Saturday April 5, Guilford College Young Americans for Liberty hosted an End the War on Drugs Paint Party. The event was held at Serendipity, Guilford College’s yearly live music festival and street fair held on the Guilford campus in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Guilford YAL’s table had an array of face paint, spray-in hair color, sparkly faery dust, candy, and Constitutions. We also passed out souvenir stickers to fit the End the War on Drugs Paint Party theme.
As a club, we knew we were taking a slight risk with the “Legalize it!” stickers. And we are aware some individuals may consider the language choice implicates a lax attitude towards drug use and thus deem it negative for the movement. However, one thing I have learned through my activism training is the importance of language choice, venue, and audience demographics.
In fact, language, venue, and audience are the key dynamics to a successful event. And this elemental triad worked together perfectly for Guilford YAL’s End the War on Drugs Paint Party. The event was by far one of our most successful endeavors and we would argue our chapter managed to discover the ideal libertarian recipe for music festivals and street fairs.
Through the End the War on Drugs Paint Party, Guilford YAL created an opportunity to truly have discourse with other students. People were hanging out at the table because everyone was either getting face paint applied by a YAL member, using the face paint to decorate a friend, or getting sprinkled with glitter. Others received funky, spray-in hair color, while some snacked on candy.
I watched people stand there and casually read the YAL philosophy cards. Many asked questions about various issues. People came up asking, “Is this the libertarian club my friend told me about?” Indisputably, Guilford YAL’s End the War on Drugs Paint Party manifested an interest in libertarianism, as well as opened a door for more in-depth conversation about the Liberty movement.
We found some people were quite surprised concerning our beliefs in equal marriage and our staunch anti-war stances. The atmosphere allowed us time to talk with people, which led to topics far beyond drug law reform.
Personally, I find mainstream media often propagandizes what the liberty movement truly stands for. Why do I feel this way? Because for some reason the media’s projection of a “privileged” (and/or backwoods), racist, sexist, bigoted, white male just doesn’t seem to fit me, for a multitude of reasons. Fundamentally, the End the War on Drugs Paint Party allowed us an opportunity to break the stereotype since the club had time to really talk with other students about YAL’s philosophy.
First year Guilford student, Ellie Weiner said, “Before coming into contact with YAL, I only had one image of the liberty movement: Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. And he definitely would fit under the category of gun-loving, white male. There are rarely depictions of libertarians in the media, and when they do exist, they tend to play off of stereotypes — as do a lot of things in popular culture. I knew there must be more to it if you were one! I am constantly surprised and pleased by the things I see the lberty movement promoting and I hope that more people come to understand the reality behind the movement.”
I think the biggest portion of our success is coming from the grassroots style organizing by real people desiring change. Too often people just complain and never take action. Members of YAL realize we are the future and if we want to see change happen in our lifetimes, we have to save ourselves.
At the event, students were able to truly see us in our own element; and by this I mean, our chapter members just hanging out, talking current events, while debating and discussing liberty. Come on, we all know no two libertarians agree on everything (and thus we have [friendly] infighting!). However, my experience at the Guilford YAL Serendipity table made me believe the movement should attempt to truly embrace the positive qualities of liberty infighting.
When an individual observes a group or club debate various topics in which members often hold different viewpoints, they also take note of another thing — even in the diversity, all of these individuals still remain part of the same organization. Our chapter remains rational and we have fun with our debates! People are afraid to speak about politics too often these days and when you have actual discourse and avoid arguing, a newcomer is more likely to join in the debate.
Ultimately, the subgenre of your libertarianism is irrelevant to me. And this, my friends, is what we call the liberty movement: the right for each individual to be just that — an individual.Published in