List on our Instagram!
🔹Don’t forget to sign up for our webinar on Fiction Featuring Activists and explore the Protect Our Activists website for more! Links in bio!