For Immediate Release
Serena Sebring, SONG Campaign Organizer 919.597.9043 email@example.com
Jade Brooks, SONG Member Leader 831.588.3463 firstname.lastname@example.org
Caitlin Breedlove, SONG Co-Director 865.310-1463 email@example.com
January 17, 2015
Durham, NC - On Saturday, January 17 at 5:00pm, Southerners on New Ground (SONG) will host a launch event announcing the “Free From Fear” campaign, at The Pinhook (117 W Main St, Durham, North Carolina 27701). Free From Fear seeks to pass an ordinance to prevent discriminatory policing and police profiling of LGBTQ people and people of color, and to address the harmful effects of these patterns on the local community. The campaign’s central goal is the passage of a local anti-profiling ordinance, “The Durham Community Safety Act,” which would ban police profiling and discrimination based on race, immigration status, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. Southerners on New Ground is a regional LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, + queer) organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town people in the South.
“So many LGBTQ people face daily fear in our homes, workplaces, families, homes of worship, and in the streets. So it makes so much sense for LGBTQ people to work for a Community Safety Act that benefits everyone in Durham.” -Caitlin Breedlove, SONG Co-Director
“As a resident of Durham for many years, and a queer black mother raising three kids, I want to see my LGBTQ community take a lead in making Durham safer for my kids, LGBTQ youth, youth of color and everyone.” -Serena Sebring, SONG Organizer
“We know that Durham has been a hub of LGBTQ organizing for years, we defeated Amendment One here by over 70%! But not all of our community is treated equally by the police or the legal system. As a white queer woman, my commitment to my black and brown family means that I have to join this fight. ” -Jade Brooks, SONG member
The event is free and open to the public, and will feature a program of live music by local musicians, and speakers: Caitlin Breedlove (SONG, Co-Director), Serena Sebring (SONG, Campaign Organizer), Jade Brooks (SONG, Member Leader), Sendolo Diaminah (Durham Public Schools Board Member), among others. Light refreshments and childcare will be provided.
Free From Fear: SONG Announces Local Campaigns Across the South
“What could be born in our communities if LGBTQ people and people of color were not afraid to walk our streets, lead in our towns, and fully lean into our own bodies and lives?”
This is a guiding question for SONG’s new work. Free From Fear is one organization’s pledge to a wider collective movement commitment to fight and defeat fear and violence our towns, cities, region and country that stems from state and institutional violence. Free From Fear is a campaign name, an aspiration, and a thread tying the work of SONG together.
When we began moving more deeply into immigration work, our Co-Director, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, said: “Our work is not to bleed out proving to other people we are human. Our work is to strengthen our people to transform our world.” Organizing that is guided by this value can change our own lives, and our towns, cities and states. We know the state of fear and violence today in our communities. We know because of the daily fear of harm and death that people in our communities live with, and because of the self-hatred and isolation forced onto many of our children. We don’t have time to wait for slow trickle down culture change promised by some national and conservative LGBTQ organizations: we know that we urgently need to build and move the biggest asset we have which is our people.
Dear SONG Kin:
For SONG, this has been a year of show, not tell. We have had a liberation vision for a long time, we have found wisdom in our work, and we have shared it with the world in many ways. But, as the year closes on all the events of 2014, we have seen resounding proof in our work, and in the work of so many others, that our people are worth the risk–which has attracted attention to SONG’s work, and many other organizations that are doing direct-action organizing, led by those who are the most marginalized, in a principled, consensual way.
In SONG’s End of Year report, you will find more information on the work that SONG has done this year. We have been base building because we believe it takes more than just a few of our people working together to achieve lasting and broad liberatory change; we have been leading political education because we believe consciousness and understanding are key to our work; and we have been working in coalitions and alliances because we know it is not our constituency alone that is impacted by the conditions of our country, and that we must align with those who share our vision and our fate. We have been amplifying our work through communications because our stories have been warped and taken from us and the genuine sharing of lessons from this work can help seed hope further than we even know. Finally, we have organized. We have practiced direct-action organizing because we know that only when we come together and fight for clear and meaningful demands can we see the possibility of all that we are capable of together. These are our core strategies; we have worked hard for them and we are clearer than ever about why….
Audre Lorde taught us and we’ve experienced that, “there are no single-issue struggles because we do not live single-issue lives.” As organizers and leaders we are committed to our collective liberation and so our eyes, our minds, and our hearts see and feel the depth and the complexities of the world that we live in and the complexities that Lorde compelled us to acknowledge. The roller coaster of emotions many of us have experienced in the past week and a half has been exhausting, to say the least.
We held the death of one of our greats, Leslie Feinberg. We celebrated trans life, denounced transphobia and its violence, and remembered those we’ve lost. We anxiously awaited decisions from on high about who would or would not be included in executive action on immigration (read SONG’s collective statement Celebrating Our Wins, Organizing for Our Future: LGBTQ Immigrants in Times of Executive Action here). We gathered together to hear whether a grand jury in Ferguson would or would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown (Read Black Lives Matter Everywhere for more about SONG’s work in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter here). We did this as we’ve done so many times before. Who of us does not remember the night Troy Davis died, the countless times the U.S. has rolled out the war chests to bomb our motherlands and people of color around the world, or the countless votes on the Hill or Supreme Court rulings that would affect our lives, our dignity, our sanity?
There is a quality to our lives that has required us to hold all of these things at once. We are LGBTQ people who are also poor, who are immigrant, and who are Black. We have a grit, stubbornness, endurance, and will to forge ahead that has cultivated inside of us in order to survive in societies that are trying to starve us, kill us, abuse us, and discard us.
This is not to glorify the struggle of our lives but to remind ourselves of how easily we can take for granted both the individual and collective elasticity of our souls that we’ve fortified to make it from day to day. As we celebrate and as we mourn, as we organize and as we strategize, we urge us to not forget one another. We urge us to hold each other closely and to ask, “How are you doing?” We urge us to take deep breaths, to dance, to take bubble baths, to share food, and to take care of one another. These too are radical revolutionary acts and strengthen us to build political unity with one another in our shared struggle for self-determination.
We are part of the larger fabric and legacy of those that fought to survive before us, and we look to them for courage, for faith, for resilience and for guidance in our renewed struggle. As Alice Walker said,
“To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrow, is always a measure of what has gone before.”
We stand proudly in the light and lessons of our ancestors knowing that we will keep moving and working with you towards our vision and hope for a world that we imagine and dream. Keep your heads up family. We love you.
On Thursday night, hundreds of thousands gathered across the country in living rooms, over laptops, and in front of televisions waiting for and anticipating executive action on immigration from President Obama. Together we held our breath, we held hands, and we hoped. We hoped that the President’s actions would match our organizing efforts and years of building collective power and taking risks to provide relief from detention and deportations for ourselves and for our communities.
For that, we were not disillusioned. Today, there are about 4.4 million more immigrants living in this country who can breathe a little easier at night knowing that deportation, at least temporarily, is not right around the corner. Today, the Secure Communities Program that has inflated the ability of local police to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain and deport over two million people has ended. Today, we can see the direct result of our work to force politicians to see us as human beings and not disposable political pawns.
We celebrate these victories as evidence that organizing our community has worked, but we also see clearly that this announcement is just the first step in our fight. President Obama made his announcement on Transgender Day of Remembrance…