Break-in and Arson at Offices of Women With a Vision, New Orleans Organization That Advocates for Poor Women of Color

Video from Deon Haywood, Women With A Vision:

Article by Jordan Flaherty; reposted from Louisiana Justice Institute with permission

Women With a Vision (WWAV), a New Orleans advocacy and service organization that provides health care and other support for poor women of color, was the victim of a break-in and arson late Thursday night. A small organization that has won a national reputation for their work, WWAV was founded in 1991 by a collective of Black women as a response to a lack of HIV prevention resources for those women who were the most at risk: poor women, sex workers, women with substance abuse issues, and transgender women.

WWAV has made national news for leading the fight against Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature Statute, which targeted poor women of colortransgender women, and anyone forced to trade sex for food or a place to sleep at night. The law forced women to register as sex offenders in a state database and placed a “sex offender” label on their drivers license, among other requirements. With the grassroots leadership of WWAV, a national coalition that also included Center for Constitutional Rights, Loyola Law School, andpolice misconduct attorney Andrea Ritchie was able to get the law off the books and has won a series of further victories in the process of removing the sex offender registration requirements for those convicted in the past.

The attack seemed political in its nature, directly targeting the crucial information, files, and materials needed for WWAV’s work. According to an email report from Bill Quigley, a social justice attorney and friend of the organization, “Major fire damage was done to a room which contained education and outreach materials. The arsonist seemed to have deliberately targeted this room. Destroyed were: three plastic and silicone breast models which were used to help people learn how to do self-examinations for breast cancer; a plastic pelvic model of a vagina; a two feet by one and a half foot plastic model of a woman’s reproductive system; boxes of male and female condoms; flip charts demonstrating the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV; several wooden penises which were used for condom demonstration; and boxes of educational materials. The fires in that room seem to have been set with some accelerant and scorched the walls, ceiling fan and ceiling and destroyed everything in the room….The offices were ransacked leaving drawers pulled out and papers and files on the floor. A TV and a laptop were taken but many valuables were left including computer monitors, office equipment, even some beer left over from a reception held earlier in the week. Several small fires were started inside the offices, in the bathroom, the hallway and in a sitting room.”

News of the attack has sent shockwaves across social justice communities around the US, and offers of help and donations have been coming in, but much more is needed. The fires have put the organization out of business at that location. They are seeking emergency temporary new quarters, as well as donations of clothing, supplies, and more. The organization has released a letter that lays out many of their needs.

In a video released on Friday afternoon WWAV executive director Deon Haywood shows the damage and discusses the effects, concluding, “We are fighters, we are warriors here at Women With a Vision, and we continue our work.” For the official statement from WWAV, see this link.

Please let them know you support them and donate.

(Article updated on 5/27/12 with new information.)

YWEP to share research findings from the Bad Encounter Line

Please forward widely and forgive duplications

Press Release

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday May 22nd, 2012
Contact: Stacy Erenberg 312 513 1399

Young Women’s Empowerment Project releases their NEW RESEARCH entitled DENIED HELP! How Youth in the Sex Trade & Street Economy are Turned Away from Systems Meant to Help Us & What We are Doing to Fight Back

Our Participatory Action Research (done by youth in the sex trade ages 12-23) shows how and why young people in the sex trade and street economy are being turned away from institutions set up to help.

Special Press Briefing
When: May 29th 3pm via Webinar
Time: 3pm-4pm CST/4pm-5pm EST/1pm-2pm PST

Live Event
When:
 Thursday May 31st, 3pm-5pm
Where: Jane Adams Hull House 800 S. Halsted
What: Young Women’s Empowerment Project will give an interactive, multi media presentation that explains their  BAD ENCOUNTER LINE findings, and how YWEP is organizing young people to change the way Chicago sees and treats it’s homeless home free and street based youth.

The BEL findings demonstrate how institutions such as police, hospitals, social services and schools are harming young people they are supposed to serve and protect. The data from the BEL findings shows many themes of police sexually assaulting youth because of their gender, sexual identity, or lack of ability to fight back for being in the sex trade. One story is “ …in a sting set up by the cops. [the officer] got violence with me, handcuffed me and the raped me. He cleaned me up for the police station and i got sentenced to 4 months in jail for prostitution.” – anonymous Bad Encounter Line entry

The BEL research was done using a participatory action research model created  by and for young people directly affected by the issue of institutional violence and neglect. The BEL data and stories from girls in YWEPs constituency were turned  into a zine released quarterly. The BEL research report highlights the finding from the BEL zines collected in 2011.

Background:
The BEL report comes from our 2009 research findings which discovered that young people are being denied help from organizations based on their involvement in the sex trade and street economy. because they are homeless, because they are of color and or/ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The research also found that resilience is a stepping stone to resistance. YWEP created a campaign to build their own resilience and resistance to institutional violence and to change policies in place that allow us to be denied help in the first place.

For more information about the BEL research release please contact Stacy Erenberg 312 513 1399

A Love Letter

Greetings INCITErs,

We want to thank all of you for sustaining the work of INCITE! through your organizing, vision and support. Under the guise of national security, our communities, bodies and lives are increasingly threatened with escalating state violence and surveillance that targets, blames and shames women, girls, trans and gender non-conforming people of color. With an increase of global natural disasters and the rise of economic crisis (while our social systems are being gutted), it is critical for us to lift up our analyses, voices and strategies that seek to transform conditions, confront systemic oppression and ensure our collective safety and survival. In celebration of over a decade of INCITE! and in light of a new decade having begun, we want to honor your work and vision. Together we are shaping a new collective vision for our movements and communities!

Image from INCITE!'s Stop Law Enforcement Violence Toolkit

RECENT SIGHTINGS

INCITE! Chapters and Affiliates have been busy raising our resilient voices for the safety and lives of our communities! The INCITE! LA Chapter organized youth leadership programs, film nights, campaigns against the racist legislation of Arizona SB 1070 and more.  Two INCITE! Affiliates, Young Women United (YWU) and Mamas of Color Rising, continue to build together for access to healthcare and birthing options throughout Texas and New Mexico, traveling to meet and share strategy and community around their shared work and offer free Certified Birth Companion (Doula) trainings to women of color. Women’s Health & Justice Initiative of New Orleans released a critical statement, ‘Stereotypes, Myths,  & Criminalizing Policies: Regulating the Lives of Poor Women’ and continue to organize for the health and safety of women and trans people of color in New Orleans and the global south. INCITE! Affiliate Young Women’s Empowerment Project released a truthtelling participatory action report, “Girls do what they have to do to survive: Methods used by girls in the sex trade and street economy to fight back and heal” and launched the “Street Youth Rise Up” campaign in Chicago, along with a recent march and speak-out. The INCITE! Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chapter organized self defense community classes, and the INCITE! Denver Chapter continues to organize around community accountability and collective well-being, holding a day of workshops on wellness & resiliency as part of their chapter work and publishing a powerful statement on hate crime laws and violence against queer and trans people of color.

Allied Media Conference 2011

For the last 5 years, the INCITE! network has hosted a track at the Allied Media Conference (AMC), bringing INCITE! members, analysis and organizing models to this national movement-building space, and developing new media-based organizing practices with our allies there.

There is so much more to share, and so much more on the way. We hope you’ll share your stories and local work with the wider network through our blog and newsletter!

THE INCITE! NATIONAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITIES

Some people have asked, “Who and what is the INCITE! National Collective?” To put it simply, we are a small collective of volunteers that does infrastructural maintenance to support the INCITE! National Network.   This includes tending to email accounts and list-servs, managing finances, producing newsletters, websites, and merchandise, and tracking book orders and sales.  We often connect and coordinate with INCITE! Chapters and Affiliates, make some decisions about national gatherings and collaborations, and occasionally work on analysis and written statements about issues and events.

Through a long-term listening process that involved surveys, in-person meet-ups and one-on-one interviews, we developed a “Working Group” structure to support collaboration across the chapters, affiliates and individual members in the INCITE! Network.  A Working Group may be infrastructural or issue-based.  Members can start issue-based Working Groups that reflect leadership from across the network; they do not need to be hosted by the National Collective but should commit to sharing info with the network through the website and blog. Any that are infrastructural should be hosted by the National Collective. Currently there are two of these infrastructural Working Groups in the network:

  • The Media and Communications Working Group is comprised of National Collective members, affiliates, chapters, and allies.  This working group is building a new website and other media tools to share and give visibility to the amazing practices, strategies and resources of our network. Members are working to decentralize and help the INCITE network become more transparent and horizontal in its communication practices.  We believe it is necessary for members of our network to build and maintain our own online communications infrastructure.  Part of this includes building a radical tech support community, teaching and learning digital skills, and creating an online space for the network to connect, all through a collaborative, cross-geographical process. The Media Working Group has met twice for in-person skillshares and plans to organize more.
  • The Grassroots Fundraising Working Group is building grassroots fundraising strategies to raise funds towards more potential gatherings of membership to cross-share skills, ideas and leadership, and to help provide material support for local Chapter and Affiliate work. We see the action of raising monies and sharing resources — from our political strategies to opening our homes to each other — as a political practice that transforms how we support each other, leverage resources and build our sustainability for the long term. Through grassroots fundraising, we seek to build our collective capacity, wealth of knowledge and resources for, by and with each other.

In addition, throughout the next year you can expect these things from the National Collective: more brilliance and collaboration on the blog; a new interactive website; an INCITE! Membership Guide; a new INCITE! Values Statement; a Resource & Resiliency Toolkit including fundraising ideas and tools; and a Structure Handbook to help explain how INCITE! as a network is organized. We will also be reaching out to you to build more collaborative leadership & skills-sharing within the INCITE! network and are in the last stages of producing an INCITE! chapter & affiliate toolkit, which is a compilation of all the most useful tools for starting and sustaining INCITE! organizing from across our network.

Thank you for being INCITE! and for trusting us and yourselves with this work. This is a love letter of liberation to all of you.  As the National Collective, we are here to support you, the Chapters, Affiliates, and other allies who are the heart of what INCITE! does. We want to lift you up and give you deepest gratitude and appreciation for the vital work you are doing for our collective survival.

In Vision & Legacy,

Jenny, Cara, Emi, Karla, and Kiri

incite.natl@gmail.com
www.incite-national.org
http://inciteblog.wordpress.com

The INCITE! Network

Indigenous Young Women: Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths

 

In honor of World Indigenous Peoples Day, Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Girls Action Foundation has officially launched Indigenous Young Women Speaking Our Truths, Building Our Strengths national project and gathering! Check it out:

Indigenous Young Women: Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths

November 18th to 21st, 2011 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Deadline to REGISTER is September 9th, 2011.

To read the information and register in Inuktitut, please click here

Want to speak your truth and build on your strengths? Are you a young Indigenous woman between the ages of 16 and 25? Whether you are already involved in your community or are just starting to learn about your Indigenous culture, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Girls Action Foundation invite you to join other young Indigenous women from across Canada to learn, share and have fun together!

This project offers opportunities to come together as sisters, with the inclusion of Elders and other traditional leaders in the spirit of unity to discuss what is happening, and act upon our vision of what needs to change in our communities. This is the time to be yourself, all of yourself and celebrate it!

This project is for and by:

Self- identified young Indigenous Women between the ages of 16-25, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, status or non-status, beneficiary or non-beneficiary. Those who identify as women, Trans, Two Spirit, or gender non-conforming are welcome.

What is the project about?

The Indigenous Young Women: Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths project focuses on Indigenous young women’s leadership, empowerment, building solidarity amongst each other and stopping violence. The project will focus on skill sharing and facilitation, emphasizing the fact that youth ideas matter and that youth are experts in their own right! We will also have opportunities to learn important teachings from our elders and other traditional teachers, with an understanding that women’s strength has always existed in our communities and continues to grow.

The project is also lead by a peer Advisory Committee consisting of ten Indigenous young women from across Canada.They are:

Amanda Darroch-Mudry
Erin Konsmo
Janice Grey
Jasmine Redfern
Jocelyn Formsma
Kari-Dawn Wuttunee
Krysta Williams
Lacey Whiteduck
Marie Holeiter
Theresa J Lightfoot

Mentorship

Opportunities will be created for different types of mentorship, both informal and formal. Mentorships will be created between Elders, traditional teachers and young women, and there will also be peer-to-peer mentorship as youth have important knowledge to learn from each other as well.

Community Actions

A key area that has been identified as part of this project is making sure there are opportunities to continue the work started at this gathering. Ten communities will be chosen to  use the skills, knowledge and mentorship gained from the project to implement local community actions! This is your chance to let your voices be heard, and act upon the changes you would like to see in your communities. More information on the community action opportunities will be provided at the gathering.

A 4-day gathering will explore key areas such as:

  • Stopping racism and violence
  • Reclaiming knowledge and teachings from Elders and moving into new traditions
  • Healthy sexuality
  • Pride in cultural diversity and difference
  • Leadership in all its forms
  • Arts for social change
  • Learning practical skills (How to start a youth council, grant writing, political leadership, becoming your own advocate)
  • Get to know your rights!
  • Skill-sharing
  • Self-care and burnout prevention
  • Plan community actions
  • Create resources
  • Keeping in touch after the gathering

Possible activities: workshops, concerts, talk show, fashion show, film night, giveaways, feasts, hip hop and more. Come ready to share and exchange your skills, talent or knowledge.

When & Where:

The gathering will take place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan between November 18th and 21st, 2011.

Accessibility: We will make every effort possible to meet the needs of all participants, including but not limited to language, mobility, disability and dietary needs. Please make note of this on the registration form. If you are selected to participate, we will work together to ensure accessibility needs are met.

Language: Please note that this gathering will be held mainly in English, French and Inuktitut. The Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Girls Action are committed to making the event accessible in these three languages, so let us know if you have a different language preference we will do our best to arrange for whispered translation.

Childcare: Where we can, we support the participation of those who would not be able to take part if their young child was unable to accompany them. Please make a note of this on the registration form where indicated and read our Policy for Children for more information.
There are NO fees to participate in Indigenous Young Women: Speaking our Truths, Building our Strengths. If you are selected, we will cover your air travel and accommodation costs.

REGISTER NOW! Deadline to register is September 9th, 2011. Participants will be notified of acceptance by September 26th, 2011.

Registration forms can also be faxed to (514) 948-5926 or mailed to:

24 Mont Royal West Suite 601 Montreal, Quebec H2T 2S2 CANADA

For more information please contact Natasha@girlsactionfoundation.ca or call 1-888-948-1112

More information and registration in Inukitut is available here: http://www.girlsactionfoundation.ca/en/special-projects/indigenous-young-women-speaking-our-truths-building-our-strength.

INCITE! Needs Your Help Getting to Detroit!

A member of the INCITE Media Working Group in a workshop.

Hello INCITE Supporters!

The Allied Media Conference is around the corner, and the INCITE Track is presenting an incredible bunch of workshops this year. Our work grows stronger each year through this time spent in Detroit, sharing skills, deepening relationships, and developing strategy for year-round media-based organizing. But we need your help to get there! Can you donate to help INCITE Track participants get to the conference?

Who are we?

We are women, trans* and genderqueer people of color. We are bloggers, mamas, media makers, teachers, healers, artists, sex workers, organizers, dancers, among many other things. And we need support in order to make it to Detroit for the 4th Annual INCITE! Track at the Allied Media Conference.

What will your donation help us do?

Your donation will help some of our amazing presenters get to the conference to continue building a network of media-makers and organizers through the INCITE Track at the AMC. For the past four years, the INCITE Track has been a crucial space where women and trans* people of color from all over can come together to share skills and experience for participatory media-based organizing strategies.

We’re excited about this year’s AMC! Check out some of the INCITE Track sessions:

Shawty Got Skillz Skillshare
Spread Magazine: Creating a Race Issue
The Black Girl Project: Film & Discussion
Delivering Justice Through Birthing Rights: Mamas of Color Bring it Home
Street Youth Rise Up! Collective Media-Making for Healing and Action
INCITE Media Working Group Convening

Your support will help us with food, transportation, lodging, registration, and childcare costs for presenters and participants.

Donate Now!

Please give what you can to help us get one step closer the AMC! Anything you give will go directly towards childcare, food, housing or registration for a track presenter! Via PayPal, please send to incite.natl@gmail.com and write AMC in the notes. For check donations, mail to INCITE!, 2416 W Victory Blvd #108
, Burbank, CA 91506-1229. All donations are tax-deductible.

More on the INCITE! Track:

The INCITE! Track at the AMC is a place to build a shared approach to ending violence against women, trans*, and genderqueer people of color through diverse media – from blogging and graphic design to zine-making. We will continue to highlight the transformative media strategies that will help broaden the understanding of racial & gender justice and integrating this politic into our work. We will continue to build solidarity between movements, organizations and individuals that are headed by and supported by women, gender non-conforming, and transpeople of color and will initiate collaborative projects that use different forms of media to help build community and provide tools to build sustainable ways of organizing and healing.

More on the Allied Media Conference:

The Allied Media Conference cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing. Check out a full schedule of sessions here.

Learn more and register for the Allied Media Conference:

Support the Allied Media Conference & Shawty Got Skillz

Stacey & Mia from To The Other Side Of Dreaming break down why it’s critical to support the Allied Media Conference (June 23-26, 2011, Detroit), a movement building space for radical women of color/people of color organizing, disability justice, queer young people, and more!  They urge everyone to support Shawty Got Skillz, a crew of 18 media makers of color, get to AMC this summer and share vital media skills for justice.  Check it out:

To donate and learn more about Shawty Got Skillz workshops, please visit: http://shawtygotskillz.tumblr.com/

Register for the Allied Media Conference:

War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement

Emi Koyama of eminism.org has completed War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement, a powerful new zine that examines and challenges the current US domestic anti-trafficking movement.  Here’s an excerpt from the zine intro:

This booklet is a product of two years of research into the state of the anti-trafficking movement in the United States. I went to dozens of events, lectures, and conferences, and spoke with many wonderful but misguided people who take part in this movement. I have also had opportunities to hear many stories of surviving forced labor and prostitution, some of which were not so dissimilar to my own experiences in the sex trade in one point or another. I do not wish to negate their authority to speak about their own experiences and how they wished things were different, but I am deeply troubled by the cherry-picking of survivor stories and experiences that support the anti-trafficking trope equating all prostitution with trafficking and all trafficking with slavery, while all other voices are dismissed as “exceptions” (or “the top 2% elite,” as one anti-prostitution researcher said).

What I aim for in this booklet is to examine various questionable “facts” presented by the anti-trafficking movement, and address ways in which they distort our perceptions of sex trafficking and prostitution and mislead the public to support policies that are ineffectual or counter-productive. I will also show links between the War on Trafficking and the War on Terror, and how problematic aspects of the War on Terror permeates the War on Trafficking as well.

Chapter 1 of this booklet exposes the big three “factoids” that anti-prostitution groups use in order to influence people emotionally and to get their way with media, corporations, and the government, but are false. Chapter 2 continues on this direction, but focusing on other misinformation that influence public opinions. Chapter 3 scrutinizes “economic” arguments, including the “end demand” approach to end sex trafficking and the theory of “economic coercion.” In Chapter 4, I will use the movie Taken as a starting point to talk about the links between the War on Terror and the War on Trafficking. And finally in the conclusions, I will contrast anti-trafficking versus social and economic justice approaches, demonstrating how anti-trafficking movement is harming women and other vulnerable people.

Check out the full intro and table of contents here: http://eminism.org/blog/entry/231
Download a free preview and purchase the zine here: http://eminism.org/store/zine-emi.html

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