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On Saturday Night Washington DC was pulsing with the heartbeat of 100 awe-inspiring, super-achieving mayors, policymakers, musicians and media stars, as they gathered at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to celebrate The Root 100 awards 2011. Founded in 2008, The Root is a unique online news publication that offers an African-American perspective on breaking news and aims to raise the profile of the black voice in mainstream media.
Donna L. Byrd, publisher of The Root, in her opening remarks referred to the honorees as the “all-stars of our community’ and judging by the line-up she was not wrong. The list included NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and executive producer of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond, both of whom made touching and inspirational speeches. Jealous urged listeners remember the responsibility we all have to speak for those who have no voice,” and Bond told the audience:
“As the most influential of our generation, we must be the frontrunners for change.”
So here’s a huge Hollaback! congratulations to such an awesome cohort of change makers and leaders. You inspire us.
Meet the full list of honorees here!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
It is truly awesome to see the creative ways in which activists are making themselves heard! Case in question: Governor Scott Walker and the Trojan Horse breakfast protest.
Last Thursday controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was shouted into silence by protesters posing as suits as he attempted to give a budget speech at the Chicago Union League Club.
Over 70 members of Stand Up! Chicago and Occupy Chicago ambushed the 11/3 Walker breakfast presentation on “Taxpayers, State Budget Reforms and the New Realities” at the Union League Club of Chicago in order to voice their opinions on Governor Walker’s union-busting and job-cut policies.
Protesters settled themselves down to breakfast and sprang into action following the opening remarks, using what they have dubbed as the “human mic.” The statement began:
“ It is an outrage and a shame, that we sit at this fancy breakfast to listen to someone who has wreaked havoc on the lives of working families. Governor Walker has vilified unions and insulted the 99% who depend on living wages and adequate benefits to support their families, while on the payroll of the right wing billionaire Koch brothers.”
After each statement the crowd repeated it, rendering the remainder of the room speechless. Walker encouraged his supporters to clap out the disruption but the protest continued, forcing the rest of the room to listen.
Check out the video for yourself and be inspired to make your voice heard and be a change maker!
BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Inspirational and Badass Shyane DeJesus
Brave anthropology student, Shyane DeJesus, hit headlines last week when she fought back against 39-year-old, subway sex pest, Froylan Andrade. DeJesus was groped by Andrade on the 6 platform at Union Square at 9.30 am on October 23. In utter disgust, she punched him with her left hand. Andrade fled onto the train and sat down as if nothing had happened. However, DeJesus was not about to let him get away with this, she followed him and kicked him in the face, she then took his picture as fellow passengers ignored her plight.
And the wonderful thing is that her efforts were not in vain! Once she had the precious picture she got to her office and called the police. According to the NY Post the NYPD were tipped off by Andrade’s brother who recognized the photo and gave them his address. Andrade was arrested and positively identified by courageous DeJesus.
Dejesus’ message to the world is:
“Don’t let them scare you: they are cowards!”
Hopefully this wonderful young lady will give others the courage to find their own voice and say NO to street harassment!
BY ANNIE BOGGS
A depressing new study shows that sexual harassment starts at a disturbingly early age — middle and high school. The American Association of University Women’s report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, shows that harassment is widespread in grades 7-12 for our nation’s students. According to the study summary:
Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in middle and high schools. Nearly half (48 percent) of the students surveyed experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010–11 school year, and the majority of those students (87 percent) said it had a negative effect on them.
Unsurprisingly, the harassment had gendered implications. Girls were more likely than boys to experience harassment and be negatively affected by the harassment. Boys were more likely than girls be the harasser. Comments like “That’s so gay” contributed to a culture at school where students who didn’t follow gender norms were especially targeted. (I think this antiquated sentiment needs to be retired already!)
With statistics such as these, it’s easy to feel hopeless. But perhaps we should take these numbers as a call to action and start teaching students early that this is not OK behavior. According to one of the authors of the report, Holly Kearl, in this New York Times piece, an open dialogue in schools about sexual harassment (what it is and how to react to it) is helpful in reducing it.
This seems like an easy step to take. Teenagers should know: this is not acceptable or ”just part of the school day” in middle or high school, like so many young people are led to believe. Internalizing harassment as normal behavior for young people leads to similar (and worse) behavior later in life. Hollaback! and let your schools and communities know that this is never OK.
P.S. Here is some helpful, specific information on what to do if you’re being harassed in a school setting.
This was originally posted on occupywallst.org.
For as long as public space has existed, women and LGBTQ people have been trying to “occupy” it safely — with distressingly little success. Harassing comments, groping, flashing and assault are a daily, global reality for women and LGBTQ individuals. Too often, these injustices are met with little or no response, regarded simply as “the price you pay” for being female, trans, or gay in public. As supporters of the Occupy movement, we believe that a world where everyone has the right to occupy public space safely is not only possible – it is essential to building a strong and lasting movement.
It’s no secret that the Wall Street 1% who wrecked our economy are disproportionately straight and male, despite countless studies showing the less organizations look like the 99%, the less effective they are. As we quicken the pace of social change, we must be careful not to replicate Wall Street’s mistakes. The message is clear: equality means impact.
But for women and LGBTQ people to participate equally in the Occupy movement, we must be safe in occupied spaces. We know that harassment and assault happens everywhere — and that the Occupy movement is no more immune to it than our nation’s parks and parking lots — but we also know that a movement where women and LGBTQ individuals are not safe is not a movement that serves the interests of the 99%.
In solidarity with those who are already working on the ground to make safer spaces, we call on all General Assemblies of the Occupy movement to adopt anti-harassment and anti-assault as core principles of solidarity. To realize these principles within the movement, we call on General Assemblies in every city to empower women and LGBTQ occupiers with the time, space, and resources necessary to ensure that every occupied space is a safe space.
And the following organizations:
The Occupied Wall Street Journal
DC Rape Crisis Center
Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault
National Organization for Men Against Sexism
California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
The Feminist Wire
Barrier Free Living
Crisis Intervention Services, Oskaloosa, IA
Women, Action & the Media
Marriage Equality NY
Joy of Resistance: Multicultural Feminist Radio @ WBAI
Feminist Peace Network
Women In Media & News
The Organization for a Free Society
Julia Barry Productions
Women’s Media Center
AIDS Action Baltimore
Media Equity Collaborative
Veterans News Now
National Organization of Asian Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)
Spinifex Press, Australia
Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP)
CODEPINK: Women For Peace
Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER)
World Can’t Wait
1% A Peace Army
9to5, National Association of Working Women
If your organization supports this call for safer spaces, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to be added to the list of co-signers. If you know other groups that have not yet joined this call to action, please contact them and ask them to stand with us! Let’s work together to make a safer world for everyone!
UPDATE! Thanks to our site leader in Mexico DF, we now have a Spanish translation!
Durante el tiempo en que el espacio público ha existido, las mujeres y las personas LGBT han tratado de ”ocuparlo” de manera segura – preocupantemente con muy poco éxito. Los comentarios de acoso, los tocamientos, la exposición de genitales y la violación son una realidad cotidiana y global para las mujeres y las personas LGBT. Con demasiada frecuencia, estas injusticias se atienden con poca o ninguna respuesta, consideradas simplemente como “el precio a pagar” por ser mujer, trans o gay en público. Como partidarios del movimiento “Ocupa”, creemos que un mundo donde todas las personas tienen derecho a ocupar el espacio público con seguridad no sólo es posible – si no que es esencial para construir un movimiento fuerte y duradero.
No es ningún secreto que el 1% de Wall Street que destruyó nuestra economía es de manera desproporcionada heterosexual y masculina, a pesar de numerosos estudios que demuestran las organizaciones que menos reflejan al 99%, tienen menor eficacia. A medida que aceleramos el ritmo del cambio social, debemos tener cuidado de no repetir los errores de Wall Street. El mensaje es claro: equidad significa impacto.
Pero para que las mujeres y las personas LGBT puedan participar igualitariamente en el movimiento “Ocupa”, debemos estar seguros y seguras en los espacios ocupados. Sabemos que el acoso y las violaciones ocurren en todas partes — y que el movimiento “Ocupa” no es más inmune a él que los parques y estacionamientos de nuestra nación — pero también sabemos que un movimiento donde las mujeres y las personas LGBT no están seguras no es un movimiento sirve a los intereses del 99%.
En solidaridad con quienes ya están trabajando en cada movilización para crear espacios más seguros, Hollaback Internacional en conjunto con otras 25+ organizaciones está haciendo un llamado a todas las Asambleas Generales del Movimiento “Ocupa” a adoptar principios básicos de solidaridad de anti-acoso y anti-abuso. Para hacer realidad estos principios dentro del movimiento, hacemos un llamado a las Asambleas Generales en cada ciudad para empoderar a las mujeres y los y las ocupantes LGBT con el tiempo, el espacio y los recursos necesarios para asegurar que cada espacio ocupado sea un lugar seguro.
Si tu organización apoya la convocatoria de los espacios más seguros, por favor, envía un correo electrónico a firstname.lastname@example.org
BY VICTORIA FITZGERALD
Second year Film and Media Arts and Women’s Studies student at Temple University, Kara Lieff, originally produced the short film for a class to highlight the common misconception of a direct correlation between a woman’s choice of clothing and her sexual availability. Lieff gave this background information to street harassment blog Stop Street Harassment:
“‘Asking For It’ was made for those who believe that there is a definitive connection between a woman’s clothing choice and her sexual availability. Many people think that women who dress a certain way are asking to be, or wouldn’t mind being, bothered, but this satirical take on street harassment shows that what a women really wants does not coincide with her attire.
This video was created for a class, and the assignment was to make a video that would get viewers to accomplish a certain action. I knew that I wanted my video to be a conversation starter – for my viewers to discuss street harassment, their experiences, why it happens, who is to blame, and what can be done to combat this problem. By featuring college-aged adults, I especially hope to reach out to my peers early on.
Street harassment is a huge problem, and any method used – whether it be talking back, writing, art, or videos – to fight back is a step in the right direction.”
BY NICOLA BRIGGS
In 2004, I went to Bangkok to give a Tai Chi presentation at the 15th International AIDS Conference, and while I was there I noticed an interesting bill-board. It depicted a young girl kneeling in front of a man, with her head bowed and hands clasped in the prayer position. I asked the driver what it meant, and he replied in a matter-of-fact tone that the girl was pleading with her father not to sell her into prostitution to support their family. Needless to say, I was deeply shocked, but thought that perhaps it was a problem isolated to poorer societies than those in the U.S. Some of the statistics are startling: over 32 million people are enslaved around the world, and 80% percent of these victims are forced into sexual servitude. Sex trafficking is the second most profitable illicit business globally. And it’s not just a problem overseas, it’s increasing in severity right here in the United States. When I got back to the States from Thailand, I found out that there are 100,000-300,000 American children forced into prostitution. Young girls in every state, some not even twelve years old, have been targeted for kidnapping on their way home from school, or taken in as runaways by pimps, who then sell them into sexual slavery.
I think it would be very helpful to raise awareness of this crime, which very often has subtle indicators. This is especially true, because it may not be obvious who is a victim of sex trafficking, and many times victims try to hide their victimhood for their own safety. The life of a sex trafficking victim is narrow in scope and possibility, and they live a strictly regimented existence. Usually this entails seeing “customers,” working their day jobs, which they have been forced to perform with coercion, and sleeping and living under close supervision in the brothel, hotel, apartment, or restaurant where they work. They are not permitted to go out on their own, for fear that they might escape, and the slave master will lose his (or in rare cases, her) investment. Many times, victims are charged “fees” by their slave masters for the slightest transgression, which even further hobbles their ability to become independent. They are routinely threatened with injury, death, deportation, not only to themselves, but to their families back in their home countries. This is one of the strongest deterrents to escape, and only the strongest and most desperate victims are able to overcome the severe psychological abuses, which keep them locked in their situation. Sex trafficking victims in the United States work in many jobs right under our noses, including office cleaners, landscapers, street vendors, wait staff, bus boys, and hotel cleaning crews.
Frequently, someone is rescued from this type of abuse only after a call is made to law enforcement when an observant and intuitive person sees something that doesn’t add up. Perhaps it’s a massage parlor that’s open 24 hours per day, or a waiter or waitress that seems afraid to speak to you if you ask about what it’s like living in the U.S., as compared to back home in Thailand, for instance. Sometimes it might be just as subtle as a stern look from someone’s boss that elicits an actual look of fear. If your gut is telling you that something is wrong, and you suspect that a worker around you is being exploited, whether a minor, or not, you may be saving a person’s life by alerting the authorities. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has a hotline: (888) 373-7888 to call in tips, or to file an anonymous report. The sooner we start waking up to the prevalence of this situation in the United States and around the globe, the sooner we’ll be able to ensure a safe and wholesome childhood for the next generation of girls.
I was walking back to my apartment after my internship on a Monday. I had already had a rough day and had just gotten off the phone with my mom. It was a little after 5pm and there were people everywhere. I was looking down for a second to hang up my phone when I looked up and saw an older man’s face right in mine. I felt his arm across my stomach and his hand slowly start to move up to my chest as he said, “hey baby.” I kept walking and was hoping someone was going to do something, maybe not do anything to him, but at least ask if I was okay. There were a lot of people around and not one person asked if I was alright. I felt so violated and immediately started crying and continued to walk home.
This week we had the honor of presenting at the Roots Of Change conference in Portland! Emily gave the history of Hollaback! and talked about why street harassment matters. Our board member Chad Sniffen presented on the history of bystander engagement and how Hollaback! is leveraging it in their “I’ve Got Your Back” campaign, and our site leader from Portland, Joe LeBlanc, presented on how their critical diverse partnerships are to making the revolution in Portland go down. Our HOLLAfriends Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman were also there delivering the best. presentations. ever. If you ever get a change to see either of them speak — don’t walk. Run. Their bold visions for a world without sexual violence make it all feel possible.
A note from Emily May, executive director: I’ve spent the past 18 years knowing that my younger sister was the coolest girl on the planet. So when she reached out to me to start volunteering for Hollaback!, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean of course — she’s awesome. But I couldn’t help to feel angry at whatever turd inspired her new volunteering gig. I mean — how can someone street harass my little sister? The one whose diaper I changed when I was 12? I wanted to march down to North Carolina and give this turd a piece of my mind. But my super-smart sister was one step ahead of me. We would proudly join forces and fight street harassment together! Go, sis. You never cease to amaze me. The following is her college essay.
BY KIMBERLY MAY
Street harassment is not only a personal, local, national, or an international concern. It is all of them. Street harassment is any behavior that occurs between strangers that is unwanted, disrespectful, threatening, or harassing and is motivated by gender. Street harassment can range from strange looks and whistles to actual sexual assault or even murder. Statistics show that nearly 100% of females experience street harassment of some form, starting around age twelve and continuing into their 80s.
In 2005 my sister, Emily May, and a group of friends decided to try to put an end to street harassment. They started a blog called Hollaback! where women who are harassed share their story and sometimes a photograph on the website. This movement started in New York City, and now has chapters all over the world.
I have always supported Hollaback! because of Emily, but I did not really understand the full importance of ending street harassment. As I have gotten older and street harassment occurs to me, I have realized how important it is to create awareness of street harassment to try to abolish it. I now work as a volunteer for Hollaback! approving posts and comments that people send in. I edit the posts, give them a title, and then post them on the Hollaback! website.
I think it is terrible that women have to be afraid of going places alone because of the fear of being harassed. It is not fair that street harassment is just accepted as “the price you pay for being a woman.” Even in a small town like I am from women experience street harassment, and it is truly scary at times. I believe that we can work together to eradicate street harassment by being proactive, and I am very proud to be part of a movement that is attempting to accomplish this.