Tag Archives: north carolina
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.
We are North Carolina SONG. We are artists and organizers, educators, students, and parents. We are fighters, survivors, lovers and rebels, and bookworms who work in coffee shops, punk kids who bus tables at the diner, and butch queens who tune cars all week. Black, brown, queer, and not leaving. We live in the South, where our roots run deep in the red Carolina clay, generations strong, thick and resilient. Even as many of our ancestors were pushed off the land and out beyond the rocky tops of the Appalachian mountains, still, there were some of us who could not be pushed and stayed.
These roots hold us here, where our foremothers, brought in shackles to plantations like Somerset and Stagville, tucked cowry shells between walls of slave shacks in Horton Grove. Here, in Durham, where SONG was born over 20 years ago, we move in this legacy, which is still with us – alive.
Bull City, where porch-sit is a verb, and late afternoon sounds like a train whistling into town, banda music jumping from car windows, sirens blowing by, thunderstorms washing away your footprints, the music of dogs and fireworks in the distance, bass coming from cars outside the tattoo shop, the squealing brakes of school busses giving children back to their mothers, and whirring cars that need repair but are holding on for now.
In our town, schools are too often places where young people – our hope, and our future – are slipping through the cracks, bullied and harassed, profiled and pushed out. On these streets, the police do not serve and protect us. Traffic stops and checkpoints pad county budgets, and mark the beginning of a descent into detention, deportation, and loss. We know this is not the “new” South, although developers try to sell us back the tobacco and textile mills where our grandparents toiled, as gated lofts and restaurants where we can’t afford to eat. This is our home.
So we celebrate our survival here, seeking the spaces where we can connect to each other and to what is real. We build family like patchwork quilts, from the remnants, stitched together, stronger at the seams. We know our liberation depends on us coming together across lines of difference, and we are all part of one another.
We long for Durham to be a place where all of our children can be safe in our streets and in their schools. Toward that vision, we are engaged in SONG’s regional campaign – building BeLoved Community around young people in the heart of the South. Our work begins with listening closely to their voices, asking them what they experience and what they need to feel safe. It calls us even deeper into community, finding our people at the High School GSA, the gay bar downtown, the skate park, and the mall. We are collecting stories because they help us see the connections in our struggles, strengthen our analysis, and target the site where power can be transformed. We are gathering people, building trust and alignment, sharing skills and rooting deep. We need your help.
North Carolina Field Organizer
To find out how you can get involved, please contact serena@southernersonnewground.
Over $14 Billion is spent every year on Valentine’s Day. Most of that money goes to last minute cheesy cards, candy hearts, flowers, stuffed animals, and other relics that are supposed to signify our love for one another. While it’s nice to get those things from your sweetie/s or your mama, a lot of us are left desiring so much more after all the hubbub of red and pink. How do we show our love for each other, for our communities, for the communities we stand in solidarity with? This past Valentine’s Day, SONG members across the South worked to collectively think through these questions.