choiceusa.org: the indigo girls’ amy ray
“I think the media is not reflecting what’s happening out here with young people. I am constantly inspired by high school and college kids in their ability to organize, their creativity, and their awareness of the issues.”
Amy Ray is one half of the Indigo Girls – a singer, prolific songwriter, and, with the release of her critically-acclaimed 2001 album, Stag, a talented solo artist as well. Well-loved for their music, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are also known for their activism and support of many social justice issues.
Choice USA: What does it mean to you to be pro-choice?
I support the right of women to have the power to make their own decisions concerning their own body. I consider a fetus/baby to be part of a woman’s body until the day it is born. Although the pro-life movement would have us believe that they want to protect the unborn child, it is really all about power and control over women and women seen as property, or only good for the propagation of the human race.
You do work on a lot of issues, including reproductive choice, the environment, gun safety, the death penalty, anti-war efforts, Native American issues, and gay and lesbian issues. What connects all these concerns and inspires you in your work?
For me it’s about respect for life. I am working to beat the current United States’ (and many other parts of the world) paradigm, the one founded on manifest destiny, the one founded on man’s domination over nature and women. It’s a corporate paradigm as well, where monetary profit rules over human rights and dignity. The less corporate the infrastructure, the more diverse and tolerant it will be. I know we will always be working towards an ideal state of being, but the little victories show me how important it is to keep working. If one life is saved or improved, it’s all worth it to me.
Some people say that students and young people aren’t motivated to do activism. Has that been your experience of young people?
I think there is a tendency towards being apolitical in the media- radio, magazines, T.V. (except for “West Wing”), etc., but I think the media is not reflecting what’s happening out here with young people. I am constantly inspired by high school and college kids in their ability to organize, their creativity, and their awareness of the issues. I find less action in the people of my generation- 35 and up. Having said that, I was just at the School of the Americas protest and I was completely moved and motivated by the diversity in age, race and gender. The age range was toddler to senior citizen.
Many people feel that November’s election was a big setback for progressive issues. How can we, as activists, stay positive and keep from losing focus?
I just try and remember the Reagan years… if we made it through that we can make it through anything. I keep focus by finding small ways to make change: one letter, one phone call, one benefit, one peace rally. I have always been more of a short term thinker as far as action goes. I take it one day at a time, but I know I am doing it for a long-term goal.