Breaking Silence: Summer Camp Reflections

During an exceptionally hot week, more than 60 women and girls of color trekked up to the beautiful Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, for our second annual Breaking Silence Summer Camp. Over the course of a week these women danced, meditated, rapped, and healed, all while engaging with the difficulties of being both a person of color and a woman in the United States today. After a session of dance and meditation, the campers participated in a series of classes that addressed various aspects of art, activism, and healing. 

One class taught media literacy and the construction of personal narratives, while another sought healing through the creation of songs. AAPF Program Coordinator, Kyndall Clark, and AAPF Community Engagement Director, Cherrell Brown, taught a class aimed at helping local activists produce concrete action plans, with specific emphasis placed on developing Town Halls co-sponsored by AAPF. 

After a session of dance and meditation, the campers participated in a series of classes that addressed various aspects of art, activism and healing. 

One class taught media literacy and the construction of personal narratives, while another sought healing through the creation of songs. AAPF Program Coordinator, Kyndall Clark, and AAPF Community Engagement Director, Cherrell Brown taught a class aimed at helping local activists produce concrete action plans, with specific emphasis placed on the AAPF town hall process.

This work culminated in events on Saturday and Sunday nights. Featuring several family members of women killed by the police as well as activists, #SayHerName: A Conversation on Police Violence Against Black Women, which took place on Saturday night, sought to illuminate the ways in which frames surrounding state violence often leave out Black women even though they are victimized in highly disproportionate numbers.

The powerful night launched our new #SayHerName video and trended on Periscope, garnering almost three thousand viewers. Sunday’s Silent No More: An Evening of Art and Activism showcased the completed works from the week’s classes. Spoken word followed satirical skits and a beautiful, new choral arrangement from AAPF Artist in Residence, Abby Dobson, brought out the voices of many women who claimed to not be “singers.”

To close out the evening, the group of campers stood up and moved to the back of the room and, dressed all in white, began to dance. Early every morning the women had rehearsed hard and now the work paid off. The women gathered into rows and moved together through the steps as Sweet Honey In The Rock’s Breaths played in the background.

The dance carried the group into an increasingly complicated weave of bodies and, with the last refrain of the song, they all gathered in to a group and held each other in an act of celebration, camaraderie, and power. It wasn’t all work and art, though. In true summer camp fashion, the week was full silliness as well. Games of Celebrity and team dance battles (a particular favorite of AAPF Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw) became fiercely competitive and Beyonce’s Lemonade was screened more than once. 

This is not to say that the week was easy or light-hearted. In really digging into the marginalization that occurs at the intersections of race and gender, it is nearly impossible to avoid heavy discussions. In order to do the work that needs to be done to lift up the stories of women of color in any real way those discussions must be had and the campers never strayed from those truths. At times this was severely challenging and it was sometimes difficult to find dry eyes. However, as the week came to a close, on Sunday night those tears were gone, replaced by a deep sense of determination and kinship amongst the women. Alternating between holding each other and dancing around the room, they filled the final night with a call and response rallying cry:

It is our duty to fight for our freedom! It is our duty to win!

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN AND THE LAW CONFERENCE

THE TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE COALITION,  THE AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICY FORUM, AND THE CENTER FOR INTERSECTIONALITY AND SOCIAL POLICY STUDIES PRESENT:


BLACK WOMEN STILL RISING: ENDING STRUCTURAL RACISM, PATRIARCHY, AND VIOLENCE
 THE AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN AND THE LAW CONFERENCE

When: Tuesday, September 13, 5:30pm-9:00pm and Wednesday, September 14, 8:30am-8:00pm

Where: National Education Association, 1201 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036


Washington, DC – The Transformative Justice Coalition, the African American Policy Forum, and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies will host “The African American Women and the Law Conference” to examine the role of the law and public policy as it impacts the lives, barriers, and opportunities for Black women’s advancement. The purpose of this historic conference is to develop a Black Women’s Legal and Public Policy Agenda to guide our advocacy efforts for the next several years.


The conference will be held on Tuesday, September 13th through Wednesday, September 14th at the National Education Association. Convened by Barbara Arnwine, President and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition, host of Radio One’s international radio show, “Igniting Change with Barbara Arnwine,” and Adjunct Professor at North Carolina Central University and Kimberle Crenshaw, Co-Founder and Director of the African American Policy Forum, and Professor of Law at Columbia University and UCLA Law Schools, this conference will feature esteemed legal scholars and advocates including, amongst others, Barbara Smith, Co-Founder of the Combahee Collective, Adrienne Wing, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law Programs and Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Farah Tanis, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Black Women’s Blueprint. This conference aims to highlight the efforts of Black women attorneys, advocates, activists, and change agents and also elevate the narratives of Black women and girls impacted by various educational, judicial, and other social systems. Ultimately, this conference aims to spark and sustain the systematic transformation of Black women and girls’ lives.


Black women and girls occupy a precarious, and often paradoxical, position in the US. Although data suggests Black women pursue post-secondary education at higher rates than either Black men or white women, they are incarcerated at staggeringly high rates. Similarly, Black women account for the fastest growing segment of small business ownership, yet the median wealth of black women is just $100. This contradictory nature of Black women and girls’ experience highlights their unique positioning as targets of varying forms and types of systemic oppression, i.e. racism, sexism, etc., and also their collective efforts to challenge said systems. Thus, the stance of the Transformative Justice Coalition, and co-conveners of the AAWLC, is the necessary adoption of intersectional frameworks that speak to the varying and intersecting systems of exploitation.


The African American Women and the Law Conference will close out with an evening reception entitled, #SayHerName: An Evening of Arts and Activism. This event will both showcase a variety of art forms, from dance to song, as well as provide vigil for women who have been killed by the police and their families. Fran Garrett, mother of Michelle Cusseaux, Gina Best, mother of India Kager, and Misha Charlton, sister of Meagan Hockaday’s sister, will be in attendance. #SayHerName will provide a space for Black women attorneys and their allies to celebrate the progress made concerning Black women and girls and will also serve as a call to action for furthering an intersectional social justice agenda.

(Intern Blog Series) A Prepared Healing: Day 1 of Breaking the Silence Summer Camp

By: TruLe'sia Zhane'

Over 1, 392 miles. Two time zones. Five modes of transportation—car, plane, bus, taxi, and train (then another taxi cab). Twenty-four hours with my eyes opened wide in anticipation. I made it here. If I said that I was excited for this experience, that would be making an understatement.

In May, at the conclusion of my undergraduate career, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to commit to next or where I wanted to be. Due to all the stress that attached itself to me at the end of this critical chapter, I connected with one of my sisters in the movement. Asking her about self care and how she did it because I needed some! She connected me with the AAPF along with some other resources and opportunities to prepare for this next adventure in life.

I researched different avenues. I read blogs of successful women of color who had triumphed the uncertainty. And I even, I applied for internships. What I found was that there were many places I could go, but those successful women said “no matter where you venture follow your heart & passion!” I found the perfect internship! Then, I remembered a dope article where the woman of God said in order to validate her plan she gave it to God—so I prayed. God, if this thing is meant for me and will put me in the right direction for my life— will You pppppppppuuullllllleeeeeeeaaaaasssssse do miracles, signs, and wonders. But ok... If it’s not what you have for me, I will go home and get prepared for what is next. Amen. 
 

God’s plan was preparation. Day 1 of this divinely prepared summer camp took me to a place of readiness in myself that I never felt before. Like a gardener going out to her field to just put her hand in the soil before doing anything. The morning dance & meditation was the first time in a few years that I had danced consciously or even with a group of folks not feeling ashamed. I had the unction to put my whole self on the front row because there I could be in a space where I wouldn’t have to judge my movement against anyone else’s. I felt free in my own being that I hadn’t recognized in a long time. 

As the day continued, the activities and conversations brought the traumas, hurts, pains, and anxieties of my life into the part of my throat where I could feel it getting ready to expel. Sharing stories, clasped hands, deep hugs, and truth have captured me in this moment. It hit me after such an amazing day, that this camp—Breaking the Silence—was designed for us, chosen women, for this appointed time to collectively begin healing. This space was prepared for me to chose life. It hit me that this was His plan of miracles, signs, and wonders. A miracle that I got here in one piece with breath inside my chest. A sign that I will be ok. Wonders that I get to be among my sisters for this moment in life. 

One Year After Charleston & One Week After Orlando, AAPF Condemns Hate Based Terror in America

One Year After Charleston & One Week After Orlando, AAPF Condemns Hate Based Terror in America

Today as we mourn the loss of 49 lives in the Orlando massacre, we remember as well the 9 Black parishioners who were killed a year ago this day in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17 2015, Dylan Roof, a young white man, entered a space meant for healing and prayer with the intent to kill. One year later, this visceral hatred and disregard for safe spaces for marginalized groups still prevails. The recent shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando during Latinx night, where nearly all the victims were queer people of color, is a perfect example of the continuing threat of homegrown terrorism.

In the case of Dylan Roof, his justification left no doubt about his views that Black people were a threat to whiteness - especially to white women, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Playing on stereotypes which date back to the 19th Century,  these words constituted Roof’s response to a plea from one of the victims to spare their lives.  As both massacres exemplify, racial violence is a threat to both men as well as women of color.  
We cannot ignore the fact that anti-Black rhetoric, homophobia, sexism and all forms of oppression are sentiments that are historically and institutionally embedded in the United States. It is imperative to understand that while such violence becomes increasingly visceral, the countless individuals and communities who have suffered from such violence have faced further marginalization and silence.

We refuse to forget the tragedy that unfolded in Mother Emanual last year, and we remain committed to fighting for visibility and justice for the Charleston 9 as well as the countless others whose lives were stolen by racialized violence.  These massacres serve as solemn reminders that the US is not safe for people of color - not even presumptive safe havens such as Emanuel Church and Latinx night at Pulse.

The victims of the Charleston and Orlando shootings must be centered in our nation's discourse around domestic terror. As feminists, we reaffirm our commitment to the intersectional struggles against racism, patriarchy and homophobia.  When we talk about this violence, we must recognize the ways in which queer people and people of color have been the targets of these attacks in spaces meant for healing, connection and affirmation. We cannot let the media deflect or distort the fact that domestic terrorism a profound threat to American lives. Continuing  to stay silent about this reality is no longer acceptable.

 

Is Separation the Solution?: A Convening to Discuss the Theory and Practice of Gender-Based School Reforms for At-Risk Students of Color

In recent years, single-sex education has been promoted as a critical intervention to target achievement disparities and related challenges facing boys of color. While the prevalence of single-sex education has steadily declined throughout the nation as a whole, single-sex classrooms have re-emerged as an attractive option within initiatives such as My Brothers Keeper and other male empowerment programs. Gender-separated interventions have been premised on the assumption that boys and girls of color face distinct disparities, and that these unique challenges are best approached by distinctly gendered approaches to education.   

This convening will bring together researchers, practitioners, advocates and philanthropic partners to explore the rise of gender-separate approaches to public education reform.  Among the central questions to be considered are: What conceptions of racial justice and gender difference underwrite the move to gender-separate solutions to low-achievement?   Are there gender disparities in private and public resources being made available to address the needs of boys of color and girls of color?  If so, how can this problem be addressed?  What legal issues are raised by the proliferation of single-sex classes and schools, and how can we ensure that Title IX and constitutional protections are enforced?  What role should philanthropy and community engagement play in elevating the values of  race and gender equity in contemporary school reform?



PANELISTS & CHAIRS:

 
  Juliet Williams is a Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA research and teaching specializations include feminist theory, masculinity studies, gender and the law, gender and education, and feminist cultural studies..

 

Juliet Williams is a Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA research and teaching specializations include feminist theory, masculinity studies, gender and the law, gender and education, and feminist cultural studies..

Michael J. Dumas is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies Department. His research sits at the intersection(s) of the cultural politics of Black education, the cultural political economy of urban education, and the futurity of Black childhood(s).

Michael J. Dumas is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and the African American Studies Department. His research sits at the intersection(s) of the cultural politics of Black education, the cultural political economy of urban education, and the futurity of Black childhood(s).

Galen Sherwin is a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she where she works primarily on equality for women and girls in education and employment, with a focus on sex stereotypes and discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and lactation.

Galen Sherwin is a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she where she works primarily on equality for women and girls in education and employment, with a focus on sex stereotypes and discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and lactation.

Rebecca S. Bigler is Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Ze studies the causes and consequences of social stereotyping and prejudice among children, with a particular focus on gender and racial attitudes.

Rebecca S. Bigler is Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Ze studies the causes and consequences of social stereotyping and prejudice among children, with a particular focus on gender and racial attitudes.

Lisalyn R. Jacobs is the CEO, of Just Solutions: Bringing in justice to counteract injustice, and the former V.P. of Government Relations for Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund). She has testified before congressional committees at both the state and federal levels.

Lisalyn R. Jacobs is the CEO, of Just Solutions: Bringing in justice to counteract injustice, and the former V.P. of Government Relations for Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund). She has testified before congressional committees at both the state and federal levels.

Jyoti Nanda has been at UCLA School of Law since 2003. Her scholarship interests are in civil rights, social justice advocacy and the ways in which children and youth intersect with the juvenile justice system – with a particular focus on girls and young women.

Jyoti Nanda has been at UCLA School of Law since 2003. Her scholarship interests are in civil rights, social justice advocacy and the ways in which children and youth intersect with the juvenile justice system – with a particular focus on girls and young women.

Barbara Smith is a groundbreaking publisher, activist, author and teacher who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. She has been visiting professor, writer in residence, freelance writer, and lecturer at numerous universities and research institutions..

Barbara Smith is a groundbreaking publisher, activist, author and teacher who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States. She has been visiting professor, writer in residence, freelance writer, and lecturer at numerous universities and research institutions..

 
Malika Saada Saar is a Washington-based advocate for women and girls’ rights. She is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a new effort focused on the human rights of vulnerable girls in the U.S. She is also the co-founder and former director of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights.

Malika Saada Saar is a Washington-based advocate for women and girls’ rights. She is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a new effort focused on the human rights of vulnerable girls in the U.S. She is also the co-founder and former director of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights.

Tyrone Howard is a UCLA GSEIS Professor of Education, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, the Faculty Director for Center X and Director of Black Male Institute. Best known for his scholarship on race, culture, and education, Dr. Howard is one of the most renowned scholars on educational equity, the African American educational experience, Black males, and urban schools.

Tyrone Howard is a UCLA GSEIS Professor of Education, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, the Faculty Director for Center X and Director of Black Male Institute. Best known for his scholarship on race, culture, and education, Dr. Howard is one of the most renowned scholars on educational equity, the African American educational experience, Black males, and urban schools.

Erin Pahlke is a Professor of Psychology at Whitman College whose research focusses on how children and adolescents form their views of race and gender, what the consequences of those views of are, and the impact of experiences with racial and gender diversity of academic and socio-emotional outcomes.

Erin Pahlke is a Professor of Psychology at Whitman College whose research focusses on how children and adolescents form their views of race and gender, what the consequences of those views of are, and the impact of experiences with racial and gender diversity of academic and socio-emotional outcomes.

Priscilla Ocen is an Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches criminal law, family law and a seminar on race, gender and the law. Her work examines the relationship between race and gender identities and punishment.

Priscilla Ocen is an Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches criminal law, family law and a seminar on race, gender and the law. Her work examines the relationship between race and gender identities and punishment.

 

 

Kimberlé Crenshaw co-founded the AAPF and serves as the Executive Director. Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review.

Kimberlé Crenshaw co-founded the AAPF and serves as the Executive Director. Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review.

  Diane Halpern: Dean Emerita of Social Sciences at Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute and Professor of Psychology, Emerita at Claremont McKenna College.

 

Diane Halpern: Dean Emerita of Social Sciences at Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute and Professor of Psychology, Emerita at Claremont McKenna College.

  Abigail Saguy: Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at UCLA and author of What's Wrong with Fat? (2013, Oxford University Press) and What is Sexual Harassment? From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne

 

Abigail Saguy: Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at UCLA and author of What's Wrong with Fat? (2013, Oxford University Press) and What is Sexual Harassment? From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne

Pedro Noguera: Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Dr. Noguera is a sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts.

Pedro Noguera: Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Dr. Noguera is a sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts.

An assistant professor in sociology, Professor Hunter is faculty in the department of African American Studies, and a faculty affiliate at the Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

An assistant professor in sociology, Professor Hunter is faculty in the department of African American Studies, and a faculty affiliate at the Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

Michael Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at University of Southern California whose work focusses on gender and sports, sports media, and men, feminism and politics.

Michael Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at University of Southern California whose work focusses on gender and sports, sports media, and men, feminism and politics.

Linda Sax is a Professor of Education at UCLA GSEIS whose work focusses on gender differences in college student development, undergraduate science education, single-sex education, and higher education assessment.

Linda Sax is a Professor of Education at UCLA GSEIS whose work focusses on gender differences in college student development, undergraduate science education, single-sex education, and higher education assessment.

Barbara Arnwine is the president & founder of Transformative Justice Coalition, is internationally renowned for contributions on critical justice issues including the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. 

Barbara Arnwine is the president & founder of Transformative Justice Coalition, is internationally renowned for contributions on critical justice issues including the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. 

Professor Williams is a Profess in the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law, co-director of the university’s joint-degree program in Law and Women’s Studies, a signature program of the College of Law. Professor Williams teaches in the areas of family law, gender discrimination, and constitutional law.

Professor Williams is a Profess in the University Of Cincinnati College Of Law, co-director of the university’s joint-degree program in Law and Women’s Studies, a signature program of the College of Law. Professor Williams teaches in the areas of family law, gender discrimination, and constitutional law.

Dennis Parker is director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, leading its efforts in combating discrimination and addressing other issues with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. 

Dennis Parker is director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, leading its efforts in combating discrimination and addressing other issues with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. 

Walter Allen is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology and the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and UCLA GSEIS. His work focusses on comparative race, ethnicity and inequality, family studies, and diversity in higher education.

Walter Allen is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology and the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and UCLA GSEIS. His work focusses on comparative race, ethnicity and inequality, family studies, and diversity in higher education.

Lateefah Simon is program director for the Rosenberg Foundation, which seeks to change the odds for Californians through statewide grantmaking to support policy change. She is a longtime advocate for low-income young women and girls and for juvenile and criminal justice reform.

Lateefah Simon is program director for the Rosenberg Foundation, which seeks to change the odds for Californians through statewide grantmaking to support policy change. She is a longtime advocate for low-income young women and girls and for juvenile and criminal justice reform.

Her Dream Deferred 2016

#HerDreamDeferred:
AAPF and Partners Celebrate 2nd Annual Week Dedicated to the Status of Black Women

 

New York, NY - March 21, 2016 - In honor of Women's History Month and the second year of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent, the African American Policy Forum, the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, the Transformative Justice Coalition, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, Black Women’s Blueprint, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the American Association of University Women, YWCA, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and other leading gender and racial justice organizations will sponsor “#HerDreamDeferred: A Week on the Status of Black Women,” from March 28-April 1, 2016.

In conjunction with the week’s events, Senator Gillibrand entered into the Congressional Record that for the second year in a row, the last week in March is officially “Black Women’s History Week.” Recognizing years of advocacy by AAPF, Black women leaders in Congress also recently announced the creation of the Caucus on Black Women and Girls. We are grateful that this year’s event series occurs at a political moment when politicians and stakeholders across the country are paying unprecedented attention to the experiences of Black women and girls.

Throughout American history, Black women have mobilized against societal inequality, working to advance racial justice on behalf of themselves, their children, families and communities. Despite the central role they have played in movements for civil rights, the challenges Black women face at the intersections of race and gender have consistently been relegated to the margins of dominant racial and gender justice discourses. To highlight this problem and build frameworks for inclusive and comprehensive social justice reform, AAPF and CISPS will hold its second annual weeklong series of activities with each day dedicated to a specific challenge Black women and girls face in America today.

“This is a critical moment to uplift the realities of Black women and girls, and to push back against the common misconception that they are doing 'just fine,'” explained Kimberlé Crenshaw, Executive Director of AAPF and CISPS. "We are at a political juncture where an increased level of concern is finally being extended toward women and girls of color. It is urgent that we use this  moment to ensure that the resources being directed toward this population are sustainable and targeted to uproot the systemic barriers to equality facing Black women and girls."

#HerDreamDeferred is dedicated to elevating issues confronting Black women and girls that are often cast into the shadows of public concern. Each day from March 28-April 1, we will host an online event to highlight a specific set of challenge facing Black women and other women of color. The series will be led by a series of prominent racial and gender justice leaders, including Jamilah Lemieux, Kiese Laymon, Heidi Hartmann, Barbara Arnwine, Anu Bhagwati, and many more. Topics that will be covered include: #BlackGirlsMatter: Countering Criminalization In and Outside of School; #StandingUpForMom: Resisting the War on Black Single Mothers; Race and Gender Below the Mason-Dixon: The Status of Women of Color in the South; The Unspeakable Truth: The Reality of Sexual Assault at HBCUs; and Neglected at Home After Serving Abroad: The Story of Black Women Veterans.

Our goal is to elevate these challenges so that stakeholders across the country can better understand and address the unique challenges facing Black women and girls. Information is key to broaden the public will to develop an inclusive social justice agenda that leaves no one behind.

“In a moment where we are transitioning from one historic presidency to potentially another one, there is a profound possibility that Black women may fall through the cracks again,” explained AAPF co-founder Luke Harris. “AAPF and CISPS will continue our work to generate the public will to collect data on women and girls of color to make sure the information is there to foreground their needs in racial justice agendas.”

For more information and to register for the week’s events, visit: www.aapf.org/herdreamdeferred2016

 

 

#SayHerName Travels To London!

On March 10th, AAPF traveled to London for the Women of the World Festival South Bank Centre! Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw brought #SayHerName to the London stage during her keynote address at WOW and during an interview with BBC Women's Hour; Communications Director Brittany Hazelwood spoke about the legacy of Sojourner Truth; and Associate Director Julia Sharpe-Levine spoke about the possibilities and challenges of global solidarity on the #ActivismWithoutBorders panel.

We also had an exciting conversation with a dynamic group of UK activists and organizers discussing parallels between the lives of women of color in the UK and the US and their efforts to seek justice for ‪#‎SarahReed‬.

We look forward to being back soon to continue building we these brilliant folks! 

 

 

#SayHerName: Natasha McKenna Talking Points

On February 8th, 2015, Natasha McKenna died in Fairfax County Jail after being tased 4 times with 50,000 volts while in the midst of a schizophrenic episode. The incident was captured on video, which was released in September, 2015, as part of the Fairfax County Sheriff Office's announcement that those responsible for McKenna’s death had been cleared of any wrongdoing. Despite the horrific footage, mainstream media and activists have paid little attention to this case. The following talking points are intended to help raise awareness and generate concern around her story.

 

INTERSECTION OF RACE/GENDER/MENTAL ILLNESS

Natasha McKenna had a long history of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In February 2015, she called 911 during a mental health crisis. Instead of providing her with mental health support, officers brought McKenna to Fairfax County Jail on an outstanding warrant. Police officers are not mental health professionals and often lack the skills and training necessary to handle such situations. While six deputies pinned McKenna to the ground and repeatedly tased her, she pleaded, “You promised you wouldn’t kill me.” When police are increasingly first responders to calls during mental health crises, racial stereotypes can make Black women like McKenna vulnerable to violent restraint and unreasonable force when they should be provided with support and treatment.

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS “EXCITED DELIRIUM”? 

Natasha McKenna’s cause of death was listed as “excited delirium...contributing: schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.” The term ‘excited delirium,” which is not recognized by the medical community, is used nearly exclusively to justify deaths while in police custody. The medical examiner concluded that Natasha McKenna’s death resulted not from being tasered four times but from a condition in which a person with mental illness suddenly dies in a state of distress. It is outrageous that McKenna’s death was ruled an “accident.”    

 

HOW MUCH IS 50,000 VOLTS?

Over the course of 2 minutes and 37 seconds, a total of four 50,000 volt shocks were administered to Natasha McKenna. For comparison, an electric chair used for lethal purposes administers between 1,000 and 2,400 volt shocks. Currently, there are no national guidelines on law enforcement use of tasers, a large part of what allowed McKenna’s killers to escape legal repercussions.There needs to be widespread recognition of the use of non-lethal or “less-lethal” weapons -- such as tasers -- as forms of police brutality. This violence will only continue if officers are permitted to use such dangerous weapons without any restriction. 

 

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS FOR THE DEPUTIES? 

In September of 2015, it was decided that the deputies responsible for Natasha McKenna’s death would face no criminal charges. Fairfax County Sheriff Stacy Kincaid commended the “professionalism” and “patience that the deputies demonstrated” when restraining and tasering McKenna. While the FBI and the Department of Justice have opened independent investigations into Natasha McKenna’s death, this could take years. We need to continue to demand justice and demand it now. Law enforcement officers who abuse their status by administering excessive force must be held accountable for their actions.

 

CAN THIS BE VIEWED AS SEXUAL ASSAULT?

Yes. Natasha McKenna was completely naked when she was “extracted” from her cell. She was pinned against the ground by several men in uniform. They covered her head in a hood but left the rest of her body exposed. By the end of the video she is unconscious yet the officers continued to manhandle her body. If Natasha McKenna was white, the sexual assault implications of what happened to her would not have been overlooked.

 

Stand Up for Justice for the OKC 13: Visibility and Accountability Beyond the Holtzclaw Verdict

Stand Up for Justice for the OKC 13

The day of accountability is coming soon for Holtzclaw -- the former Oklahoma City Police Officer will be sentenced onJanuary 21, 2016 following his conviction last month of 18 of 36 counts of sexual assault. Holtzclaw’s preying on Black women in the course of duty came to light only after Jannie Ligons, a 57-year-old grandmother, reported the crime to the police. 12 more Black women told similar stories of being violated by Holtzclaw.

But Holtzclaw’s sentencing cannot be the sole focus of our efforts for justice. We must look beyond the verdict and focus on the intersections of race, gender, class, substance dependency and system-involvement that rendered the OKC 13 prey to a rapist with a badge. Countless Black women will continue to be vulnerable to sexual abuse by police even if Holtzclaw receives a life sentence.

Daniel Holtzclaw was not an anomaly. Approximately 1,000 officers lost their badges in a six-year period after having engaged in some form of sexual misconduct.  And this is a gross undercounting of how many officers engage in such conduct. Few know that sexual misconduct is the second most reported form of police abuse because it is rarely addressed by the media and within our movements against sexual violence and police abuse.  

We have to make this all-too-common form of police abuse visible.

Let’s join together to combat the intersectional erasure of victims of state violence and rape.

 

January 19: PREPARE TO TAKE ACTION
Join us for a webinar on the Holtzclaw case and sexual abuse of Black women by law enforcement. Hear from the Organizers of OKC Artists for Justice and other voices from across the country. Share your plans for Visibility and Accountability.

January 20th: MAKE SEXUAL ASSAULT BY LAW ENFORCEMENT VISIBLE
Stand with the Women in OKC and around the country to bring Sexual Abuse by Police Out of the Shadows!

January 21st: DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM OFFICERS, INSTITUTIONS AND ALLIES: 
Not only must police departments and elected officials be held accountable, but police sexual abuse must be centered in feminist anti-violence advocacy and anti-racist police reform.  

Listen, Learn and Stand!  Register Now!!!

If you demand an end to sexual violence and an end to police abuse, then find a way to get involved!  Here are a few ways you can:

  • January 20 - JOIN THE TWITTER STORM

  • Using the hashtags #SayHerName, #BlackWomenMatter and #OKC13, share your story of sexual assault, other stories you know, and your thoughts on why the Holtzclaw case matters. Keep your eye out for AAPF’s OKC Toolkit for sample Tweets and info to help you create your own!

  • January 20 - SHARE A POEM, REFLECTION, OR ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

  • that sheds light on Black women’s experiences of sexual assault on Facebook and over your own social media. Together, we can show that what happened to the OKC 13 was not an anomaly. Look for details at OKC Artists for Justice.
     

  • January 20 - HOLD A FORUM OR IMPROMPTU DISCUSSION 

  • to draw attention to the circumstances that make Black women vulnerable to police abuse. If you are in Oklahoma City, attend OKC Artists for Justice's Community Forum to discuss the Holtzclaw case and how community members can get involved in making changes. Panelists will include Grace Franklin, Candace Liger, Barbara Arnwine, Kimberle Crenshaw, and more. The event will be at 6:00pm at Langston University, 4205 North Lincoln Blvd.
     

  • January 21 - On the day of Holtzclaw’s sentencing

  • join us in sharing and demanding CONCRETE STEPS toward accountability for officer-involved sexual misconduct.
     

  • January 21 - During Holtzclaw’s sentencing,

  • TWEET YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE OKC 13 using #SayHerName, #BlackWomenMatter and #OKC13. Demand resources for the OKC 13 and other women across the country who have been sexually assaulted by police. Ask what local organizations are doing to address this issue.

Let’s use this moment to demonstrate that an increasing number of activists, journalists and stakeholders recognize sexual assault as a form of police violence, one that must be included in all of our efforts to combat anti-Black state violence.

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