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Marissa Alexander Granted a New Trial. . .

marissa alexander. . .but will it be a fair trial?

Marissa Alexander, 32 year old mother of 3, has been serving a 20-year jail sentence for firing a warning shot into the wall in 2010 when her estranged abusive husband (against whom she had already filed a restraining order) entered the house where she was attempting to collect her belongings, and threatened her.  After a trial considered by many to be undermined by racist application of Florida’s “10-20-Life” laws, Marissa was convicted in 2012.

On September 26, 2013, Marissa’s legal team won an appeal asking for a retrial because the jury’s instructions on what was to be considered “self defense” were erroneous.  However, as she was denied the same immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Laws that recently paved the way to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin, Marissa’s supporters are doubtful that a new trial by the same justice system will give her a fair chance to plead her case and are calling for charges against her to be dropped.

As detailed in this recent Colorlines interview with Mariame Kaba, who is working to free Marissa, tremendous doubt exists as to whether the racist American justice system (under which Marissa was convicted in the first place) will protect and acknowledge her inherent rights; both as a survivor of domestic violence and as a Black woman:

Kaba states: “My own personal sense of heartbreak has been around the notion, in this case, that Marissa couldn’t be afraid, that she couldn’t feel fear, and that the jury couldn’t believe that she was afraid. That’s deep. And that’s why having another trial feels to me like a recipe for disaster—because I don’t think her humanity is taken into account. I don’t think people think that black women can feel scared, or that we have the ability to feel pain.

If you’re interested, here is a petition you can sign in support of all charges against Marissa being dropped, or donate to help her with her legal fees.

Race, Gender and Allyship in the Fight for Justice for Trayvon

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Last week Roz posted a great roundup of reactions and reflections in the wake of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. The ten days following Zimmerman’s acquittal have been a time for processing, organizing and mobilizing, and there has been much discussion among activists and bloggers about race, gender and allyship within the movement for justice for Trayvon.

In a Facebook post, the Crunk Feminist Collective called out white feminist silence around the verdict, prompting discussions about good and bad allyship in the comments.

Calling all white feminists allies: Where are y’all? <looking far and wide> Your silence around the Zimmerman Trial speaks volumes. Six white women (some say five) decided that a young Black man was responsible for his own murder, and they believed that a young Black woman could not be a credible witness. Where is your (OUT)RAGE?! Where is *your* intersectional analysis about white privilege, that not only calls out the operations of racism, but the particularly gendered operations of racism in the hands of these white women jurors? Where is the accountability? Where is the allyship? Why AGAIN do we have to ask you to show up? It is time for y’all to do the work. We refuse. We are tired. We are choosing to take care of ourselves and our communities.


Crunk Feminist Collective

From Feministing (and included in last week’s roundup): “White womanhood, protectionism, and complicity in injustice for Trayvon

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

They are our mother’s friends. They are our neighbors. We are in social circles with them. Many of them may be reading this now and think I’ve taken it too far. But we should be ashamed at our core.

We shouldn’t be too afraid and ashamed to act, though. We shouldn’t be afraid and ashamed to speak. We will misstep. We will mess up. And perhaps we can hold each other accountable for that so that once again feminists of color don’t have to bear the burden of teaching us the ways in which we hurt them.

Do not be the safe white woman that people can talk to about their racism. Strive to be something better. Follow the lead of people of color. Stand up. Even when you don’t do so perfectly. And above all else, listen.

Juror b37 and the racist complicity of white womanhood

Juror B37 is the monstrous specter of white womanhood, the plantation mistress, the mother who said My child’s school will not be integrated!, the woman who puts her whiteness over her humanity again and again.

I say this as a white person who generally reads as a woman and who cares deeply about gender equity: this is the failure of empathy that Black women, genderqueer people and other WOC/TWOC/QPOC have been telling us about for forever and a day. There is a history of white women in the Klan and other racist organizations. There is a history of white capital-F feminist organizations ignoring the specific stories, histories and contexts of women of color. It is something that persists to this day and beyond.

From Black Girl Dangerous, “We are NOT all Trayvon: Challenging Anti-Black Racism in POC Communities

This murder and this verdict are very specifically about anti-black racism – about the power of White supremacy and about what it means to have a black body in a White supremacist society.

And our inability to acknowledge these facts are hurting Black folks and African descended folks right now. This is not solidarity. This is not what solidarity can ever look like. It shouldn’t be that fucking hard to sit back and listen to the grieving voices of black people in this moment. It shouldn’t be this hard to not get defensive and keep your mouth shut and just listen.

From The Feminist Wire: “White Feminists and Trayvon Martin

Racism and sexism are intertwined, and we must fight them both.

Despite this, White women have traditionally been absent from the fight against lynching. Instead, we sometimes feed into the ideology of needing protection from violent Black men. Susan Brownmiller, a White second-wave feminist who wrote the famous Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, portrayed Black men as sexually violent and targeting White women. This type of discourse and lack of feminist attention toward lynching exposes some White feminist activism against gender-based violence as naïve and hypocritical.

From The Feminist Wire: ““We’re” Not Raising Trayvon: The Difference Whiteness Makes

On the heels of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin, I am again worried about white feminists’ silence in the face of brutality driven by racism (in the form of Zimmerman’s assault on Trayvon, delayed arrest, and sickening trial). But I’m deeply concerned about what white feminist non-silence in these moments often sounds like too.

“We’re feeling this exactly like you are.”

“Can we talk about how I can be a better anti-racist right now?”

“But not all white people see it that way.”

White feminist silence and bad allying are two sides of the same coin. Both responses are shaped by the very same problem. White feminists’ indifference and/or anxiety produces silence at the exact moment that solidarity is needed. And white feminists’ egoism and/or lack of empathy drives bad allying when deep listening is what is called for. In both cases, the perspective, emotion, or interests of white feminists trump Black women’s pressing needs.

From The Feminist Wire: “White Female Jurors and Florida Justice

If you are thinking “like a white female”—which would mean that you do not think you need to be self-conscious about this limitation for seeing and hearing and listening to the facts about an assault that involves racial profiling—then you are not able to see the difference between reasonable doubt and racism.  If you see “racially” to begin with, “like a white female” with no recognition of white privilege, then you won’t see the racial motivation in the killing.

(The above links from The Feminist Wire are part of a weeklong forum in the aftermath of the trial. All of the pieces in the forum can be found here.)

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

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.

From The Frisky: “Mothers Of Sons Respond To The George Zimmerman Verdict

I agree that allies need to be willing to have the hard conversations and again be willing to be raggedy. That said, I think allies have to walk a fine line to make sure they don’t become the story. That said, for me the greatest thing an ally can do is speak up. If you see injustice, don’t let it slide. This may be painful because it can involve calling out people near and dear.

From XOJane: “Southern Trees Bear a Strange Fruit: Why People of Color Aren’t Surprised by the Trayvon Martin Verdict

A number of my very dear, liberal, white friends expressed the same sentiment as a result of the verdict; “Who would have thought that you could still be killed just for walking black?”

The answer is: black people. If you are black, you can be forgiven for adding “duh” to the end of that answer. We all thought that. We all live that. We have to. If we don’t live that way, we could die.

From RH Reality Check: “Eve Ensler Is Wrong That for Women and Trayvon Martin, ‘Our Struggles Are One’

With all due respect to Ensler, I don’t think a letter to Martin was the right place to push an agenda about her campaign to end violence against women, especially without first acknowledging the fear many people are taught to feel about men of color—a fear that is just as present in the women’s movement as it is in each of the United States of America. For many, the case against Zimmerman and his acquittal represented a symptom of the nation’s “unaddressed racism.” Ensler, then, had an opportunity to address this issue of race, particularly in the women’s movement, but she blew it.

Finally, check out this Justice for Trayvon Action Kit for white allies from Showing up for Racial Justice.

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.

Feminist Summer Roll Call!!

Feminists in NYC and surrounding areas: For the Birds is diving into planning summer events and we want to hear from you!!

What are you up to this summer?

What would you like to see, do, learn, and attend? (Think movie screenings, music, shows, workshops, skillshares, and discussions…)

What is your group working on and do you want to collaborate with us?

Can we help you publicize your event through our blog or newsletter?

Please get in touch with us at or leave a comment on this posting, on Facebook, or tweet us @forthebirdsnyc.

“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!

ICYMI: The Feminist Wire’s forum on race, racism and anti-racism within feminism

The Feminist Wire just wrapped up a ten day forum on race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism. If you haven’t already, the forum is really worth delving into. In the introductory post, Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Heather Laine Talley explained its origin:

Perhaps in this twenty-four hour news cycle culture, the horrid sexist and racist sexualization of nine-year old Quvenzhané Wallis both at the Academy Awards and in Twittersphere is now old news. And maybe for her sake, it should be. 

White feminists’ silence in the face of racism is old news too, but feminism’s troubled relationship with race and racism is something to keep talking about. It was the reaction to Tressie McMillan’s analysis of white feminists’ response to the attacks on Quvenzhané Wallis that ignited our interest in hosting this Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism. To be sure, The Feminist Wire has been engaged in these conversations since our founding, but what McMillan’s piece noted was the yawning vacuum of public response to misogyny directed at a Black girlchild.

Many white feminists jettisoned the opportunity to think about silence as racism. Instead, they cited examples of white women’s response to defend against the critique of white silence. While it is true that some white feminists publicly responded, the very impulse to deny a pattern of silence sidesteps critical feminist and anti-racist work. The legacy of feminism has taught us to ask: in what ways am I oppressed and marginalized? In thinking about race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism, an equally important question is: in what ways do I oppress and marginalize?

Following the forum with that critical question in mind—”in what ways do I oppress and marginalize?”—has been both challenging and enriching. Here is a (non-comprehensive) collection of some of the pieces, but the entire forum is highly recommended reading.

The Tragedy of a Failed Politic By Farah Tanis, Kalima DeSuze, and Nikki Patin

When have Black feminists been able to rely on their white comrades in earnest?  When have we been able to rest assured that white feminists would show up fully armored, ready to challenge even the most egregious forms of racialized-sexism?  Has there ever been a time in history when Black women have not had to pull themselves from real-on-the-ground battles to defend human and civil rights, including the right to bodily and personal safety, in order to step away, to educate, and to ensure our white feminist comrades engage in authentic alliances on our behalf?

You Become an Anti-Racist Feminist By Cori Mattli

And then one night, there is a dinner and discussion at your house–a class project about immigration and the media. You arrange copies of magazine covers, like place mats, on the dining room table for discussion–they show Latino people, the shadows of their eyes dark. The illustrated faces squished into hard stares and grimaces. Their creators, through ink and gloss, try to communicate to you (you young white American woman you) that these faces wish you harm. You think that this sort of media does not affect you.

Un-Raced in Transit : Colorblindness and the Stakes of Speaking Up By Marlaina H. Martin

My reality is that this world remains one in which my black skin and feminine attributes connote almost every move that I make as spectacular. There have been many times in which I have felt trapped by the paradox of liberalism – on the one hand, I am framed as an ‘equal stakeholder’ at the table of social (mis)givings, able to determine my own destiny and to assume access to the same possibilities and resources as anyone else. On the other hand, gasps and whispers swirl around me as I walk into many of those very places claimed to be open for those willing to work hard and persevere.

Black Feminist and Dominican: How Black Male Writers Shape My Practice By Rosa Cabrera

I count up the strikes I have against me. Female. Daughter of immigrant parents. Survivor of domestic violence, sexual manipulation. Queer. I think about the way all of these markers inform each other, intersect. I am told by some self-proclaiming feminists and critical race theoreticians that in more ways than others, I’m nearing the top rung in some form of oppression olympics. But instead, it feels somehow, like I’m losing.

Building a Racial Justice Praxis By Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz

Maintaining a rigorous racial justice praxis that is based on learning, self-reflection, action and more self-reflection; valuing the necessity of discomfort when the struggle is honest and accountable; understanding that political alignment is almost never based on identity but rather on shared values and a commitment to collective liberation.

Silence Does Not Equal Absence: Lessons from Arizona By Wendy Cheng

I do think that there are moments and situations when we are obligated to act and speak out, and can understand why many people felt that Wallis’s degradation by The Onion was one of them. But I interpret reactions to the treatment of Wallis as an instance in which we cannot assume that silence equals absence and consent.

Tilting at Windmills By Rebecca Miriam

No, goddamnit, I’m pissed. I’m not a special snowflake who clutches her pearls because someone has hurt her “feelings.” This is not about personal comfort zones. I’m freaking angry because someone is a racist. And so should you be. This is not a personal wellness issue.

No Easy Walk to ‘Total Freedom’ By Josh Cerretti and Theresa Warburton

What does it mean for a white person living in a white supremacist society to label themselves an ‘anti-racist feminist’? Does it surrender control over the meaning of the term ‘feminist’ (unmodified) to those who tacitly support white supremacy? Does it again re-center the good intentions of white people and their need to be validated by the people of color in whose oppression they are complicit?

You can check out the entire forum over at The Feminist Wire.

Making Safer Spaces for Survivors: SAAM and Beyond

As we are nearing the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), I have been thinking about the organization and implementation of sexual violence activism.  From large-scale demonstrations like Take Back the Night, to small coalition meetings, it is crucial to keep the experience of sexual violence central to activism in SAAM and throughout the year.

There is no doubt that we live in a culture that permits and excuses sexual violence and perpetuates the suffering associated with victimization (“rape culture”).  While it’s helpful to point out the problems associated with “rape culture,” it is so very important to think about how we, as activists, inhabit spaces dedicated to combating “rape culture” to make these spaces fully supportive for survivors of violence.  Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of ways to improve activist events to ensure they can be productive in combating “rape culture” while providing support for those who have experienced sexual violence.

1.       Ground Rules: Lay out some ground rules, write them down, talk about them, and make them visible. Ground rules will look different for various events/groups and should be based on a discussion with all participants.  Come up with them organically with your group. Covering ground rules first will help “break the ice” and to form a group consensus about how the event/meeting will proceed.

2.       Safety and Accessibility:  Make sure to plan ahead and think of ways to make the space more accessible and safe.  Think about the place the event will be held in. Is it accessible to everyone? Are the exits marked? How is the room set up? Is the event private? One of the most common feelings after experiencing trauma is being hyper-aware of the space around you. Make your space as physically comfortable and safe as possible for everyone.

3.       Be present:  It is really important to be present in discussions about sexual violence. Think about what being “not present” might look like (i.e. texting or using other devices throughout the meeting, drinking alcohol, getting up to do something non-essential, etc). Try your best to be present and look present out of respect for the sensitivity of the subject matter and to honor the courage it takes to talk about it. When talking about something sensitive like sexual violence it is totally okay to want to dissociate, or “space out,” and you probably aren’t the only person feeling that way.  However, be mindful of what your dissociation may look like to someone else.  Don’t let it be mistaken for apathy. And if you need step out for a bit to process what you are feeling, go for it.

4.       Check your privilege:  Think about what is informing your knowledge of sexual violence.  While your experiences may have directed your knowledge of sexual violence, it is important to understand that not everyone had those same experiences, and others may have different ones.  Use this time to learn from others about how dynamic of a problem sexual violence is.

5.       Speaking: Is everyone being heard? While everyone may not want to speak at your event, if someone does choose to speak, make sure their voice is heard. If someone says something that you believe is not appropriate, speak up if you feel comfortable enough to do so (chances are you are not alone in how you are feeling!).

6.     Process: Depending on the event (large scale event vs. small scale meeting / public vs. private) consider reflecting on the event with your fellow organizers and participants.  Use this opportunity to think of ways to improve and incorporate new ideas.

7.     Make support available: If there are advocates with experience working with sexual violence survivors at your event that would like to volunteer their support, let everyone know! Introduce them and explain their background and training. If possible, designate a place where the advocate can be available to talk. Also, try to find some local and national advocacy groups to share with the group. Here are some great resources:



What is essential to sexual violence activism is to create a space where survivors of violence can feel like they can participate and be in a safe place.  For many survivors who have suffered the trauma of sexual violence, engaging in activism may prove difficult. By making these spaces more supportive, survivors’ agency will be fostered, and these voices, which are so important to this activism, will be heard.

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

Brooklyn Weekend Zine Roundup!

This weekend For the Birds will tabling at the 2nd annual Brooklyn Zine Fest! Stop by and see us at Public Assembly [7 N. 6th St. in Williamsburg] from 11am-6pm.

From their website: “With more than 60 tablers and over 1,500 attendees our first year, the Brooklyn Zine Fest is NYC’s premiere zine event. The event has a festival atmosphere, like a craft fair but with printed matter.  Browse the tables, flip through some zines, meet the people behind them & discover something new!  ALL AGES and open to everyone, though you must be 21 to order a drink at the bar.”

Exciting new additions to our distro that we will have available include new zines by Lauren Denitzio and Cynthia Schemmer.

The Birdsong Collective will also be tabling at the fest with their amazing and long-running literary compilation zine, “Birdsong.”  Check out their Kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of their 5-Year-Anniversary Issue!  There are still 10 days left to donate and they do amazing work to support independent artists and writers in the Brooklyn area.

See ya Sunday!

A statement about safer spaces policies

We at For The Birds have been aware of recent discussions surrounding whether or not the Anarchist Book Fair would have a Safer Spaces policy, and how that would be enforced. As a group that has tabled at that event in the past, and been a part of that extended community, we wanted to express our concern for and awareness of the initial avoidance of stating a Safer Space policy and working towards community accountability. Across the board, For The Birds encourages and supports having Safer Spaces policies whenever possible.

We believe that sexual assault and abuse, within feminist and radical circles especially, are issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed head-on. We believe in doing more than stating that oppressive behaviors will not be tolerated and in having structures in place to help participants understand what that means and how those expectations will be addressed should an issue arise. Through our events and advocacy, we aim to create spaces that support active listening, respect, and a commitment to intersectional feminism that does not rely on state-sponsored institutions or the police-state. We understand that these goals are no small feat, but we are confident that through awareness, dialogue, and action it is possible to foster and organize events that are safer and respectful for all who choose to attend.

The Coalition for Safer Spaces has more information on these issues on their website, which can be found here.