Author Archive

Women of Color Voices Magazine: #SayHerName Jagged Justice Edition

Written by Balog on . Posted in Members Articles

We are so happy to release the latest issue of Women of Color Voices Magazine: #SayHerName Jagged Justice Edition.  We are grateful to the artists, activists, advocates and Aspiring Allies that lent their voices and talents to this special edition! We have two version for your viewing, please click on this Voices announcement to access the digital magazine in two formats!
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If you are interested in submitting articles for the Fall Edition, please email Zoe Flowers at zflowers@wocninc.org with your proposed article content, or look for the upcoming request for articles coming soon.

Thank you, WOCN, Inc.

Why Safety Pins Are Not Enough and Jagged Justice Call

Written by Balog on . Posted in Members Articles

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Why Safety Pins Are Not Enough

Tonya Lovelace, CEO

Women of Color Network, Inc.

November 14, 2016

This post-election period has been a difficult time for all of us, particularly marginalized communities. And I have been reminded, if not validated, many times this week why the Women of Color Network, Inc. (WOCN, Inc.) coined the term “aspiring allies” back in 2007. Recently, I posted the article “Dear White People, Your Safety Pins are Embarrassing” written by Christopher Keelty with the Huffington Post (November 12, 2016). The byline is, “We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by putting on safety pins and self-designating ourselves as allies.”

 

A white aspiring ally who is also a lesbian wrote in response to my post, “I will take an ally, so…” So I decided to educate. It is not my job, but I did. I found the article that I had skimmed about the safety pin earlier and posted it as a part of my reply. That article was “Why Safety Pins Symbolize Resistance: A Short Explainer” written by Rasha Ali in the Wrap (November 11, 2016). I responded:

 

“The safety pin gesture was developed in response to Brexit where many marginalized communities are also in a state of emergency. ‘Alison’ (she will only offer her first name) said she came up with the idea of wearing the safety pin to let targeted people know that they are ‘safe’ with whoever is wearing it. She said it was ‘simple’ because just about everyone uses safety pins and you don’t have to go out and ‘buy one’. I definitely believe aspiring allies are important. Since this article is focused on white people, my idea of white aspiring allies are those who know that this is a never-ending process. A daily struggle. A white aspiring ally knows that they will never fully arrive at being an ally. They know that they can definitely can never fully assume or guarantee they can be/provide safe space for me or BE a safe space for me. They will have to invest time, and yes, they may have to invest/give up money. They absolutely will have to confront/challenge/push/lean in to real conversations with, in the case of the article I posted, white people and have courageous conversations that move beyond the surface and truly examine the depths of racism. Because racism can look like sitting in diverse spaces with marginalized communities and talk about oppression and not challenge their own family, neighbors, friends, and other explicit and implicit bias and acts of racism, because it is easy. It is simple. The article I posted questions the curious gesture wearing of a safety pin at this time, a gesture aimed at me as a woman of color, as one of the people it is meant to support, when the real work is to speak and struggle with white people about what the hell has/is happening. White aspiring allies NOT doing this on a daily basis, or only doing this when it appeases them or doesn’t take them out of their comfort zones, or doing it once or twice a year is why we have gotten here. White aspiring allies have a lot of work to do. They always have. I appreciate them coming/being in spaces with me and other people/communities. But this is only one small part of the work. We are looking at the results of what happens when largest portion of white aspiring ally work is not getting done. This is why I originally posted the article.”

 

The aspiring ally responded back saying, “Totally get it. I just feel unsafe and I am projecting my needs. You are right about the level of commitment that is truly needed.”

 

And I responded back with “I am with u. And I know. Been there too this week. Love and blessings for both of us.”

 

WOCN, Inc. will hold a series of “Healing and Action in the Midst of Backlash” #JaggedJustice calls (another term we coined), where we point to high profile cases, as in this election and the results of it, and connect the dots to the impacts within the anti-violence against women/gender-based violence movement. WOCN, Inc., like the marginalized communities it supports and strives to reach and build a platform for, has experienced its own backlash regarding its use of the terms “endangerment of the woman of color advocate” and “aspiring allies.”

 

In 2007, WOCN, Inc. released a national email putting out a “National Call to Action” within the anti-violence against women movement/gender-based violence movement. It was our 10th year as an organization, and while we had done several rounds of leadership training with women of color, and had lifted up the need for and laid a national platform for women of color voices to be heard, we were seeing women of Asian, African, Latin, Native, Middle-Eastern, and Bi/Multiracial descent being fired from and pushed out, and feeling unsafe in their programs. We were receiving reports of them being under surveillance yet under recognized and under appreciated. After many years of work on this issue, WOCN, Inc. now has evidence to show that they are also under-promoted and underpaid.

 

Women of color were saying that RACISM = VIOLENCE. They were painfully sharing that to walk by a white woman executive director who was speaking to her today but would not speak to her the next day because she didn’t like being questioned in a staff meeting – that this was gas lighting. This was power and control. This was emotional abuse. This was violence. Many of the women on our calls were survivors of domestic violence, and they shared their trauma experiences of being triggered within their programs. They shared, whispered, shouted, that they would prefer interacting with their batterer than coming into a program that is intended to be a “safe space” and feel more endangered than if they were home with their batterer. At least they knew where the gun was, literally and figuratively.

 

In our National Call to Action, we also stated that in order for change to be made in the movement, it would take white and male allies to join forces and to address this. WOCN, Inc. would require that they do this work in the presence of women of color, with women of color having the first and last words, since, in Move to End Violence’s current language, they are the “last girl.”

 

Back then, almost ten years ago, all we had was the evidence of women of color voices. And for many, this was not enough. This election shows that even for many aspiring allies, it wasn’t enough.

 

It wasn’t enough for them to challenge systems beyond hiring one or two more women of color and saying, “done.”

 

It wasn’t enough to resist only associating with/agreeing with/holding solidarity with women of color who say many of the same things expressed in the National Call to Action, and embracing only from those who say it the way they like/want hearing it, or in order to discredit the former message, they triangulate by embracing it from their “favorite women of color” and use it as an excuse/tactic to take aim at women of color whose voices/tenor/approach/rawness/pain they don’t want to experience.

 

It wasn’t enough for male aspiring allies to push themselves beyond sitting back and watching women of color who were being vulnerable in expressing the rawness of their pain and anger and watching them get devoured.

 

And safety pins are not enough. It is time for REAL steps toward finding what truly is enough. And for aspiring allies, this will shape and reshape. Just as finding ways to survive and feel safe walking out of the door shapes and reshapes for me. Every day.

 

And no safety pin will change that. Yet, I say to those truly aspiring to be allies: I am with u. And I know. Been there too this week. Love and blessings for both of us. For all of us.

 

###

 

Tonya Lovelace, MA

Tonya Lovelace is the Chief Executive Officer for the Women of Color Network, Inc. (WOCN, Inc.), an independent women of color-lead national nonprofit based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Originally based in Ohio, Tonya’s career within the field of ending violence against women/gender-based violence is as old as her daughter, 21 years, where she has held various positions along the way. Tonya has a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University of Ohio, a Master of Arts in Black Studies and another in Women’s Studies, both from The Ohio State University. She also has served as an Adjunct Instructor at several universities and has conducted numerous trainings on local, state, and national levels. Now living in Harrisburg, PA, Tonya is a proud mother, and believes that one of her greatest achievements is raising a strong, activist daughter in the midst of ongoing global inequity for women and girls of color and their families. Tonya is also a survivor of child sexual assault, bullying, teen dating violence, and domestic violence in her recent adult life. She has a refueled vision of transformed systems and communities that connect the dots across all forms of violence, with intersectional feminism and advocacy at the center of the work. It is her passion and goal to work within innovative spaces and alongside women of color and aspiring allies to help make this a bold reality.

First Anniversary Advocating for the Lives of Women and Families in Communities of Color

Written by Balog on . Posted in Members Articles

Media Release                                                                                                                                                                             Contact Valerie Taylor 305-323-6072

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                              valerie@visionsprcreate.com

September 1, 2015                                                                                                                                                                       Zoe Flowers 844-962-6462 x706

zflowers@wocninc.org

 

The Women of Color Network, Inc. Celebrates Their First Anniversary Advocating for the Lives of Women and Families in Communities of Color

 

Women of Color Domestic Violence Advocates To Host Leadership Roundtable and Open House

 

Harrisburg, PA (September 1, 2015) – The Women of Color Network, Inc. (WOCN, Inc), a national organization of women of color advocates and activists working to eliminate violence against women and families, will celebrate its one year anniversary as an independent organization by hosting a series of events in October to commemorate National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. WOCN, Inc.’s anniversary events include: the release of Women of Color Voices Magazine Fall 2015 edition; a Community Leadership Roundtable in Harrisburg, PA; a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House in partnership with the Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce and Startup Harrisburg; an interview with domestic violence experts on “Why Do Some Men Batter” on the monthly WOCN Inc. Radio Show Hour on Blog Talk Radio; and the release of WOCN Inc. 2015 Facts and Stats booklets containing national data specific to violence and women of color.

The Women of Color Network Inc. (WOCN Inc.), previously a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), was created as a means to address the unique challenges women of color advocates and activists face within the violence against women movement. The newly independent non-profit organization is a national voice for women of color domestic and sexual violence advocates who work across the United States, U.S. Territories and Tribal Nations, and provides training and technical support to local and national organizations. The WOCN, Inc., with staff, Board and consultants all across the country, supports women and families by fighting against all forms of global violence and oppression.

“Throughout this first year, we have continued to build our national presence by launching our #JaggedJustice project against the backdrop of high profile cases of police violence, sexual violence and domestic violence impacting women and men of color. We focus on connecting the dots across all forms of intimate partner and community violence that impact communities of color and other marginalized populations. Given the grave statistics – that 4 out of every 10 American Indian/Alaskan Native woman and African American woman, and 1 in 2 multiracial woman will be a victim of physical violence, rape and stalking in their lifetimes – it is important that we declare that the lives of women of color matter,” said WOCN Inc. CEO Tonya Lovelace-Davis.

In its first year, WOCN, Inc. hosted such national events as its biannual National Call to Action Summit and Conference Coming Full Circle: Survivors and Communities of Color Leading the Way to Justice and Healing” held in May 2015 in San Diego, California with close to 300 attendees and featured Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Moving forward, WOCN Inc. will continue its role as a leading national advocate, and will grow its local presence in Harrisburg, PA where it is headquartered.

WOCN Inc. Sponsored Events

  • October 1, National online release of Women of Color Voices Magazine Fall 2015 Digital Edition
  • October 1, 5:00-7:00 PM EST, Women of Color Network Inc. Community Leadership Roundtable Meeting (By invitation only)
  • October 15, 8:00-9:00 PM EST, WOCN, Inc. Blog Talk Radio Show Hour on IDVAACRadio.com, Featured Topic: “Why Do Some Men Batter.” The show is in partnership with Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
  • October 16, 4:30-8:00 PM Women of Color Network, Inc. Ribbon Cutting and Open House 1519 North 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA
  • October 23, 2:30-4:00 PM EST #JaggedJustice Call for Communities of Color: Connecting the Dots Across Violence
  • October 26, Release of WOCN Inc. 2015 Fact and Stats Booklets: Domestic Violence Across Communities of Color, Sexual Violence Across Communities of Color, Violence Across LGBTQ Communities of Color, and Reproductive Health Across Communities of Color

WOCN Inc. Featured Guest Speaking Engagements

  • October 2, Black Lives Matter Town Hall Meeting organized by Pennsylvania NOW
  • October 15, 8:00-10:00 AM Harrisburg Diversity Forum
  • October 28, 2:00- 3:30 PM EST Community Organizing and Prevention Work Webinar Hosted by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

 For more information, contact Valerie Taylor, Visions Public Relations at 305-323-6072, valerie@visionsprcreate.com, or Zoe Flowers at 844-962-6462 x706, zflowers@wocninc.org.

 Website: www.wocninc.org | Organizational Email: wocn@wocninc.org | Check us out on Facebook: Women of Color Network | Twitter: @WOCNetwork

 The Women of Color Network, Inc.

The Women of Color Network, Inc. is a national grassroots advocacy organization that focuses on addressing the unique challenges facing women of color advocates and activists within the violence against women movement. WOCN provides and enhances leadership capacity and resources that promote the activities of women of color advocates and activists within the Sovereign Nations, the United States and U.S. Territories to eliminate violence against women and families.

WOCN Inc.’s mission broadly includes fighting against all forms of violence against women, which includes: domestic and sexual violence; human trafficking and police brutality. WOCN Inc.’s work is grounded in the understanding of violence in the global context of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression that intersect with violence against women of color.

Website: www.wocninc.org

Organizational Email: wocn@wocninc.org

 Check us out on Facebook: Women of Color Network

 Twitter: @WOCNetwork