Arts & Culture

‘Career day for the resistance’: Resistance Con launches in Durham

Inspired by the Women’s March in Washington, Holly McKinney launches Resistance Con in Durham this weekend. The convention’s goal is to guide people looking to advocate for various causes.
Inspired by the Women’s March in Washington, Holly McKinney launches Resistance Con in Durham this weekend. The convention’s goal is to guide people looking to advocate for various causes. jleonard@newsobserver.com

On the day Donald Trump was inaugurated president, Holly McKinney marched in Washington, D.C.

She wasn’t alone, either: she took to the streets as part of the Women’s March on Washington. True, there were demonstrations worldwide, including one in Raleigh, but she marched in the big one, wielding a sign that read “hear our voice.” McKinney left D.C. inspired. When she got home to Carrboro, McKinney realized she had to keep that energy going.

“It just pushed me to want to do more,” McKinney says. “In the current climate, I feel like a lot of people feel that way but they don’t have a place to direct their energy necessarily.”

Saturday, she makes her voice heard again, only closer to home.

Resistance Con, which merges activism with the type of convention culture more often associated with comic books or sci-fi, takes place Saturday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Durham Convention Center, with a pre-convention concert at Motorco Music Hall Friday evening and then a protest song karaoke after-party Saturday at The Pinhook.

McKinney remains inspired by the Women’s March, after all, and wants to share the fire she brought home to North Carolina.

“What we’re hoping to provide is a place where people from the public can come who are feeling like I was and wondering what they can do,” she says.

“You want change, you want to do something. You’re not exactly sure what it is,” says her husband, Brockton McKinney, imagining himself in the shoes of a potential attendee. “You can come to this convention, come to these tables and these nonprofits and find something that means a lot to you and go forward from there.

“It’s career day for the resistance.”

Resistance Con draws on the strengths of the McKinney household: Brockton, Holly points out, is one of the directors of the N.C. Comicon, so she tapped him as a resource in organizing her own con. Her idea was for Resistance Con to be personal and accessible and for it to draw people in from all corners of the community.

“I wanted to have the LGBTQ community represented, I wanted to have the African-American community represented, I wanted to have Muslims in the community represented,” Holly says. “Even just the idea of intersectionality – I know that is a term these days that is thrown around a lot, but it really is important.”

“You were adamant about that, too,” Brockton adds. “You didn’t want the convention to be focused on one particular cause. You wanted to create something where people could come in and maybe find a cause they could advocate for.”

Like a comic book convention, panels and workshops are planned, only the topics include craftivism, ’zine-making and pranks-as-activism. There will be tables – again, like at a comic con – where representatives of nonprofits like Equality NC, North Carolina Council of Churches, Planned Parenthood and Cooperativa Latino Credit Union explain what they do and what they could use assistance with. The idea is that attendees can find a cause that fits their personality and passion.

“It’s not confrontational. It’s nonpartisan,” Holly says. “It’s about the ideals of social justice and I honestly think that people from all over the political spectrum can think about that sort of thing without the idea of politics. It’s been politicized in a way that it’s black and white and it’s a false division.”

Resistance Con, Holly explains, can have political aspects without being partisan. She offers Democracy NC as an example, saying that nonprofit is more about keeping the political system honest and ensuring that all votes have equal weight. And though the initial Women’s March was timed to openly protest and oppose Trump’s rhetoric, Holly points out that issues of disenfranchisement predate the current administration. Human decency, she notes, doesn’t lean right or left.

“There are so many ideas that have been pushed – you either have to be on the right about this or on the left about this – where the reality, the fabric of our culture is much broader than that,” Holly says. “What we’re hoping to pull together is a peaceful and all-encompassing thing that’s not necessarily about being liberal but is about being kind and loving to one another and about being accepting.”

Resistance Con

When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Durham Convention Center, 301 W. Morgan St., Durham

Cost: Adults $20; kids 12 and under free

Info: resistancecon.com

All profits go to the ACLU

Pre-convention show with Kamara Thomas, Pie Face Girls, May Johnson Rockers and JooseLord Magnus

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham

Cost: $15

Info: motorcomusic.com

All profits go to Planned Parenthood

Resistance Karaoke

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham

Cost: $3

Info: thepinhook.com

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