Every time we gather as a Southern Movement Assembly, we produce a plan of action. At the SMA8 in Mississippi in November 2019, we divided ourselves into three assemblies based on the elements of the Southern Peoples Initiative. In each of these assemblies we discussed our visions and strategies for 2020. We gathered on Saturday evening with representatives from each assembly and over 100 people participating as a large group to synthesize the ideas into an action plan.
The challenges we face in our communities are more urgent than ever, but we are stronger when we come together. Southern movement forces are ready to take action and grow southern power from the bottom up.
AUGUST’S MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP CALL focused on Climate Displacement, Relocation and Gentrification in the Gulf South
“It’s time for us to get our heads around this climate crisis: Assess your reality. Build your analysis. Connect to other struggles. These are the hard lessons we’ve learned from every storm and all the storms. We’re used to fighting for our lives, but this time, we’re fighting for the life of the planet.” – Colette Pichon Battle, based in Slidell, LA with @GCCLPla
“It’s not only about being uprooted from our homelands, it’s our mental and physical well-being, it’s health impacts. When people are forced to leave their homelands, they are being forced to leave behind parts of themselves.” – Bette Billiot, based in Houma, LA with @United_Houma
“One thing you can do: Imagine what climate gentrification looks like in your city. Our people understand what’s happening even if they don’t have the right terminology.” – Valencia Gunder, based in Miami, FL with @SmileTrustInc
Three incredible women leaders living and working on the frontlines of climate crisis, relocation, and displacement spoke about the urgency of climate change and the powerful work of movements rising in communities across the South.
*** On August 29th, the 14th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and the day that the federal government decided to reallocate over $200 million from hurricane relief to anti-immigrant militarized enforcement, we urge you all to TAKE ACTION for people’s movements:
TAKE ACTION! 1) Sign the petition to support the United Houma Nation’s longtime fight for federal recognition.
https://i2.wp.com/southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Cover-Photos-SMA-6.png?fit=1200%2C6006001200Annie Raphaelhttp://southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SMALogo-3.pngAnnie Raphael2019-09-16 17:04:042019-09-16 17:04:05The Seas are Rising: Climate Displacement, Relocation and Gentrification in the Gulf South
JULY’S MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP CALL focused on the power of land and growing a new social economy rooted in our historical legacies.
“If food is freedom, land is liberation.The question about connecting to the land is less about ownership and more about the opportunity to be connected to an actual space, whether rural or urban, even if you don’t own it. Being in real relationship to the way you are engaging with a piece of land provides you with what you need.” – Carlton Turner, Mississippi Center for Cultural Production
“The history of land in the U.S, in this hemisphere, in Africa, and across the globe is rooted in colonialism and white supremacy. We acknowledge that in the U.S. we’re standing on stolen land worked by stolen people. Land is also connected to people’s power. It provides life, food, water, and spiritual resources, and now we work to transform, reclaim, and decolonize the land as part of our collective liberation.” – La’Die Mansfield, Project South
New Communities was the first community land trust in the United States, founded in Southwest Georgia. Today more than 800 use the model developed by New Communities to advance equity in housing, land access, and conservation.
TOOLS & ACTION STEPS:
1) First Step to starting a Community Land Trust: Research. In most places you go to the website of the County Tax Assessor’s office, look up the address and find the current and past owners.
2) Oftentimes, land is passed down without a will or all the legal paperwork to protect it. But there are a lot of resources to protect your land. Heirs Property Dos & Donts
https://i0.wp.com/southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Cover-Photos-SMA-4.png?fit=1200%2C6006001200Annie Raphaelhttp://southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SMALogo-3.pngAnnie Raphael2019-08-06 15:53:242019-08-06 15:53:25"All Power Comes From The Land" Building New Economies in the U.S South
Refugee and immigrant leaders working in the U.S. South presented compelling political education on the realities that immigrants and refugees face in this current historical moment.
Glory Kilanko with Women Watch Afrika and Manzoor Cheema with Project South and Muslims for Social Justice discussed the U.S. economic and military policies that have created the migrant crisis around the world. Suzanne Pharr, of the National Council of Elders, framed the discussion in this country’s history of attempted genocide of indigenous people and the forced migration and enslavement of Africans.
“Not only are immigrants separated by U.S. policies before coming here, but we’re also separated when we’re in the United States,” Glory Kilanko said, sharing examples of refugee resettlement challenges and children aging out of a reunification process that can take years.
“Islamophobia is a product of white supremacy, linked to anti-Black racism and other forms of repression.” – Manzoor Cheema
“If we don’t stand together in the South, we have no chance of change happening anywhere else. It’s time for us to see this work as part of our daily work.” – Colette Pichon Battle, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy
*** TOOLS & ACTION STEPS:Download the Signal App Create a group with your family and/or network to alert someone immediately if needed. The app is encrypted, and settings can ensure messages disappear. Print & Share Legal Rights cards Print, copy, cut, and share these wallet-sized cards with your constitutional rights and script for communicating them directly. Rapid Response: If you live in Alabama – Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice is signing up volunteers in the Rapid Response initiative as a verifier or accompaniment by signing up here. Call Elected Officials: Contact local leaders in your jurisdiction and urge sheriff and police not to participate in raids or cooperate with ICE in sharing information about immigrants at risk. See thissample script for your calls. Sanctuary Spaces:Resource & Fact Sheet about how to establish a sanctuary space produced by Project South and the GA Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). Listen to the recording and share the resources below.
https://i1.wp.com/southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Cover-Photos-SMA-3.png?fit=1200%2C6006001200Annie Raphaelhttp://southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SMALogo-3.pngAnnie Raphael2019-07-01 21:08:582019-07-01 21:08:59We Are Many: Immigrant & Refugee Rights in the U.S South
On May 29th, over 100 community members from all over the South participated in an important discussion about defending our ground against racist attacks on our movement institutions and sacred spaces.
“White supremacy and its violence is not a new phenomenon or a U.S. specific phenomenon. Folks on the national level are just now connecting to what we’ve been saying in the south for decades.” – Ash-Lee Henderson
“[Highlander is] a movement home for thousands of people. We focus on educational work to catalyze social change. . . . We cannot concede the territory of spiritual faith work.“ – Allyn Maxfield-Steele
Elizabeth Sanders, General Manager at WMMT, a community radio station with Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY
“There are roles for everyone to play to fight white supremacy. How do we build so that groups outside the South are flanking and not swooping in or draining our resources? And though there were many of us organizing the Prison Justice Movement Assembly the morning of the fire, we took the lead of the Black women in our crew to ultimately decide which way we were gonna move. With heart, strategy, and community we moved onward. And that’s what we’re doing across the South and beyond.”
“SpiritHouse and Harm Free Zone have created a tool called “Who You Gonna Call.” There are times when we find ourselves in emergency situations and need physical or other forms of support. This worksheet will allow you to plan for that. Share it with your family and community members. Sometimes shame interferes with our being willing to call on people. It’s important that we see supporting and loving each other as part of our work, so we can call on each other.”
Nia Wilson, Co-Director at SpiritHouse in Durham , NC
“It is clear that anti-Black violence & racism are foundational (in this country) and are part of an attempt to undo change-makers. This (recent) upsurge in violence is to throw us off our movement-building game. But we’re not afraid.” – Emery Wright
https://i2.wp.com/southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/defending_our_ground.png?fit=1200%2C6006001200SMAhttp://southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SMALogo-3.pngSMA2019-05-29 20:04:172019-06-20 17:35:35Defending our Ground: Racist Attacks on Movement Spaces
On April 24th, people from all over the South participated in an important discussion about current threats to democracy and people’s political power.
Trupania Bonner with Crescent City Media Group discussed the dangers of an undercount in the upcoming 2020 Census, including the “citizenship question” that the Supreme Court is debating whether or not to add which would most likely reduce the count by millions and impact public resources flowing to marginalized communities. “Attacks on the census and attacks on the constitution are being done to maintain current power. In MS, 40% of the state budget comes from the federal government. The Census redistributes our tax dollars, and we need these dollars to support our public health system and dollars that support our dreams for our communities.”
Carol Blackmon with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative informed us about Article V and the Convention of States, an attempt to rewrite the Constitution and eliminate any gains that social movements have won including social security, reproductive rights, freedom of speech, and judicial term limits. 15 states, predominantly Southern states, have already passed legislation to call for the Convention (see map & resources below).
“What can we do about it? Push legislators to rescind the#ConventionOfStates applications and prevent others from applying. We can educate folks on their state’s position on the #COS, amplify the problem since so many are not aware.”
Many people on the call voiced concern about the sweeping implications of these attacks, and we agreed to take action and continue educating our policymakers and community members about the Census and the Convention of States to raise awareness in a time of distraction and misinformation.
1) Identify you state legislators (using this ONLINE TOOL)
2) Contact your state representatives and inform them about the dangers of the Convention of States. Request that your State Legislators rescind applications for Article V or work against those with applications pending.
3) Have discussions with your families, networks, and communities. Listen to the recording & research! Resources below.
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View the video or listen to the audio of the call here.
One way to continue the conversation is to bring together 4-6 people in your home or coffeehouse or bar to discuss these ideas and questions. Part of building strong and unified movements is sharing analysis and growing our relationships.
An example of discussion questions: Reflecting on the Body as a Frontline, Suzanne Pharr of National Council of Elders, Stephanie Guilloud of Project South, Ms. Sharyn Grayson of House of GG, and Que Bell of The Knights and Orchid Society offered some critical directions for grounding and building our movement.
1) Why is it a political act to respect pronouns and genderidentities?
2) What does it mean to liberate our gender and our bodies on multiple frontlines (labor, climate, poverty, prisons and police, etc.)
3) What are ways you and your community and/or organization can support trans people and create more inclusive spaces?
We’re in a moment of powerful, radical change
Suzanne Pharr, National Council of Elders
Trans defiance has occurred throughout history
Ms. Sharyn Grayson, House of GG
We’re going back to get our people
Quentin Bell, TKO Society
All folks who transgress gender and do not conform to the norm contribute to our movements’ creativity and imagination of what our world should be, not the world we were born with.
“Over the past two decades, this umbrella term “genderideology” has served as a rallying cry for social conservatives in Europe and Latin America. Conservative activists have weaponized “gender ideology” to mobilize against abortion liberalization in Spain, criticize same-sex marriage in France,stymie an anti-bullying initiative in Australia, and even muster opposition to a proposed peace deal in Colombia between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces.”
The Combahee River Collective Statement Written in 1977 by a collective of Black feminists who had been meeting for several years, the statement is a fundamental document that presents clear arguments for intersectional politics and action.
“The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives. As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face.”
Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics by Cathy Cohen, 1997 Article by Black lesbian feminist published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies – Argues for transformational politics through cultivating a more nuanced understanding of power and destabilizing the dichotomies of identity & behavior. If the demonization of queers follows the same ideology that demonizes Black families, she argues that “movement building should be rooted not in our shared history and identity but in our shared relationship to power.” She also argues that queer politics should include the destabilization of sexual categories, not the destruction nor the re-enforcement of categories.
My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely By Kate Bornstein, 1998 (update to be published this year) – Super accessible, strong analysis, and great exercises for workshops or exploring the intersections of gender, race, class, ability, etc. Excellent glossary – Bornstein makes clear distinctions between assignment, sex, sexuality, and gender. Her writings consistently argue for gender liberation for all people, beyond the rights to individual expression or freedom.
TRANSGENDER WARRIORS: Making History From Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman – By Leslie Feinberg, 1997 – Illustrated with many never-before-published historical images and contemporary photographs, Transgender Warriors is an eye-opening jaunt through the history of gender expression—from ancient Syria to the contemporary United States—and a powerful testament to the rebellious spirit.
https://i1.wp.com/southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/The_body_as_a_frontline.png?fit=1200%2C6006001200SMAhttp://southtosouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SMALogo-3.pngSMA2019-03-27 18:30:202019-06-06 20:48:52The Body as a Frontline: Gender and Liberation in the US South
View the video or listen to the audio of the call here.
One way to use the information from this call is to organize conversations with 4-6 people thinking together in your home or coffeehouse or bar. Such conversations will help build political analysis and the relationships that are the sinew of a strong, resilient, and unified movement.
An example of discussion questions:
Reflecting on the Black Radical Tradition, Brenda Hyde of Southern Echo, Emery Wright of Project South, and Saladin Muhammad of Black Workers for Justice offered some critical directions for grounding and building our movement.
1. One point they made was that since the first organized resistance to slavery, Black radical resistance has been international, and frontline struggles have been intertwined. Questions: How do we move toward unity in a time of great division? What gets in our way? What is an outstanding example of unity?
2. Another point was that we must build base leadership among people who experience systemic oppression. Questions: What does that mean—to build base leadership? What are two ways we can build community leadership in theBlack Radical Tradition?
Watch the video to hear it all again or to hear it for the first time.
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