Campus / Featured / News / February 8, 2017

Mackin talks activism, political climate

Custodian diana Mackin helped to organize the Galesburg Women’s March and works at the Knox Prairie Kitchen. She has been an activist since college. (Julian Blye/TKS)

After clocking a 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift as part of the Knox Custodial staff, diana Mackin is often found helping out in the Knox Prairie Kitchen. Mackin believes in investing her time as a hands-on advocate for social change. Mackin intertwines her passion for activism with her passion for community.

Along with Professor Magali Roy-FŽéquière and Professor Brenda Fineberg, Mackin was one of the organizers for the Women’s March held in Galesburg last month. Mackin described the event as an incredible experience, one that reminds her of when she lived in Seattle.

Before Mackin moved to Galesburg in 2005, she built a rich relationship with activism. At the age of 14, Mackin was introduced to feminism by her mother. In her late teens, Mackin got involved in the fat acceptance movement after she spent time speaking about the issue with overweight friends. This culminated with Mackin serving as a member for Seattle Now’s Body Image Task Force.

When describing her relationship with feminism, Mackin stresses the importance of intersectinality. She believes that misogyny, racism, classism and ableism all intersect. If one group of people are not being supported and moving forward, then none of us are.

Mackin finds it easy to shift from different activist groups, as all social issues overlap to some degree.

“They all do come together. At the same time, people move where their hearts drive them. That creates powerful momentum,” Mackin said.

For Mackin, fat-activism is her heart’s passion.

“I would spend the day with overweight women and eat whatever these women would eat, who were about 100 pounds more than I was, and I would be starving by the end of the day.” said Mackin, describing how she became aware of weight issues in America.

“And yet we think fat people just can’t stop eating […] then suddenly it’s acceptable to hate them.”

Mackin came to the conclusion that everything we knew about weight and eating disorders was wrong. To combat the issue of fat-phobia, Mackin went to extreme lengths. She vividly describes her time doing geurilla theatre in the “ritzy” part of Seattle during the 1990s. Mackin used to stand next to freeways and pretend to slice off pieces of body fat. As she shed off the pieces, she would fling them onto the streets while cars passed by in horror.

Her activist ways have followed her to Galesburg. Mackin’s role in the Galesburg Women’s March was crucial. Organizers had to pay attention to every detail from making sure the route was accessible, to making sure the word got out.

“It was incredible; Galesburg does not have numbers like that. Magali and I were 13 minutes early and there was at least 200 people.” Mackin said.

Mackin stresses that the Women’s March is not the end result, but instead a starting point of activism in our community.

People have expressed an impressive interest in making sure the march began a permanent movement in the Galesburg community.

“The emotions at the march were wonderfully intense. The group was supportive … Some were afraid it was just going to be an anti-Trump rally. They wanted something more long term than that, and it all came together beautifully.”

Mackin is an observer of both Knox and Galesburg. perceiving the social needs of her communities. When Mackin isn’t organizing marches, she’s speaking to students about environmental justice. Mackin can also be found among local farmers in a market vendor’s booth, or painting with Galesburg based artists. Engaging with fellow Galesburg residents is an important part of Mackin’s day.

Mackin wants to create more opportunities for the Knox and Galesburg communities to congregate for social change. Mackin hopes to facilitate spaces where people can come together and figure out what issues are important to them.

“The Galesburg community would be so enriched by interaction with Knox students, and Knox students would be so enriched by interactions with the community.”


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Zarah Khan, Co-Mosaic Editor
Zarah Khan is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in political science. She started volunteer writing during Fall term of her sophomore year.

Tags:  activism community service Diana Mackin march political activism Profile

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