Upset Homegirls, one of many social justice groups that started this year, is headed into 2021 with clear eyes for the future as the group continues to grow and speak its truth.
While not affiliated with Cal State Fullerton, many of the group's members are CSUF students with the goal of expanding discussion on racial injustice in America, many of whom say they plan to continue the movement in their respective fields even after graduation.
Ariel Parker, a senior dance major at CSUF and one of the group’s founding members, said the group is not interested in attaining a club permit, but that they hope to pick up a nonprofit status in the near future and continue working in the community for racial justice.
The group formed, when Parker and a group of three friends noticed that while Black Lives Matter protests were happening in Santa Ana and other parts of central and south Orange County, there were almost no advertised protests in Fullerton or other north county cities.
“Within a week, we were spontaneously like, ‘Let's do this,’” Parker said. “Because that's how passionate we were about it, and that first initial protest that we had was a little nerve-wracking, but at least 1,200 people showed up.”
Parker also pointed out that while the group started out leading protests, they hope to function as more of a community group and forum to address racial inequality. The group has held multiple movie nights and virtual community meetings, and posted information during the election to help inform followers of the significance of their votes.
“The subject can be very depressing, and it's very important to remind people that though this is a hard thing to do, it's a hard thing to talk about, it's a hard thing to live life with. We can still get through it by uplifting others,” Parker said.
Zion Pham, a theater student, said he went to his first protest with Upset Homegirls in October and had a chance to speak at the event.
“It was very uplifting to not only be able to speak with these like-minded people,” Pham said. “But it was wonderful to be able to immerse myself in that environment.”
Pham also reiterated the focus of community support, connecting with residents in North Orange County and beyond to help them understand the issues.
“One big thing that is very important to us is engaging with the community, and helping them see that this is a fight for our lives. It doesn't stop just because so many people are posting it on social media,” Pham said. “Everyday we still walk outside afraid. Everyday we don't know if the police car right next to us is going to be containing our killer.”
Both Parker and Pham said they had never organized a protest before this year, but that it offered a unique chance and opportunity for growth.
“I'd never been to a protest before, I wouldn't have been able to call myself an activist because all I was participating in was spreading awareness and signing petitions,” Parker said. “It's becoming a lot easier to go into protests and be able to speak.”
For the future, Parker said they have dreams of taking Upset Homegirls beyond Fullerton or even Orange County, with multiple members planning to move out of the county or state in the coming years.
Pham said he plans to move to New York after graduation and wants to bring the program with him.
“Upset Homegirls will be a nonprofit organization that will one day span the entire country,” Pham said. “The civil rights movement in the ‘60s, before it became the civil rights movement, it was just some people who came together and said we're getting treated awfully and we need to change that. We are part of what is starting the next big movement for the rights of Black folks.”