Continue Blavity's Roadtrip With Randi CEO of Gloss Rags - San Antonio
July 14, 2015 at 9:26 am
The turnaround time between my pop-up shops in Austin and San Antonio was by far the quickest. Unlike the other stops, there wasn’t a day on the train in between because Austin was only an hour and a half away from San Antonio. That night, we slept on the train that rested on idle tracks in San Antonio and woke up the next morning ready to do it all over again.
San Antonio had a noticeably different feel than Austin. While riding through East Austin, I noticed all types of eccentricities—stained glass saints and Gandhi figures on the side walls of gas stations, houses that had taken on new lives as shops and tattoo parlors, quaint taquerias that you just might miss if driving too fast and other nuances. Compared to Austin, or at least the parts that I’d seen, San Antonio seemed vast yet quiet. My pop-up shop was about 15 minutes from the train station. I hopped in a cab and from the highway, got a glimpse of parts of San Antonio I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to visit.
Regardless of the city, everyone seemed remarkably curious about what I was doing. “Oh wow,” they would say. “That’s very interesting. So I might see you on TV someday?” I smiled and just replied, “Maybe, maybe…” My desire for this project never lied in getting on TV. I am not the subject. I am merely in the background, the quiet voice amplifying others so that they may speak their truth.
When my cab pulled up, Othello was already there. I was so happy to see him. For San Antonio, my sights were set on meeting The Wagner 4, a group of high school girls who were suspended for carrying a medley of pro-black signs at a school sponsored fashion show. The three seniors were told they would not be allowed to walk across the stage. The signs ranged from, “I Can’t Breathe” to “Black Trans Lives Matter” and a list of names of people who’d been killed by police. I learned about their plight via Twitter and almost instantly reached out. What were the odds that I’d be in San Antonio around the same time they were going through their struggle? Look at God. My point of contact was Jocelyn, an 18-year-old senior who’d designed their show-stopping (literally) outfits for the event. She’d reached out to the other girls and their friend Evan, a 19-year-old alumni and sounding board who helped them gain attention and galvanize support.
After Othello and I set up, we just waited which was pretty rare. In LA and Austin, we jumped right into interviews. In our downtime, he mic’d me up. “Just talk,” he said. To be honest, I don’t remember all that I said. I just reflected on my journey thus far. It was wild to think that all of this started as an idea, a vision even back in December, transformed into a campaign to raise $5,000 in a month and then materialized into reality. Look at God, again.
By about 1pm, Jocelyn, Evan and Daija showed up. Victoria suddenly couldn’t come because her mom wanted to spend time with her but I figured it had more to do with her mother not wanting to talk to us. The youngest of the group, Taylor, a 14-year-old freshman whose parents worked for the school district definitely wasn’t coming. I was slightly disappointed that they all couldn’t be there but appreciative of the ones that did. “Alright,” I said. “Take me back to that day—tell me exactly what happened.”
The three launched into their story, each adding bits and pieces about what happened the night of the fashion show and the days following. I learned that to them, “boost” means to draw attention to. Evan, one of their close friends, spent the day after tweeting profusely about what was going on. He was one of the first people to know that the girls were getting suspended for doing nothing other than carrying signs as apart of the fashion show. They created the hashtags, #Wagner4 and #ItsBiggerThanWagner.
I was awed by the series of events and inspired by their courage. It’s empowering to know that the “youth” (I say this because when you’re approaching 25 I don’t think I can really consider myself youth anymore…) are woke and participating in the movement. Racially-driven acts of discrimination and intimidation absolutely exist within our schools. The Wager 4’s experience is not the first I’ve heard of high school students being penalized for taking a stand and making a statement. My high school boys’ basketball team was reprimanded for wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts instead of their regular warm-up shirts even though the coach told the principal their plans. The same thing happened to a girls’ basketball of the nearly all-white Mendocino High School in California. What saddens me the most is that adults in position of power—administrations, parents and even members of the community who are otherwise silent often find or rather create issues with students demonstrations of civil rights and social justice.
After a few hours, we wrapped up our interviews and I headed back to the train. I thanked them for their time and courage. Since I met them back in May, the three seniors triumphantly walked across the stage at graduation and are moving forward with their lives The Wagner 4’s story will be shared through GLOSSRAGS Media Collective this fall.
Missed the first leg of the trip? Read about Randi’s first stop here and here.