The People Who Inspire Series: Nuala Cabral
The People Who Inspire series highlights individuals from a variety of backgrounds and occupations who are seeking to impact the lives of others in a positive way. Through Truth-Telling: the honest sharing of their own experiences, they teach us a little about themselves, hopefully enabling us to be able to learn a little about ourselves through their stories.
Today’s Post features Nuala Cabral, educator, media maker, and activist.
Could you tell us a little about your background and what led you to your current work?
I am an educator, media maker and activist. At times, filmmaking has motivated me to get more involved in the issues I care about. For example, directing Walking Home and sharing it online, connected me to a movement that is working to end street harassment.
How did your involvement with Stop Street Harassment come about?
I first got involved with street harassment activism in March 2011, when author/activist Holly Kearl (creator of Stop Street Harassment) launched the First Annual International Anti Street Harassment Day.
I helped organize the effort here in Philadelphia and linked up with Hollaback Philly during our day of activism. Right now I am planning efforts with Kearl and others for this year’s Meet Us on the Street – a week of activism beginning March 19, 2012.
While discussing various social identities and their interactions and intersections in society in terms of privilege and oppression, Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian (N.A.H.) also seeks to focus on the importance of Allyhood. In your view, what can allies do to advance the cause of StopStreetHarassment and work toward gender equality?
Women should not have to fight systemic violence and discrimination on our own. Men are also harmed by patriarchy, hyper-masculine ideals and rape culture.
I do feel optimistic about this — more and more men are interested in speaking up and getting involved. See the #ItsBiggerThan2Short dialogue on twitter for current evidence of this.
As far as upcoming activism around street harassment, I know that folks from Men Stopping Violence will be involved in Meet Us On The Street efforts in NYC this March. There is information about how to participate and connect with others in your city on the website. Allies, please join us!
Do you have any other issues that you’re interested in working on or working with others in terms of social justice/equity?
I am very much interested in the connections between social justice and media literacy. How does the media literacy field support social justice? racial justice? gender and sexuality justice? etc. How can social justice organizers integrate media literacy to support their movements? These are some of the questions I want to explore and build upon.
What are the parts of your work that you find most enjoyable?
I enjoy teaching because I find that it is a space to bring together my love for media making, media literacy and media activism. Creating media and doing activist work can be an empowering educational experience for young people who want to express themselves.
What aspects do you find challenging?
I enjoy being busy and doing multiple things. I am learning so much. But it IS a hustle and there is no cookie cutter career to follow.
I know a lot of people dream of creating something and stall– for whatever reason. I have done this. The challenge is to find a way to make things happen with the resources you have.
You’re an educator, activist, and filmmaker. Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to take issues they are passionate about from an idea to action?
Yes– I recommend using social media to connect with others who share your passion. This is a very exciting time for organizing. Learn the social media game.
What/Who Inspires You?
Friends, family and colleagues inspire me on a daily basis. I love to be around optimistic people who are invested in community and social justice issues. Philadelphia is a unique place for this. People are down to collaborate and make things happen. I like the positive energy here and appreciate the sense of urgency for change.
What have been the Keys to your success so far?
Exploring different interests in my 20s, staying open and taking risks have been important. Attending conferences years ago (i.e. the Women Action Media Conference in Boston and the Hip Hop Feminism Conference in Chicago) were powerful experiences that shaped my career.
Those conferences in particular introduced me to media literacy, media activism and an inspiring community of media makers, educators and activists.
I also grew up knowing that my father loved his unconventional job. He followed his passion to be a professional storyteller and earned his success. I cannot picture myself doing work I don’t really care about or enjoy. I appreciate that my dad instilled this in me. I want the work I do to matter and I want to enjoy doing it.
There are also several mentors who have guided and challenged me to write, think, teach, create and act. One of these mentors is my former professor, media literacy scholar Renee Hobbs. She is one of my biggest professional role models.
Are there any special projects you’re working on currently?
I am co-founder of the FAAN Mail Project (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!). We are a media literacy and media activism project formed by women of color and based in Philadelphia. Together with our allies, we seek to critique and create media — with social change in mind.
Our latest initiative is the #WishiLearnedinHS campaign, a response to the ban of ethnic studies in Arizona. We are asking folks to use social media to call out the gaps in their education. We believe that schools should teach a curricula that includes the histories and perspectives of marginalized people.
This spring FAAN Mail is launching our first youth media program, Sisters Action Media. It is my dream that this pilot program evolves into something bigger and sustainable someday.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this series!
Grace & Peace,
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW