Why DxE Wednesday IX: Eva Hamer
This is the latest installment in a series of interviews with DxE activists by Rachel Waite, who is part of the blog team and an organizer for DxE Grand Rapids (MI)
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and join DxE?
I was one of the only vegans I knew for about ten years, which was a great way to find out that veganism alone will not achieve animal liberation. I met a DxE activist a couple years ago, and his explanations made perfect sense, but I was terrified to come to a disruption.
Some months later, on Thanksgiving, I sat with my family and the bodies of that holiday's victims. I was upset, as usual, but rather than only lashing out at my family, I found myself deciding to come out to an action. It took me a couple months to actually do it, and I was extremely nervous, but I survived!
I was amazed by that experience even in the first few moments of planning. It was the first time a group had acknowledged the gravity of animal suffering and the justified anger I felt about it. This alone was inspiring.
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
I've done a few high-impact disruptions now, and all of them have been great experiences. Most recently, I went to a Bernie Sanders rally with over a dozen other activists. Our plan for the action was grand. We had so many people, one banner each, and a powerful mic check planned. Although this didn't come to fruition, nevertheless by an amazing stroke of luck, we were able to get seats on the bleachers behind Bernie and display our banners on national television for several minutes. It wasn't in line with the original plan, and news coverage was sparse, but it was an incredible success considering our expectations in the moment.
Q: How does music influence your activism?
I am a music therapist, which in short means I'm trained to use music to achieve non-musical goals and to think about music as a means to an end. I romanticize a lot about the labor movement, particularly music's role in it. I think there's a lot to learn about the way the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) used music to clarify their values, inspire workers' morale, and support a sense of group identity. IWW organizers acknowledged that not everyone is going to read books, articles, or even leaflets to understand the economic arguments for unionization, but that expressing these values in the form of a song that everyone sings together is a great way to communicate the message, inspire people, and bind the group.
I'd love to see the same kind of thing happen in the animal liberation movement, and I love what I'm seeing in that direction. As a society, I think we've moved away from the folk music culture that existed at the peak of the IWW, where everyone feels at home making music together, and towards a really-deeply-held belief that making music is for musicians, and everyone else just listens. However, I'd like to see group singing be as common in animal liberation gatherings as it is at church. At the same time, I'm overjoyed to see songs of liberation popping up in various styles, and I'm working on contributing songs myself.
Q: What advice would you give to new activists?
Get involved by going to events and helping out behind the scenes. Make friends. Set goals for yourself. A lot of what we do is absolutely terrifying for someone just starting out, and still is for me to be honest, but we can empower ourselves by setting manageable goals towards being the kind of activists that we want to see more of.
I also want people to know that activism is not all or nothing. Some people have families, demanding jobs, or other obligations that need to come first right now, and I'd rather these people come out when they can rather than not at all.
Q: Why Animal Liberation?
Animals deserve better. When I consider the magnitude of the problem along with the relatively small number of people who are working to solve it, I know that this is the cause where our efforts are most needed.