By Liam Gwynn
Nikki Valencia hosts a protest in the Arcata Plaza with a group of supporters on the last Thursday of every month. These protests are meant to raise awareness for the problems facing the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and March’s protest had an emphasis on Women’s History Month. Despite Valencia’s poster gaining traction ahead of time online, only a handful of people showed up for the actual protest.
The first hour of the protest consisted mostly of a few people meandering around the plaza while Valencia and her group of supporters sat at booths handing out flyers and selling art created by Valencia. After a few more people arrived, Valencia took out her megaphone and gave an impassioned speech to the twenty or so people who had gathered.
The protests around these issues weren’t always so small in Humboldt County. In previous protests, during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, the community rallied and supported the causes in a far more substantial way.
Valencia is a Cal Poly Humboldt student and she organized her first protest in McKinlyeville in 2020 and over three hundred people showed up.
“A lot of supposed allies fell off,” Valencia said. “When I had my protest in 2020, you know, I had three hundred people, all these people cared and it was easy to care because black death you know, it doesn’t take much for that.”
The problem activists are facing now is getting people to still care and be active when there isn’t a sensational story playing through social media constantly.
“What I learned from a lot of people is a lot of that (community support) was outrage and outrage runs out fast and then you see who’s really there,” said Valencia.
Valencia thinks a lot of these problems stem from students lacking intersectionality in their social circles. They said that people will post infographics on their Instagram stories but that doesn’t actually mean they’re attending protests or even connecting with people outside of their race and social circle.
“People can hide behind their infographics and say that they’re progressive by like sharing something and they don’t have to really read it, apply it or really like care about that,” said Valencia, continuing. “It takes no energy to do that and a lot of people can barely do that.”
The best way that Valencia thinks allies can show their support for these issues is by diversifying their social circle and embracing intersectionality, educating themselves on topics so others don’t have to do it for them, and finally showing up for events and protests that support BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.
For more information regarding future protests, follow Nikki Valencia on Instagram @soulbunni. The protests are held in the Arcata Plaza the last Thursday of every month from 3-5 pm.