Free Palestine is a Feminist Issue

“I was more than terrified,” [Sena Alissa] says while holding her newborn baby girl in a bed in Gaza City’s struggling al-Shifa hospital, 20 minutes from Nuseirat. “I’m giving birth in war.” (source)

The latest Israeli attack on occupied Palestine in the form of an ongoing military assault on the people living in the Gaza Strip has made an already unbearable situation much more devastating.  Women, children, and elders represent the majority of the hundreds of people who have lost their lives.  The assaults are a form of reproductive violence by creating conditions that increase miscarriages, pre-term labor, and stillbirths.  Israel is currently targeting sewage systems, worsening an existing water crisis created by the Israel blockade of supplies to Gaza, and depriving hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents of clean water.  Free Palestine is, and always has been, a feminist issue.

People around the world are mobilizing direct actions to denounce Israel’s brutal violence and ongoing occupation.  Here’s a list of convergencesBelow is INCITE!’s statement of endorsement of the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, framing the occupation with a race & gender analysis. 

INCITE_BDS_Page_1 INCITE_BDS_Page_2

Here are handouts: PDF, JPEG Front, JPEG Back
The statement is in text below.  Also visit this call from ASWAT to LGBTQ organizations to take action against the bombing of Gaza civilians. And download and place stickers or bookmarks where you see items that should be boycotted.  TAKE ACTION!

INCITE! endorses the Palestinian call for BDS—Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions for Palestine because…

  • Israel is a settler colonial state founded on the ethnic cleansing of 80% of the indigenous Palestinian people…
  • And because Israel considers Palestinian women a “demographic threat,”…
  • And because one in four women in Gaza, and 4 in 5 children there, are undernourished…
  • And because the siege on Gaza was described as “catastrophic” and a “prelude to genocide” even before the latest murderous assault…
  • And because Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a UN-commissioned independent report have concluded that Israel’s offensive in Gaza amounted to “crimes against humanity”…
  • And because the restrictions imposed by Israel have resulted in a 58% increase in miscarriages among Palestinian women in the West Bank in a single year…
  • And because Israel celebrates the declining Palestinian birth rate as a success, while encouraging Jewish women to have more children…
  • And because Israel promotes itself as a haven for gay people, while barring queer Palestinians from participating in Pride day celebrations…
  • And because Palestinian children are arrested by Israeli soldiers with no right to due process, and are imprisoned without any charges against them…
  • And because our tax dollars are used, against our will, to create a living hell for Palestinian women and their families…
  • And because, since 2000, nearly 6500 Palestinians have been killed, including over 1400 children, and 40,000 have been injured…
  • And because, since 2000, 20,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished to allow for Israeli “natural growth,”…
  • And because Israel has resisted all official attempts to force it to comply with international law and end its violation of Palestinian human rights…
  • And because Israeli control and domination of the geographic terrain and resources of Palestine deny Palestinian families the right to free mobility, clean water, food, and other basic living necessities…
  • And because reports of torture and sexual violence of Palestinian men and women political prisoners and detainees violate international human rights law…
  • And because Israel’s entrenched system of discrimination and segregation constitutes an apartheid system as harsh as South Africa’s old system…
  • And because the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement played a major role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and is the model and inspiration of the Palestinian people today…
  • And because Palestinian civilian society, not their corrupt “leaders,” is calling upon the international community to show its solidarity and support by engaging in a similar consistent and comprehensive movement…

We can support the Global BDS movement by engaging in boycotting Israeli products everyday.

For more info on the global BDS movement, please visit:
http://www.bsdmovement.net/
http://usacbi.org/

In Defense of Brontez—and the Rest of Us Too Proud or Too Trashy to Go Down Without a Fight

Originally published at Kenyon Farrow’s blog; republished with permission.

In Defense of Brontez—and the Rest of Us Too Proud or Too Trashy to Go Down Without a Fight
by Kenyon Farrow

Let me first state that there is no pretense of objectivity or an emotional distance here for several reasons.

One, Brontez Purnell is a very close friend of mine.

Two, this issue cuts at the core of some thoughts and problems I have with existing frameworks of victim, and the demands made on victims of violence to behave (past or present behaviors) in a fashion acceptable to others in order to claim one has been victimized; the role of police and questions of political alignments and authenticity; and the demands on victims to recall and script every fact in exactly the right chronology in order to be seen as credible.

Last week, I received a phone call from Brontez—again, close friend and musician/dancer/writer who lives in Oakland, California. It was the day after he and friend/bandmate Adal had left the Paradiso nightclub when two Black men with some Caribbean accent began harassing them as they left the club. Adal is not queer, but the two men, according to Brontez, assumed that they were a couple, and began calling them “batty boy” and other epithets. Finally, they made the statement, “if we were at home you’d be dead by now.”

Brontez, clearly enraged, went the fuck off. After more words were exchanged, and Brontez says he spit at the car the men were in, and then he was punched in the face. Brontez says he then hit the man’s car with his bicycle lock and they assaulted Brontez and Adal (who’s face was broken in five places). The police were called but no arrests have been made.

After talking to Brontez about the attack—I read an article in the Bay Citizen, followed by a pretty vigorous debate in the comments section. The debate mostly sparked by comments made by Kevin Bynes, who is known for his work in HIV prevention for Black gay men. Bynes, a bay area resident said he witnessed the incident nearby (and I know of Bynes through my own work in HIV prevention), and that Brontez was lying about the details of the incident noting:

I’m sorry I have to tell the truth because I live in this area and saw the entire incident. The so called victim rode around on his bike yelling at the two guys in the black SUV repeatedly and it wasn’t until the so-called victim spit on the driver and tried to break his window with his bike lock that the two accused “gay bashers” reacted by chasing the guy away. This man TOTALLY provoked this situation and initiated the violence. He took the first swing, spit in the man’s face and tried to damage his car. I’m a gay man who lives in this area and the club they were leaving used to be a gay club that was there for 20 + years and the area is VERY safe for gay people. That was NOT a gay bashing and I think it is dangerous for us to suggest that everytime a gay person gets into a fight its a gay bashing. The guy that is being called a victim really harrassed these guys and they did not attack him because he was gay they acted in self defense. In fact the only gay slurs that I heard came from the victim. I’m so sorry that I didn’t speak to the police this morning.

To which Brontez responded:

Yo, this is Brontez. You SADDEN me Mr. Bynes (whoever you are). We we’re unlocking our bikes and these guys stared harassing us. How did you see “everything”? It was only us four outside in the beginning! You act like we just saw these dudes and went in on them and thats a lie. Ive attended the Paradiso since it was Cabel’s Reef and have NEVER had anything like this happen. Me cursing, and yelling at them is true like after someone threatens you with VIOLENCE who wouldn’t? Sorry im NOT the type of girl whos gonna cross her legs and act fucking nice after some jock tells me im “at the wrong club” two blocks from my own fucking house! FUCK YEAH I YELLED BACK AT THEM. If your such a sensible homosexual why didnt you HELP US when these guys were fucking with us? And also my bandmate who was sitting on the sidelines got his face broken and we did NOTHING to warrant that. WE WERE THE VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE, verbal and otherwise. I threw my bike lock AFTER they punched me and Adal (who wouldn’t?) I used this tactic to pause them long enough to get their plate number. You call someone a “batty boy” threaten them with violence and then hit someone that didnt provoke you YES THAT IS A HATE CRIME. I was REACTING to being fucked with. How dare you?

My problem here is not that Bynes disagrees with Purnell’s timeline of the events or that he was “disgusted and ashamed” by Brontez’ behavior.

First, Brontez and Adal both say that the men had been saying shit to them from jump, for which Bynes (in my opinion) was likely out of earshot or just didn’t hear. Brontez is just not the type, drunk or not, to start a fight with two other men for no reason, having been out in San Fran, Oakland, and all over NYC with Mr. Purnell over the years of our relationship—even where it is clear that Adal was trying to convince Brontez to let it slide. But as Brontez himself said, and I very much believe, he wasn’t going to just let that shit slide. Brontez actually states in the article what Bynes re-asserts in his comment—he didn’t expect to be threatened with violence at a place he’d frequented for years (both men live in the neighborhood where this incident took place), so I am not sure why Bynes re-states this point in his comment—unless he flat out does not believe anything at all transpired to make Brontez angry in the first place (The Bay Citizen published a second story where Adal corroborates Brontez’s assertion that the men started harassing them first). Bynes’ assertion that the club used to be a queer space but is still frequented by queers seems to ignore the realities many of us know from experience. Many of us have been at “the club” in any city USA that used to be a queer bar, and the straights who then take it over act brand fucking new and further marginalize queers who continue to go there. And since when did neighborhoods or establishments with lots of LGBT people mean they were free from homo/transphobic violence? That doesn’t make any kind of sense.

So the question for me here, and where I vehemently disagree with Bynes, is how one defines “provocation” and who judges what then is the socially acceptable response. I tend to agree with Brontez. Too often people who are targeted for violence have to have their motivations and their recollection of all the “facts” or chronology of all the events hyper-scrutinized beyond recognition if they at all do anything other than lay down and take the abuse (or in the case of sexual assault, you’re accused of lying if you don’t have any physical evidence that you fought back, or you choose to try to still (and steel) yourself to try to avoid further violence, or are simply in a state of shock). And what is more true than not, most of us, in some way, respond verbally or physically fight back.

I think Brontez was enraged by the situation and responded accordingly. But rage, as bell hooks once stated, is an appropriate response to oppression. I actually have never seen Brontez angry to the point of fighting the way he clearly must have been that night. But any of us, caught at the right place at the wrong time, may have responded similarly. People get tired of this bullshit. I am tired of it. I have had people hurl similar epithets and make threats to me. One day I may walk away. Another day, I walk right into that fire. Once, similar to what happened to Brontez—two Black men started with me, but when I didn’t run or back down, they punched my non-black friend instead—who once they engaged, thought was going to be an easier target. So I know what it means to reach that point where you say to yourself, Fuck it. I don’t give a fuck what happens today. I am not going to be disrespected and let you walk away from here thinking that shit is OK to do. Not now.

That’s what happened to Chrishaun McDonald, a Black transwoman in Minneapolis currently on trial for murder. She was outside one evening this past spring when she and some friends were approached by a white man who hurled both racist and transphobic remarks. I don’t know who threw the first blow, but that man was stabbed (many say not by Chrishaun) and is dead. I don’t celebrate his death and yes those trans women could have done a million things to try to get away from him. But maybe they were tired of running, or were so bold as to think they didn’t have a reason to run.

I am reminded of Sakia Gunn, when she told a man to leave her friends alone—they were lesbians. I don’t know if she kicked his car, or flipped him the finger. I don’t know if she told him he had a dick smaller than hers, called him a faggot or some other name to push his buttons. But he did what patriarchal men do—he assumed it was his right and Christian civic duty to accost them, and “check” them for being “out of hand.” He got out of the car. She, or one of her friends, may have punched him first. She may have spit in his face. But he killed her. Was that justified? Was she “at fault” for provoking him? Should she have collected her friends and run back into Newark Penn Station? She could have done any of those things, but maybe, even at 15 years old, she decided she was tired of running, or it never occurred to her to run.

I think of the New Jersey 4—originally the group of seven—young Black lesbians also from Newark who one night in a “gay friendly” part of town, NYC’s West Village, were walking and a man made a disparaging comment about them being lesbians, and a fight ensued, with the man being stabbed, which he later described as “a hate crime against a straight man.” They could have went to the other side of the street. They could have decided to leave the Village and go home. They could have quoted Bible passages at him. But they didn’t. I don’t know if one of them struck him first. Nor do I care.

I respect these young women for, despite the enormous consequences that none of them could forsee, making a choice to not live in a world where they could be denigrated for being lesbians, bisexuals, aggressives (AGs), queers or however they think of their identities. And they, like Brontez, don’t present as “victims” in the way our society constructs, because they didn’t just let that shit go. They didn’t run. They saw the danger, decided to move towards it and do what it was trying to do to them, even if it meant they might not win. The “behavior,” like Brontez’s was not befitting of any victim—most people in the moment are resisting being a passive victim (and this is not to also say that people who choose not to fight back in certain moments are less than heroic, nor am I glorifying violent retribution). But it is to say that I think anyone who tries to condemn someone for not allowing themselves to be intimidated by people, especially in this case who are saying if they were a few thousand miles away they’d just as soon kill you for simply existing. I don’t know how I’d react.

And if we’re going to claim that we don’t want to see more Black men going to prison potentially, I totally agree, but if that’s your position then it means that we have to find ways to help and de-escalate situations, even if you think someone is in the wrong and not wait till after cops are called to raise judgement about whether someone exhibited exemplary model citizen behavior in the midst of being threatened. Also, I think that those of us who think critically about calling the police (because of the nature of policing and the prison industrial complex as an anti-Black project) have to be clear that we do not begin to use this as a reason to excuse violence, or question a person’s Blackness or other racial/political authenticity against a person who, for whatever reason, calls the police in a particular moment. It’s not as though Brontez is someone the police don’t also target, threaten and violate. And while the fact that these men were likely Caribbean immigrants invokes racist narratives about Black criminality and homophobia in the Caribbean, clearly these men were quite willing to try to intimidate Brontez and his friend using those very same narratives when they declared “if we were at home you’d be dead by now.”

I think Bynes is making an assumption that even if Brontez had never responded, he and his friend would have been safe (on their bikes!!!!) from those men once they turned the corner, even if they were supposedly trying to avoid an altercation right then and there—maybe they were initially shocked that a Black gay man would have the audacity to even respond back to them. Maybe they were trying to impress the women they were with, and they clearly got a response they weren’t prepared for. I don’t know their motives, but I don’t believe Brontez decided to just pick a random fight with two dudes leaving a club he frequents regularly (as a musician this fucks with your ability to make money), two blocks from his own house, in a community he has to continue to live in.

I do hope that rather than starting a war of words (and I have to admit I was mad as hell when I first heard there was some backlash calling one of my best friends a liar), this can actually give us pause to think about what standards we’re holding people to who have been threatened, when one day, it might be you, for whatever reason, who decides not to take the high road.

Kenyon Farrow has been working as an organizer, communications strategist, and writer on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, prisons, and homophobia. Kenyon is the former Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice—an organization dedicated to organizing, research, and advocacy for and with low-income and working-class lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Prior to becoming ED, Kenyon served as the National Public Education Director, building the visibility of progressive racial and economic justice issues as they pertain to LGBTQ community through coalition-building, public education, and media advocacy. Currently he serves on the Executive Committee of Connect 2 Protect New York, and the Center for Gay & Lesbian Studies (CLAGS). Kenyon is working on a new report on the Tea Party and LGBT Politics with Political Research Associates, as well as working as a book editor with South End Press.  Check out Kenyon’s blog here.

Stereotypes, Myths, & Criminalizing Policies: Regulating the Lives of Poor Women

Statement from New Orleans-based Women’s Health & Justice Initiative, July 2011

Since the beginning of the year, we have witnessed a surge of legislative attacks targeting poor communities through bills calling for mandatory drug testing as an eligibility requirement to receive federal aid under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF[1]) program in over two-dozen states.

  • On January 25, 2011 U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-Louisiana, introduced The Drug Free Families Act of 2011, (S. 83), which would require all 50 states to drug test all TANF applicants and recipients.
  • On May 10, 2011, Missouri state legislature passed Senate Bill 607, which require welfare applicants and recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive public assistance, if ‘reasonable suspicion’ is raised by a social worker; and on July 12, 2011, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon signed the bill into law.
  • On May 31, 2011, Governor Rick Scott, R- Florida, signed legislation into law requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screenings.
  • And for the fourth consecutive year, Louisiana State Representative John LaBruzzo aggressively tried to get similar legislation passed before House Bill 7 died in the Senate on June 21, 2011 after winning approval in the House.

The targeting of welfare recipients – under the false pretense of “saving tax dollars from supporting someone’ s drug addiction” or by “helping drug addicts become productive citizens” – is nothing more than the continual use of stereotypes and myths to criminalize the lives of poor women and their families through invasive and unconstitutional regulatory policies of economic violence.

The Women’s Health & Justice Initiative (WHJI)[2] condemns these coordinated federal and state assaults on recipients of public cash assistance.  The legislative actions of Governor Scott, Senator Vitter, State Representative LaBruzzo, and others criminalize the poverty of welfare recipients, exploit low-income women’s economic vulnerability, and stereotype welfare recipients as illegal drug users by publicly presuming welfare recipients’ socio-economic status as linked to addiction.

Punitive, Criminalizing, & Discriminatory Attacks

Using the ‘Get Tough’ rhetoric of the War on Drugs; reproductive regulation; and neoliberal austerity measures to attack poor and marginalized women (who rely on government subsidies for financial support) irresponsibly exploits their economic vulnerability by falsely implying their assistance is the cause of the country’s financial woes.  Although recipients of public assistance are no more likely to use illegal drugs than the general population, they are often disproportionately targeted by elected officials as social burdens in need of governmental regulation.

At both the federal and state levels, Senator Vitter and State Representative LaBruzzo have tried unsuccessfully for years to restrict public assistance eligibility through mandatory drug testing under the disguise of helping recipients with untreated drug addictions. Despite the fact such testing has been ruled unconstitutional by the Sixth Circuit in 2000, Vitter and LaBruzzo continue to promote dangerously punitive policies.

If passed, Senator Vitter’s Drug Free Families Act of 2011 would amend part A of The TANF Program and thereby require all states to drug test all TANF applicants and recipients.  The bill will deny assistance to individuals who test positive for illegal drugs and those convicted of drug-related crimes.  Not only will this Act further restrict the privacy and agency of women who are daily portrayed as deceitful, deviant, oversexed, and addicts—all because of racialized gender-based misconceptions of what it means to receive public assistance- it will also subject them to various forms of discrimination with regards to housing, employment, education, and their voting rights.

Additionally, Louisiana State Representative LaBruzzo’s House Bill 7 would have required twenty percent of TANF recipients to submit to drug tests as a condition to receive public assistance – a similar measure attempted by former State Representative and Klu Klux Klan member David Duke in 1989.

Under this year’s version of Representative LaBruzzo’s bill, a participant who wouldn’t sign a written form granting ‘consent’ to a drug test would not have been eligible to receive or to continue to receive cash assistance.  Consenting to a drug test is an infringement of one’s constitutional right to privacy and equal protection, yet refusal is a denial of public benefits and a presumption of drug addiction. Clearly, this legislation was designed to both publicly demonize and undermine the agency of welfare recipients – because placing women in a position to “choose” between their right to privacy and the care of their family is not an exercise of “consent” but a blatant form of coercion.  The use of coercive policies to compel welfare recipients to submit to drug testing ignores the complex structures of poverty and poor women’s daily battles for subsistence, as they often bear the brunt of income and housing related poverty, violence, and discrimination.    By placing women in such positions, LaBruzzo and others are able to justify these systemic forms of coercion by dehumanizing the lives of poor women and their families.

Lastly, legislation signed into law by Governor Scott of Florida on May 31,2011 and by Governor Nixon of Missouri on July 12, 2011 both require adults applying for temporary cash assistance to undergo drug screenings.  The Florida law took effect July 1st, which requires the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to drug test all adults applying for TANF assistance.  Applicants are responsible for the cost of the screening and will be reimbursed by the state only if they pass the drug test.  Those who fail can enter a drug rehabilitation program and reapply six months later or designate someone on their behalf to receive their child’s benefits.  Governor Scott claims, “we don’t want to waste tax dollars…and we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.”  His statement equates public assistance with ‘waste’ and exploits the vulnerability of women’s economic status by violating their Fourth Amendment rights under the pretext of deficit reduction.

In Missouri, the recently signed law allows officials with the Department of Social Services to drug test recipients of public assistance if there is ‘reasonable cause’ to suspect illegal drug use.  If an applicant tests positive, they must complete a substance abuse program.  And if an applicant refuses to take a drug test or attend a substance abuse program, they won’t be eligible for assistance for three years.  This law, like the others, stigmatizes welfare recipient’s economic status and equates their subsidy status with addiction.

The Truth Behind the Legislation

Not only is drug testing unconstitutional, it’s ineffective and costly.  Drug testing does nothing but further marginalize and stigmatize TANF recipients. It implies that recipients are to blame for the nation’s current economic deficit, as opposed to the wasteful spending of public resources on the corporate welfare giants of Wall Street and the War on Drugs; militarism; and the over production of unnecessary commodities that negatively impact our environment. The aggressive use of punitive neoliberal policies like these rely on fear and racist stereotypes to falsely frame low-income families as economic burdens of the state, while ignoring the disastrous economic burdens of corporate welfare.

Stereotypes and stigmatizing labels associated with welfare are dramatically different in reality than what is often decried by elected officials. The racial and gendered subtext of prevailing welfare stereotypes of ‘laziness,’ ‘uncontrolled sexuality,’ and ‘drug addiction,’ implicitly informs the negative treatment of people on food stamps; landlords refusing to accept subsidized housing vouchers as rent; the general perception that welfare recipients only have children to receive a “welfare check;” the regulation of low-income women of color’s fertility; and the scapegoating of recipients as constantly burdening the government to take care of them.  Despite the fact that the current TANF program carries a 5-year term limit, along with a variety of other requirements and restrictions, the false perception of low-income women of color having endless benefits to support drug habits persists.

Nationally, financial assistance to poor families represents approximately 0.7% of the federal budget. Here in Louisiana, the number of people receiving cash assistance through TANF has been declining since President Bill Clinton signed the 1996 welfare reform legislation; and since Hurricane Katrina, the numbers of families receiving assistance has decreased by 74 %.

Despite the claims of lawmakers like Rep. John LaBruzzo, cash assistance payments in Louisiana represents less than 1% of the state budget, with:

  • Less than .3% of the population receiving assistance through the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program or FITAP (13,237 people out a population of 4.5 million)
  • The average public assistance grant being only $189 a month for a family of three, and
  • 74% of receipts in the state being children (only 3,656 of the 13,237 recipients are adults)

The reality of welfare in Louisiana clearly illustrates drug testing has nothing to do with saving tax payers dollars and balancing state budgets, but much to do with who’s perceived as receiving benefits.

What We Need

These current actions represent yet another attempt by conservative legislators to pass criminalizing policies to restrict and police the sexuality and reproductive autonomy of subsidy-reliant women under the pretext of saving taxpayers’ dollars.  The same women whose fertility and motherhood become routine targets of public debates, reproductive legislation, and policy mandates are the same women who are falsely accused of being economic burdens on the state and punished through government funded programs for being poor, thus becoming disproportionately subjected to racialized gender related poverty, violence, discrimination, and displacement.

We need legislators to take real leadership in addressing budget shortfalls — not by weakening the capacity of women to care for their families, which will ultimately create more social and economic cost in the future, but by targeting inflated costs of corporations that pose dangerous risks to our communities. The efforts that have been employed to police the lives of poor women could be better used to:

  • Regulate dangerous industries and out-of-control military spending that threaten the social, economic, and environmental health of families and communities;
  • Increase the efficacy and availability of social programs designed to improve the living conditions of poor communities;
  • Support responsible, accessible, and affordable public services and resources that respect the reproductive and economic autonomy of women of color and low-income women;
  • Prioritize poor women’s economic and social needs to take care of their families in safe and healthy environments.

Legislation that is appropriately funded and provide for childcare resources, family treatment programs, mental health services, non-discriminatory employment opportunities, affordable and decent housing, and safe and non-coercive health care services is needed to assist low-income families — not punitive, ineffective, and expensive drug testing initiatives that restrict the opportunities and life chances of low-income women and their families.


[1] TANF is a federally funded, state- administered aid program created when President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996C (PRWORA), which abolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). It is more widely known as the Welfare Reform Act.

[2] Formed in 2006 to address the hidden and persistent racialized gender-based forms of violence, neglect, and inequality laid bare and exacerbated by the disasters of 2005, the Women’s Health & Justice Initiative (WHJI) is a feminist of color organization based in New Orleans that engages in public education campaigns, research projects, and grassroots organizing activities to improve the social and economic health of women of color and our communities. WHJI advocates against punitive social policies, practices, and behaviors that restrict, exploit, regulate, and criminalize the bodies and lives of low-income and working class women of color most vulnerable to violence, poverty, and population control policies of blame, displacement, and social neglect.  Our organizing challenges the social invisibility of the various forms of social exclusion, violence, marginality, and socio-economic vulnerability women color and poor women experience, contend with, and fight against —by staving off attempts to further undermine our human rights—while forging new opportunities to build the capacity of our communities to address the social justice implications of women’s economic and social needs to live in healthy and safe environments.

The Revolution Starts At Home Anthology is Out & On the Road!

After seven years of hard work, the anthology, The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, is finally printed and out!   And there are tour dates!  Here’s more about the collection:

“Was/is your abusive partner a high-profile activist? Does your abusive girlfriend’s best friend staff the domestic violence hotline? Have you successfully kicked an abuser out of your group? Did your anti-police brutality group fear retaliation if you went to the cops about another organizer’s assault? Have you found solutions where accountability didn’t mean isolation for either of you? Was the ‘healing circle’ a bunch of bullshit? Is the local trans community so small that you don’t want you or your partner to lose it?

“We wanted to hear about what worked and what didn’t, what survivors and their supporters learned, what they wish folks had done, what they never want to have happen again. We wanted to hear about folks’ experiences confronting abusers, both with cops and courts and with methods outside the criminal justice system.”

— The Revolution Starts at Home collective

Long demanded and urgently needed, The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the secret of intimate violence within social justice circles. This watershed collection of stories and strategies tackles the multiple forms of violence encountered right where we live, love, and work for social change — and delves into the nitty-gritty on how we might create safety from abuse without relying on the state. Drawing on over a decade of community accountability work, along with its many hard lessons and unanswered questions, The Revolution Starts at Home offers potentially life-saving alternatives for creating survivor safety while building a movement where no one is left behind.

For more information:
http://southendpress.org/2010/items/87941
http://revolutionathome.tumblr.com/
revathome@gmail.com

The Revolution Starts at Home authors and editors are taking these conversations on the road.  Keep up with upcoming book events and author interviews at their blog: http://revolutionathome.tumblr.com/

More dates will be happening throughout the year – if you’re interested in organizing an event in your community, please email revathome@gmail.com.  If you can’t make a book event, please buy the book direct from South End Press, through your local independent bookstore or through Powell’s Books.

~ Northeastern North American Leg of the Revolution Starts At Home Book Tour ~
Accessibility details listed under each event!  Please come fragrance free — more deets below!

NEW YORK, NY:
Saturday, May 14, 2011
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen St. New York, NY 10002
www.bluestockings.com

RSVP to Facebook event here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186702164710124
Come to the launch party for this long-awaited, beloved book!
With co-editors Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and contributors Gaurav Jashnani and RJ Maccani (Challenging Male Supremacy Project), Jessica Yee (Native Youth Sexual Health Network) and Timothy Colm (Philly’s Pissed, Philly Survivor Support Collective.)
Access: Wheelchair accessible space, tiny tiny bathroom. We’re reserving seats for folks who need to sit due to disability and chronic illness/pain.

AMHERST, MA:
Sunday, May 15, 2011
5-7 PM

Food For Thought Books
106 N. Pleasant St, Amherst, MA
413-253-5432
http://www.foodforthoughtbooks.com/event/revolution-starts-at-home
Co-editors Ching-In Chen and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will be in attendance, read, sign books and answer questions.
Access: Fully wheelchair accessible, including bathrooms. We’re reserving seats for folks who need to sit due to disability and chronic illness/pain.

PHILADELPHIA, PA:
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

7 PM

A Space

4722 Baltimore Avenue

Philadelphia, PA

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=171659686221316&ref=ts
Contributor Timothy Colm,  O.G. co-editor Sham-e-Ali  Nayeem  and co-editor Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will read, do Q and A and sign books.
Co sponsored by Philly Stands Up! (www.phillystandsup.com)
Access: Wheelchair accessible to get in.  Non-accessible bathroom. We’re reserving seats for folks who need to sit due to disability and chronic illness/pain.

TORONTO, CANADA:
Thursday, May 26
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Toronto Women’s Bookstore

73 Harbord St
Moved location for more space!
  New location:
Gladstone Hotel

1214 Queen Street West
Toronto ON

http://www.gladstonehotel.com/events/event-listings/upcoming-events/event-detail?eid=3516
Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150230461710560
Come to the launch party for this long-awaited, beloved book!
Featuring readings, snacks, discussion and book signings
DJ’d by Syrus Ware
Contributors Jessica Yee (Native Youth Sexual Health Network) and Juliet November, and co-editor Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will attend and read.
Access: Wheelchair accessible to get in. Non accessible bathroom. Reserved seating for folks who need it.  ASL interpretation and Livestream info forthcoming – watch this space!


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:
 We want to acknowledge that all these events take place on stolen Indigenous land and that it is at Indigenous people’s expense that we occupy this land. Community accountability is work that Indigenous communities have been doing outside of and in resistance to systems of state power since before the arrival of colonial settlers, and continue to do. We thank the Three Fires Confederacy, Mohawk, Anishnabe, Lenape, Nipmuc, Ohlone and Miwok Nations for allowing us to be on their land.

ACCESS IS LOVE & JUSTICE: See above for specific accessible notes about each venue. We were 90% successful at getting wheelchair accessible spaces and are reserving seating for folks who need it due to pain, disability or illness. It really, really sucks that we didn’t have funding for ASL interpretation for this tour, but we will post videos of some of the launches with text transcription on our tumblr, http://revolutionathome.tumblr.com/. If you have access concerns or questions, please email revathome@gmail.com.

Fragrance free is hella love!  So that beloved community members including some editors and contributors can be present without throwing up or having to leave, please come to this event fragrance free! This means no cologne, perfume, essential oil and also switching to unscented products. We know folks have a learning curve around this, but if you can ditch the scented (yup, even with ‘natural’ scents) detergent and fabric softener, it’ll go a long way. Awesome scent-free list here: http://eastbaymeditation.org/accessibility/scentfree.html

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Imperial Feminism, Islamophobia, and the Egyptian Revolution

Imperial Feminism, Islamophobia, and the Egyptian Revolution
by Nadine Naber

Originally published at www.jadaliyya.com, republished with permission.

“. . . I’m making this video to give you one simply message: We want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25. If we still have honor and want to live with dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25. We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights…The entire government is corrupt—a corrupt president and a corrupt security force…If you stay home, you deserve what will happen to you…and you’ll be guilty, before your nation and your people…Go down to the street, send SMS’s, post it post it on the ‘net. Make people aware…you know your own social circle, your building, your family, your friends, tell them to come with us. Bring 5 people, or 10 people; if each of us manages to bring 5 or 10 people to Tahrir Square…talk to people and tell them, this is enough! It will make a difference, a big difference…never say there’s no hope…so long you come down with us, there will be hope…don’t think you can be safe any more! None of us are! Come down with us and demand your rights my rights, you family’ rights. I am going down on January 25th and I will say ‘no’ to corruption, ‘no’ to this regime.”


These are the words of Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26 year old woman whose Jan. 18 vlog is said to have helped mobilize the million that turned up in Cairo and the thousands in other cities on Jan 25. Asmaa’s vlog, like the stories of many Egyptian women of this revolution offer up a challenge to two key questions framing U.S. discourse on the Jan. 25 Egyptian revolution:

1) Where are the women?

2) and…”but what if Islamic extremists take over?”

Often ignored in U.S. discussions on Egypt is how protests led by labor unions—many women-based labor unions in the manufacturing cities of Egypt—have catalyzed the Egyptian revolution (Paul Amar, 02-05-11).[ii] The women now holding down Tahrir Square as we speak—are of all ages and social groups and their struggle cannot be explained through Orientalist tropes that reduce Arab women to passive victims of culture or religion or Islam. They are active participants in a grassroots people-based struggle against poverty and state corruption, rigged elections, repression, torture, and police brutality. They are leading marches; attending the wounded, and participating in identity checks of state supported thugs. They have helped create human shields to protect Egyptian Antiquities Museum, the Arab League Headquarters, and one another. They have helped organize neighborhood watch groups and committees nationwide in order to protect private and public property. They are fighting against dictatorship among millions of people-not guided by any one sect or political party—united under one slogan: we want and end to this regime. Master Mimz—protest rapper in the UK best represents my point in the lyrics to her song: Back Down Mubarak…where she states:

“First give me a job—then lets talk about my hijab[iii]

For anyone wondering about the oppression of Arab women, the women of this revolution have indeed suffered—Professor Noha Radwan was attacked by beaten half to death by Mubarak thugs who ripped her shirt open and had stitches in her head.[iv] Several women—and men are now martyrs (they are now over 300).  Amira -killed by a police officer; Liza Mohamed Hasan, hit by a police car; Sally Zahran—hit by a Mubarak thug in the back of the head with a bat, went home to sleep and never woke up.[v]

Since the demonstrations pushed the police out of the center of Cairo, several women have made statements such as this: “It’s the first time that I have never been harassed in Cairo”—Egyptian police are notorious for sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Some Egyptian women are also on the frontlines of the war over ideas—fighting the Egyptian state TV and exposing the contradictions between U.S. discourses on democracy and U.S. practices. As Mubarak’s regime pays thugs to run over peaceful demonstrators, stab them and kill them, many women have expressed outraged over Obama and Clinton’s advice that: “both sides need to refrain from violence.”

Aida Seif Al Dawla is a leading human rights activist with Nadeem Center for psychological rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture. By extention, her work, like the work of many Egyptian feminists and human rights activists fighting against state violence, involves confronting U.S. imperial relations with the Mubarak regime.[vi] Today, the people of the revolution are outraged over the U.S.’ unanswered loyalty to Mubarak as well as Obama’s backing of vice president Omar Suleiman and the lack of discussion about Suleiman’s role in Egyptian torture and his important role in the US rendition-to-torture program. U.S. leaders have called Suleiman a distinguished and respected man. They use these words to describe the coordinator of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, an extrajudicial procedure in which suspected terrorists are transferred illegally to countries like Egypt that are known to use torture during interrogation. Consider, for instance, the case of the Pakistani man Habib—in which the CIA passed Habib to Omar Suleiman in Egypt. Habib was then repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. After Suleiman’s men extracted Habib’s confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where his testimony became the basis of his eventual imprisonment at Guantanamo.U.S. policy helps sustain the structures of torture and violence in Egypt. As Egyptian American media pundit Mona Tehawy puts it: U.S.’ “stability” comes at the expense of freedom and dignity of the people of my or any country.”

Of course a democratic Egypt would benefit women. The government recently passed a law restricting the work of civil society organizations, many of them led by women. The current regime is responsible for widespread human rights violations, including intense forms of harassment and violence against women, which many organizations such as Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, and the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, have well-documented.[vii]

So rather than asking, “where are the women,” we might ask:

Why does much of U.S. public discourse frame the revolution through Islamophobia logics and why has the corporate media focused mostly on images of Egyptian men?

Islamophobia fuels popular U.S. discourses on Egypt and drives the question: what if Islamic fundamentalists take over Egypt? And it this very discourse that legitimizes the U.S. administration’s complicity in Mubarak’s violent efforts to quell the revolution. This explains why my public expressions of hope for the success of the revolution and for democratization in Egypt are often been met with a sense of grave concern: “but what if Islamic fundamentalists take over?” These questions must be understood in terms of an imperial psyche, a state of consciousness that is driven by panic over Islamic fundamentalism and that works as a blocking operation, or a rationale against supporting the Egyptian revolution. These questions must be located in the historical trajectory of the post-Cold War era in which particular strands of U.S. liberal feminism and U.S. imperialism have worked in tandem. Both rely upon a humanitarian logic that justifies military intervention, occupation, and bloodshed as strategies for promoting “democracy and women’s rights.” This humanitarian logic disavows U.S.-state violence against people of the Arab and Muslim regions rendering it acceptable and even, liberatory, particularly for women. Islamophobic panic over the future of Egypt similarly de-centers the U.S.-backed Mubarak regime’s past and present repression. It denies historical conditions such as the demographic realities in Egypt, the complex, multidimensional place of the Muslim Brotherhood in the revolution,[viii] and the predominance of secular visions for the future of Egypt. Islamophobia thus legitimizes complicity with dictatorship and U.S. empire, producing this message for the Egyptian people: “Its best that you continue to live under tyranny.” Gender fuels Islamophobia, requiring “the Arab woman” to be nothing more than an abject being, an invisible sisters, wife, or mother of “the real revolutionaries.” Islamophobia legitimizes itself through the disappearance of Egyptian women as active agents in the revolution.

I do not intend to be overly celebratory. We have learned from history that following the revolution, women are often pushed back to the sidelines, away from center stage.

We might also then ask, if Egypt enters a democratization period, will the voices of the women of Tahrir remain center stage? And what are the possibilities for a democratization of rights in Egypt– all civic rights—in which women’s participation, the rights of women, family law, and the right to organize, protest, and express freedom of speech remain central? And what are the possibilities for international solidarity with Egyptian women and Egyptian people—amidst a war of ideas that often obstructs the possibility to see Arab or Muslim women and as human– and as rightful agents of their own discourses, governments, and destinies? It has become increasingly clear that this revolution is much greater than a conflict between Egyptian state and non-state actors. Egyptian women’s rights, like the rights of all Egyptians are entangled in the global, imperial relation between the U.S., Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and other repressive regimes of the region and beyond. Only when we can take these local and imperial forces seriously can we begin to understand the oppression millions of Egyptian people are determined to end. The people of Tahrir and all the demonstrators of Egypt have spoken and said, we will not betray the blood of our martyrs–we will not give up until Mubarak steps down. It remains to be seen what the transitional period will look like but one thing is clear: it must be led by the people of Egypt. And as the Egyptian movement for freedom and democracy continues, will U.S. social movements—whether feminist, anti-war, or beyond—forget the imperial past and the blood of the Egyptian martyrs or commit to holding the U.S. and Israel accountable for complicity with dictatorship and thirty-plus years of repression in Egypt?


[viii] See Paul Amar, here at Jadaliyya

Nadine Naber is an Assistant Professor in the Program in American Culture, Arab American Studies, and the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is co-editor of Race and Arab Americans (Syracuse, 2007); Arab and Arab American Feminist Perspectives (Syracuse, 2011); and The Color of Violence (South End Press, 2007). She is author of Articulating Arabness: Gender and Cultural Politics in the Diaspora (NYU, 2011).  Nadine is also a former member of the INCITE! National Collective and a co-founder of Arab Movement for Women Arising for Justice.  She prepared this piece as a public speech for a public event at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Feb. 7, 2011.

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Dispatches from Haitian Women’s Organizing & Survival

In an article entitled “One Year and One Day,” Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on the first anniversary of the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti,

By this interpretation of death, one of many in Haiti, more than two hundred thousand souls went anba dlo—under the water—after the earthquake last January 12th. Their bodies, however, were elsewhere. Many were never removed from the rubble of their homes, schools, offices, churches, or beauty parlors. Many were picked up by earthmovers on roadsides and dumped into mass graves. Many were burned, like kindling, in bonfires, for fear that they might infect the living.

“In Haiti, people never really die,” my grandmothers said when I was a child, which seemed strange, because in Haiti people were always dying. They died in disasters both natural and man-made. They died from political violence. They died of infections that would have been easily treated elsewhere. They even died of chagrin, of broken hearts. But what I didn’t fully understand was that in Haiti people’s spirits never really die. This has been proved true in the stories we have seen and read during the past year, of boundless suffering endured with grace and dignity: mothers have spent nights standing knee-deep in mud, cradling their babies in their arms, while rain pounded the tarpaulin above their heads; amputees have learned to walk, and even dance, on their new prostheses within hours of getting them; rape victims have created organizations to protect other rape victims; people have tried, in any way they could, to reclaim a shadow of their past lives.

Below are articles from the past year about Haitian women’s organizing for safety and justice after the earthquake:

Rape in the Camps: Lacking Security, Women Organize to Protect Themselves, Amy Goodman interviews Malia Villard Appolon, coordinator of KOFAVIV, Democracy Now

That’s a camp which has a lot of difficulties in it. The government doesn’t take any measures to provide security there. That’s why we saw a lot of problems of security there, because there’s no police presence. It’s us, as civilians in the camp, who took the initiative to put in place a committee of protection to protect the women against the sexual violence they were under, experiencing.

Haiti Women Regroup, Rebuild, by Rebecca Harshbarger, Women’s E-News

A loose-knit coalition of 106 organizations called Femmes Citoyennes Haiti Solidaire, or Women Citizens Haiti United, has emerged from the devastation of the January earthquake to lobby for women’s advancement during the recovery efforts.Part of their inspiration comes from wanting to carry on for three leaders lost in the disaster [Magalie Marcelin opened Haiti's first shelter for battered women; Myriam Merlet, chief of staff for Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women, and Anne Marie Coriolan, who worked in the courts to criminalize rape]…

Souerette Policar Montjoie is president of Lig Pouva Fanm, a women’s leadership organization in Port-au-Prince that joined the coalition.

“We have a lot of things to say and Haitian women are very strong,” she told Women’s eNews in a phone interview. “But in Haiti, the position of men is higher than women. We want men to know that we can put our hands together. They don’t have to fight us.”

Women Citizens Haiti United members range from a collective of female university students to a network of women working in rural community organizations. Members represent an array of special projects: curbing domestic and sexual violence, as well as improving women’s access to credit, job training and education.

Haitian Women: Pillars of the Economy & Resistance, by Masum Momaya, AWID

Historically, many women were employed in Haiti’s factories or worked as farmers. Yet recent shifts have caused women to take up work in the already crowded informal sector. Many are self-employed – owning home-based stores selling small wares and clothing, cooking food to sell on the streets or working as domestic servants. Some also work in the sex industry. [1]

The small percentage of women who still work in garment factories face exploitative working conditions, but they have been mobilizing for labor rights and national policy reform to keep factories open while paying living wages and ensuring fair working conditions.

Additionally, Haitian women and their allies both inside and outside Haiti have been fighting for debt cancellation. In June 2009, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank cancelled a significant portion – $1.2 billion – of Haiti’s debt. Other creditors, including the Canadian government, have followed suit. Now, campaigns are focused on boosting national industry and production.

Meanwhile, NGOs such as Dwa Famn, Fonkoze, the Lambi Fund and Partners in Health support women with counseling, basic education, skills-training, loans and health care, including women who have survived domestic or other forms of violence. These and other civil-society organizations employ a community-based approach and support women’s leadership development, such that women determine their own needs and gain skills to lead efforts for change.

Additionally, women continue to share and raise awareness about Haiti’s history and contemporary life locally and transnationally as artists, musicians and writers. Many draw and paint scenes of current-day joys and sorrows while others invoke words and songs dating back to slave rebellions. These expressions serve as reminders of the strength of ancestors and past struggles as well as the power of art in communicating across borders. [2]

Haitian feminist journalist Mirlene Joanis, who is interviewed in the Poto Mitan film, writes “When you see how Haitians are slaving away in the streets, it reminds you of an epoch a long time ago when our ancestors were slaves. In those days, it was only human force that made the country rich.” Today, such a tradition continues, in which women make the country ‘rich’ – not only through their economic contributions but also through their continuation of the resistance and push for reform that has characterized Haiti since its founding.

Women’s movement building and creating community in Haiti, Sokari Ekine, blacklooks.org

One of the stories least reported has been the one about Haitians organising for themselves, particularly stories presented within a framework of feminist organising and movement building.   This is one woman’s story of how she, her family and the people in the various communities in which she works, came together collectively to care for each other’s needs and how that struggle has become the foundation of a new movement  of the poor for  change in education and the material lives of women and men – a struggle for dignity.   Their personal and collective humanitarian response was completely off the radar of NGOs, international institutions and the Haitian government.  Even Save The Children, whose office is located right next to the school did nothing to help SOPUDEP.      However ultimately this was an aside for Rea.   What was important was that those who needed help of whatever kind, received it and beyond that the struggle for dignity and self-determination for the poor people of Haiti.

Post-Earthquake: “Hearing Our Mothers: Safeguarding Haitian Women’s Self-Representation & Practices of Survival,” Dr. Myriam J. A. Chancy

If you know of other news reports, video/audio, blog entries, or first hand accounts about women’s, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans community organizing in Haiti, please put the link in comments.

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Call for workshops and skillsharing: INCITE! at the 2011 Allied Media Conference

INCITE! Presents
a Women Trans* & Genderqueer Folks of Color Track
at the 2011 Allied Media Conference: June 23 – 26 | Detroit, MI

As women, trans* and genderqueer people of color making media that directly mingles our personal lives with the political issues we speak about, we believe that the daily intimidation we experience as a result of our work is dangerous when faced in isolation or silence. We believe, as Audre Lorde did, that “it is better to speak, knowing we were never meant to survive.” The community of support we create through the INCITE! Track at the Allied Media Conference is vital to our survival as people of color making media and organizing to end violence within our communities. Equally vital is the exchange of brilliant ideas that takes place when we come together. We are all pushing the boundaries of what media is capable of and sharing the lessons of that experience with each other, and would love you to join us in Detroit this June to do just that.

More info about the Allied Media Conference: http://alliedmediaconference.org/
More info about INCITE!: http://www.incite-national.org/
More info about INCITE!’s collaboration with AMC since 2007:
http://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/reflections-from-detroit-reflections-after-the-4th-annual-incite-track-at-the-amc/

ABOUT THE ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE:

The Allied Media Conference cultivates media strategies for a more just and creative world. Held every June in Detroit, MI, it is the primary point of intersection in the U.S. for alternative media makers and committed social justice activists from around the country.

We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing. The panel discussions and workshops of the AMC are hands-on and practical, intergenerational while youth-centered. They showcase the solutions emerging from places where creativity is a matter of survival. Out of the AMC, we evolve new skills and strategies to bring back to our local contexts. We deepen our relationships and expand our networks in ways that support ongoing collaboration throughout the year. 

PROPOSED SESSIONS FOR 2011 INCITE! TRACK:

Some of the sessions already proposed for this year include:

*A 3 hour skill-sharing carnival for women, trans* and genderqueer people of color of every skill level
*Gender justice caucus
*Popular Education workshops
*”This is what INCITE is, how to start a chapter” workshop
*Using media to keep our healing traditions alive
*Social Justice and Zine Making
*Motherhood and Media Organizing

We know you’ve got brilliance to spare! Please let us know if you would like to propose a workshop or be a part of the skillshare!

The skillshare is in its third year and its goal is to remind us that we already have the tools we need for our communities to thrive! Ask yourself how your skills, whether they be bike maintenance, baking, healing practice, awesome gaming, “hating” (biting, hilarious and effective breakdowns of power), DIY clothes creation, PA skills, interdependent coalition building, gardening, dancing, etc. could be used by folks to:

* sustain their community and themselves?
* create spaces for laughter and fun in movement work?
* connect with people?
* end gendered violence against people of color?
* create media justice?

Participants would go from station to station learning skills and figuring out how the skills connect to the work they are already doing in their communities. We also want to create a zine of the skills and how folks came to acquire them, so even if you are unable to participate, we’d love to get a blurb from you about how you came into doing what you do and some resources people might check out as well! We’ll also be documenting the process as well as creating mechanisms to sustain what’s shared after the conference!

To propose a skill to share, email Moya at moyazb[at]gmail[dot]com
To propose a workshop email Karla at krmtgrl[at]gmail.com[dot]com and/or Emi at hello.emik[at]gmail[dot]com.

Childcare will be available for free during the daytime hours throughout the weekend of the conference. Several workshop proposals for kids have been submitted and we are looking for more! Send any proposals for kids workshops to: jenny[at]alliedmedia[dot]org.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

Duanna Johnson

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day of reflecting on the epidemic rates of violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color, and mourning our beloved family, friends, and community members who have been taken from us. Colorlines reflects on the statistics:

At least 22 people were killed in 2009 because of their perceived sexual orientation, four out of five of whom were people of color.  Half of the victims were transgender women and most of the other half, according to the Anti-Violence Project, were men who were either dressed in typically feminine clothes at the time of their murder or were generally gender non-conforming. Not one of these murders made national headlines.

For Duanna Johnson, who was beaten by police in Memphis in 2008, and then found murdered after pursuing a lawsuit against the Memphis police department, for Roy Antonio Jones III, who at 16 months old was killed by his mother’s boyfriend who said he was “trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl,” for victims and survivors of transphobic violence and oppression, and for the hope and work of safety and liberation for all women of color and all trans people of color, we join everyone working for gender justice on this day of remembrance and continue to organize for an end to state and interpersonal violence.

See the International Transgender Day of Remembrance Page for a list of events worldwide:
http://www.transgenderdor.org/

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‘Women’s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism

No One Is Illegal Radio:  ‘Women‘s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism
by Robyn Maynard

LINKED HERE:  http://www.rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/no-one-illegal/2010/10/no-one-illegal-radio-womens-rights-canada-age-border-control-i

The October 2010 edition of No One Is Illegal Radio focuses on ‘Women’s Rights’ in Canada in the Age of Border Control, Imperialism, and Colonialism. It examines the way that the Canadian state affects the lives and self-determination of migrant women, indigenous women, and women in Afghanistan.

Featured interviews:

Bridget Tolley, an indigenous women living in Kitigan Zibi who’s mother was killed by the Quebec police, leading her to co-found the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil commemorating missing and murdered indigenous women. She is discusses her ongoing struggle to find the truth regarding the death of her mother, and she also addresses more broadly the lack of attention or justice for indigenous women in Canada.

Gillian Balfour, the author of: Criminalizing Women: Gender and (In)justice in Neoliberal Times . She will address the massive over-representation of indigenous women in Canadian prisons, and the way that this relates to the on-going Canadian theft of indigenous territories, the legacies of residential schools, and the massive incarceration of indigenous women in Canadian prisons.

Mubeenah Mughal, a Muslim woman and feminist organizer based in Montreal, discussing the “burqua ban” in Quebec, Islamophobia and the way that immigrant women, or women perceived to be immigrants are treated in Canada.

Shazia from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA is a women’s rights organization in Afghanistan trying to fight for women’s freedom, oppose the rule of the Taliban, and survive amidst a nearly ten-year military occupation. Shazia demonstrates the way that Canadian imperialism imperils Afghan women’s ability to fight for liberation.

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Take Action Against State Violence Against Immigrant Families

Michelle Chen at Colorlines reports on recent “child welfare intervention” policies in which states terminate the parental rights of undocumented immigrants and take away their children.  Chen quotes a paper by Prof. Marcia Anne Yablon-Zug of the University of South Carolina School of Law:

Increasingly, states are removing the children of undocumented immigrant parents and then terminating their parental rights. Such terminations represent a significant, but largely unnoticed, change in the law. There is no Supreme Court case or Congressional Act heralding this development. This is an unofficial change that comes directly from the child welfare agencies and family courts and their shifting conception of what justifies the termination of parental rights.

The article also points to a case in which a child was taken from his Guatemalan mother by a US judge and placed with a richer American family who the judge claimed were more “fit” parents.

Meanwhile, Alto Arizona reports on a delegation of children from Arizona and throughout the country who, on July 15, 2010, and along with mothers, aunts, and women’s advocates, testified before Congress about the police/ICE violence their families have endured.  Here are some excerpts:

It was five or six thirty in the morning when my sister jumps on the bed crying saying that she overheard my dad talking to the babysitter.  We decided to talk to my dad and he  told us what was going on.  He promised us that she would be back the next day, but she wasn’t.  So my sisters and brothers were really upset.  They started crying because they wanted their mother.  But it was really painful to tell them, oh she’ll be there the next day, and keep on lying to them until she came home.  It was really heartbreaking because we saw her with a broken jaw.
– young person giving testimony

Children are being terrorized and traumatized by these programs that are taking effect in Arizona.  They are being torn apart by ski mask officers that take their moms away.
– Sylvia Herrera, Puente Arizona

I live in Maryland and I’m from El Salvador.  I have a daughter that is 1.5 years old.  One day I called the police because of a domestic violence issue.  I thought they would help me, but instead they began harassing me because they thought I was selling illegal phone cards.  I was detained for 5 days.  I thought I would never see my daughter and husband again.  They released me, but with a tracking device.  Now I have an order for deportation.
– woman giving testimony

Here’s the full video:

The relationship between gender violence and immigration violence is profound.  Anti-immigrant racism and violence is destructive to immigrant families and puts immigrant women and queer/trans folks at more risk for domestic & sexual violence, economic exploitation, police brutality, and reproductive assaults.

The National Women’s Caucus Against ICE and Police Collaboration has written a letter asking President Obama to stop ICE and local police collaboration programs, such as 287(g) and “Secure Communities,” which opened the door to the passage of Arizona’s SB1070.  Here’s an excerpt:

We, supporters of women’s and children’s rights, urge you to address the growing human rights threat against women and children in the United States as a result of failed immigration enforcement programs. In the last two years, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau has expanded programs that enlist local law enforcement to help enforce federal immigration law with particularly disastrous consequences for women and children. Programs like 287(g) and the “Secure Communities” initiatives undermine family safety, deter women survivors of violence from seeking protection or help, facilitate workplace harassment and employer abuse, and create tremendous suffering and psychological trauma for separated mothers and children.

Please sign on to this letter here.

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

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Call for Participation: Truth and Revolution: Aboriginal Women Weave the Resistance

A call for submissions from Cherry Smiley of Truth and Revolution:

Dear Sisters,

Do you, or someone you know, have a story to tell? Do you want an opportunity to tell it? I’m looking for 582 Native women to lend their stories and images for an art project about our struggles, our resistance, and our pride as Native women.

The media usually presents only one side of our stories, if that. They tell the public only about our struggles and the poor conditions of our lives. While these stories are true and shouldn’t be ignored, I want to acknowledge our full stories, all sides. I want to tell our stories of poverty and loss, but also of our resistance to these things and how we get through them. I want to tell our stories of abuse and struggle, but also of our successes, our talents, and our pride. I want the public to know the harsh realities of our lives but I also want to celebrate 518 years of our resistance in the face of colonization.

Sisters, I am respectfully asking and inviting your participation in this project. Please email truthandrevolution@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

With Respect,

Cherry Smiley

About the Project:

As of March 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada had documented 582 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. We all know the actual number is higher, and we all see stories about this come and go in the media. My mom and I came up with the idea for this project together. We see this project as a response to the media coverage and co-optation of our missing and murdered sisters by non-native people. We see it is a statement against colonization, racism, sexism, and violence against women. But primarily, we see it as a celebration of our strength and resistance as Native women.

This project will include 582 photographs and interviews of Native women across Canada, myself and my family included.

Some of the things we might talk about in the interviews include: the foster care system, residential schools, prostitution, physical violence, sexual violence, colonization, racism, sexism, discrimination, welfare, reserves, city life, poverty, health care, disability, addiction, employment, family, friends, survival, resistance, pride, success, traditions, stories, talents, goals, etc.

I will audio record each interview and also plan on videoing parts of the process. This project will hopefully result in 1) an installation that uses the photos, audio, and text from the interviews, 2) a (possibly self-published) book using the photographs and text from the interviews, and 3) a video project, specifics undecided at this point.

Currently, I have no budget. What I do have is respect, determination, and a desire to tell our stories. At this point, I am financing the project myself.

Eventually, I will be asking for participation all across Canada, every province and territory. For now, because of lack of funds, I am looking for Aboriginal women in and around Vancouver, BC. If you are outside this area and want to participate, please email me anyways, and let me know you’re interested. This will help to plan for the future.

I hope to complete photographs and interviews by September 2011.

Aboriginal women who want better lives for themselves and for our future generations, and who are willing to share their stories and images, are welcome to email truthandrevolution@gmail.com with your name, contact info, and a bit about yourself. Also feel free to email if you have any questions about the project, or if you are emailing on behalf of a woman who does not have access to the internet.

Women who are selected to participate will be contacted in the upcoming months.

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International Indigenous Women’s Environmental and Reproductive Health Symposium Declaration

International Indigenous Women’s Symposium
Declaration for Health, Life and Defense of Our Lands, Rights, and Future Generations

International Indigenous Women's Symposium

We, Indigenous women from the regions of North America, Latin America,  the Arctic, Caribbean and the Pacific, gathered June 30th to July 1st, 2010 at the INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S ENVIRONMENTAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SYMPOSIUM, in Alamo, California, hosted by the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and the North-South Indigenous Network Against Pesticides.

We recognize and thank the Indigenous Peoples of this land called California for welcoming us to their beautiful land.

We are traditional healers, midwives, youth and community organizers, environmental and human rights activists, teachers and traditional and cultural leaders.  We are daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties, grandmothers and great grandmothers, youth and elders, members of great Nations who have always stood firm to defend our lands, our Peoples and our cultures.

We work in our communities, homes, health centers, tribal and traditional governments and Indigenous organizations, on the local, national and international levels.  We recognize and appreciate the important contributions that all of us, and many other Indigenous women around the world are making to defend our lands, rights and the health of future generations, as well as the generations who have come before us.

We have come together at this Symposium to share our information about the negative impacts of mining and drilling, mercury contamination, nuclear and uranium testing, processing and storage, pesticides and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), military dumping, toxic waste incineration, desecration of sacred sites and places,introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and foods and harvesting of our genetic materials.  We have listened to each other’s stories, and have also seen the tragic effects within our own families, communities and Nations of the environmental, economic,social and cultural impacts of toxic contamination.

These imposed, deplorable conditions violate the right to health and reproductive justice of Indigenous Peoples, and affect the lives, health and development of our unborn and young children. They seriously threaten our survival as Peoples, cultures and Nations.  They also violate our rights as Indigenous Peoples to subsistence, spiritual and cultural survival, self-determination and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). As Indigenous Peoples, and as the defenders of our future generations,we have vocalized our opposition to these forms of contamination of our homelands, air and waters for generations in many different regions, but far too often we are ignored.

We have also shared our strategies and ideas about how to address these situations in our communities and around the world.  We recognize that our fundamental, inherent and inalienable human rights as Indigenous Peoples are being violated, as are our spirits and life giving capacity as Indigenous women. Colonization has eroded the traditional, spiritual and cultural teachings passed down from our ancestors, our grandmothers about our sexual and reproductive health and their connection to the protection of the environment, our sacred life-giving Mother Earth.  But we also recognize and affirm that many Indigenous women are reclaiming, practicing and celebrating these teachings. We commit to supporting these collective efforts now and in the future.

We have agreed to present the following values and principles that we recognize as a basis of this work as well as our collective recommendations for action, which we hopecan begin to address the devastating inter-linking impacts we are facing in our communities and Nations, and bring about positive change.

We therefore adopt by consensus this DECLARATION for the health, survival and defense of OUR LANDS, OUR RIGHTS and our FUTURE GENERATIONS.

We recognize and affirm the following:

Indigenous women are life givers, life sustainers and culture holders.  Our bodies are sacred places that must be protected, honored and kept free of harmful contaminants in order for the new generations of our Nations to be born strong and healthy.

If the Earth Mother and the Sky Father are not healthy, neither are we.

Indigenous Peoples’ lands, waters and air and all living beings are being misused and poisoned by corporations, States and their Territories, based on foreign and colonial concepts that disregard the sacredness of life.

Indigenous Peoples, and in particular women and children, are suffering the detrimental, devastating, multi-generational and deadly impacts of environmental toxins and contaminates that were unheard of in our communities prior to industrialization.

These impacts include:

Contamination of mothers’ breast milk at 4 to 12 times the levels found in the mother’s body tissue in some Indigenous communities;

Elevated levels of contaminates such as POPs and heavy metals in infant cord blood;

Disproportionate levels of reproductive system cancers of the breasts, ovaries, uterus, prostate and testicles, including in young people;

Elevated rates of respiratory ailments such as asthma and lung disease;

High levels of leukemia and other cancers in infants, children and youth;

Rare, previously unknown forms of cancer among all ages in our communities;

Devastating, and in many cases, fatal birth defects known to be associated with environmental toxins such as nuclear waste, mining, and pesticides, including the increasing birth of “jelly babies” in the most contaminated areas;

Developmental delays, learning disabilities and neurological effects on babies and young children which have lifelong impacts, associated with prenatal exposure to mercury, pesticides and other environmental toxins;

Increasing numbers of miscarriages and stillbirths, and high levels of sterility and infertility in contaminated communities.

The knowledge to heal our Peoples is within our own Peoples.  While many diseases caused by colonization may need to be addressed by western medicine, we know that our own healing knowledge and practices, passed down to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers, is essential for the healing of our Peoples and our Mother Earth.

The protection of our health, lands, resources including air and water, languages, cultures, traditional foods and subsistence, sovereignty and self-determination and the transmission of our traditional knowledge and teachings to our future generations are inherent and inalienable human rights.  These rights are affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international standards, and must be upheld, respected and fully implemented by States (countries) and their Territories, UN bodies,corporations and Indigenous Peoples of the world.

Sovereignty and autonomy in relation to our lands, territories and resources are intricately connected to sovereignty and autonomy in relation to our bodies, minds and spirits.

Protection of our human rights and the rights of all forms of life must be a priority for environmental and reproductive justice work.

We have seen that the introduction of extractive industries (mining, drilling, logging etc.) has resulted in increased sexual violence  and sexual exploitation of Indigenous women and girls in many communities, as well as increased alcohol and drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections, divisions among our families and communities, and a range of other social and health problems.

While many communities have maintained traditional systems which continue to value women’s leadership, sexism in the larger society has had negative and lasting impacts within many Indigenous communities, including lack of recognition for the leadership role of Indigenous women in working for environmental protection and building strong communities.

The impacts of internalized colonization further include the loss of knowledge, awareness and access for Indigenous women to traditional reproductive health practices, birthing knowledge and healing practices, and even includes the criminalization of Indigenous midwives, healers and other traditional Indigenous health practices in many countries.

Foods distributed as commodities and other food aid programs by Government programs in Indigenous and tribal communities are unhealthy.  They contain contaminates, GMO’s and ingredients that cause food related diseases and adverse health effects including diabetes and obesity.   Impacts of economic marginalization and poverty on Indigenous families and communities must be taken into account.  However the recognition and application of Food Sovereignty, including access to our traditional lands and resources and food related cultural practices, are the only real solutions to the food needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Based on the above principles and values of shared agreement, we respectfully recommend to Indigenous communities, tribal governments and the leaders of our Nations, to the States and their Territories in which we live, to corporations and institutions, and to the United Nations system and international bodies, the following actions:

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Women in India Use Media, Self Defense, & Direct Action To Organize Against Gender Violence

Sampat Pal Devi and members of the Gulabi Gang

The New York Times profiled three groups in India using community art, media, direct action, self-defense, and community-based responses to resist street violence against women.  Blank Noise is a community art project that was founded by Jasmeen Patheja, and uses Facebook, Twitter, and blogging to mobilize women against street violence.  Here’s an excerpt from the NYT article:

“Blank Noise started as an art project,” Ms. Patheja said recently. “I was experiencing street sexual violence every day, and if not every day it was the threat of it that kept me on guard, hyper and alert. Moreover, it wasn’t being taken seriously by those around me — ‘It happens,’ ‘There’s nothing you can do about it,’ ‘It’s only teasing.”’

According to their Facebook page, Blank Noise “creates events and interventions both on the internet and on the streets of cities in India.”  In 2006, Blank Noise organized a public demonstration of women to confront street sexual violence.

The NYT article also profiled the Pink Chaddi movement, started by Nisha Susan, which began as a response to women being attacked in pubs.

Last year, after Sri Ram Sene, a rightist Hindu party, attacked women in pubs, Ms. Susan began a Facebook group, and the Pink Chaddi movement was born.

Chaddi is slang for underwear, but also for rightist hard-liners. Ms. Susan invited women to send Pramod Muthalik, the head of Sri Ram Sene, pink underwear in protest of his party’s actions and its plans to hold rallies on Valentine’s Day, which it condemns as a foreign holiday that encourages men and women to express their affection in an openly “un-Indian” fashion.

Chaddis poured in from across the country, a deluge of underwear in fuchsia, mauve and rose that forced the hard-liners to cancel their rallies and stop the attacks on women.

Sampath Pal Devi began the Gulabi Gang, a group of women who organize collectively to end gender violence, law enforcement violence, to learn self-defense, and to organize for economic justice. From the article:

Gulabi means “pink” and refers to the color of the saris Ms. Sampath Pal and her band of women wear. The movement has grown from that tiny core of four concerned women to a movement that covers much of rural Uttar Pradesh, one of the most conservative states in India. The brooms have evolved into canes. The Gulabi Gang has thrashed recalcitrant officials and police officers who wouldn’t register cases of domestic violence. It also runs vocational centers that offer practical ways of employment and empowerment for women.

Here’s a video spotlighting the Gulabi Gang’s work:

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Call for Submissions: This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering

An exciting call for submissions from http://thisbridgecalledmybaby.wordpress.com/:

This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothering


“We can learn to mother ourselves.” Audre Lorde, 1983

All mothers have the potential to be revolutionary. Some mothers stand on the shoreline, are born and reborn here, inside the flux of time and space, overcoming the traumatic repetition of oppression. Our very existence is disobedience to the powers that be.

At times, in moments, we as mothers choose to stand in a zone of claimed risk and fierce transformation, the frontline. In infinite ways, both practiced and yet to be imagined,  we put our bodies between the violent repetition of the norm and the future we already deserve, exactly because our children deserve it too.  We make this choice for many reasons and in different contexts, but at the core we have this in common: we refuse to obey. We refuse to give into fear. We insist on joy no matter what and by every means necessary and possible.
In this anthology we are exploring how we are informed by and participating with those mothers, especially radical women of color, who have sought for decades, if not centuries, to create relationships to each other, transformative relationships to feminism and a transnational anti-imperialist literary, cultural and everyday practice.

“We don’t want a space where kids feel that only adults can imagine ways to strengthen our communities and protect ourselves against the Architects of Despair,” Sora said, “and we don’t want adults to feel that either. We want to create a space where all of our imaginations help each other grow; but we realize that kids might get bored from sitting still the way that adults tend to do, so we set up the play room with toys and games.” -Regeneracion Childcare Collective 2007

Sometimes for radical mamas, our mothering in radical community makes visible the huge gulfs between communities, between parents and non-parents, in class and other privileges AND most importantly the wide gulf between what we say in activist communities and what we actually do. Radical mothering is the imperative to build bridges that allow us to relate across these very real barriers. For and by radical mother of color, but also inclusive of other working class, marginalized, low income, no income radical mothers.

“Parenting and being a role model to kids in your community is important because they will be the activists of tomorrow.  And they will be our gardeners and mothers and bakers. They will question our generation, they’ll write their own history, create new forms of art and media.” -Noemi Martinez 2009

We find the idea of the “bridge” useful because we believe that  the radical practice of mothering is at once a practical and visionary relationship to the future IN the PRESENT, a bridge within time that can inspire us to relate to each other intentionally across generation and space.   We also acknowledge the not-so-radical default bridge function of marginalized mother in society.  How our children in particular get walked all over in terms of public policy that criminalizes our mothering and movement spaces that claim to be creating a transformed future without being fully accountable to parents or kids.

“I came into the Third World Women’s Caucus when it was well under way.  The women there were discussing the caucus resolution to be presented to the general conference.  There were Asian women, Latin women, Native Women and Afro-American women.  The discussion when I came in was around the controversial issue of motherhood and how the wording of the resolution could best reflect the feelings of those present.  It was especially heartening to hear other women affirm that not only should lesbian mothers be supported but that all third world women lesbians share in the responsibility for the care and nurturing of the children of individual lesbians of color…Another woman reminded us of the commitment we must take to each other when she said ‘All children (of lesbians) are ours.” -Doc in Off Our Backs 1979

We see this book as a continuation of the accountability invoking movement midwifing work of the 1981 anthology This Bridge Called My Back in that it:

a. is the work of writers who see their writing as part of a mothering practice, as not career, but calling and who believe that their writing, and their every creative practice has a strategic role in transforming the possible world.
b. contextualizes contemporary radical mama practices in relationship to socialist and lesbian mothering practices experimented with and practiced in the 1970’s by writers including Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Adrienne Rich, Third World Lesbians conference, Salsa Soul Sisters, Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers
c. seeks to speak to those who participated in that earlier practice and who have been informed by it as a primary audience, and to connect those who have not have access to that work to it

We invite submissions including but not limited to the following possibilities:

  • Manifestas, group poems, letters, mission statements from your crew of radical mamas or an amazing group from history
  • Letters, poems, transcribed phone calls between radical mamas supporting each other*Accounts of your experience as a radical mama
  • Your experience raising children as a trans mother or parent
  • Raising children in a transphobic world
  • Your experiences as a single mother
  • Raising genderfree babies
  • Stories of resilience and oppression as welfare warriors
  • Reflections on enacting radical mamacity at different ages
  • Motivations for/obstacles in your practice of radical mothering
  • Conversations with your kids
  • Rants and rages via the eloquence of a mother-wronged
  • Your experience of radical grandmothering
  • Parenting children through radically queer and loving modes of support, community, belonging and resilience
  • Your take on reproductive justice
  • Parenting from inside prison
  • Extended family (both biological and chosen)
  • Life as a disabled parent
  • Your experience parenting as a teenager
  • Raising Boys
  • Gender socialization and Parenting
  • Raising Biracial children
  • Raising First World children
  • Self-interviews, interviews with other mamis
  • Birthing experiences
  • Ending child sexual abuse
  • Mothering as survivors (survival and mothering)
  • Mothering with and without models
  • Mothering and domination
  • Mama to-do lists
  • Mama/kid collaborations…
  • Radical fathering
  • Overcoming shame and silence in the practice of radical mothering
  • Ambivalence, paradox, emotions, vulnerability
  • Experiences of state violence/CPS
  • Balancing daily survival
  • Loss of children, not living with children, custody arrangements and issues
  • Sharing your stories from where you live
  • Everything we haven’t thought of yet! Take a deep breath and WRITE!!!!

This anthology will center the writing of mothers of color, low income mothers and marginalized mothers. If you have any further questions, feedback, suggestions feel free to contact us as well.

Please send submissions via email to:
alexispauline@gmail.com
maiamedicine@gmail.com
and china410@hotmail.com
or via snail mail to
P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore Maryland 21211

by April 1, 2011.

Word Count: 6,000 words or under

Please also send your bio (a short paragraph or whatever size you like) with the understanding you can update it if your piece is accepted in June.

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Follow up about gender justice organizing at Cal State, Long Beach

Editor’s Note: Below is a follow up letter regarding the organizing led by Conciencia Feminil, a Chican@ student organization at Cal State University, Long Beach and the gender violence on campus that they are resisting.

Herman@s in the struggle,

Thank you for your expression of support and solidarity.

The anti-GLBT and misogynous hate violence continues at CSU Long Beach, targeting Chicanas, Chican@ Feminists, Indigenous folks, Queer Chican@s and a white trans student who was attacked and left with a carving of the word “IT” on his chest. The most recent hate violence appeared 2 days ago as a comment on the school newspaper inciting the beheading of gays, lesbians, including named artist Alma Lopez. Some of the prior hate violence has threatened indigenous communities with violence and referenced an appropriated representation of Aztec Law calling for the murder of gays and lesbians with explicit and detailed instructions as to how to carry out killings. With significant pressure, the campus newspaper instituted a new policy to moderate comments and remove hate speech but their response has wavered and sometimes comments take days to be removed. We would like to ask for the newspaper to screen all comments for threatening language before they are posted to prevent even one member of our community having to experience the trauma of hate violence. We are weathered but enduring and we call for your support for us to continue this vital struggle to intervene in and end the violence against us at CSU Long Beach.

The Campus Administration has moved slowly to respond to the near 6 weeks of ongoing hate violence and although President King Alexander recently addressed what he and the university publicly referred to as the “isolated” hate crime against a trans student, he has not responded to communication nor addressed the campus community about the ongoing hate violence and the interrelatedness of 19 multiple incidents of hate violence and the institutional context and climate that supports them.

The inspiring and courageous leadership of Chican@ students from Conciencia Femenil has drafted a response and set of demands that if implemented might prevent future violence. They request your support by signing and circulating their petition at:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/csulb/signatures?page=7

The CSULB GLBT Task Force, a campus group that has asked for and been denied University support and recognition in the past, has published a statement requesting specific action to help mitigate the violence and to create a more hospitable campus for GLBT folks.
http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-faculty-and-staff-of-lgbt-task-force-respond-to-campus-climate-issues-1.2245184

Conciencia Femenil took leadership in organizing the much needed Chicana Feminisms Conference that addressed the early roots of misogynous violence against Chicana Feminist organizing at CSULB. A reunion of the historic Hijas de Cuauhtemoc shed light on some of the egregious tactics deployed against Chicana leadership by MEChA in the early 1970’s. Regrettably, the legacy of heteropatriarchal violence endures with the most obvious, recent, and ongoing example as the current violent backlash against a new wave of Chicana Feminist organizing at CSULB.

We ask for your support in holding the University and Chicano/Latino Studies Department accountable for their lack of action in intervening in the violence and creating more hospitable environments for GLBT folks and Queer and Feminist Chican@s.
You may express your concerns to:

King Alexander, President CSULB, fkalexan@csulb.edu
Mike Hostetler, Associate Vice President of Student Services and Dean of Students: jmhostet@csulb.edu 562/985-8670
Toni Beron, Associate Vice President of University Relations, tberon@csulb.edu 562/985-8201
Luis Arroyo, Chair Chicano/Latino Studies, llarroyo@csulb.edu, (562) 985-4640

We also welcome creative forms of protest and action in solidarity. The escalation of heteropatriarchal and racist hate violence, including recent attacks at CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Chico, and Claremont Colleges (in addition to UC San Diego, UC Riverside and UC Davis) shows a need for creative community reflection, strategizing and action to inspire mechanisms of accountability and a transformation to end the violence our communities are experiencing on university campuses throughout California.

In solidarity and struggle,

adelante!

clarissa rojas
clarissita@gmail.com

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