On Trayvon: Reactions, Analysis and More


via the Black Youth Project

Domestic Violence and George Zimmerman’s Defense” via The Nation

Zimmerman’s attorneys successfully argued that those acts were inadmissible or irrelevant. But these accusations offer us other truths: that violence against girls and women is often an overlooked and unchecked indicator of future violence.

Open season for black boys after a verdict like this” via The Guardian

Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.

Beyond Trayvon: Black and Unarmed“—Slide show via The Root

Remember that it’s nothing new for a black man without a weapon to be killed.

“I’m not a race-baiter. I’m a historian. I’m a realist.”—NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams via The Nation

George Zimmerman Molestation Accusations Are Relevant” via Slate

If you’re trying to establish that Zimmerman had it in him to hunt down and murder a teenager who is much smaller than himself, then a history of sexual assault does help demonstrate this.

The Time Isn’t Right But It Is Now: Processing Our Anger for Trayvon in the Black Feminist Way” via Crunk Feminist Collective

I know it may seem selfish for sisters to even suggest that our struggles matter in this moment. But if the treatment of Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin’s friend, has taught us anything, it is that we are in this shit together. Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, has been an exemplar of Strong Black Womanhood throughout this ordeal. What other choice did she have? But while many folks may admire her strength and resolve, We Black feminists know that those regal robes of superwomanhood are much too heavy a load.

Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit” via New York Magazine

I’m in scenarios all the time in which primitive, exotic-looking me — six-foot-two, 300 pounds, uncivilized Afro, for starters — finds himself in places where people who look like me aren’t normally found. I mean, what can I do? I have to be somewhere on Earth, correct? In the beginning — let’s say 2002, when the gates of “Hey, Ahmir, would you like to come to [swanky elitist place]?” opened — I’d say “no,” mostly because it’s been hammered in my DNA to not “rock the boat,” which means not making “certain people” feel uncomfortable.
I mean, that is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people’s safety and comfort first, before your own. You’re programmed and taught that from the gate. It’s like the opposite of entitlement.

Fear & Consequences: George Zimmerman & the Protection of White Womanhood” via The Nation

Yes, white women—all of us—are taught to fear men of color. We need to own that truth, own that shameful fear. Most importantly, we need to name it for what it is: deeply held and constantly enforced racism.

White Womanhood, protectionism, and complicity in injustice for Trayvon Martin” via Feministing

This follows a lineage of white women crying rape (yes, I said it, I said it because that was often what happened–unjustly, untruthfully, when there really had been no rape–I say this as a survivor who believes survivors and finds this an affront) by black men who were lynched. Black men who were slaughtered in protection of white womanhood and its purity. The collusion of white womanhood and white supremacist patriarchy is clear–but let me be clear about something. The violence I have experienced–domestic and sexual violence–has been at the hands of multiple WHITE men. I don’t see white men being shot for that, nor do I want them to be.

But I am ashamed, and women like these women on the jury ARE white women’s problem.

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 7.01.51 PM

If Trayvon Martin Had Been a Woman” via The Guardian

Trayvon Martin’s murder and subsequent profiling have been likened by some to the lynchings of black men that stained American history during the 19th and 20th centuries, casting him as a latter-day Emmett Till. But popular memory has virtually erased the lynchings of Mary Turner, Marie Scott and Laura Nelson and the 115 black women, who were hung alongside their husbands, brothers and sons. The strange fruit of astranger sex that also dangled from southern trees.

Lastly, Colorlines has provided some powerful photo essays. Take a look here and here.

“Winging It” Workshop at Ladyfest Philadelphia

For the Birds is excited to announce we’ll be presenting a workshop titled “Winging It: Nurturing Authentic Communication in Feminist Organizing” at this year’s Ladyfest Philadelphia! Join us on Saturday, June 8, from 1:15pm-2:15pm at Locust Moon Comics and Movies near 40th Street and Ludlow Street in West Philly. The event is an activism, music and arts festival running from June 7-9.

In this participatory workshop, For the Birds will guide a community discussion about internal and external struggles in feminist cultural and social justice organizing, creating feminist spaces, and coalition building. The workshop will discuss commonalities between marginalized and activist groups, such as the ways our efforts coalesce around issues like safer spaces, grassroots modes of organizing, and artistic and political visibility.

Ladyfest Philadelphia’s Mission Statement

Ladyfest Philadelphia is a grassroots event dedicated to the artistic, organizational, and political work of cis-women, trans, genderqueer, intersex, and queer people, and their allies. Ladyfest combats substantive, cultural, and structural inequalities by building upon the existing Philadelphia community of artists, musicians, and activists.  It aims to foster a more inclusive and safe environment through performances, workshops, panels, opportunities for collaboration, and more.

For more information on the schedule, ticketing and the festival’s safer space policy, be sure to visit their website. All proceeds benefit Project SAFE and Women in Transition. Also, be sure to check out The Media‘s preview issue of the event here.

See you in Philly!

On ‘Free Angela & All Political Prisoners’

Directed by Shola Lynch, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners details Angela Davis’s struggle for justice and the worldwide movement that helped deliver it.

The story is familiar to many. In 1970, Davis was charged with the murder of a California judge and placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list after going into hiding—she was found in New York City and arrested less than two months later. With the full force of federal and state governments out to destroy her, a conviction and death sentence was near certain.

Lynch offers a beautiful, complex portrait of Davis during this time. Skewering the likes of Ronald Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon, Lynch’s filmmaking is of the Hollywood-narrative style, tragic with a suspenseful intensity—and ultimately triumphant. The hero wins; the villains lose. Davis is cleared of all charges by an all-white jury, and the United States criminal justice system sets her free in a sort-of Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington moment.  American ideals of justice save the day. The system works!

Except when it doesn’t. While watching the film, I couldn’t help but think of the 2011 execution of Troy Davis. Another Davis, another movement—but this time, as with so many others, the state won.

Angela Davis has always been at the forefront of the prison abolition movement. Last year I saw her speak at Removing the Bars, a conference at Columbia University right after the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Davis told us that we must not “exceptionalize” Trayvon, for the problems of violence and racism are structural, sanctioned by the state and by society. The sad truth is that the death of Trayvon Martin, or Kimani Gray, or Sean Bell is much more common than the victory of Angela Davis.

Therein lies what the documentary fails to deliver: that the brutality of the United States and its prison industrial complex (a term that was actually coined by Davis in 1997) have worsened—exponentially in fact—since Angela Davis’s release. While watching the film, I feared that the representation of a fair system not only erases the reality for so many but also obscures the fact that things have actually gotten much worse.

And yet, with this criticism in mind, Lynch’s film is still necessary—it represents a moment when mass movements for social justice prevailed. It represents victory and hope for radical politics. We need these moments, and we need Angela Davis. And we need Shola Lynch to tell these stories. As Lynch, a remarkable activist in her own right, told The Root this month,

Talking to Angela Davis or anybody who grew up under heinous racial segregation, their parents taught them who they were, their history and their worth. With integration, parents thought everybody was in the best school possible, but black kids weren’t learning about blackness. Who wants to be a slave and then beaten? And in the general narrative of American history, things happen to blacks, and we take it, but that’s not the true story or what young black people need to hear about themselves.

We’re part of the fabric of American history. We are survivors, and characters like Angela Davis help us remember that.

Lynch’s mission to tell these stories (as she also did in her 2005 documentary on Shirley Chisholm) is crucial to resurrecting social and cultural histories that help us understand and contextualize our contemporary politics. And since, though divorced from our current context, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners presents accurate and honest documentation on how and why the Free Angela movement succeeded, the film offers a hope that many activists need. Seeing Angela Davis win her freedom, against the historical odds, and not without struggle, reminds us that radical change is possible. And with the feelings of hopelessness that often accompany political activism, a renewed sense of possibility is nothing short of exhilarating.

To learn more about Angela Davis’s prison abolition activism, visit Critical Resistance’s website, an organization she helped found. Davis has also written several books on the topic, such as Are Prisons Obsolete? and Abolition Democracy: Prisons, Torture, and Empire.

Further reading on the United States’ Prison Industrial Complex:
Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex by Angela Davis (1998)
Words Matter: Thoughts on Language & Abolition by Critical Resistance
Drug War Statistics from Drug Policy Alliance
Jim Crow Still Exists in America: An Interview with Michelle Alexander on Fresh Air
Throwaway People by Liliana Segura

On “Rape Culture” & Sexual Violence


Video & Editing: Adriano Contreras

Check out this talk from a recent event sponsored by the International Socialist Organization & the NYU Feminist Society

SPEAKER:
Jen Roesch – is an activist and organizer with the International Socialist Organization. She has written extensively and spoken about women’s reproductive rights, the war on Black women, rape culture, as well as on the Occupy Wall Street movement, Marxism and more.

Sign up for the Lower Eastside Girls Club Walk-a-thon!


From the Lower Eastside Girls Club website:

Time and Place: The Walk-a-thon will take place on Saturday May 12th, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and will end with a finish line Block Party and health fair sponsored by Beth Israel Health Center at 1st Street Park, East 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The walk will kick off at the PS 20 playground on Essex Street between Houston and Stanton Streets. Registration is from 9:00am to 10:00am.

Why walk? 100% of funds raised through the event will support Girls Club health and nutrition programs. Each $2,500 raised supports a full year of programming for one girl; $1,500 supports school year programming; and $1,000 supports intensive summer programming. Girls Club health programs include community health workshops, nutrition and cooking classes, body image and women’s health counseling, running a Farmer’s Market, yoga and dance classes, free summer camp for girls and more!

FOR THE BIRDS DISPATCH: MARCH/APRIL


Here are our picks for upcoming events, announcements, noteworthy news items and more for March and April. If you’re not on our mailing list yet, hit us up at forthebirdscollective@gmail.com to sign up!

UPCOMING EVENTS

MARCH 10 THROUGH SATURDAY, APRIL 7
WOMEN CENTER STAGE
@ The Living Theatre // Launched before the formal incorporation of Culture Project, Women Center Stage is our longest-running programmatic initiative. From the first collection of works presented under the festival mantle in 1996, Women Center Stage has grown into a multi-pronged initiative, an echo chamber for women artists to build community and share their stories, and a launch pad for provocative and relevant new work. The cornerstone of WCS is the annual Women Center Stage Festival, a dynamic and diverse laboratory for works in progress from women artists at all levels of their careers. Presented every March for Women’s History Month, the month-long Festival provides a much-needed setting for exploring new ideas and inspiration, testing out early stages of new work, and putting women artists in dialogue with their peers, new audiences, and critical review. More info HERE.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28
PERFECTING YOUR PITCH: A WORKSHOP WITH WAM! & SADIE MAGAZINE
@ WORD Bookstore // As part of the WAM-It-Yourself conference, a decentralized version of the annual Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) conference, Sadie Magazine is running a workshop on how to perfect your pitch. The workshop will offer guidance about finding that ah-ha moment, translating your brilliant idea into an effective pitch, and finally, getting noticed by editors of your favorite publications. For more information about this and other WAM! It Yourself events click HERE.

SATURDAY, MARCH 31
TRANSNATIONAL FEMINISM AND WOMEN ARTISTS IN DIASPORA
@ The Brooklyn Museum of Art // As a celebration of women in the arts, and National Women’s History month, A.I.R. Gallery, the Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers University, and The Feminist Art Project are co-sponsoring a two-panel series exploring New York’s international feminist diaspora community: Transnationalism and Women Artists in Diaspora. Artists Kira Greene and Chitra Ganesh; Curator, educator, writer and cultural producer Yulia Tikhonova; Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at Rutgers University Abena P.A. Busia; and Research Associate at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos Yasmin Ramirez, Ph. D. / Moderators: Julie Lohnes, Director, A.I.R. Gallery; and Ferris Olin, Co-director, Institute for Women & Art at Rutgers. / Commentator: Kat Griefen, Co-Director and Co-Owner of Accola Griefen Gallery in New York City. More info HERE.

WAM! IT YOURSELF CONFERENCE FOR FEMINIST MEDIA MAKERS
Are you feminist journalist or media activist? Love feminist media? Want to learn more tools, strategies and ideas to do your work better, and meet other print, online, multimedia journalists and activists doing awesome work? Follow this event live via Twitter at #wamnyc! More info HERE.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4
PERMANENT WAVE BENEFIT FOR WILLIE MAE ROCK CAMP FOR GIRLS
@ Big Snow Buffalo Lodge // a show with PSXO, Mitten, Magnetic Island, and Desert Sharks. All proceeds from the door go to Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. More info HERE.

THURSDAY, APRIL 5
ART PRACTICE, ACTIVISM, AND PEDAGOGY: SOME FEMINIST VIEWS
@ Parson’s the New School For Design // The conference will consider feminist art as a zone of multi-disciplinary art production associated with a radical critique of gendered power relations in society. Participants will discuss what it means to be a feminist artist today within a extended range of diverse political engagement. Speakers include Susan Bee, A. K. Burns, Audrey Chan, Maureen Connor, Caitlin Rueter & Suzanne Stroebe and Ulrike Müller. The conference concludes the first MFA Advanced Practice course in Feminist Art taught by Mira Schor. More info HERE.

FRIDAY, APRIL 13
ESSENTIAL HUES
@ Wayfarers Studio // A collaborative group show featuring Adee Roberson, Anna Luisa, Caitlin Sweet, Caroline Paquita and Sam Lopes. We live in a world surrounded by color. We lead colorful lives. We make colorful work. As artists who identify as queers, feminists, people of color, spell-casters and radicals, our work is saturated with the chroma of the vibrant lives and communities we have created and shared over the past decade and across geographic divides. Our histories are entwined, and color embodies the bright hues of the threads of collectivity, sexuality, gender, family, history and magic that bind us together. More info HERE.

SUNDAY, APRIL 15
BROOKLYN ZINE FEST
@ Public Assembly // We are excited to be tabling at this year’s Brooklyn Zine Fest. Check out BZF’s “Meet Your Zine Maker” with Lauren Denitzio & For the Birds! The greatest borough in the greatest city in the world (we’re being humble here) deserves a great zine fest. The Brooklyn Zine Fest 2012 is a space for creative, independent, talented voices from New York City and beyond to connect with an engaged audience. Our exhibitors create all kinds of zines to showcase their writing, illustration, photography, interviews, cooking, and any & everything else they’d like to share with the world. More info HERE.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

THROUGH THURSDAY, MARCH 29
DEADLINE FOR FEAST #13: CULTURAL LABOR PROJECT APPLICATIONS
For our next FEAST, we welcome your explorations and interventions concerning the position of Cultural Labor in our communities. In a changing and often immaterial landscape, how do we continue to reshape, revalue, and reclaim our production and labor? For those of us whose labor is explicitly artistic, cultural, or communal, how do we effectively incorporate the material histories of May Day into our present practices? FEAST Brooklyn welcomes project proposals that address the idea of Cultural Labor whether literally or figuratively. More info HERE.

THROUGH WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25
APPLY FOR GIRLS TO THE FRONT COVER SHOW #2
@ TBA, New Brunswick, NJ // GIRL GANG GIG VOL. New Brunswick & ON THE DOT FEMINIST COLLECTIVE will be hosting the 2nd annual GIRLS TO THE FRONT cover show on MAY 19, 2012! The goal of this event is to build a more inclusive community while showcasing women/queer/trans-identified musicians. This year the show will benefit C.L.I.T FEST NB. THE POINT: We are looking for bands/people who are interested in participating this year! More info HERE.

THROUGH MONDAY, APRIL 30
DEADLINE TO ENTER THE 10TH A.I.R. GALLERY BIENNIAL
A Juried Exhibition Open to All Women Artists: All women artists, including self-identified women, may submit original work of art. Painting in any medium, photography, prints, drawing, works on paper, new media, sculpture, mixed media, traditional or non-traditional materials are welcome. **Please note that installations will only be accepted if they have been completed. NO PROPOSALS for installation will be accepted.** More info HERE.

STAFF PICKS
THIS MONTH’S NEWSWORTHY ITEMS

FROM WORDSWITHOUTBORDERS.ORG
For the Birds organizer Rosamund Hunter’s book review: “Margherita’s inner struggle with the Reich is sometimes startling, as when, for instance, she shuttles between her admiration of Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther, two men who have trod down opposite paths in historical memory. Margherita has internalized wartime propaganda, and she tries not to question Nazism since challenging it is to wish harm on her husband and homeland. Still, inevitably, there are moments of doubt.” Read more HERE.

FROM NYDAILYNEWS.COM
For the Birds organizer Kate Wadkins on the word “slut”: More than 500 years before Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut,” Geoffrey Chaucer used a form of the word to describe an “untidy man” in “The Canterbury Tales.” “Why is thy lord so sluttish, I thee pray, And is of power better clothes to bey,” he wrote in the 14th century poem. But in the ensuing centuries, the would come to take on different meanings – and much more provocative ones, as Limbaugh’s crude use of the word reminds.” Read more HERE.

FROM THEATLANTIC.COM
“The president is wary of being seen as the “angry black man.” People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles.” Read more HERE.

FROM LA.STREETSBLOG.ORG
“Two months ago, when 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman was murdered in Lincoln Heights, the all-women bike group Ovarian-Pscyos Bicycle Brigade scrapped their previously planned ride to ride instead through the neighborhood to protest the killing. “Whose Streets,” one woman called out. “Our Streets” the more than 30 women riding answered.” Read more HERE.

FROM BIKESAFEBOSTON.COM
“It’s here! It’s NYC Bike Accident Report Card is HERE. It was generously, graciously and all-around awesomely printed by Article, an NYC-based art collective who — in addition to being bold advocates of safer cycling in NYC — have their inky fingers in a ton of creative projects.” Read more HERE.

FROM NEWSONE.COM
“I grow weary of actions without consequences and disrespect without anyone being held responsible. Just because a movement did some good doesn’t mean that it’s infallible. Occupy chapters have serious issues and there have been serious discussions about its relations with women and people of color.” Read more HERE.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
FTB organizer Rosamund has been writing about radical women in history over at our blog for women’s history month. Meet Lucy Gonzales Parsons, Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Ernestine Rose if you haven’t yet!

 

Women’s History Month: Ernestine Rose

Originally from Poland, Ernestine Rose was a nineteenth-century human rights advocate and atheist who was committed to the rights of women and the abolition of slavery. Below are excerpts from the many speeches she delivered during her time in the United States. She was one of the first women to advocate for property rights for women as well as one of the first women to speak publicly and forcefully about the morality of atheism.

On Women’s Rights:
“Humanity recognizes no sex—virtue recognizes no sex—mind recognizes no sex—life and death, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery recognize no sex. Like man, woman comes involuntarily into existence; like him she possesses physical and mental and moral powers, on the proper cultivation of which depends her happiness; like him she is subject to all the vicissitudes of life.” -1851

On Slavery:
“What is it to be a slave? Not to be your own, bodily, mentally, and morally—that is to be a slave. To work hard, to fare ill, to suffer hardship, that is not slavery; for many of us white men and women have to work hard, have to fare ill, have to suffer hardship, and yet we are not slaves.Slavery is, not to belong to yourself—to be robbed of yourself. There is nothing that I so much abhor as that single thing—to be robbed of one’s self.” -1853.

On Atheism:
“Truth, justice, charity, kindness and love, combined, make the creed of morality and virtue belonging to man, and necessary to this life; for it teaches him his duty to his fellow man, while religion, being a mystery, belongs wholly to some other unknown life, hence we can make no use of it in this. It teaches faith, blind, implicit faith, in things unseen and unknown; morality has nothing to do with religion, for a man may be ever so virtuous and moral, yet if he does not profess faith, he is called an Infidel.” -1859

Excerpts from Mistress of Herself: Speeches & Letters of Ernestine Rose, Early Women’s Rights Leader edited by Paula Doress-Worters.

Women’s History Month: Ida B. Wells-Barnett

“The more I studied the situation, the more I was convinced that the Southerner had never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income. The federal laws for Negro protection passed during Reconstruction times had been made a mockery by the white South where it had not secured their repeal. This same white South had secured political control of its several states and as soon as white southerners came into power they began to make playthings of Negro lives and property.” —From Crusade For Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was an anti-lynching advocate and journalist from Memphis. She asserted the innocence of black men who were lynched for allegedly raping white women and revealed that these accusations were never grounded in actual evidence. Often, white Southerners lynched the most successful and respected members of the community in order to terrorize black folks into submitting to white authority. Additionally, many men accused of rape were engaged in consensual relationships with white women, but white supremacists continued to circulate the narrative that white women needed protection from black rapists. Ida B. Wells took her fight to England in order to shame and pressure the U.S. government to stop ignoring the white terrorism faced by black people in the South.