Chatting Racism, Activism, & Community Solidarity with Jackeline Durón

Chatting Racism, Activism, & Community Solidarity with Jackeline Durón

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Illustration by Catherina Horan, catch her on Instagram: @fragileperson

We spent some time with activist/badass Jackeline Durón to get some perspective on the rise of violence, white supremacy, and issues (local and national) directly impacting people of color, women, the LGTBQ community, and more. It’s been a trying couple of weeks, and our interview with her reflects this. At its core, this a call for action, compassion, awareness, education and accountibility. Our questions are in bold, her responses follow. <3 <3 <3

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As a recent graduate, and someone who was both a leader and an activist on campus, can you tell us how you are feeling about the University’s response to both Charlottesville and the outing of a current white supremacist student/employee?

UNR’s statement is weak but not surprising. Their statements aren’t followed by any action and their commitment to “diversity and inclusion” is empty. The Latino Research Center and The Center, formally known as The Center for Student Cultural Diversity, are highly underfunded. How are they committed to a diverse student (and faculty) population if they don’t put money into programs/departments that serve those populations? I’m also mad, to be frank. I want to expect better. I want UNR to be better for the sake of everyone on campus.


Do you feel the University does enough to protect or support students of color? What about trans, gay, lesbian, queer or non-binary students?

No, I don’t. As mentioned above, programs that serve students of color are highly underfunded and the previous Women’s Center was shut down years ago. Students need to have a space where they could go with staff that are committed to helping them succeed. Those staff/faculty should also be supported by the University’s administration. Additionally, the n-word has been written on campus, swastikas have been drawn on buildings, Coffin and Keys spew their anti-semitism, racism, and misogyny all over campus and when ASUN Presidents/Vice Presidents are found to be in C&K there are no consequences for them. Students who are sexually assaulted are dismissed and victim-blamed, and the University hired a recruiter or assistant coach (can’t remember his specific title) who was accused of sexual harassment. President Johnson himself defended him by blaming the victim and alluding to her flirting back. As one of the folks who led the sanctuary campus efforts, UNR couldn’t even bring themselves to merely call themselves a safe haven for undocumented students. But apparently they’re a safe haven for white supremacists.


As we mentioned, so much airtime has been given to the white supremacist student by the media, what message would you like to boost or like to see given some attention?

Stop giving him so much media attention!! It’s awful and traumatizing for some to see this man’s face as he promotes an ideology that is violent and kills people yet who hasn’t faced any repercussions for his participation in the march.

I’d like to see media outlets focus on ways to address white supremacy on systematic, institutional, interpersonal, and personal levels. Also, white nationalism = white supremacy. It’s the same ideology that is based on the oppression of people of color, LGBTQ+ people, Jewish people, and more.


Reno has been hit with some serious incidents this last year that in part reflect the rise in hate and racism happening nationally. It also seems that many of our elected officials that are having a hard time saying and doing the right thing for the people they represent – locally and on a state-level. What do you think our city and community leaders need to hear?

Honestly, I don’t know what the city needs to hear. I know I’m tired of the rhetoric that white supremacy is merely “hate”. White supremacy is more than hate. It’s a system of domination that manifests itself in every aspect of our lives because it is a foundation of this country; from the genocide of Native people and the enslavement of African people to the voter suppression of people of color and police brutality. White supremacy is violence. I guess I’d like to hear that from officials.


As an advocate for Planned Parenthood, you’ve been on the front lines of the healthcare debate and also seen the real consequences of revoking ACA/Obamacare and defunding important services like Planned Parenthood. Can you talk about this experience?

It’s incredibly relieving that for the moment Planned Parenthood hasn’t been defunded and the ACA hasn’t been repealed, but Trump and his minions won’t stop with this one defeat. They will profit off both of these entities being disbanded and political party/money is all they care about.

I’m grateful to be in this work. I’ve heard so many stories from people about how Planned Parenthood or the ACA saved their lives and I’m brought to tears. From preventative care, to detecting abnormalities at an early stage, to being able to afford medical services and still feed their families. There is so much power in people and their stories and that’s the reason why the BCRA was defeated. I truly feel humbled to be in this work.


You’ve been caught in some serious crosswinds and attacked from allies when speaking your truth, including most recently when you questioned who was hosting the latest protest event in response to Charlottesville/Trump’s visit to Reno, and specifically whether or not they had consulted or listened to any POC in the planning efforts, and if they planned on publicly thanking the police force (as similar events and rallies have done in the past). Even though the answer is (or should be) obvious and despite putting yourself on the line to get abuse/condemnation/insults, why are these questions so important? Why are they still so hard to hear? Or why do they make like-minded people so defensive?

I’ve contemplated this question for a bit so I will try to be as clear as possible. These questions are important because agitation is important. We must be able to be agitated and made uncomfortable to move forward. We have to work with and through our uncomfortableness in order to learn. I don’t have all the answers, no one does; but, I do know my lived experience as a woman of color under white supremacy. I also know from attending previous events how parts of those events don’t do justice and if no one asks uncomfortable questions how will we move forward and better serve those who are most vulnerable/affected.

I, unfortunately or fortunately (depending how your perspective), have an audience and I owe it to the communities I’m in–to my people–to ask questions that make people with access to power and privilege uncomfortable even if I get called a bitch in return. Ally is not a noun nor can we place it on ourselves. I personally don’t believe in the concept of allies but instead in accomplices in solidarity. If we’re in solidarity we don’t shut people off when we feel defensive. Work through it. Ask ourselves why we’re defensive and talk it out with people more “radical” than us or however you want to put it. I say “we” because we all have varying levels of access to power and privilege as well as oppression and those systems uphold and reinforce one another.

So about my specific post, I think the questions were hard because people felt attacked and we automatically defend ourselves. The Northern Nevada Progressive Community was wonderful for putting on a vigil. I’m not against that at all. But how are we showing up for the most marginalized people? Are we thanking an institution like law enforcement for keeping the peace at a primarily white event when that same institution terrorizes communities of color because they are an agent of white supremacy? Are we addressing why “All Lives Matter” is harmful and an erasure of black people’s existence in our society? None of us are perfect. As my fellow organizer friend says, “Don’t let perfection paralyze you.” We don’t have to be perfect to show up but we have to be open to being better and showing up more intentionally.


If people are asking the best ways to join these efforts for equality, justice, reform, health, where do you see energy best put?

Money. Capitalism and white supremacy go hand in hand like PB&J (but obvi in a terrible way). Donate to organizations led by young, queer, trans, &/or people of color. Even better if they’re local!

But I recognize that donating is not accessible so volunteer with organizations you like that work on issues you care about and use tactics you’re comfortable with is another good way to help. Obviously, I’m going to plug in volunteering with me/PP for healthcare/gender equality but PLAN and ACTIONN (among so many others) are rad too!

Volunteering is also not the most accessible so continue learning on your own. Read articles/books on racial justice and liberation. Engage in hard conversations not just with your racist uncle at Thanksgiving but also with your friends and yourself on the implicit biases we all have.


Are there people or orgs you’d like to shout out that are doing important work you’d like to highlight? On Twitter, online, or just in general?

Y’all I can go on and on with this one. I’d first like to give a shout out to all my queer, trans, and/or organizers of color for doing this work. A special shout out to my fellow women of color. We endure a lot and aren’t given the respect and recognition we deserve. No one goes into this work for praise but I see y’all. I see the work y’all are doing and it is making a difference.

Twitters: @feministajones, @unitedwedream, @bad_dominicana, @breenewsome, @byp_100, @mahrohj, or (shameless plug) me @jvdnv1

Facebook: Yosimar Reyes.

Much love to everyone doing any work in whatever capacity works for you. Remember, our liberation is bound together -Lilla Watson.

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Illustration by Marguerite Dabaie