Not Going Back: A Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood and ACLU
“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible.”
– Bell Hooks
Not Going Back is a fundraiser that was organized not only as a local response to current issues surrounding human and reproductive rights, but also as an immediate and simple solution for people within the metro-Detroit area to get active, to also say “yes”. Every day I see threads and threads, post after post, from friends and colleagues on social media asking, “What can I do?” How can I help?” I get frustrated texts daily, asking for suggestions of how to get active. So friends, here is your chance to show up and help out.
I’ve spent many years employed as an event coordinator as well as doing it independently out of the sheer love and gratification. There has been a lengthy list of takeaways, observations and lessons I’ve learned from my work. One of the most relevant lessons I’ve learned is that people do really want to be involved and to help when it comes to philanthropic events and often don’t know how to or fear failing, as though their generous efforts aren’t enough. Believe me, every dollar you raise counts. Lending your space to a non-profit counts. Writing a blog about an event or cause counts. Attending a fundraiser like Not Going Back counts. How you spend your money is a means of activism. It counts.
Time and talent is a commodity and how you choose to spend them counts and can be a form of philanthropy and activism. It counts. Often people’s common perceptions of activists are crowds of people marching down a street, posters in hand, chanting, but there are so many other ways to be active within your community.
There is a lot of power in people coming together on a united front, and this collaborative nature is at the nucleus of this event. It is incredibly important to harness people's skills, connections, and abilities as a collective because we are only as strong as the sum of our parts. As event coordinators or organizers, it’s about picking the right team to get the job done— whether it’s planning a wedding, a networking event, or a charity event. I have been fortunate to have been able to call on and utilize my friends skills to create a really beautiful event-from their ability to make food to provide to event attendees or design a flier to get people in the door. I am grateful to have such amazing players on this team. This has been a reminder that you can use your skill set to contribute to the greater good outside of directly donating money to a cause or organization. Remember it all counts.
As event coordinators, I think it is essential for us to create inclusive, representational, and accessible events within our communities. I was really intentional when I reached out to the bands and DJs I extended an invitation to. I wanted to be sure there was a good mix of men, women, and people from different racial and cultural groups, and in turn creating a safe and welcoming space for everyone. The two non-profits we are raising money for do work for ALL of us, and this inclusivity was something I wanted to be sure was woven into the blueprint of this event.
Not Going Back is also devised to bring together like minded people-regardless of race, gender or creed- to shed light on issues that are often hard to digest and discuss in a relaxed and welcoming environment. It was important to me to create an event where the work the ACLU and Planned Parenthood is doing was at the forefront, but less daunting to the general public than say storming the capital building in camo to protest and demand change. When people can learn and share in a welcoming and safe environment and “do the work” without feeling like it’s work, we’ve already won.
So, on August 4th, we— all of us— are going to do the work as a community. People have more power than they often think they have and I hope people come out of this event feeling inspired, educated, and as though they were a part of something really special and important. I hope that people get to connect with like minded people or maybe have a conversation with someone they may not have otherwise. I hope people realize their power, and harness their own philanthropic energy, I hope that people come to Not Going Back and realize the possibility of what people can and have and will do.
When our food group, “Khana” was asked to participate in “Not Going Back,” I started to think about Planned Parenthood and the ACLU in relation to my life as a man.
The words “Planned Parenthood” aren’t usually spoken in conversation amongst guys, unless you’re talking about someone needing to go due to (insert intimate dialogue). As for the letters ACLU, most of us aren’t even sure what they stand for unless you work in law or have an interest in American History.
As a guy, I’m happy to say that I’ve learned that both these organizations are very important to me, my loved ones, and the country I live in. While they aren’t immediately related to each other, they do share one goal: to assist the people that truly need their help— those who might not know what to do or where else to turn.
There is a common misconception that Planned Parenthood is not just an abortion clinic or a place to get yourself checked out. With a simple search, you’ll find that they are, “a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide.” So, that’s a lot that I can personally benefit from, and I know where to turn if I need to simply speak with someone. Not having insurance, having Medicaid, or even having the best insurance in the world, Planned Parenthood is accommodating to everyone no matter their status.
Now, the ACLU simply stands for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Why does that matter to me?
By simply searching the internet, you’ll find, “The ACLU turns the Bill of Rights into real protections for real people. Once the government has the power to violate one person's rights, it can use that power against any of us. ... With the ACLU involved in all major cases, everyone today has an enforceable right of Free Speech.”
So, if I find out we’re getting screwed in our country by (insert awful thing/person here), but I thought we were protected by the Bill of Rights, there are people to talk to that are there to help for just that reason.
It’s sometimes scary or weird to have a conversation about Planned Parenthood with others, and bringing up the ACLU in your everyday conversation isn’t often unless you’re pretty read up on your civil activities. However, it’s events like this, and people that we are surrounded by that allow an accepting and comforting experience for anyone to understand why this is important and how we can benefit individually, in a partnership, or together as a community.
I’ve had the privilege of surrounding myself with like-minded individuals in a creative and passionate city. Most of my community comes from the hospitality industry— shoutout to the original late night bar shifts for introducing me to both Sara and Carlos! This community is filled with hard workers, and also have a creative passion they pursue on the side – by way of art, music, food, and drink. Nearly all of us are hustling with multiple hats in multiple positions.
With as much passion that this industry holds, it also holds a lot of pain. Overworked, underpaid, no health insurance, etc. etc. It’s the same in every industry but more heated in the kitchens pumping out quality food at high volumes, more pressure on the shoulders of the servers and bartenders maintaining brand and composure while memorizing orders and rifling through their mental catalog of seasonal offerings, and on the backs of dish as they hunker down for their shift and close out scrubbing the last mats. And at the end of the day many restaurant positions don’t offer health insurance and are viewed by some, as a low brow position.
Detroit is one of the most important food cities, not just because of the food, but because the restaurants are places engaging in conversations of race, healthcare, and problems affecting the industry/ its workers, while actively finding solutions and providing education. It’s also an industry reimagining what progressiveness, equity, and inclusiveness really looks like.
That being said, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU play a large role in the conversation of inclusion and the move to treat industry jobs with respect. They’re organizations that hold people accountable to uphold basic rights, and provide basic healthcare for hardworking individuals. They’re organizations that have been a topic of many conversations over the bar – be it in hopes of educating a consumer or presenting opportunities for others in the industry to find their voice or affordable everyday healthcare.
I am thrilled for the opportunity to tell a story of such an amazing event, hang out with my favorite people, support important non-profits, and witness the creativity of passionate and hardworking individuals looking to create change.