Photograph by Monica Murray

Heather Magann

“Our movement cannot be reduced to a trend when real lives are at stake.”
—Heather Magann

Heather Magann graduated from Belmont University last month with a degree in Music Business and works at the Belcourt Theatre. The pandemic has rekindled her passion for water coloring, and she’s been sharing her paintings and selling them through social media with a definite purpose.

“Through my art, I have been able to donate over $400 to Black Lives Matter and the National Bail Bond Network,” Magann says. “The arts community boasts some of the most politically-engaged people in Nashville, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

Magann was one of the 10,000 that marched in the June 4th rally organized by Teens for Equality and was heartened by the turn-out and display of mutual respect protesters showed for one another amidst the ongoing COVID crisis. “It was powerful to see so many people marching and screaming in defense of black lives,” she explains. “It is, understandably, a difficult time for a lot of people to get out of their homes and fight. Everyone that I could see was wearing masks and trying to keep a respectful distance from one another. I would say that if you are apprehensive about going to a protest, there are plenty of ways to participate in the movement from home. However, the power of a physical protest is unmatched, and you won’t regret it. Also, make sure you get tested for COVID afterwards!”

Heather Magann photographed by Monica Murray

For Magann, speaking out against police brutality and systemic racism is nothing new. “Police brutality in the black community has been on my mind long before the death of George Floyd,” she says. “It’s a constant thought in the back of my mind. The fact that someone like me can do everything right, and still end up dead because they ‘resisted arrest.’ Or that someone like me can be arrested for having pot and thrown in prison for the rest of their lives. Or that someone like me can be shot dead in their own home for no reason.”

While Magann continues to experience these issues personally, she is noticing non-black folks engaging with them in a new way. “The only difference now is that it’s not just black people that see it” she says. “Social media has opened the eyes of people that have been stuck in a bubble of white privilege. People that, before, couldn’t care less about what happens in black communities, are finally seeing the hardships we face on a day-to-day basis. Racism has a wide range, from microaggressions to murder, and people are finally starting to educate themselves on what they can do to change. It isn’t enough to be ‘not racist’ anymore; you must be anti-racist,” she concludes with a nod to the oft-cited Angela Davis quote.

While Magann planned to vote for Bernie Sanders, she has resigned to cast her vote for likely Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, in November; as well as participating in local elections and grassroots organizing. “I believe getting Trump out of office is a priority,” she says. “He has been a symbol of hatred for four years now, and his responses to current events have been repulsive. Unfortunately, we are boxed in, because it seems like our only other option is Biden. A lot of people in my circle have been taking matters into their own hands. The government has failed us, and we all must fight in order to make a change. Protesting, donating, emailing, and calling our elected officials are things we can do to incite it, but we can’t stop until there is justice for every single person that has been failed by our ‘justice’ system.”

Magann obtains her news information from a variety of sources in order to fact-check and confidently speak out on issues. “I like to have a lot of options because I know that most news sources have some form of bias,” she says. “I’m always trying to learn, especially when it comes to politics. I’m trying to learn more about local politics right now, so I can be more politically active here in Nashville.”

Defunding the police is the issue that Magann is most invested in locally. “I know that it may not come from either of the candidates, but I hope that the current movement does not lose momentum by the time of the election,” she says. “It may not be a direct result of the election, but I’d like to see it in Nashville sooner rather than later.”

Follow Heather and purchase her artwork via Instagram at @heather.com_