Written by Ricardo Martinez and Dana Bauerle-Knight
On a warm night in Austin, June 6th, I walked passed a store front where Dana Bauerle-Knight was tidying up her pop-up protestor rehydration station. I was with a few friends walking to find food. She offered us snacks and water to drink. We resisted until she told us it was all free. We asked “why?” and she shared that the snacks were meant for protesters who may have been out all day and in need of food or water, but that we could take them if we were hungry or thirsty. We hadn’t attended protests that day but we did the night before, and her extension of kindness meant so much to us. She invited us to stop by the next day to volunteer with her. I showed up the following morning and spent my entire afternoon giving out water, electrolytes, snacks, Mother’s restaurant-donated sandwiches, coconut water, and fancy Minute Maid ice pops. Countless community members dropped off ice, water, face masks, snacks, Gatorade, and more at various points throughout the afternoon. I met hundreds of people that day and it was because Dana decided to take action to support her community and her community rallied behind her to propel an idea that helped hundreds — if not thousands — of people. She called it radical kindness; I call it prophetic volunteerism. It’s heart-centered, relational work that fills a specific short-term need and gives folks opportunities to join and feel part of something greater than themselves.
It’s the type of work I want Equality Texas to be doing in collaboration with activists/volunteers across the state. She inspired me. Until I met her, I thought pride month should be muted so that Black Lives Matter protests could take priority. What Dana helped me understand in a deep way was that BLM and LGBTQ pride did not have to operate mutually exclusively from one another. It is time we do this work with a more intentional intersectional lens —in partnership with individuals and organizations who are also doing this great work. Pride month offers us an opportunity to show up as active allies to #blacklivesmatter and #allblacklivesmatter.
Dana is one of the many reasons why we should continue to celebrate Pride. By sharing stories of community members who are doing so much good for the world, we inspire others to mobilize for their communities. For the rest of Pride and though out the year we will uplift stories of every day people doing incredibly impactful advocacy — individually, or with an organization.
IN HER OWN WORDS: Dana Bauerle-Knight
What does pride mean to you?
Pride is equal parts riot and joy—because we just can’t seem to catch a steady progressive break in this country. But we are forcing ourselves through the needle of American consciousness and still gorgeous—so there’s that. 😛
Is there anything you would like to promote about your art or about yourself?
Nah I’m not huge into self-promotion as I’m sure you’ve noticed (I even took down my artist site). But if folks want to support hydration stations they can Venmo me @Dana-Mcknight
What inspired you to set up the rehydration station?
I worked as a solo medic the first few days of the protest and besides the copious tear-gassing and rubber bullets from the APD into the crowd— a ton of folks were dehydrated and suffering from heat stroke—-And since there was such a massive amount of really great volunteer trauma medics coming into the fray—I decided to concentrate my efforts on that. Though there seemed to be a lot of water bottles being distributed on site, I decided to focus on electrolyte disbursement and ICE (because iced drinks being handed out are a bit of a treat in 100 degree weather). So the Hydration/Recharge station was born out of that and we pushed it gently on social media and got tons of donations—and volunteers to help wheel iced bins on wagons through the various protest sites.
How would you like white folks to show up for Black and brown folks during these times?
The biggest thing is getting over the idea that a hashtag is enough to fix this. I’m very much done with performative empty activism and really serious about implementing ideas into practice. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t stepping up when someone is saying racist things or exhibiting micro aggressive behavior to Black and brown people. And while supporting BLM as a network is great—it’s even more spectacular for you to contribute locally! What are the small organizations in your neighborhoods doing that have projects designed to help everyday black and brown people? Who have you called to ensure that police are being held accountable for their egregious acts that target black and brown folks? Are you aware that calling the police on someone who is not harming you can have a severe impact on a black or brown person’s life? These are all things that we can think of to help—but even just taking a few moments in this time to think on how white folks have benefitted from these systems is a MASSIVE step in eradicating them.
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Dana Bauerle-Knight is a multimedia artist from Buffalo, New York, whose work combines illustration, experimental sound, sculpture, installation, performance art, painting, speculative fiction and poetry. Bauerle-Knight’s identity and subsequent experiences as a Black, queer woman are at the forefront of many of her works and artistic ventures. Themes of race, identity and their place in our society can be seen throughout many of her works. “At the core of Dana Bauerle-Knight’s work, lies a surreality— the real world slowly picked apart through a lens tinted by magical realism and lived experience.”