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Dream of Democracy: Pink Bloque {format} {format} 5:37 Barrett Golding & Jonathan Menjivar

Putting a new face on protest.

Broadcast: Jun 7 2004 on NPR Day to DaySeries: Dream of Democracy Subjects: Public Affairs, Politics, Youth

Profile: Chicago protest group known as Pink Bloque

June 7, 2004 from Day to Day

ALEX CHADWICK, host: President Bush is back from his visit to Europe, where tens of thousands of people marched through Rome last week to protest the war in Iraq. Here in the US, one group of college kids is tired of staging protests in the usual way; that is, with slogans on signs and quick catchy chants. So they have a new idea, and here it is. It comes to us as part of the series Chicago Matters: Our Next Generation from member station WBEZ. It was produced by Jonathan Menjivar and Barrett Golding.

Unidentified Man #1: We are in negotiations at the moment with the police. We ask you to be patient. We want this to be a peaceful, unobstructed march where we're able to get our message out to the people.

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)

Ms. LAURA INCUMBIA(ph): I'm Laura Incumbia. I'm 24 and I got involved in the Pink Bloque when we first started, 2002. And a bunch of friends and I were tired of going to protests and being very boring and uninspired. So we decided to kind of get together and figure out what we could do to make things more exciting.

(Soundbite of "Hey Ya")

OUTKAST: (Singing) One, two, three, uh! My baby don't mess around because she loves me so and this I know fa sho.

Ms. ROXIE TRUDEAU(ph): My name is Roxie Trudeau. I am 22. I've been involved for about a year now in the Pink Bloque.

Ms. NATALIE CHAFF(ph): I'm Natalie Chaff. I'm 19 years old and I joined the Pink Bloque around the same time that Roxie did.

Unidentified Woman #1: If we were at a protest and you were just walking down the street, you would see 10 women dressed from head to toe in pink, handing out fliers, hearing a popular song and doing choreographed dances.

(Soundbite of "Hey Ya")

Unidentified Woman #2: Dancing is a huge part of what we do and the whole idea is to get people to watch and to want to talk to us, but also to get people dancing with us on the street, and it's an attempt to reclaim the street.

Unidentified Woman #1: Talking with people about politics, they would never talk to us about it before. Like, I feel like it's worth it to put on the lipstick to be able to have that conversation. You know?

Unidentified Woman #2: Everyone seems so angry all the time. And it's so easy to sit down and be pissed off, but then what are you going to do about it?

(Soundbite of "Hey Ya")

OUTKAST: (Singing) Now don't ...(unintelligible) Now I wanna see you all on your baddest behavior. Lend me some sugar. I am your neighbor.

Unidentified Woman #1: We've done a lot of work around the war and things against date rape, two actions against the Patriot Act.

Unidentified Woman #3: We've talked about the wage gap between men and women. Right now we're working on reproductive rights. It's so frustrating because you have no other choice but to go out in the street. And that's what people have historically done is like you're pissed off because taxes went up in your village. You go out in the streets and you bitch and you moan and you raise hell until someone listens to you. And I don't know how else anyone else would hear us, I guess.

Unidentified Woman #1: Do we get media attention on our issues? Not really. Do we get attention about these 10 girls who are involved in politics? Yes. Would we prefer to get attention on what we're actually talking about? Of course, but I think that even if we just get attention on us being involved, it kind of changes the image of what an activist looks like.

Unidentified Woman #2: I think the cool think about the Pink Bloque is that even if they don't agree with our politics, they at least think what we're doing is kind of funny. And we're not naive enough to think that, you know, many times we may leave an action that we've done and we haven't changed a damn thing. You know? But maybe we've got a few people talking.

Unidentified Woman #3: I believe that those little tiny social changes are so important.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Woman #4: Pink, protest, public space...

Unidentified Woman #5: Party.

Unidentified Woman #4:

Unidentified Woman #5: Partnership.

Unidentified Woman #4: Partnership.

Unidentified Woman #5: Performance.

Unidentified Woman #4: Performance, yeah.

Unidentified Man #2: Can I ask you a question? I saw you guys here last year at ...(unintelligible) protest. Why do you guys wear pink all the time?

Unidentified Woman #6: Because we're the Pink Bloque.

Unidentified Man #2: The Pink Bloque?

Unidentified Woman #7: ...(Unintelligible). Yes.

Unidentified Man #2: OK. What are you guys trying to, like...

Unidentified Woman #7: We're a radical feminist dance troupe and the idea is that we want to give the look of protest a new face, so we want to make it a little more enjoyable and we want to reach more people. So we use pop culture, we use things that appealing, we dance to songs, like pop songs, hip-hop songs.

Unidentified Man #2: You guys are awesome. You guys are awesome. Cool.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #8: I was thinking of running for alderman when I turn 21.

Unidentified Woman #9: Can you run then?

Unidentified Woman #8: When you're 21, anyone can be an alderman. I feel like I could really love it and I could be like--I could be a good politician. But another part of me knows that I'd probably, in Chicago, get beat up, locked in a car trunk by...

Unidentified Woman #9: ...(Unintelligible) in Lake Michigan. Don't put that in.

Unidentified Woman #8: You can put it in.

Unidentified Woman #10: And I think we're all struggling with that, like, `Do you want to work within the system?'

Unidentified Woman #8: Yeah. I mean, I want to work within the system. I'm going to obviously. I'm setting my life up for that.

Unidentified Woman #9: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

CHADWICK: Pink Bloque from Jonathan Menjivar and Barrett Golding, part of the series Chicago Matters: Our Next Generation from member station WBEZ.

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News.