Wave Your Flag

A young Black person in an AVP tee shirt with a high top fade waves the Pride flag. Image courtesy Robin J. Hayes

A young Black person in an AVP t-shirt with a high top fade waves the Pride flag. Image courtesy Robin J. Hayes

At the New York City Pride Parade this year, Progressive Pupil was thrilled to support the Anti-Violence Project. AVP is a non-profit that helps to prevent different forms of violence experienced by LGBTQH (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected) communities. AVP organizes press conferences and demonstrations and coordinates direct services in partnership with other organizations based in diverse communities. AVP believes everyone is entitled to safety and advocates reasonable self-defense against aggression. The organization’s work also illuminates how the high rates of violence which affect LGBTQH community members are produced by the intersections of homophobia, racism, sexism and prejudice against lower-income people. In light of the recent murder of Mark Carson, steps away from the iconic Stonewall Inn, and the fact that in 2012 73% of victims of anti-LGBTQ homicides were people of color, AVP offers the following public safety tips:

  • Let someone know your plans for the night: who you’ll be with and if plans change.
  • Be aware of surroundings: locate public spaces and 24-hr businesses and seek help if you feel unsafe.
  • Trust your instincts: if you feel threatened, remove yourself from the situation or environment ASAP.
  • Use words to alert bystanders. Use your body to defend yourself or get away.
  • Leave a trail: add AVP’s hotline to your cell phone contacts (see below); let people around you know when you leave a location; text yourself or friends where you’ll be; save e-mails and online messages from bullies, predators or abusive partners.

FIERCE, AVP and Cop Watch have all drawn attention to how police misconduct is a critical issue for LGBTQH youth, particularly those of color. Increased visibility and vulnerability in gentrifying, historically gay neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, the Castro and Boystown make these youth subject to undue harassment, as well as, verbal, physical and sexual assault. AVP offers following guidance for preventing and coping with police violence:

  • If you’ve called the police, introduce yourself when they arrive.
  • If you are harassed/attacked by the police, obtain names and badge/car numbers.
  • You do not have to consent to a search (of your person, your car or your residence). Do not try to stop police from searching you.  Instead, repeat out loud, “I do not consent to this search.”
  • You have the right to watch and document police activities. Take video and pictures from a safe distance.

Histories of trauma, harmful stereotypes and internalized aggression can negatively impact our ability to find safety within our homes, schools, healthcare spaces and intimate relationships. If you have witnessed or experienced any kind of cruising, intimate partner or HIV-related violence, call AVP’s 24-hour English/Spanish hotline at (212) 714-1141. Also, their Manhattan office  has walk-in hours Mondays-Fridays 10am-3pm.

We salute the Anti-Violence Project for being part of the solution. Their dedicated staff, which includes New School Non-profit Management alumni Sydney Kopp-Richardson and Shelby Chestnut, remind us that we can end violence and stop hate. Wave your flag in support of their efforts by speaking out, volunteering or attending one of their events.

Robin SignatureRobin J. Hayes, PhD

Principal Organizer

Our People, No Labels

u people

Photo courtesy of the U People Facebook Page

U People, released in 2009, is a documentary directed by Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah. This riveting film features the testimony of everyday people expressing their unfiltered feelings about what it means to be Gay, straight or an ally within the African American community. These discussions were filmed unexpectedly on the set of Hanifah Walidah’s Make a Move music video. Shot in a Brooklyn brownstone over two days, the documentary involves over thirty people from all walks of life, including many members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. U People was well-received in the community and has been featured several times on MTV’s Logo channel. In 2010, it was nominated for the Outstanding Documentary media award at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.

The film is described as a “LGBT Rockumentary” and begins with a disclaimer: “When you view this film do not make assumptions about anyone’s sexuality.” This reflects the film’s mission to promote and encourage the development of a space for empowered self-identification. U People is a one-of-kind display of magical individuality and everyday uniqueness. The “U People” experience is about self-expression and sexuality on one’s own terms; social norms and conventions are abandoned in favor of self-love and personal conviction.

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Happy Black Studies Halloween!

While in grad school, my friend Chrissy and I had many conversations about how lonely academic work can be. We wished there were more ways to bring together our friends – who were from a variety of backgrounds – to celebrate the Black history and culture we were learning about in school and had grown up with.

We decided to throw a Black Studies Halloween party – All Things Cosby. In between enjoying Jello Pudding Pops, dancing to the original Fat Albert’s junkyard band and singing along to Jasmine Guy’s signature hit “Try Me,” we crowned the winner of our costume contest (who came as both Freddie and Shazza from A Different World). So many of our friends who are now pursuing careers as professors, doctors, lawyers and community organizers learned our first lessons about appreciating our neighborhoods, historically Black colleges and universities, the struggle against apartheid and African American art from Dr. Cosby’s televised imagination. It was fun to emulate our favorite scenes and characters and reflect on how we were inspired by them.

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