“Such collective disidentifications can facilitate a reconceptualization of which bodies matter, and which bodies are yet to emerge as critical matters of concern”
-Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter (xiv).
Which bodies “matter,” and which bodies will emerge as a “critical concern” in North Carolina? While theorist Judith Butler was referring to disidentifications regarding people’s sex and gender with society, these words resonate with me when thinking of Moral Mondays in North Carolina. We are a collection of “disidentifications,” people who do not fit tightly into a box woven with society’s notions of various privileges. The variety of political signs present at Moral Mondays evidences this reality. Increasingly more people are fighting silence and gaining visibility through physically occupying a space. This collaboration between people with various issues has reiterated the importance of physical visibility and voice in organizing for southern progressivism, as well as making visible bodies that matter.
This progressive fight in North Carolina has been one of the most encouraging things to witness. Whether I am attending local Democratic Party meetings, chatting with people on Twitter, or going to larger events, I feel incredibly inspired and hopeful for change to restore my beloved state. These conversations are vital for continuing to form coalitions and move forward as a state. As the NAACP and Rev. Dr. William Barber take Moral Mondays on the road, I am hopeful to see the momentum grow in North Carolina.
The diverse people who have been affected by the marginalizing, discriminatory legislation and budget decisions made by North Carolina’s elected representatives are continuing to come together. At the final Moral Monday in Raleigh, it was obvious that we must come together to do progressive work, bringing together a multitude of experiences. At the Mountain Moral Monday in Asheville, various speakers spanned the concerns of Western North Carolina, including the water system, LGBT rights, education, immigration, and voting rights. We see that these bodies matter, and these bodies are coming together and listening to one another’s concerns about the state.
While we work to elevate our bodies as bodies that matter in this state, we cannot forget the importance of being physically present (as well as having the privilege of being able to be physically present) at events and raising our voices in public forums (in person, newspapers, and online). We cannot forget about the sheer magnitude of grassroots activism, propelling us forward into a more moral light, a morality that heralds openness to voting rights, the key to truly moving the state. By producing a physicality and voice to progressivism, we are providing a reconceptualization of what it means to be North Carolinian, Southern, and progressive. We will continue to grow as a “critical matter of concern” for those who do not like the very fertile soil that our passion for humanity holds to grow these strong grassroots.