Call for Solidarity with Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory

24 10 2007

Stop the Invasion!

International Day of Action, November 17th

In June this year, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
announced that there would be a ‘National Emergency Response’ to
combat child abuse in Aboriginal communities in the Northern
Territory. The measures announced included the quarantining of half of
all welfare payments, the abolition of the Community Development
Employment Program, the appointment of managers for 73 prescribed
communities, compulsory sexual health examinations of children, and
the abolition of the permit system, amongst other things.

These measures are a violation of human rights, and is obviously
racist and authoritarian. The passage of the Emergency Response
legislation is dependent on the suspension of the Racial
Discrimination Act, and the Northern Territory Native Title Act.
Federal police and the military have been sent into the NT to enforce
these measures.

Aboriginal people that work through the Community Development
Employment Program (CDEP) manage their own wages and money.
Abolishing CDEP will push people onto welfare and the welfare income
management system that allows for quarantining and tight control of
how people’s money is spent. Many people running businesses on CDEP in
remote outstations are already being forced to move into larger
regional towns. The extraordinary measures give the Federal Government
power to seize lands and property without compensation. The owners of
those lands and properties have no right of appeal. Lands will be
leased for five years, but the government has plans to extend these
measures for 99 years. It is entirely up to ministerial discretion
whether rent is paid on those lands or not.

The Federal Government has appointed non-Indigenous business managers
to the ‘prescribed’ communities.  These managers have the power to
decide who lives in a community and who must leave; they can observe
any meeting of an organisation working at the community, they can
change any local programme. Many Aboriginal communities consider these
measures, often being administered by under-prepared military
personnel, as an invasion rather than an intervention.

These measures return Aboriginal people to the days of mission
stations, where life was tightly controlled by authoritarian managers.
It is a return to times of colonial control on Aboriginal life, and
the complete absence of any autonomy or self-determination. The
removal of basic property rights as enjoyed by all other Australians,
with the abolition of the permit system, is a gross violation of human
rights. Even the Northern Territory police oppose this measure, for
the likely adverse effect it will have on crime.

Some $570 million is being spent on these measures. Half of that money
will be spent on the salaries of 700 new bureaucratic positions
created to regulate this intervention. $88 million will be spent on
measures to control the incomes of Aboriginal people on any government
payment (including aged pensions and veterans payments).

This is an insult to the hard work of Aboriginal people who have been
campaigning for basic services in remote communities. Roads, schools,
health care, housing and social services are desperately needed by
these communities. It is estimated that the housing backlog alone for
Northern Territory Aboriginal communities is half a billion dollars.
Moreover, with the publication of the Closing the Gap report by Oxfam
earlier this year, it has been shown that Indigenous life expectancy
is 17 years below that of non-Indigenous life expectancy.

A week and a half ago, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
announced the Federal election for November 24th.

This came shortly after Australia voted against the UN Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous peoples (along with Canada, New Zealand and
the USA).

It is time to stand up for justice for Indigenous peoples everywhere,
to demand either a change of policy, or a change of government!

One week before the Australian Federal election, on November 17th,
various groups across Australia will be taking action to show
opposition to the Federal government’s intervention into the Northern
Territory. We hope that those outside Australia will join us in
calling for an end to this government, an end to racist, colonialist
policies towards Indigenous people, and support for the strong
self-determination that Indigenous people demonstrate every day.

With allegations that the Australian Federal government is
manipulating international media about the intervention, it is vitally
important that information about the intervention and views of
Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are widely disseminated
through social justice networks. Please use your community and
activist media to promote the interests of Indigenous Australians, and
Indigenous people worldwide!

Learn more:

National Aboriginal Alliance:
Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory –
alternative to the government’s Emergency Response:
Women for Wik:
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation:
Koori Mail:

Things you can do:

1. Organise a protest outside the Australian Consulate in your nearest
city. Make it clear that the Howard government’s shameful opportunism
on human rights is gathering international criticism.
2. Donate to the National Aboriginal Alliance. Find out more on their
website, here:
3. Spread the news of this horrendous violation of human rights to as
many people as possible. Write an article about it, post to your blog
about it, send the news to your friends via email. Encourage your
friends to speak out about it as well.
4. If you are part of a political organisation, collective, or group,
please send your words of solidarity and support to the National
Aboriginal Alliance. Send messages of solidarity to: secretariat at
nationalaboriginalalliance dot org.
5. Write letters to Mal Brough, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs,
or John Howard. You can find guidelines here:

an urgent message from lex:

28 09 2007

Without You Who Understand

Two loved ones of mine have had their names added to the long list of victims of the New York Police Department’s everyday every night brutality. And every time this happens it is an assault against my people, whoever they are. People of color, queer people, young people, transgendered people, activists, sex workers, immigrants. Every time this happens is my people locked away.

But these two. These are really my people. This is who I have cried with after break-ups, eaten ice cream with when I should have been studying, this is who sat with me in limbo every semester, unregistered and undocumented because no one believed we’d be able to keep paying for school, least of all us. This is who brought me lemonade and sandwiches when couldn’t get out of bed and couldn’t say why, and most importantly these are the people who stayed up all night with me too many times to count, like Pinky and the Brain in pumas with wild hair, plotting and believing in another world. Projecting and practicing freedom. These are the ones who said, yes, we can build that. And we should paint it purple, not blue. And if someone had been tracing our hands as we punctuated every detail about what playgrounds to make out of the rubble of prisons, what mosaics to glue to the empty US mint…if you had been tracing our hands you would have seen that we were spelling blood and water and water and blood. This is what I mean when I say, these are my people.

They are the ones I have trusted to hold my youth and to hand it back to me with a firm nudge if I ever consider selling out. These are the ones I have trusted to sell their vintage sneakers and stolen accessories to hire a lawyer when the state finally notices. We have agreed that this is a morally and strategically better than actually letting each other become lawyers. So these are the ones I trust to break me out of prison, to never forget where I am. To prove the lie of the state when it says no one loves you, you little black girl. You are nothing. No one cares where you are right now. And they have trusted me too, to pawn, to plead, to risk, to witness, to remember. I have agreed to the same.

But I didn’t think it would be today.

As I write this, my people are locked down for keeping their part of the agreement. After months of planning a fundraiser for the Sylvia Rivera Liberation Project my people were ready to celebrate. After gathering queer and trans people of color and allies from all over the tri-state area my people, these two, deserved the peace of bass and the release of rhythm. Late Wednesday night, like every night, my people were dancing. But late Wednesday night, like every night, the state was on the prowl. And right in front of the bright loud colors, right in front of the opening sounds (you see my people dress like confetti parades, my people move like new memories) the NYPD was doing the state, forcing the power of one black man into a space to small for dignity. And my people, though practicing the celebration, though air traffic hailing the future, this night, my people do not forget the moment. This is why my people wear sneakers and flat shoes. They remember what we agreed.

So early Thursday morning they stopped the dancing to witness this arrest, one of millions of arrests, (these too my people). And they said with their eyes what we promised we would say. They said
We see you. We remember what you deserve. And when the lie come out that you are not human, that who you are does not matter, we will stand up that moment with the truth. We see you.

And the policemen could not tell who they addressed with their eyes, from the reasonable distance of the sidewalk. The policemen did not know if by “you” their brown eyes meant the person in the handcuffs or the one clanking them shut. So while their brightly clad feet and their hair awake with dancing did not get in anyone’s way, the policemen found their gazes too wide and too loud. So the policemen grabbed them. And closed their own eyes.

These two. My people. And shoved them in the car without warning.

And what I got then was a 2am text message indecipherable and cut short. And 12 hours later an email. They have not been charged. They have not been arraigned.

Because there is no such crime as love in excess. There is no such crime as too bright for 1984. There is no crime called smarter and braver than what day it is. There is no such crime as wanting more.

But they have not been released yet either. Because to place your soul firmly against the blunt edge of lawfulness is to share terror on measured and socialist terms. And police officers cannot afford to remember the neighborhoods they come from and who is now missing, lest their hearts beat and break against the tight armor of the state. And dreamers cannot afford fancy lawyers. So what I got then was a 2 am text message, and 12 hours later an email.

And what I have now is a promise to keep.

Jack Aponte (, 347-247-1526)
Naomi Clark (, 917-907-4870)

Police Brutality Strikes Fifth Anniversary of Sylvia Rivera Law Project

NEW YORK – On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the
9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without
provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of its
community. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and
others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project ( ) is an organization that
works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender,
gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and
advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the Sylvia
Rivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with a
celebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.

A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and
transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting to
detain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community
members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using
excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the
sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the
NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without
warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a
wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense

“This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreaction
towards people of color that happens all the time,” said Dean Spade,
founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. “It’s ironic that we were
celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposes
state violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a
police attack at our celebration.”

“We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released
and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessive
force and falsely arresting people,” Spade continued.

Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization working
to preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, “I’m extremely
concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct’s response to the
situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressive
behavior doesn’t do them any good in community-police relations.”

Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the
two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for
charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those

– END –

Campaign for Justice in Jena

18 07 2007

Dear friend, I just learned about a case of segregation-era oppression happening today in Jena, Louisiana. I signed onto’s campaign for justice in Jena, and wanted to invite you to do the same.

Last fall in Jena, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the “white tree” on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a “prank,” more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town’s police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy… I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen.”

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It’s a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in “their place.” But it’s happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the story has gotten minimal press. Together, we can make sure their story is told and that the Governor of Louisiana intervenes and provides justice for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please join me:

The noose-hanging incident and the DA’s visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were later arrested for the theft of the gun.

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students “nigger.” After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital, but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal’s parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years. Theo Shaw’s trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Join me in demanding that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.


The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action (excerpt) by Audre Lorde

26 06 2007

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger. Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death. But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence. And that might be coming quickly now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?

And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, “Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”

In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, of some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.

And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us. In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone can we survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.

And it is never without fear — of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgment, of pain, of death. But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death. And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die. It is very good for establishing perspective.

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.

(Originally delivered at the Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. First published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980)

New Health Justice Site

21 06 2007

 This just in: go check it out…

Cure This — It’s on.

For two and a half years, “Cure This” was a pipe dream shared by just a handful of us. We envisioned a grand goal: to create an online space to discuss health in its broadest sense, share personal stories, creatively make positive change, and build an online community along the way — connecting us locally, nationally, and perhaps internationally. We envisioned a humble beginning: here and now.

Cure This has now transformed into a reality, and we’re excited beyond words. We welcome it into this world with a loving, gentle nudge and an encouraging whisper in its ear. Let the beautiful journey begin

UBUNTU to represent at the INCITE! Women/Trans Folks of Color Track at the Allied Media Conference this weekend!

19 06 2007

Jun-22-2007 12:00AM – Jun-24-2007 12:00AM

Detroit, MI

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Presents a Women of Color / Trans Folks of Color Track at the 2007 Allied Media Conference in Detroit.

Media justice is a critical vehicle through which feminists of color are organizing for peace and justice.  Using graffiti, zines, blogs, films, books, radio and television programs, and other media tools, we have been telling our stories, making connections, and strengthening movements.

INCITE! is excited to co-sponsor a women of color and trans people of color track at the 2007 Allied Media Conference in collaboration with local women of color organizing for media justice.  Below is a list of workshops at the conference led by feminists of color who are using innovative media strategies to end violence against women and trans people of color and our communities.

NO! The Rape Documentary
Film screening followed by a discussion with Director Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Peoples’ Statistics: Information gathering for organizing
Andrea Ritchie and Remy Kharbanda of Research for Revolution

Using Documentary to Organize Against Violence and Colonization
Rosemary Gibbons, Boarding School Healing Project

Empowering Our Communities Through Oral History
Emily P. Lawsin, University of Michigan/Filipino American National Historical Society

Hijaking the Masters Tools
Anjali Teneja of , Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Serena Sebring of UBUNTU and Broken Beautiful Press
Moderated by Brownfemipower

Beyond the Hijab: Struggling Against Stereotypes
Habibah Ahmad , Youth Channel Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Zine-making and Women of Color
Nadia Abou-Karr of No Snow Here, Trula Breckenridge of Mama Specfic Productions

Wrong is Not My Name: Poetic Healing as a Response to Sexual Violence
Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Serena Sebring of UBUNTU

For full descriptions of workshops, please visit

Event Website:

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI


Mosadi Music in Philly & NYC this weekend!

30 05 2007










1508 South Street

Philadelphia, PA







74 Leonard Street

New York, NY 10013










Top 10 Reasons Why YOU Want to be at the Day of Truthtelling in Durham this Saturday

26 04 2007

  1. Because ending rape culture begins with a vision of the world without sexual violence. In the place of the divisions and disempowering silences that support rape culture, the Day of Truthtelling will create healing, loving, transformative spaces where we can celebrate and honor each person’s humanity and the power of community.
  2. Because the Day of Truthtelling is a call to end all forms of sexual violence. Sexual violence happens every day and in all of our communities, including: on college campuses, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and all over the world.
  3. Because all rapes deserve outrage.
  4. Because the legal system does not hold all the tools for responding to and ending sexual violence
  5. Because ending sexual violence is possible and it is the responsibility of every single one of us to work together for change.
  6. Because the time is now to speak up about the fact that people who we know and love are survivors: our families, our friends, ourselves. By doing so, we can end rape culture which encourages a disempowering silence about sexual violence that fosters feelings of isolation and shame.
  7. Because we are working to create a world where all people honor each other’s humanity with dignity, love, and respect – respect for each person’s body, choices, and value as a member of our communities.
  8. Because respect for each person’s body as an inalienable (birth)right and honoring each person’s choices creates healthy communities.
  9. Because it’s time to celebrate the possibilities that are created by recognizing each person’s unique value, worth, and humanity, and envision a world where the richness of our differences and diversity is celebrated.
  10. Because safety, peace, and justice are created when communities work together for change.

‘Twas the Night Before Truthtelling…AR’s takin’ it to the big house!

24 04 2007

Friday 4/27 – 7:00pm

UBUNTU Artistic Response invites you to attend:
an interactive performance of

Asha Bandele’s Long Day’s Journey into Night
@ the Durham County Criminal Justice Buidling
(yup…we’re taking over…making contractions in the belly of the beast.)

326 E. Main Street, Durham, NC 27701
Tel. (919) 560-0500 Fax: (919)560-0566

click here for details:

Even the rehearsal tore the walls down.

We highly recommend that anyone interested in healing from or challenging their own
relationship to the prison industrial complex come to the performance workshop.

Looking for Michael Patrick Vaughn

21 04 2007

Kevin who is the writer of blog Slant Truth, has put out a plea for help in finding his brother Michael. Please follow the link and leave word if you think you know anything that might help.

“My brother has been missing for some time now. Seriously…. I’m hoping that someone, somewhere might know where he is right now. His name: Michael Patrick Vaughn. I think that he’s somewhere on the West Coast—maybe around Cali. I can give more information about him if needed (including pictures). Please email me here [thinblackduke @] if you know of anything about him or have the slightest clue.”