Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Ray, the videographer and editor for Catcalls of NYC. I shoot and edit mini-docs, interviews, and photography for @catcallsofnyc accounts. I’m from New York and love my cameras, my cat, and taking pictures of those that I love.
When did you get involved with chalk back?
January 2019. Somehow in that time I’ve made at least sixty videos. It’s pretty cool. I have 1TB of data so far.
Why were you inspired to be involved?
I had followed the account for quite a while when Sophie posted asking for volunteers. I never expected a response. I was in such a creative and emotional slump and making Catcalls videos has given so much drive and courage to try something new, sometimes unnerving.
Why do you think “chalking back” is a good method to raise awareness?
Oh hell yeah it’s a good method. Especially after hearing all the things people say to the chalkers in the street, and chalking myself, definitely. It’s empowering to the chalkers and the followers, but especially those who’s experience is written down. I stand beside someone who is chalking and watch so many people walk past me, have had so many conversations with others, and see all the faces change as they read the text.
Why do you think ending street harassment is important?
It’s dangerous, uncouth, and is part of a larger perpetuation and normalization of oversexualization and violence.
What’s your favorite thing about your city?
How can your city better address street harassment?
Small things. I’ve seen LGTBQ+, work place harassment, landlord abuse, drug addiction, and so many other social activist campaigns for awareness and help on the subway car adverts, yet nothing for street harassment. Weird, seeing as I always seem to get harassed on the subway. Just the small things.
What do you hope is the outcome of your videos?
More exposure to what actually happens when something is being chalked. I didn’t understand it as a follower before I made my first video, and that first shoot with Sophie really explained a lot to me as a follower, not just a videographer. Now that I’ve seen everything, the good and the bad and the really weird New York, I want others to feel that. Like they’re on the sidewalk, watching and listening to the same things that upturns in a matter of seconds. First it’s someone saying they love it, and ten seconds later, one of us will get catcalled. Sometimes I feel like a security guard for whoever is writing it out as I shoot them because I’m able to see if someone in uniform is approaching or someone looks ready to harass us. New York streets are chaotic enough before you add the chalk; I hope to only explain this through these shoots, and edit them as realistically as possible.
What’s the most difficult street harassment situation you’ve experienced?
Probably the times I get followed by men in vehicles, which is also my first memory of being harassed on the street.
What does being a part of this campaign mean to you?
Trust, from those who’s stories we’re telling. Honesty, as a documentarian, as a storyteller. Courage and encouragement, being able work with such great chalkers and creators. So much beyond this. Its meaning and power and release all at once.