#AUNoMoreSilence Rally Pictures

These pictures were taken at American University. They are of a rally organized by the AU No More Silence Coalition. The goal of this rally was to put pressure on the school’s administration to act on behalf of sexual assault survivors. As a coalition, we demand justice for survivors, and we demand mandatory sexual assault bystander-prevention programs for faculty and students alike. If you would like to find out more about the group’s demands, check out the petition that was made on Change.org

Personal Sextivism and the #AUNoMoreSilence Rally!

So grateful to be able to speak at the #NoMoreSilenceRally and work with so many fabulous activists!

So grateful to be able to speak at the #NoMoreSilenceRally and work with so many fabulous activists!

Transformative Activism at American University

I could not have imagined a better way to wind down my freshman year. I have spent the last couple of days organizing with some of the most passionate, hardworking activists and people I have ever met. I have seen the passion for social justice give people a sense of purpose, a sense of community, the feeling of belonging. I have seen people be transformed through exposure to community organizing and collective, direct action. I have felt myself be transformed. I came to American University in order to grow, in order to be surrounded with peers who have my same passion for social justice and the desire to create positive change. AU is one of the best places to be mentored and taught how to organize. I have had wonderful professors push me to challenge the status quo and I have had upperclassmen go out of their way to mentor me.

The No More Silence Coalition

Recently, documents that contain screenshots of text messages and a Google listserv that contain misogynistic, homophobic, racist comments along with commentary that suggests the premeditated sexual assault of women, were leaked. In response, a self-identified coalition which calls itself AU’s No More Silence was formed. This group was created and able to mobilize a group of about 30-50 people to speak out and rally. The coalition was formed and was able to execute this rally in less than a week. The group was aimed at garnering attention and placing pressure on the administration to take action in light of the emails that were recently leaked by an anonymous source. The emails and the rape culture they are symptomatic of prove that the school is NOT doing enough to prevent sexual assault on campus. This group has been able to reach out to social media, obtain 1500+ people to sign a petition which lists a call to action and list of demands and even organize a rally and march. American University prides itself for having a politically engaged student body, and for having a student body that finds strength in diversity. Thing group asked that AU make it’s students and alumni proud by responding to the demands and following through with the “change” that was promised to now-alumnus but have not yet been realized.

Grateful for Solidarity

I was lucky enough to be a part of this group, to learn from the members of this group and act in solidarity with this coalition. Personally, this experience of coalition building, planning and mobilizing was a growing experience. I am so grateful for all of the upperclassmen, alumni and faculty supporters who helped a group predominantly made up of freshman take leadership roles and learn hands-on how to organize. I am grateful for the Public Safety officers who marched with us to ensure our safety. I am grateful for the opportunity to be heard and to make topics that have gone undisclosed for way too long.One of American University’s greatest assets is the active student body.

I Marched Because:

  • I want safety to be prioritized over PR
  • I want a campus culture that rejects rape culture, homophobia, racism and aggression.
  • I care about American University, and I want it to make me proud.

Read more about the leaked emails and the EI scandal by clicking the links below: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/04/21/leaked-fraternity-emails-outrage-many-at-american-university/

http://dcist.com/2014/04/hundreds_call_for_american_universi.php

 

Be Angry. Be gentle. Fight with Love!

I had the privilege of attending the #WeAreBrave: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice Workshop at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference (#NYFLC2014) today.

Women of color face disparities that are unique and different from those of other members of the women’s movement. This discussion explored the specific ways in which approaching the intersection of being a woman of color and working in the field of reproductive justice.

Main points addressed:
– Accepting anger that results from injustice as valid.
– Being gentle with those who may not be as inclusive so that they will be more receptive to changing.
– Fighting as necessary for progress.
– Loving as vital, as one of the most important ways to approach those who have room to grow in our movement (everyone).

Moderator:
Edwith Theogene

Panelists:
Samantha Griffin
Shivana Jorawar
Donya Nasser
Amber Phillips

When we talk about RJ, why do we need to focus on the intersection of being a Woman of Color and Reproductive Justice?

Samantha have a brief history of the terms “reproductive justice” and “intersectionality” and the fact that they were created by women of color who began claiming their space in the women’s movement. She made t clear that we must not “allow ourselves to be an afterthought of solidarity”. Amber echoed her thoughts when she said: “I can’t hae a conversation about feminism, without addressing I’m a black woman, or that I grew up poor, because we don’t exist in boxes.” Shivana adds another dimension to the conversation from her perspective as a program director at the National Asian Pacific American Women Forum by discussing the intersection of being a model minority and being excluded from conversations about women of color. Evexplains that “the model minority myth and stereotype and the percieve smallness of our community makes us invisible” and that that makes it vital to discuss our community’s involvement in the reproductive justice movement.

What does bravery in our movement mean?

“Flying in the face of stereotypes” and taking your place [in the conversation of reproductive justice]. -Shivana

“Standing up and saying ‘I matter’ whether I wear a hijab or not” [on standing up for middle eastern women and Muslim women in the face of patriarchal and sometimes, islamophobic people]

“Bravery is talking about things that people are tired of hearing”, it’s important to remember that “the issues for the least of us, whether it’s black women or trans women, is that we can’t start at the basic level of rights”. With these words, Samantha emphasized being brave, ambitious and persistent in our activism.

Advice for Campus Activists

“Find allies” and always remember “our struggles are different, but we all struggle” was the advice of Danya, a student at St. John’s University.

Amber Phillips, who works for Advocates for Youth had an array of advice:
“Apply to leadership development programs”
“Make yor space. Say what needs to be said, even if it’s unpopular.”
“Critique what you love, be critical of yourself, make sure to be inclusive and work on your inclusivity.”

Again, Samantha inspired ambitious activism with the following words:
“Push for what you think you deserve”
“it’s okay to be an agitator”
“Believe you can be the next thig, and bring it!”

Shivana emphasized the need to “call people in, not out” which changed the conversation in the room. Her point about making your feminism inclusive, was that in order to create solidarity among sister in the struggle and all others involved in the reproductive justice movement, was to call people to the cause not call people out for their stigmatizing words and behaviors.

Those words led to a discussion about not assuming people will or will not be supportive of your cause, and the need to acknowledge our allies within the movement, our religious allies, our male allies, allies across generational gaps.

WIN as the Ultimate Sisterhood

Are you a college student? Do you live in DC? Are you Pro Choice? Are you a woman-identifying person who wants to meet like-minded women to befriend and have as mentors?

The Women’s Information Network might be for you!

To find out more about how a Pro-Choice, Democratic, Network for professional women that’s based in DC can help you, as a college student check out my guest post on The WINsight:

Member Submission: WIN the Ultimate Sisterhood