Nashville| Tennessee

Feminist Women’s Writers Collective

ANALYSIS: What is happening in your community? What are the problems? What are the assets?

We are facing huge issues with gentrification in Nashville. This is displacing working class people, especially black people and people of color. We are having issues with excessive policing of neighbourhoods where people of color, again especially black people are living. We do not have a high enough minimum wage and there is almost no affordable housing nor workforce housing available. Many who are homeless have no place to go, and when they live or sleep on public land or places they get arrested or a citation. We have issues with charter schools not doing their jobs to teach children and they work on a failing model. Our assets include a lot of movement and momentum in the many activist groups in the area. Our mayor is also often in our favor and is sympathetic to our causes.


Healthy and Free Tennessee

ANALYSIS: What is happening in your community? What are the problems? What are the assets?

Squeezing and restrictions on reproductive health care access. After the passage of Amendment 1 in 2014, we’ve seen a number of abortion restrictions introduced including a 48 hour waiting period which is creating burdens and obstacles to abortion particularly for low income and people of color community members. We won a victory last legislative session defeating something called the fetal assault law—a law that allowed pregnant people who were found to be using narcotics to be charged with assault against their fetus. While we were able to get rid of that bill, we anticipate a replacement bill to be reintroduced—this is one of many similar attempts to criminalize pregnancy and to criminalize people’s sexual and reproductive lives. We’re also fighting HIV criminalization legislation because right now in TN people who are HIV+ are being charged with felonies under the criminal exposure and aggravated prostitution statutes. We’re dedicated to creating the conditions under which people have access to the reproductive and sexual health care they need, full comprehensive sex/sexuality/consent education, and no more stigma or criminalization/prison growing efforts targeted at our bodies.

Assets include a large statewide network of individuals and organizations already communicating about these issues (But not enough time and space to strategize together—thankful for this one!). We have hundreds of folks who are ready and mobilizable for online actions and a dozen or so who will write letters to the editor of local papers. As far as targeted direct action and action trainings—we have organizational partners who are doing these really well but could use support to bring these to more of our rural and suburban partners.  Staff based in urban centers have strained to stay connected to our rural and suburban partners and are missing a lot of the knowledge and experience their building living in portions of the state where they have to build reproductive health care solutions themselves.


Nashville Fair Food

ANALYSIS: What is happening in your community? What are the problems? What are the assets?

Nashville Fair Food was born 4 years ago to stand with farmworkers confronting abusive conditions and sub-poverty wages in Florida’s tomato fields. We are students, community members, people of faith  who support the Coalition of Immokalee workers in their Campaign for Fair Food. We consider our voice as consumers, young people, and people of faith as a forceful catalyst for change, and leveraging this power is a huge asset for us as a solidarity organization.


Worker’s Dignity and Music City Riders United

Who attended the Assembly and what are they concerned about?

The transit system is dehumanizing our people. The transit system is getting grant money and only some of it is going to the operations to fix some of the problems.


SURJ Nashville

Who attended the Assembly and what are they concerned about?

SURJ Nashville represents several hundred white people who are concerned about the effects of white supremacy in the city of Nashville and the US more broadly, including the over-policing and extralegal, state-sanctioned murder of people of color by police officers, the mass incarceration of people of color, and the process of gentrification that allocates funds to the white and wealthy while under-resourcing and removing communities of color. Over the past three months, SURJ Nashville has hosted three education meetings that were attended by roughly 700 people in total to discuss these concerns and ways that white people can respond to and support M4BL demands.

What is the shared analysis of the problems?

SURJ members are deeply concerned about systemically embedded racism in the institutions that make up our communities and our city. We know that our city’s budget directly reflects this institutional racism, and continues to promote reactionary false solutions to racial oppression, state sanctioned violence, and the over-incarceration of people of color in our region.

The city council unanimously voted in support of purchasing $1M of ballistic armor for metro police officers this month, despite no threat of violence to our local police. We know that it is our communities of color that face the real threats of danger, and remain unprotected and under attack. Local police policies like Operation Safer Streets intentionally target communities of color, and data reveals gross discrimination in the over-policing of black Nashvillians. Meanwhile, our local prisons and jails are filled to capacity with black and brown bodies. SURJ is committed to pressuring local government to divest from policing and prisons and invest in transformative solutions to racism, in the forms of: access to quality education, affordable housing, healthy food, health care services, living wages, and adequate public transportation.

SURJ is also committed to addressing the ways that white fear–fear of black people, fear of losing power and wealth, fear of an end to white supremacy–directly threatens black life. We are committed to organizing white people to disrupt, challenge, and fight white fear and stand against white supremacy in real action, not just in conversation with friends or in online postings. We are committed to challenging the racist reactionary “Blue Lives Matter” bills that will reach the legislature in January, and to disrupt all forms of repression of black voices and black power.