Honoring MLK: Racial Justice and Social Work

Martin Luther King Jr. getting quoted out of context is one of my pet peeves. Thankfully, that did not happen on Tuesday, when I attended a panel on racial justice in honor of his legacy.

The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers organized a forum to discuss the current state of racial justice and the social work profession in Boston. It was originally scheduled for January, but as luck would have it, Boston faced the snowiest, most bananas winter in history and the well-laid plans had to be changed.

An eternal live-tweeter and sharer of information, I documented the event and created a Storify where people can, essentially, virtually tag along for the ride after the event. You can find it here. The panelists were as follows:

MLK Racial Justice Panel Cohort

Left to right: Melendez, MacArthur, Belkin Martinez, Copeland. Photo credit to Shabnam Deriani.

I don’t generally go to panels on racial justice to learn new information, as someone steeped in this on the daily and who also presents on anti-racism. I go to these events to have more bodies in the room, to hear my colleagues speak, to nourish my spirit with the shared passion of those dedicated to social change. However, I often do learn new nuggets of wisdom—new quotations, new strategies, new frameworks—and this event did not disappoint. The biggest takeaway? The work of Whitney Young Jr.

Dr. Phillipe Copeland—one of the panelists and one of the professors at the Boston University School of Social Work where I’m pursuing my Master’s in Social Work—quoted Whitney Young Jr. and his thoughts on the social work profession as it connected to racial justice and social justice overall. I wanted to share that with all of the budding social workers and seasoned vets in my community, because they are POWERFUL.

Here’s an excerpt from from Young Jr., in “Social Welfare’s Responsibility in Urban Affairs” [emphasis mine].

Let these words ABOUT RACIAL JUSTICE/SOCIAL JUSICE sink in, marinate, and transform you and your practice.

It is not enough for the social worker to teach the poor how to survive on a substandard budget. We must plant the seeds of indignation and of desire for change in the mind of every citizen suffering in want. We must be the catalysts of change, not the maintainers of the status quo. Establishing rapport, cutting through defenses, is the only way we can achieve anything of value. We must let people know that we are not just interested in establishing eligibility or in granting minimal services. We must see them as individuals.

We must help them understand that we are not just a part of the faceless bureaucracy which regulates their lives, but that we are concerned with helping them, as individuals, get into the productive mainstream of society. We must fight against red-tape restrictions and requirements which deny people their humanity. We must tell the unemployed that they have the right to work, the right to education of high quality for their children, the right to be trained, and the right to support themselves and their families at a decent level.

We must tell families in poverty that they have a vote and can use it to secure a more sympathetic ear in our corridors of power; that they must broaden their children’s horizons; that change is a law of life, and reform must be a way of life. These are the basic means of humanizing the city.

In a society which has succumbed to an excess of professionalism and technology, materialism and theoretical concepts, we must, in order to redress the balance, succumb to an excess of feeling, of courage, of caring, and of decency. I believe the time is ripe. The problems of our cities are begging for solution. Our profession is now mature and secure enough to provide leadership in this effort. A society that would call itself civilized is at stake.


 

The photo at the top/banner of this post illustrates Martin Luther King Jr. addressing a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington, D.C. [and is in the public domain].

Resources Mentioned at PlaygroundConf 2013 Closing Plenary

PGConf 2013

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Resources & Organizations Directly Mentioned in Presentation:

Additional Resources

Mayhem Around the World: A Roundup

Inspired by a Tumblr post, I decided to expand and succinctly contextualize some of the mayhem going around in the world right now. The following is a corrected and much expanded version of this postworld globe

Brazil: Massive Nation-Wide protests and riots caused by, among other factors, monetary focus on the World Cup and Olympics instead of the well-being of the populace. Government happily destroys important monuments and displaces indigenous folks from their homes to make way for things like parking lots.

Russia: Government creates laws against “the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” (the vote is 436 to ZERO), people protest (and get abused by anti-gay individuals), and the Human Rights Watch reports that anti-gay violence spiked once the bill started getting considered in January.The law imposes significant fines of up to $31,000 for providing information about the LGBT community to minors, holding gay pride events, speaking in defense of gay rights, or equating gay and heterosexual relationships” (source). Also, the Duma approved a law that criminalizes blasphemy with a 3-year prison term for anyone who organizes an activity or stages a performance that aims to “offend religious sensibilities” (on the heels of the whole Pussy Riot debacle, in “which three members of the feminist performance art group Pussy Riot were tried and two of them sentenced to two years in a penal colony for staging a profane performance in an empty church that hurt no one and caused no material damage”).

Venezuela: Massive protests and riots caused by elections that put Maduro in the presidential seat by a narrow margin and people claim it was due to fraud (here’s another source, too). However, after the recount, the National Electoral Council still says the results of the audit corroborated Maduro’s win (CNE). Either way, it is a way closer race than some people expected and sounds like the government might be shifting for future elections.

Greece: Trans* people and sex workers are being rounded up in internment camps, and the health minister has condoned forced HIV tests conducted by the police. Some of the folks who have been detained and found to be HIV+ have had personal identifiable information (including names and photos) published in the media “to protect public health.” And this isn’t counting the many innocent individuals that have been jailed for being “presumed prostitutes.”

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The awesome TX Senator Leticia Van De Putte who also participated in the filibuster and uttered the now-famous line she’s printed on her shirt.

United States: Republicans in Texas aim to pass draconian abortion law (SB5), give media incorrect information about its passing after a 13-hr filibuster, and change online records to fake time of voting, despite the bill being voted on after a deadline and being protested by both the people and a state Senator. (TL;DR: SB5 didn’t pass, but a special session has been convened and further actions will happen after the holiday weekend). Protests at the senate growing, and law enforcement called in. Also, and  even MORE importantly, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been gutted and states that used discriminatory practices to bar poor people, immigrants, and people of color from voting no longer have the same restrictions placed on them re: changing voting rules. People will have to prove claims of discrimination AFTER the fact. Less than a few days after the gutting (and in some, after less than 24 hours), several states changed their voting regulations without needing to clear it with any higher authority. Finally, on the LGBT front, tons of reports of anti-gay violence are coming out, and my eye is on New York City (check out the NY Anti-Violence Project’s reports and blog section for more details.)

Australia: Julia Gillard is dumped as prime minister and leader of the Australian Labor Party, while previous Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is reinstated.

Turkey: Protests escalate as people fight back against state-violence (including violence against the press) and “Erdoğan’s increasingly assertive Islamist administration,” sparked by protests against the redevelopment of Istanbul’s Gezi Park. The government violently cracks down on the dissent, detaining even the medics who were trying to treat the protester’s injuries.

What else is going on, folks? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start.

Fight Against Fraud (Message from ONA)

**En Español abajo**

¡¡Take action with ONA this Saturday!!

The struggle against theft and fraud at Paraiso Multiservices continues…

José Silverio, the man who presents himself as the owner of a remittance agency on Chalkstone Avenue called Paraiso Multiservices, has been stealing money from his customers for over a year. Most of these customers are Latino immigrants who use his service to send their hard-earned dollars home to support their families in Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. Last month, a small group of Pariso Multiservices customers came forward to denounce this theft. Since then, they have organized over 30 customers, who together have lost over $50,000, to demand justice. They filed a criminal complaint, and last Saturday they staged a successful picket outside of the business attended by dozens of victims and their allies. (Check out the pictures, attached, and thank you to all who came out!)

This week, while the state police continue to investigate this theft,
these customers are taking their fight back to the streets!
Join them this Saturday, July 28th for a picket outside of José Silverio’s house to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH-
stop stealing from our community! 

Picket to Demand Justice!
Saturday, July 28th
5pm
532 Plainfield St, Providence

Have questions? Want more information? Call ONA at 401.228.8996

************

¡¡Toma acción con ONA este sábado!!

La lucha contra robo y fraude en Paraiso Multiservices continua…

José Silverio, el hombre representándose como el dueño de Paraiso Multiservices, una agencia de remesas en la Chalkstone, ha estado robando a sus clientes por más de un año. La mayoría de estos clientes son inmigrantes Latinos que usan el servicio para mandar su dinero ganado con sudor a sus países de origen para sostener a sus familias en Guatemala, Mexico, la República Domincana, entre otros lugares. En junio, un grupo de clientes de Pariso Multiservice se levantaron para denuniciar el robo. Desde entonces, ellos han organizado más de 30 clientes que han perdido más de $50,000 para demandar justicia. Ellos hicieron una denuncia formal, y el sábado pasado ellos organizaron un piquete exitoso con 40 victimas y aliados afuera del negocio. (Mira las fotos anexadas, y gracias a tod@s que vinieron!)

Esta semana, mientras que la policia estatal continua con su investigación,
estos clientes van a llevar su lucha a las calles otra vez!
Venga este sábado, 28 de julio para un piquete afuera de la casa de José Silverio para decir YA BASTA-
¡deja de robar de nuestra comunidad!


¡Piquete para demandar justicia!
sábado, 28 de julio
5pm
532 Plainfield St, Providence

Tienes preguntas? Quieres más información? Llama a ONA: 401.228.8996

Presidential Memorandum — Establishing a Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Memorandum — Establishing a Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Establishing a Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities
Throughout our country, the spread of HIV/AIDS has had a devastating impact on many communities.  In the United States, there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including more than 290,000 women.  Women and girls now account for 24 percent of all diagnoses of HIV infection among United States adults and adolescents.  The domestic epidemic disproportionately affects women of color, with African Americans and Latinas constituting over 70 percent of new HIV cases in women.  The spread of HIV/AIDS is, in and of itself, a primary concern to my Administration.  However, gender based violence and gender related health disparities cannot be ignored when addressing the domestic public health threat of HIV/AIDS.  HIV/AIDS programs often ignore the biological differences and the social, economic, and cultural inequities that make women and girls more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.  In our country, women and girls are all too frequently victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault, which can lead to greater risk for acquiring this disease.  Teenage girls and young women ages 16 24 face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault.  In addition, challenges in accessing proper health care can present obstacles to addressing HIV/AIDS.  Gender based violence continues to be an underreported, common problem that, if ignored, increases risks for HIV and may prevent women and girls from seeking prevention, treatment, and health services.
My Administration is committed to improving efforts to understand and address the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities.  To do so, executive departments and agencies (agencies) must build on their current work addressing the intersection of these issues by improving data collection, research, intervention strategies, and training.  In order to develop a comprehensive Government wide approach to these issues that is data-driven, uses effective prevention and care interventions, engages families and communities, supports research and data collection, and mobilizes both public and private sector resources, I direct the following:
Section 1.  Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities.  There is established within the Executive Office of the President a Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS,
Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender related Health Disparities (Working Group), to be co chaired by the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (Co Chairs).  Within 60 days of the date of this memorandum, the Co Chairs shall convene the first meeting of the Working Group.
 (a)  In addition to the Co Chairs, the Working Group shall consist of representatives from:
  (i)the Department of Justice;
  (ii)    the Department of the Interior;
  (iii)   the Department of Health and Human Services;
  (iv)    the Department of Education;
  (v) the Department of Homeland Security;
  (vi)    the Department of Veterans Affairs;
 (vii)   the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and
  (viii)  the Office of Management and Budget.
 (b)  The Working Group shall consult with the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, as appropriate.
 (c)  The Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Gender Technical Working Group shall act in an advisory capacity to the Working Group, providing information on lessons learned and evidence based best practices based on their global experience addressing issues involving the intersection between HIV/AIDS and violence against women.
 Sec. 2.  Mission and Functions of the Working Group.  (a)  The Working Group shall coordinate agency efforts to address issues involving the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender related health disparities.  Such efforts shall include, but not be limited to:
(i) increasing government and public awareness of the need to address the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender related health disparities, including sexual and reproductive health and access to health care;
 (ii)  sharing best practices, including demonstration projects and international work by agencies, as well as successful gender specific strategies aimed at addressing risks that influence women’s and girls’ vulnerability to HIV infection and violence;
 (iii)  integrating sexual and reproductive health services, gender-based violence services, and HIV/AIDS services, where research demonstrates that doing so will result in improved and sustained health outcomes;
 (iv)  emphasizing evidence based prevention activities that engage men and boys and highlight their role in the prevention of violence against women and HIV/AIDS infection;
 (v) facilitating opportunities for partnerships among diverse organizations from the violence against women and girls, HIV/AIDS, and women’s health communities to address the intersection of these issues;
 (vi) ensuring that the needs of vulnerable and underserved groups are considered in any efforts to address issues involving the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender related health disparities;
 (vii) promoting research to better understand the intersection of the biological, behavioral, and social sciences bases for the relationship between increased HIV/AIDS risk, domestic violence, and gender related health disparities; and
 (viii)  prioritizing, as appropriate, the efforts described in paragraphs (a)(i) (vii) of this section with respect to women and girls of color, who represent the majority of females living with and at risk for HIV infection in the United States.
 (b)  The Working Group shall annually provide the President recommendations for updating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  In addition, the Working Group shall provide information on:
 (i)   coordinated actions taken by the Working Group to meet its objectives and identify areas where the Federal Government has achieved integration and coordination in addressing the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender related health disparities;
 (ii)  alternative means of making available gender sensitive health care for women and girls through the integration of HIV/AIDS prevention and care services with intimate partner violence prevention and counseling as well as mental health and trauma services;
 (iii)  specific, evidence based goals for addressing HIV among women, including HIV related disparities among women of color, to inform the National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Plan (for its biannual review);
 (iv)  research and data collection needs regarding HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender related health disparities to help develop more comprehensive data and targeted research (disaggregated by sex, gender, and gender identity, where practicable); and
 (v)  existing partnerships and potential areas of collaboration with other public or nongovernmental actors, taking into consideration the types of implementation or research objectives that other public or nongovernmental actors may be particularly well situated to accomplish.
 Sec. 3.  Outreach.  Consistent with the objectives of this memorandum and applicable law, the Working Group, in addition to regular meetings, shall conduct outreach with representatives of private and nonprofit organizations, State, tribal, and local government agencies, elected officials, and other interested persons to assist the Working Group in developing a detailed set of recommendations.
 Sec. 4.  General Provisions.  (a)  The heads of agencies shall assist and provide information to the Working Group, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Working Group.  Each agency and office shall bear its own expense for carrying out activities related to the Working Group.
 (b)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
 (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
 (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
 (c)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
 (d)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
 (e)  The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
  BARACK OBAMA

Hate Crimes Bill Passes in RI House (53 to 15)

As someone who has gone to the Statehouse in support of this bill, its House passage makes me happy!

MERI has just issued the following press release:


Statement from Marriage Equality Rhode Island on House passage of hate crimes reporting legislation


PROVIDENCE – Marriage Equality Rhode Island Campaign Director Ray Sullivan issued the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed legislation to include gender identity and expression as part of the hate crimes reporting law: “On behalf of the tens of thousands of equality supporters across Rhode Island, we commend and thank Rep. Edith Ajello and those state representatives who voted in favor of including gender identity and expression in the hate crimes reporting law. 


While there is much more that our state must do to stop violence and hate crimes of any nature, this is an important first step in protecting a group of citizens that for too long have been unjustly targeted and in some cases maliciously attacked for no other reason than being who they are. 


It is critically important that these crimes be reported and tracked, and we look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to make sure such crimes are appropriately prosecuted and that the perpetrators are punished to the fullest extent of the law. 


We urge the Senate to quickly take up this bill and send it to Gov. Chafee for his signature.

NCAVP Monthly Update: Reports of violence affecting LGBTQH communities in December 2011


[trigger-warning for anti-queer violence]

NCAVP Monthly Update: Reports of violence affecting LGBTQH communities in December 2011
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is concerned by reports of violence impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities across the United States and Canada since late November 2011.  13 reported incidents of violence have occurred in California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montréal, Quebec, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, DC, Washington State, and Wisconsin. 
NCAVP is providing all information available regarding these reports and is not responsible for the complete accuracy of the specific details pertinent to allegations, police investigations, and criminal trials.  Initial reports of these incidents come from media reports of LGBTQH violence and not direct service provision from NCAVP member programs.  NCAVP has reached out to local organizations in these areas and is offering assistance to support their anti-violence efforts.
November 26, 2011: New Orleans police found Brenting Dolliole, a 23 year old gender non-conforming person, beaten to death in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Investigators believe Dolliole died as a result of severe head trauma.  New Orleans police have named Corey Kennedy, 24, as a person of interest but not a suspect in their homicide investigation.  Local LGBTQ organization BreakOUT! held a vigil on Thursday, January 5th in honor of Dolliole and Githe Goines, 23, a transgender woman killed in New Orleans in late December.
December 2, 2011: A gay couple woke up to find threats and anti-gay slurs including “Move or Die” and “Die” spray painted on their home in Columbus, Ohio.  The homeowners suspect that the vandalism was in response to a heated meeting among members of their condo association the day before.  The local Strategic Response Bureau is investigating the incident as a misdemeanor due to its threatening message. The couple has stated that they now fear for their safety.  NCAVP member program, Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), has been in contact with the couple and is providing police and court system advocacy in response to this incident.

December 2, 2011: An unnamed Public Works employee approached a transgender woman and grabbed her wig off her head at Z’s Bar inDes Moines, Iowa.  A witness recounted that when another bar patron tried to confront the man following the incident, the man hit her.  According to local news reports, the bar’s manager suspected that the man committed the act of harassment to win a $100 bet among city employee colleagues at an annual party at the venue. The woman who was harassed did not file a police report because she did not want to reveal her name.  Following this incident, Public Works Director Bill Stowe announced that the employee would receive, “appropriate disciplinary action,” and a Public Works supervisor apologized to Z’s Bar for the incident.

December 7, 2011: Jacob Rogers, a senior at Cheatham County High School in Ashland City, Tennesseecompleted suicide after enduring severe anti-gay bullying by classmates for years. Rogers’ closest friend, Kaelynn, reported that Rogers sought help from his school.  School officials say they were only aware of one incident and believed the bullying had been getting better.  LGBTQH bloggersTowleroadSlog and Joe.My.God, successfully raised $5,000 to support Rogers’ family to pay for funeral expenses.  The bloggers announced that the remaining donations will be distributed between the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education NetworkTrevor Project,American Civil Liberties Union and It Gets Better Project.

December 11, 2011:  William Adam Lane, 22, confronted a lesbian couple with profane, derogatory comments about the couple’s sexuality after he saw them embrace in Bellingham, Washington.  Lane then smashed in the rear window of the couple’s car before he was pinned to the ground by one of the women.  Police said they believe Lane was intoxicated at the time of the incident.  Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as malicious harassment and a hate crime.  The unnamed couple, 23 and 30, were reportedly not hurt by the incident.

December 12, 2011Montréal, Quebec boutique owner, Ghislain Rousseau, was closing his store when a woman banged on the window and tried to smash it in with her foot as she yelled, “this is a f—king faggot store!”.  Rousseau stopped the woman from attacking his store and shortly after two police officers arrived at the scene.  The city held a public council meeting to address violence in Montréal’s gay village where the mayor committed to improving the neighborhood’s lighting and increasing its police presence.
December 13, 2011: Pro Shots, a shooting range in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, put up a billboard that reads “Pansies Converted Daily” with an image of a target sign and a rifle.  Equality North Carolina has condemned this message as “veiled homophobic hate speech.”  NCAVP member program, Rainbow Community Cares, also released a statement denouncing this advertisement as supporting violence against LGBTQ people.  Pro Shots responded by announcing that they will take the billboard down.
December 14, 2011: Two men yelled homophobic slurs and attacked an unnamed man, 22, in Athens, Georgia.  The man, who identifies as gay, was walking toward his car when the incident occurred.  He was knocked unconscious and has shattered teeth as a result of the attack.  According to reports, the survivor wanted the attack reported as a hate crime.  Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as aggravated battery.
December 20, 2011A transgender woman, 56, was stabbed in the back with a knife by an unnamed man while at a house inWashington, DC’s Kingman Park neighborhood.  According to the police report, the woman was in the basement of the house when she got into an argument with the man which then led to the attack.  The woman then walked to a nearby apartment complex where she was found by police lying on the ground and bleeding from the stab wound.  Emergency responders transported her to a local hospital where she was treated for her injuries.  Local sources connected to NCAVP have reported that the survivor is now at home recovering from this attack.  This incident marks Washington DC’s 12th assault against a transgender woman where a knife or gun was used since July.  Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Liaison Unit announced that the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) is assisting in the investigation of this incident.

December 24, 2011: Dee Dee Pearson, 31, a transgender woman of color, was shot to death by Kenyon E. Jones, 26, inside an apartment in the 1000 block of East 43rd Street in Kansas City, Missouri.  Jones told police he killed Pearson after paying her for sex and discovering that she was transgender.  Jones, who has a history of drug related offenses, has been charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.  NCAVP member program, Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, released a joint statement with the Justice Project grieving this murder and calling for respectful media coverage of Pearson’s death.  These organizations hosted a memorial service for Pearson on December 28th
December 25, 2011: Unknown suspects vandalized and destroyed depictions of same-gender couples in an art installation nativity scene outside Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California.  Claremont police are investigating this incident as a hate crime.  The church plans to hold an interfaith vigil in support of LGBTQH communities in response to this vandalism.
December 25, 2011: Lyal Ziebell, 20, and Jake Immel-Rhode, 20, yelled anti-gay slurs and punched an unnamed man in the face outside PJ’s bar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Immel-Rhode then repeatedly kicked the man in the head.  The man sustained a broken jaw and brain injury as a result of the attack, and believes he was attacked because he is gay.  Ziebell has stated that he is “very homophobic” and attacked the man after he started “hitting on me.”  Winnebago County authorities have charged Ziebell and Immel-Rhode with battery causing great bodily harm, burglary, and a hate crime modifier.
December 29, 2011:  Local police found the dead body of Githe Goines, a 23 year old transgender woman, in a scrap yard in New Orleans, Louisiana after she had gone missing for two weeks.  Local media reports have not accurately identified Goines as a transgender woman in the reporting of her death, but New Orleans sources connected to NCAVP assure that Goines identified as a woman.  The Orleans Parish coroner’s office believes Goines was strangled to death.  Local law enforcement have not released information regarding possible suspects in their investigation of this homicide.  Local LGBTQ organization, BreakOut! held a vigil on Thursday, January 5th in honor of Goines and Brenting Dolliole, a gender non-conforming person killed in late November in New Orleans.  Goines’ death marks the 14th homicide of a transgender or gender non-conforming person NCAVP has tracked in 2011.
According to NCAVP’s report Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010, there was a 13% increase in reports of anti-LGBTQH violence between 2009 and 2010.  NCAVP believes that together communities can prevent and end violence impacting LGBTQH people and calls on community members, anti-violence organizations, and public officials to join efforts to end violence within and against LGBTQH communities.
Prevent: NCAVP encourages communities to create programs, campaigns, and curricula to prevent anti-LGBTQH harassment and violence and to promote safety. NCAVP is available to provide support and resources to communities for their violence prevention efforts.
Respond: NCAVP recommends increasing support for LGBTQH survivors of violence by increasing funding for services and banning barriers to service and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Report Violence: NCAVP encourages anyone who has experienced violence to contact a local anti-violence program for support and to document this violence.
Get Involved: Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQH violence. To learn more about our national advocacy, receive technical assistance or support, or locate an anti-violence program in your area, contact us.
Contact Information for Responding Organizations
BRAVO
Hotline: 866-862-7286
BreakOUT!
Phone: 504-522-5435
Equality North Carolina
Phone: 919-829-0343
Kansas City Anti-Violence Project
Phone: 816-561-0550
Rainbow Community Cares
Phone: 919-342-0897
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities.  NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs, affiliate organizations and individuals who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Response to Ridiculous TFP Article

Want to read the article I’ll be dissecting? Click here.

What we faced today at Brown University, an Ivy League university, had the flavor of a religious persecution. As we peacefully campaigned, about 250 frenzied pro-homosexual students gathered to scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault, and even attempt to destroy our traditional marriage banner. Only with supernatural protection, and a strong police presence, did TFP volunteers manage to complete the campaign without serious injury.

  • I’d say religious persecution indeed, but the persecutors were TFP volunteers–those who came to our campus waving banners proclaiming their views on “traditional marriage,” upsetting, frightening, and alienating members of our LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly population, handing out pamphlets saying we were going to hell, listing all the reasons why we were “wrong” and “sick.”
  • I’d amend their paragraph to say “pro-LGBTQ rights” students. What primarily rallied us together were our feelings about civil rights–a desire for equality, especially in relation to same-sex marriage.
  • We didn’t gather to “scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault” — we gathered to counter-protest. There is a difference between “screaming” and “chanting,” by the way. In any massive crowd of people incensed by a political/personal issue such as this, you will ALWAYS get people who get rowdy or don’t behave in the most tactful manner. However, to pretend like most (or even MANY) Brown individuals were “out of line” is a flat-out falsehood. Similarly, implying that without the Brown police and “supernatural protection,” there would’ve been a threat to the TFP volunteers’ bodily integrity and that only thanks to police were they not seriously injured is ludicrous. Finally, comparing the behavior and “united front” of a TINY contingent (12-15 people at most) of people who are TRAINED in protesting and are doing this as part of a national tour to hundreds of passersby, students, staff, and others who impromptu gathered on Brown’s campus due to the presence of TFP is A TERRIBLE, INACCURATE, UNFAIR comparison.
  • I also need to mention that our central quad is NOT public property and that TFP’s campaign/protest/hatefest invaded our campus without permission.
  • I’m pretty sure no one spit ON protestors. What I witnessed and got captured on film was that some people received pamphlets from TFP, tore them up, then spit on THE PAMPHLETS.

Suddenly, a loud thud-rip noise was heard. I looked up and saw a pro-homosexual student literally crashing through our traditional marriage banner, attempting to destroy it. Running at top speed, he flung himself into it and ripped one side loose. Some students watching from a distance approvingly cheered the act of violence. 

  • That’s true, and I think that student was extremely misguided in what they did. It was inappropriate on many levels and should never happen again.

“Why are you here?” many students asked. We politely told them how the TFP was on a state-wide tour defending traditional marriage. They would just stand there in a sort of daze, and repeat the question again: “But why are you here?” Some of them just couldn’t believe it.

  • Of course they couldn’t believe it. For some people, it’s hard to think that at a generally liberal, tolerant location such as Brown University, there would be such a protest. Being at Brown sometimes shields people from the cruel realities of the world, such as rampant homophobia, so it’s jarring to see that homophobia and hatred right in the center of our campus grounds. Furthermore, it must’ve been a case of confusion due to the fact that TFP is not a student group and did not request to be on Brown’s campus, so they had no permission to be there and people were wondering why/how they were there.

TFP volunteer Mr. Danniel Pribble debated with one pro-homosexual student, illustrating how the acceptance of homosexual vice leads to the acceptance of pedophilia. In fact, during a recent session in Canadian parliament, experts claimed that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation.” / “What moral grounds do you stand on to oppose pedophilia, once you’ve accepted homosexual behavior?” asked Mr. Pribble. “You’re right,” answered the student. “I don’t have any substantive objection with pedophilia.”

  • The conversation about pedophilia is a very complex one that usually gets many parties riled up. It’s also completely irrelevant to this event and its purpose, and the comparison of accepting homosexuality and accepting pedophilia is a stupid one. I’ll point out the biggest hole: pedophilia involves minors, people who are unable to legally consent to sexual activity, while homosexuality, as long as it’s between CONSENTING adults, is exactly that–consensual. Anyway, the opinion of ONE student on pedophilia is by no means representative of the LGBTQ community at Brown or any group, for that matter. 

As Mr. James Bascom distributed pro-family literature, a woman with a rainbow ribbon on her lapel said: “You’re being so intolerant!”/ “Why don’t you tolerate us?” inquired Mr. Bascom. “So tolerance is a one-way street, then?” / “Yes, yes. It is,” said the woman. It became amply clear that free speech at Brown University is not free and that the opposition would do everything they could to silence our message of truth: that marriage is between one man, and one woman.

  • This argument keeps coming up, and it’s still ridiculous every time. Being “tolerant of intolerance” DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Long story short: tolerance doesn’t have to be awarded to groups that advocate hatred and keeping sections of our population as second-class citizens. Finally, the TFP message isn’t “a message of truth”–it’s a message of OPINION that disguises itself as a “message of truth.”

By now, the number of pro-homosexual students increased to about 250. The pitch of their screaming intensified too, and in the chaos, one of our youngest volunteers, Zachariah Long, 17, was spat upon in the face. 

  • I am SO very doubtful that this happened, so very doubtful.

Approaching Zachariah, one student said: “Can I shake your hand? Because it takes a lot of courage to be out here.” Another added: “This is great! But, I’m going to go right now before something happens. Keep up the good fight. Thanks for being here. It takes a lot of guts. It’s really brave.”

  • If ONE more person says “Oh wow, it’s really brave to be conservative at Brown,” I swear I’m going to have a conniption. Since when is it oh-so-brave to spout hatred and claim opinions as facts? It’s about as brave and informed as going into a room full of women and saying “YOU SHOULD ALL BE IN THE KITCHEN MAKING ME DINNER.” Oy. Bravery is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, though, so what might be “brave” to some, others might just call “stupid” (e.g. facing off against a ravenous tiger just for fun, or protesting like this at Brown). Anyway, even if what TFP did was “brave” by some definitions, it’s by no means positive, right, or something we should be admiring. I’d also like to point out the courage/bravery of all the COUNTER-protestors, as well as LGBTQ people in general.

On the other side of the intersection, Mr. Leo Fitzsimmons, a TFP supporter, explained why marriage is important: “marriage produces children. And there’s no future without marriage. Same-sex ‘marriage’ does not produce children.” This simple reality befuddled the student who responded with profanities. “God bless America,” responded Mr. Fitszimmons. The young student, who looked like an American, was so upset that she yelled, “I’m not American!”

  • Marriage is important because it produces children? So should infertile couples not be allowed to marry? There’s no future without marriage? Oh right, because adoption doesn’t exist, no one is ever born outside of wedlock, people in same-sex marriages can’t bear children if not biologically with their partner, and people have to be married and in love to propagate the human race…
  • Also, what is the need to talk about someone “looking like an American”? What does it mean to “look American”? THIS IS SO PROBLEMATIC. Do they men she looked Caucasian? And who CARES? This entire sentence is so riddled with problems, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s freaking me out.

Seeing the violent attitude of the pro-homosexual students, the police chief wanted to escort us to our van and ensure our safe departure. After completing the 1 hour and 30 minute rally in its entirety, we prayed three Hail Marys, shouted our motto “Tradition Family Property – America” and left. Policemen surrounded us on all sides and were assisted by a patrol vehicle on the street. A rowdy group of approximately 250 pro-homosexual advocates attempted to break through the perimeter to harass us. Without ceasing, they screamed obscenities and yelled in chorus over and over again: “God loves gays!”

  • The Brown police was there to make sure people protested peacefully and nothing got out of hand. MOSTLY, though, they were trying to make sure traffic kept flowing, no one got hit by a car (since the protest and counter-protest were getting huge and, towards the end, it all turned into a march), and that sidewalks remained clear at certain areas. It’s not like they “wanted to escort” TFP to their van, but that it was part of their job to do so as part of the BROWN DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY because they are there at all big events, especially protests.

Thank God, the police protected us as we packed our vans. But when we pulled away from the curb, many pro-homosexual students closed in to hit the sides of our vehicles with their fists or palms. A hard object, maybe a rock, was thrown against one of the vans.

  • I highly doubt something was thrown, but whatever. 

Brown University Against Homophobia

After experiencing a “pro-traditional marriage” rally this past summer (at the hands of none other than The National Organization for [Opposite-Sex] Marriage in its disturbing nationwide tour), I was more than ready to deal with TFP (which stands for, wait for it: TRADITION, FAMILY, AND PROPERTY) coming to Brown’s campus. (For background, please check the sources linked at the end of this post which provide coverage of the events that transpired.) 

My feelings about the event were definitely mixed. On the bright side, I thought the response from people at Brown was tremendous. It was invigorating to see so many folks (and tons of heterosexual allies) showing their support, chanting, holding signs, donning rainbow flags, pins, and even blankets to demonstrate that TFP’s message of intolerance and religious fanaticism wasn’t going to be tolerated on our campus without, at the very LEAST, a counter-demonstration. I was glad we finally had one of these groups come to Brown while people were HERE and could do something about it (unlike, say, the Westboro Baptist Church Hate Machine a few years back, which came right after we all left for summer break). Plus any opportunity I get to wear my ROY G. B(I)V outfit is welcome!
On the not-so-bright side, though, I was upset by the fact that they stepped on my beloved campus spewing their hateful message. It’s always somewhat scary (and really bizarre) to be surrounded by people who hate what my communities stand for and who legitimately think we’re going to burn in some hell, who see our lives as revolting and horrible. It’s personally offensive to be reminded that many people still consider us subhuman or sick or harmful to society. It’s painful to be reminded that many politicians and state legislatures think same-sex marriage isn’t necessary, or isn’t a worthwhile cause/investment, and to know that so many people have suffered because their relationships haven’t been acknowledged.
This isn’t just about marriage, though. In what’s known as a blue-state, in the heart of a liberal campus, we are yet again reminded that we are not considered equal citizens. Just as recently as 2009, Governor Carcieri vetoed a bill that would have added domestic partners to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.  His reasoning?  “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.” (Thankfully, this bill eventually passed in 2010.) Even more recently, in 2008 and 2010, Mr. Carcieri ALSO vetoed House Bill 7044/Senate Bill 2055 that would’ve added “gender identity and expression” to RI’s hate crimes statute. Reasoning? “Those who struggle with gender confusion deserve our compassion and understanding — not laws that cement them into an identity which denies biological and objective reality.” (This bill was just heard once again on Tuesday, so we’ll see what happens now.)
While inside (or facing off against) any crowd of staunch conservatives, Republicans, anti-choice/pro-life people basically saying that I’m going to hell, that I’m a horrible, degenerate human being, that my family is ashamed of me, that I’m something that shouldn’t exist, and even worse…I wonder…how many of these people do I pass by as I walk down the street? Does the cashier at CVS secretly hate these big things I stand for? What about the woman sitting next to me on the bus? My professors? Will I ever run into people who were at the protest and wrote horrible things that entirely misrepresented what happened? I’m all for finding connections with people and trying to get along on SOME level, even if we have fundamental differences of opinion, but when those bridges we’ve built are rickety and sometimes depend on ignoring REALLY big differences, you can’t blame a girl for being nervous.
Anyway, just because I’ve gone through this type of thing before (again, this summer’s anti-NOM protest was a perfect example), it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. Like I told the Brown Daily Herald, I think the group came here, in part, to gain media attention. “Because it’s a college and there’s this idea that kids are wild and crazy, especially at Brown, they think they can find fodder for their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.” It pisses me off because I KNOW what their interest is, I KNOW what they’re going to do with the footage. No matter how peaceful and “proper” we are, they will always spin it into something different. This past summer, NOM did the same thing, except our “battlefield” was the RI Statehouse.
If you want to see for yourself, just compare this NOM blogpost with this TFP blogpost. Similar? No surprise there. So many anti-LGBTQ/same-sex marriage folks use the SAME DAMN TACTICS each and every single time, it actually makes them easier to spot. NOM folks misrepresented attendance, artfully cut their sound-clips and videos, and basically tried to portray all the anti-NOM-ers as these wild, violent rainbow-wielding creatures who were going to hurt their children (both the ones at the rally and those all over America) and try to take over the world with their big, gay agenda of degenerate ideas.
*facepalm*

It’s good to remind myself that there are many places in the world, even in my own backyard, that aren’t like my LGBTQ-friendly, sex-positive circles. It reminds me why I have to continue doing the work that I do; there is still a lot of violence, hatred, shame, and misinformation in the world. The important thing here is that we will not give into their fear-mongering. We will stand and we will take action despite (or even because of) our fears and insecurities. As I said in an interview for the Brown Daily Herald: “We know they have a right to free speech, but if their speech is hateful, the Brown community will not stay silent.”

******************************

And now, for the utterly laughable and entirely unfortunate coverage from the hate-group itself: “Video: Pro-Homosexuals at Brown University Respond to Peaceful TFP Rally with Violence”
[Update: As of 3/29, YouTube has removed the TFP video for some reason. Strange, but I won’t complain. The less hate on the internet, the better.] While I could deconstruct the video, its tactics, its supporting group, and their horrible little mission, I’ll instead leave you with a comment that someone on YouTube left in response to the TFP statements about provocation (TFP claims they weren’t provoking the campus and were met with “shocking violence,” among other things):
I think you would do well to look up the meaning of “provocation.” When bagpipe-playing, 20-foot-tall banner toting groups of people come to the place where you live to courteously inform you that you are going to hell and there is nothing you can do about it, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would be pleased. There were no assaults; please, try to stick to the facts. And your victim rhetoric? Please. 20 seconds of feeling unsafe? Try a lifetime.

Protest Racism from Arizona to Rhode Island!

The fucked up racial-profiling/anti-immigrant law in Arizona is slated to come into effect this week, SO we’re protesting that shit like nobody’s business (especially because RI has some fucked up immigration laws too, and we don’t like ’em one bit).

Now that RI elections for governor are nearing, this is a crucial issue to tackle.
I, for one, am tired of a shithead governor, so it’s time to:

  • fight for our rights and those of others
  • work to get someone who’s actually competent in office.

Long story short: Please go to the protest, or at least please pass this on. I’ve been working with this project and would love the support. So would the people of Rhode Island, and immigrants all over the world. Once you’ve seen people deported and families torn apart, this issue gets personal.

~~en español abajo~~
On Thursday, July 29th, Arizona’s racist law SB1070 will take effect, and all over the world people will turn out in protest. Declare yourself on the right side of history, and join your neighbors, friends, and family:
Protest Racism: From Arizona to Rhode Island!
Thursday July 29th, 4:30 pm Armory Park (Cranston and Dexter) Bus Lines 17, 18, 19, 31

While we stand with the people of Arizona who will be affected by this draconian law, we also realize that many of the racist practices that SB1070 will codify into law are already common practice in Rhode Island, as in much of the country. We are demanding that candidates for RI Governor pledge that if elected, they will:

  • commit to veto and to speak against any “copycat” of Arizona’s SB1070
  • order the DMV to accept government ID from other countries in order to receive a license
  • prohibit police from asking for IDs from people without cause
  • support “In-State Tuition” through which graduates of RI high schools are charged the same tuition whether they have papers or not, and
  • rescind the Executive Order, ending eVerify and police/ICE collaboration

At the protest, we will be reviewing and responding to candidates’ responses to these demands.

Groups supporting the day of action include: Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE); Providence Youth and Student Movement (PrYSM); Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA); English in Action (EfA); Immigrants in Action Committee; RI Jobs with Justice; American Friends Service Committee, SE New England Chapter; and Ocean State Action.

For more information, contact ONA at 228-8996.

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El jueves 29 de julio, la ley racista de Arizona SB1070 tomará efecto, y en todo el mundo, personas van a salir en protesta. Declárese parte de la lucha historica, y únese con sus vecin@s, amig@s, y familia:
¡NO AL RACISMO: DESDE ARIZONA HASTA RHODE ISLAND!
Jueves 29 de julio, 4:30 pm
Parque detrás del castillo (La Cranston y La Dexter) Lineas de Bus 17, 18, 19, 31

Mientras que nos declaremos en solidaridad con el pueblo de Arizona afectado por esta ley draconiana, tambien, entendemos que las prácticas racistas que van a ser legalizadas por SB1070 ya existen en Rhode Island, y en otros estados alrededor del pais. Demandamos que los candidatos a gobernador en RI comprometan que si son elegidos, van a:

  • comprometerse a vetar y hablar en contra de cualquier propuesta de ley parecida a la SB1070
  • ordenar que el Departamento de Vehículos de Motor acepte ID de otros países para sacar una licencia
  • prohibir que la policía le pida ID a personas sin causa
  • apoyar “In-State Tuition” por la cual los graduados de secundaria de RI pagarían la misma matrícula que los demás, tengan o no tengan papeles
  • revocar la orden ejecutiva, terminando el uso de EVerify y la colaboración entre la policía y la migra

Durante la protesta, vamos a leer y responder a sus respuestas a nuestras demandas.

Los grupos que estan apoyando el día de acción incluyen: DARE Accion Directa por los Derechos e Igualdad; Movimiento Juvenil y Estudiantil de Providence (PrYSM); Asociacion de Vecin@s de Olneyville (ONA); Ingles en Accion (EfA); Comité de Inmigrantes en Acción; Trabajos con Justicia de Rhode Island; Comité Americano de Amigo/as en Servicio (AFSC), SE New England; y Ocean State Action.

Para más información puede llamar a ONA al 228-8996.