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HOLLA ON THE GO: “I told them to fuck off”

I was walking to the cinema at around 8pm when I passed a group of 6-8 young men that were bouncing a basketball. They started staring at me and yelling “hey, you” “hey, girl” so I told them to fuck off. They then threw a basketball at me, which hit the wall behind me and started telling me to get over there and fuck them. When they started walking closer I yelled “I have pepper spray and I will spray all of you” to which they replied by calling me a “spicy mama” and then rambling in spanish.

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HOLLA ON THE GO: “Lady”

A guy singing lady in red at me loudly.

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Reflections on Facing Race Conference from Baltimore Site Leader Mel

“Try to make it safe for people to be wrong [when talking about racism]. Part of that is including myself in the wrong-ness.” – Sally Kohn


Facing Race 2014, a national conference about racial justice, was held in Dallas, TX this year and I had the privilege of attending as a representative of Hollaback.  It was the largest Facing Race ever with 1,600 attendees and its accompanying hashtag #FacingRace2014 trended nationally as people documented conference highlights on social media.  It’s been a few days since the last plenary session and I’m still trying to soak it all in.  What weighs heavy on my mind as I make sense of everything is the consistent messaging for us, racial justice activists, mel with key and peeleto be kind.


From the first event, the biggest names in the racial justice world dropped bombs of knowledge followed by encouragement for us all to call people in and not call people out, as Jaime-Jin Lewis of the organization Border Crossers said.  Lewis told us to look towards a future movement that is based on healing.  Rinku Sen, President of Race Forward, then told us to, “lower our litmus tests for friends and allies, and trust that people become anti-racist by doing racial justice work”.  These notions aren’t new nor are they bad, but I was surprised at this consistent messaging and the honesty of the speakers.


As a woman of color, I value being in majority people of color spaces because they’re so rare.  I feel safe to vent about racism without a filter and there’s solidarity in our struggles.  This conference was speaking to a majority audience of color and the repetitive suggestions for us to “lower our litmus test” were blunt requests to do better that I hadn’t heard in that setting before.  The esteemed speakers and presenters weren’t asking us to shut up or stop getting angry, which is what sometimes can happen when asked to be kind; they were calling for us to have empathy and compassion.


Six community organizers from the Ferguson, MO protests spoke about their work on day 2 of the conference bright and early at 8:00am.  They were asked what the best thing is that we, as racial justice activists, can do to support them.  The resounding answer was to go home to our communities and talk to people about racism; create a dialogue about what life is like for people of color.  Having those difficult conversations is needed work and a first step in making sure people remember the names of young men like Mike Brown because every community has a Mike Brown.anti-imperial ballroom
I found myself thinking about all of this and feeling, for the first time, like venting or a safe space is not the priority.  This people of color-focused space that I hold so sacred was not meant for emotional release this weekend.  Hip Hop Legend and activist Jay Smooth described it best as balancing self-care and the needed catharsis of telling someone off who’s being racist while not always resorting to those reactions as a default.  I’ve been contemplating since then: what is my default — righteous anger?  Is that all it is or do I couple it with some compassion?


Just when I thought there was nothing else anyone could possibly say that I hadn’t already heard, the final plenary blew me away.  Ian Haney Lopez, Van Jones and Rinku Sen together were a trifecta of nuance on the next 50 years of the racial justice movement.  Ian Haney Lopez pushed us to fight the concept of non-Whiteness within communities of color and complicated the popular belief that White folks will be in the minority in 2042.  This prediction depends on whether or not the definition of Whiteness expands and with many White Latinos self-identifying as White, the percentage of White facing race bus tourfolks in the USA could actually increase in 50 years.  Van Jones came on stage and told us all to expand our hustle by leveraging technology to make our own money, not depending on the mostly White male technocracy of Silicon Valley to dictate the gadgets and apps we use.  And finally, Rinku Sen brought it all home as she actually told us not to place people on our “shit list” (yes, her word choice! so perfect) for making mistakes and reiterated the need to have difficult conversations about race.  She did not hold back in telling the movement that we need to be more compassionate than we are right now.  My favorite moment was when she voiced her dislike of critiquing one another on Twitter and urged us to hold each other accountable for mistakes both in person and in private.


Facing race is difficult not just because the oppression we’re confronting is at a larger structural level, but it hits people of color at the personal level, too.  Resulting trauma makes it difficult to see through the righteous anger we have; but this year’s conference was a wake-up call for our compassion.  The wisdom from this year’s conference is settling in with me now and I’m taking a closer look at how I define a friend and racial justice ally.  Social media has made us all especially easy subjects of scrutiny and it’s also easier to scrutinize one another than ever before.  It’s time to create a better balance of self-care and reexamine what our defaults are so we can be in a place to discuss racism with many others, and ultimately grow the movement to end it.


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HOLLA ON THE GO: Harassment in Venezuela

I live in Caracas Venezuela, i see and experienced this type of verbal herrasment every day in the street, the first time was on the subway that some ramdom guy told me to smile, i was so mad

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HOLLA ON THE GO: Harassed in a sloth shirt?!?

Get whistled and yelled at aggressively while wearing my large sloth t-shirt…. men are objectifying/ sexualizing sloths? NOW It’s gone too far because they surely couldn’t have been catcalling at me, I wasn’t asking for it at 10am on my way to class, not wearing makeup and wearing a simple sloth t-shirt.

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HOLLA ON THE GO: “I was forced into panic mode”

In Spain, walking at 11pm by myself through the city of Santander to meet up my friends for a pregame when I see a man in the middle of the sidewalk just standing there. I start getting a strange feeling until he turns to the side and I see his erect genitals. I stop in the tracks, horrified and turn down the closest street I can as fast as I can before he can see me. The fear I felt was intense, I was forced into panic mode to try and get away. It was a scarring, horrible experience.

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HOLLA ON THE GO: It Needs To Stop

Buffalo, especially the west side, is a breeding ground for sexual predators. I go to a local college in this area called D’youville and all the young women who go here are subjected to harassment daily. It’s so regular for us that it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore. Every day when walking home or around campus men openly stop their cars to stare at us, whistle at us to get our attention, stop in their tracks to turn around and stare, and yell “compliments” it needs to stop.

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Letter to Our Supporters on the Recent Street Harassment Video

Dear Supporter,

First and foremost, thank you for your continued support of Hollaback!. As some of you now may be aware, we have been the object of some negative press and comments on social media regarding the recent street harassment video by Rob Bliss Creative. When the video was released, we doubted more than 10,000 people would watch it. We never imagined that it would be viewed more than 32 million times.

Given your passionate and dedicated support of Hollaback!, we wanted to inform you how we are directly responding to the accusations of racial and class bias.

Last Thursday, we issued a statement that makes our position clear: Hollaback! understands that harassment is a broad problem committed by a broad spectrum of individuals across lines of race, location and class. We know from the 8,000 stories we’ve collected on ihollaback.org that there is no single profile for a harasser, and harassment comes in many different forms. We are deeply invested in a movement that is multiracial, gender inclusive and incorporates place-based leadership specific to each locale. Racial, gender, and class politics is a core part of our work. While we did not create this video, we did allow our name to be used at the end of it. We agree wholeheartedly that the video should have done a better job of representing our understanding of street harassment and we take full responsibility for that. I’m deeply sorry.

What we also want to say is: We’re listening. Hollaback! is a small but determined and diverse organization, and we’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of feedback we’ve gotten. This video, created and edited pro-bono by Rob Bliss Creative, has taught us an important lesson. Although we appreciate Rob’s support, which has helped garner over $10k in donations from new donors, we are committed to continuing to show the complete, overall picture.

We are using the door opened by this conversation to expose the harassment faced by women of color and LGBTQ folks that too often is ignored by the mainstream media. That’s why we’re using the money raised to create our own video series — with the first one currently under development and scheduled to release within the next two weeks. We’re also working to create clearer messaging, respond to specific news articles, work with partners to write an Op-Ed, showcase thousands more stories through our global research study with Cornell University, and start an open and transparent dialogue with the public to voice opinions and concerns.

We are leveraging this opportunity to bring greater attention to our driving mission: giving you the power to end street harassment.

Again, thank you for believing in us, being a part of this vital dialogue, and supporting Hollaback! as we continue and extend our mission. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions as we move forward.

Sincerely,

Emily May
Executive Director, Hollaback!
www.ihollaback.org
@iHollaback

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Lesley’s Story: advice

In numerous occasions when men would stare and say harassing things, I found it most effective to look them in the eyes and say Ina clear, strong voice:
“Didn’t your mama teach you not to stare?”
This works!

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You won’t believe how many times this woman gets harassed in 10 hours.

How did this PSA come about?

In August 2014, Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative reached out to Hollaback! to partner on a PSA highlighting the impact of street harassment. He was inspired by his girlfriend — who gets street harassed all the time — and Shoshana B. Roberts volunteered to be the subject of his PSA. For 10 hours, Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack, while Shoshana walked silently with two mics in her hands.

 

As part of Rob’s agreement with Hollaback!, Rob had creative control over the PSA and owns it with unlimited usage rights for Hollaback!.  Hollaback! is grateful for Rob and Shoshana’s dedication to this issue, and for their volunteer service.

 

What is street harassment?

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. It exists on a spectrum including “catcalling” or verbal harassment, stalking, groping, public masturbation, and assault. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist.  It is an expression of the interlocking and overlapping oppressions we face and it functions as a means to silence our voices and “keep us in our place.” At Hollaback!, we believe that what specifically counts as street harassment is determined by those who experience it.  If you’ve experienced street harassment, we’ve got your back!

 

Is Shoshana’s experience unique?

The experience of street harassment is different for everyone.  Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people.  Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.

 

For more information on how harassment impacts people different, please read our guide on street harassment and identity called #harassmentis.

 

Does street harassment only happen in NYC?

Street harassment happens everywhere, although our maps indicate that population density may be a factor for it.  If you think about it, this makes sense: if one out of every fifty guys you pass is going to harass you, you’ll be far more likely to experience street harassment on Wall Street than in a Walmart parking lot.

Hollaback! has 79 sites in 26 countries around the world, from Alberta, Canada to Delhi, India. Every site is working to end street harassment in their communities and support individuals who share their stories of harassment. You can check out their stories (and provide support) here.

 

Is Street Harassment a Cultural Thing?

Like all forms of gender-based violence, street harassers fall evenly across lines of race and class.  It is a longstanding myth that street harassment is a “cultural” thing, perpetrated mostly by men of color.  We believe that street harassment is a “cultural” thing in the sense that it emerges from a culture of sexism — and unfortunately — that is everyone’s culture.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that is this video only captures verbal harassment, and Rob and Shoshana can attest to the harassment overall falling evenly along race and class lines. While filming, Shoshana noted, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”

 

How do I get involved?

Share this message with your friends and donate. We can’t end this alone.

 

 

 

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