Town Hall Meeting: What will it take to end sexual violence in our communities?

18 05 2007

Imagine a day when Durham, North Carolina is free of sexual violence.

What will that day look like? What will it feel like? What needs to happen in order to make that day a reality? What will need in order to sustain the work of creating a city–and even a world–without sexual violence?

If you want to create and live in a world without sexual violence, you are not alone. Join community members and organizations for this important meeting where we connect and vision a way forward!

Location: Stanford L. Warren Library, downstairs meeting room, 1201 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC

Date: Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

RSVP or questions:

See you there!


speaking wor(l)ds around our daughters…

3 05 2007

“I can remember watching, fascinated, as our mother talked with her mother, sisters, and women friends. The intimacy and intensity of their speech – the satisfaction they received from talking to one another, the pleasure, the joy.”

“It was in this world of woman speech, loud talk, angry words, women with tounges sharp, tender sweet tounges, touching our world with their words, that I made speech my birthright – and the right to voice, to authorship, a privilege I would not be denied. It was in that world and because of it that I came to dream of writing, to write.”(124)

bell hooks
Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black
Boston: South End Press (1989)

New Video and Article from the Day of Truthtelling

3 05 2007

Performance of ‘Litany for Survival’ at the rally for “Creating a World without Sexual Violence: A National Day of Truthtelling” held in Durham, NC on Saturday, April 28th.


article from Workers World:

Day of Truthtelling demands: ‘End rape culture’

Published May 3, 2007 1:28 AM

An important march and rally took place here April 28 against sexual violence and assault. The protest was called Creating a World Without Sexual Violence—National Day of Truthtelling (DOT), and it deserved national and international attention.

Lead banner at April 28 march.

Lead banner at April 28 march.

WW photos: Monica Moorehead

The organizing DOT coalition was made up of Black Workers For Justice (BWFJ), Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Independent Voices, Men Against Rape Culture (MARC), North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA), Raleigh Fight Imperialism—Stand Together (FIST), Spirit House, Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and UBUNTU. Fifty other organizations endorsed the event.

Those who came out on this beautiful sunny day were mainly young women of all nationalities—African-American, Latina, East Asian, South Asian, Arab and white—along with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and gender variance communities, as well as male supporters. Despite the diverse social, political and cultural backgrounds, the protesters, numbering in the hundreds, spoke on this day in one voice with the resounding demand to “End rape culture.”

Police blocks woman trying to put<br>protest sign at Buchanan house,<br>site of Duke sexual assault.

Police blocks woman trying to put
protest sign at Buchanan house,
site of Duke sexual assault.


The vast majority of those who came out were either survivors of sexual assault themselves or knew someone who was. The main idea of the protest was to break the silence on the issue of sexual violence and help give a voice and sense of empowerment to the survivors.

In North Carolina from 2005-2006, local rape crisis centers received almost 26,000 calls and came to the assistance of over 8,700 people who were sexually assaulted. It is estimated that millions of incidences of rape and sexual assault go unreported around the country.

One of the main highlights of the more than two-mile march was a stop in front of 610 Buchanan St. This house, located on the campus of Duke University, was the place where a young Black single mother, college student and exotic dancer reported to authorities that she was sexually assaulted by three white Duke lacrosse players at a fraternity party back in March 2006. The district attorney recently dropped the charges against the players before a trial could allow her to give her account of what happened.

Alexis Gumbs, a Black graduate student at Duke, read a moving open letter to the crowd in front of the Buchanan house. Called “Wishful Thinking,” the letter focused on what it means to be a survivor of sexual assault. Many in the crowd were moved to cry and hug each other as she read the letter.

The main rally was held on the steps of the Durham County Courthouse. Speakers there included Serena Sebring, UBUNTU; Monika Johnson Hostler, NCCASA; Paulina Hernández, SONG; Tyneisha Bowens and Laura Bickford, Raleigh FIST; Shafeah M’Bali, Women’s Commission of BWFJ, and Phoenix Brangman, Dasan Ahanu and Bryan Proffit of MARC. A number of the speakers linked the issue of sexual violence to the struggle for immigrant rights and against racism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism and imperialism.

The march ended up in the Black community at the W.D. Recreation Center, where workshops, film showings and cultural performances were held. A June 9 town hall meeting will be held on “What will it take to end sexual violence in our communities?” E-mail or call 919-870-8881 for more information.

Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

From Lex: On May Day (J says: I love love love this one!)

1 05 2007

Since it is May Day, one day of many to celebrate the contributions and demand the rights of immigrant workers, it seems appropriate to share a historical precedent through which Women of Color in London organized at the intersections of immigration policy and sexual violence.

In November 1982 a broad coalition of organizations came together to put together a one day event (sound familiar yet?). The coalition included English Collective of Prostitutes, Housewives in Dialogue, Women Against Rape, Wages Due Lesbians and others who had collaborated to takeover a community center in their region (Camden). Only a few days after their first big event “Bringing it All Back Home:Black and Immigrant Women Speak out and Claim Our Rights”, the conference attendees supported the English Collective of Prostitutes as they occupied a local church to claim sanctuary from the constant police harassment and brutality they were experiencing. If you can’t tell…I am inspired and thrilled by the bravery of these women (mostly women of color, mostly with threatened immigration status) who not only demanded fair wages for the “private” labor of nurturing, but who also repeatedly took over public spaces and spoke out against sexual violence. this particular conference Women Against Rape released a statement entitled “Racism is Rapism” which explicitly calls out the way in which sexual assault impacts the most vulnerable among us through the same mechanisms as racism, classism and xenophobia:
“On arriving in another country, we have found ourselves threatened again by the tacism which stems directly from one government after another saying ‘you are not welcome, don’t expect any rights!’ Such policies set us up as easy targets and legitimise every kind of racist attack against us, whether from immigration officers, the police, the courts, employers or individual men.”

They also protest the absurdity of immigration laws that make residency contingent on staying with a husband and explain the complexity on going to the violent state to mitigate intra-community violence.

“We have been afraid to go to the police for help, particularly when attacks have comefrom within our own community, since we have seen how a woman’s cry forhelp has been usedas an excuse to rampage in our community, particularly if we are black.”

“We have seen how sexism combines with and reinforces racism….
As women we have all experienced, if not rape itself, then the threat or fear of rape. We know how rape has been used to limit our movement and our lives. We refuse to be locked into our homes or into our countries. A WOMAN’S PLACE IS EVERYWHERE!”

Just another example of the history we move in…


30 04 2007

Community Writing Intensive
Durham, NC
May 8-10, 2007

Dear Lovers of the Word,
You are cordially invited to write and discuss poetry in and with the Durham community. You will be surrounded by people who love poetry and believe in its transformative power. Here’s what you can expect:

Daily Schedule
1:00 ~ 3:00 Silent Writing/ Manuscript Conferences
3:00 ~ 4:00 Late Lunch/ Early Dinner
4:15 ~ 5:15 Community Sharing/ Open Mic
5:30 ~ 6:30 Poetry Exercises
6:30 ~ 8:30 Workshop/ Critique
8:30 ~ 9:00 Wrap – Up

This year betty’s daughter arts collaborative, broken beautiful press, and SpiritHouse-NC have graciously decided to sponsor Poetry By the People, so you don’t have to. There is no charge for attendance, just come with poems, an open heart, and a love for community art.

For poets who are not in the Durham-Raleigh-Chapel-Hill area, two very modest travel scholarships are available.
1. The Betty Ann Sims, Ed.D. Artist/Scholar Travel Scholarship is available to any poet who can demonstrate how expressive art will impact future or current scholarly projects.

2. The Talya Pierce Travel Scholarship for Emerging Poets is awarded to a woman of color who is beginning to explore the field of poetry. The recipient of this award must not hold any publications or academic degrees in creative writing.

Please submit a five-page manuscript, a cover letter that explains the role of poetry in creating community, and your contact information to by May 6.

Contact Person
Ebony Noelle Golden, MFA
Director of betty’s daughter arts collaborative

Birth of an UBUNTU blog…

30 04 2007

With all the pride and joy that accompany moments of new birth I am pleased to announce the newest member of our UBUNTU blogging family ~ and her name is Love!

Loveispower created hay que luchar – the home for radical love – today. She is a:

lover, fighter, and friend who believes that self-love and compassion for every person on this planet are both necessary and possible.

Welcome! Because as Lex said:

when you speak
we listen.
we are so glad that you
are here, of all places.


Loveispower’s beautiful beginnings:

i begin today.

    a survivor a womyn a lover of laughter i take my time
    to say
    now now now now now now now now now
    waiting takes too long
    and i’m done
    i say “NOW”
    let’s speak NOW
    let’s dance NOW
    let’s say i want it or i don’t want it or i want it like this NOW
    let’s say i’m true, i’m searching, i’m knowing, i’m questioning NOW
    let’s say i’m precious
    let’s say i’m right
    let’s say i’m forgiven
    let’s say i’m r/evolution
    let’s say i’m beautiful
    let’s say i’m what the universe needs
    let’s say it loud soft with voices and hands and feet and eyes and hearts
    let’s say love forever starts with me
    and let us say these things now.

    yesterday i participated in the national day of truthtelling here in my adopted home of durham, nc. through the streets we marched, watching faces of folks on the sidewalks, peering out of doorways and in cars in the adjacent lane. they smiled, they strained to read, spoke on cell phones and gave peace signs as we passed. we marched on like the world we envision free of sexual violence had already come, we marched with the faith that it would. we clapped hands, chanted our demands: end rape culture…si, se puede! and our truths: i am that survivor. we marched with love for our bodies, with appreciation for this moment, with a newfound value for our selves and our power.

    as we passed the house where a womyn was gang raped last year, a womyn whose case was dismissed from the criminal “justice” system like almost all of the cases of survivors i know who have reported their sexual assualt or rape, i felt layers lift from my self like you would peel layers from an onion. i felt new, listening to my sister’s and my brother’s pain, audible cries that broke the silence and traveled to the corners of our hearts.

    by the time we reached the w.d. hill center on fayetteville street and i sat down with my rice and lentils to watch the capoeira performance i felt that even the way i ate my food was different. the day reminded me that i could move my body however i wanted because it was mine. take up space. swing my hips for peace. raise my arms for truth. eat with my fingers for connection. all up to me. ya see? every moment is this moment. life eternal requires such urgency, such desire to push right now for what you want forever to be.

    i give this fight my whole life.
    for this fight has given me life.


    Take a moment to go celebrate her arrival!

    Article on the Day of Truthtelling – From the News & Observer:

    30 04 2007

    “March, Rally to Fight Rape” Sue Stock, Staff Writer

    DURHAM – In the city where sexual assault charges against three Duke lacrosse players became a national sensation, protesters gathered Saturday to decry sexual violence. The event, called the National Day of Truthtelling, drew people from the Triangle and beyond for a march, rally and afternoon of educational programs.

    Organizers were quick to say that the event was not a response to this month’s dismissal of charges against the three lacrosse players. But the case provided an undercurrent for the event, which included a stop at the home where an escort service dancer who was later discredited reported being gang-raped during a team party.”We can take the energy around this case and we can heighten the silence around sexual violence, or we can push to break that silence,” said Emily Chavez, a member of Ubuntu, one of the nine groups that pulled the event together. Ubuntu is led by women of color, most of whom have been victims of sexual violence.

    The marchers began at E.K. Powe Elementary School on Ninth Street and wound their way through the streets, led by a percussion group. Participants carried bright signs and banners with slogans, including “We still believe survivors” and “End rape culture.”Others carried orange, yellow and green signs bearing African symbols from the Ivory Coast that represent the ideas of perseverance, strength and learning from one’s past.

    Brunch patrons outside Elmo’s Diner on Ninth Street came to the curb to see what the commotion was about. Volunteer Manju Rajendran ran back and forth across the street handing out fliers explaining the march to onlookers and stopped drivers. “We just heard the noise,” Carrboro resident Jeanne Bishop said. “It’s wonderful. They made a statement today, sure did.”

    About halfway through the march, the procession paused in front of 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. — the house where the lacrosse team held its party and in which [Our Sister Survivor] ******* reported being raped.Durham resident and Duke doctoral student Alexis Pauline Gumbs read an open letter called “Wishful Thinking” addressed to the university’s black women. In it, Gumbs spoke of the pain shared by sexual violence victims, along with some specifics of the Duke case. “No camera waits to amplify your pain,” she said. “There is no law anywhere that depends on your silence.”

    From Buchanan Boulevard, the march proceeded to the Durham County Courthouse for the rally. Serena Sebring, also of Ubuntu, asked audience members to raise their hands if they or someone they love had been a victim of sexual violence. Nearly everyone in the audience did. “Look around you,” she said. “This is the reality. This is who sexual violence affects. This is why we must speak.”

    From the courthouse, the group marched to the W.D. Hill Recreation Center for more afternoon sessions and performances.Though the Duke lacrosse case was on the minds of many throughout the day, participants tried to avoid defining the protest by that one case.

    Even for groups such as Ubuntu, which was formed in March 2006 in the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse case, the event was about healing, speaking out and feeling safe.”I live two blocks from where that house is,” Gumbs said. “Trauma is triggered from where we live. We thought it was really important to reclaim our community.”