*English Transcript Available on Vimeo
January 2016 hit many of us full speed ahead. As we were planning our New Year’s resolutions and dreaming about all the projects we would do this year, we wrestled with the reality of a not new yet rising tide of: white supremacy; the Trump Effect; mass coordinated deportations and detentions; the continued killing and abuse of Black people and people of color by police, court systems, and the state; attacks on voting rights and abortion access; and consolidation of corporate greed and power. Combine that with the renewed righteousness of the right wing targeting Trans, Queer, and LGB communities with so-called religious-freedom legislation sweeping the South and the country, and well, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
These months have not been easy, but we have been deeply moved by the ongoing dedication, commitment, love, and rigor shown by the thousands of LGBTQ people in the South (and across the country) that make up the kindred network that is Southerners On New Ground. We don’t take it lightly to be walking, fighting, dancing, and organizing with you, both literally and spiritually, in the culture and policy wars of our times to protect and defend our lives and our communities.
As queer and trans people, as Black people, as immigrants, as working class and poor people, as disabled people, as small town dwellers and urban transplants, as waiters, stay-at-home parents, coffee-slingers, drag queens, janitors, factory workers, and bar backs, we have refused to roll over for the policies, access, rights, culture change and dignity that we have so valiantly fought for and won. We can’t list all the ways that you help make SONG what it is, but we will continue to stand by your side and we hope that you will continue to join us on our journey towards liberation in our lifetime.
What We’ve Been Up To…
ORGANIZED RESISTANCE FROM APPALACHIA TO THE DELTA
From HB2 in North Carolina to HB1523 in Mississippi and all the states and legislation in between (we’re looking at you South Carolina and Tennessee), we have been on our toes providing rapid response support to our members across the South. SONG members, staff, and supporters on the ground have been working around the clock to strengthen and amplify grassroots resistance against this hate legislation. We ask you to continue to move forward with us in the face of this backlash to build power and resilience in our Southern LGBTQ communities and movement. We’ve provided critical technical assistance via communications, fundraising, direct action planning, and strategy development. As we continue to support local work we are moving a regional strategy focused on:
Building and making visible the collective resistance to these bills (from individuals to privates businesses to public institutions) to show widespread disapproval of unjust policies that harm our communities and create hostile and violence climates for our people.
- LEGISLATIVE + POLICY
Our regional staff attorney and collaboration with Transgender Law Center (TLC@SONG) will be providing legal and policy expertise to all of us in the form of tracking where bills are in each session in each state, filing EEOC (Equal Opportunity) complaints, providing fact sheets, know your rights trainings and strategy support.
- EXPOSE OUR ENEMIES
Legislation like HB2 doesn’t just happen on the whim of transphobic and racist legislators. Folks like Lee Bright in South Carolina coordinate with right wing institutions like the Palmetto Family Council and Citizen Link to turn back the organizing wins and culture shifts we have fought so hard for. We must name them, hold them accountable, and bring them the gay pain!
What Can You Do Right Now?
We’ve got post cards to send to Pat McCrory in NC, we’re making posters, and we’re organizing on the ground (not just on our laptops). If you want to find out how to get connected to real people email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you’re connected to folks near you. And don’t forget to follow us on social media @ignitekindred for updates on where you can download posters, find out how you can send postcards, get up-to-date news and legal analysis, and find out where you can share your story or file a complaint.
SONG’s vision is enacted by our members. You can learn more about membership and sign-up HERE.
If you missed our regional membership call in February you can check out slides and notes HERE (note only members have access to this part of our website). They include SONG’s goals for 2016 and updates about our work around Free From Fear Campaigns, Black Lives Matter, Queering Immigration, and upcoming SONG kinship and culture events. This winter and spring we have had site visits, strategy sessions, and trainings in: Richmond, VA, Harrisonburg, VA, Durham, NC, Asheville, NC, Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, and Birmingham, AL.
Over the course of 2016 we will launch an organizing Fellowship Program which will provide training, support, and stipends to a handful of our amazing member leaders in order to better advance SONG’s Free From Fear campaigns.
KINSHIP + CULTURE
Registration for our 4th annual membership gathering is upon us. This year we’re meeting in Harrison Bay, TN. You can find more details and register at bit.ly/songgaycay16. Registration ends May 20 and active SONG members are prioritized. Don’t delay it fills up fast every year!
Sparkle Bark Artist Residency
Are you an artist, maker, or crafty queer of any kind AND a SONG member? If so, we have GREAT news for you! In collaboration with our dear friends at Sparkle Bark Farms outside of Asheville, NC, we are piloting a new project offering a total of 6 artist residencies this summer starting in late July through mid August! For more information and to apply click here!
Kindred Sounds is a regular-ish playlist curated by SONG staff and members to keep our spirits up and our bodies moving. You can find Kindred Sounds 01 here and Kindred Sounds 02 here. Our third will be coming your way soon!
Film Series Tool Kit
In case you missed it last fall check out SONG’s Film Series Tool Kit! It is an excellent way to initiate conversations in your community across class, race and desire!
FREE FROM FEAR CAMPAIGNS
SONG members in Richmond are continuing to organize and work around ending racial profiling and biased policing practices in the river city. We are currently collecting stories from queer, trans and people of color community members in order to sharpen and determine our demands. Our general membership meetings and outreach events are where and how we collect these stories. We are specifically looking at passing an ordinance through city council that will address these issues and also looking into specific policies that can be implemented within Richmond Police Department. Additionally, we are coming into collaboration with a local group working to diminish the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Richmond and are committed to supporting and connecting all of these issues.
For more information on how to plug into the work in Richmond, contact email@example.com
The Free From Free ATL campaign has continued to move despite the usual movement ebbs and flows. We’ve reignited our monthly political education study and have come up with some exciting tactics to advance our strategy. The recent Department of Justice legislation to end debtors prisons has also created an opening to advance our demands which are:
1. Set municipal court fines and fees based on an individual’s income
2. Provide dignified community service for folks that are indigent
3. End failure to appear warrants
To get involved in the Atlanta Free From Fear campaign email firstname.lastname@example.org
This time last year, SONG and other organizations celebrated a victory in the Moving Beyond Jails campaign which kept a new jail from being built in our community. As we reflect on our victory and work to document our efforts, we continue to work in close alliance with several leaders and community organizations striving to close the pipeline leading to the municipal “demand” for more incarceration. We are knee-deep in research that utilizes both data and stories to identify where the deepest need is to address in relationship to incarceration. This will help us “cut our issue” and launch a Free From Fear campaign with local demands. Like many other Free From Fear campaigns in our region, we are looking closely at fines and fees in municipal court, police interactions with Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ people, and both city and police department policies dictating that behavior.
To connect with organizing in Harrisonburg contact email@example.com
In Durham, the Free From Fear campaign seeks to:
1. change local policy in order to bring about increased protections from police profiling and criminalization for LGBTQ people of color in the city of Durham
2. build base and coalitions, and
3. develop leadership of LGBTQ POC.
Over the past three months, the campaign’s primary focus has been on implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Durham Police Department in interactions with Trans* and gender non-conforming individuals, engaging our base in the campaign and team building, and working to build and sustain strategic coalitions and alliances with groups who are also doing anti-criminalization or police reform work locally. Since the beginning of the year, we have held monthly community dinners, hosted the Durham Beyond Policing Town Hall, and are now fighting HB2 and utilizing momentum to build power towards the repeal of HB2 and towards the demands of our campaign.
To get involved in the Durham Free From Fear Campaign or fight back to North Carolina HB2 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Charleston, SC + Birmingham, AL
In both Charleston and Birmingham, SONG members are running cultural and political education events to build SONG’s membership, identify the possibility for Free From Fear campaigns, and to develop leadership and kinship.
To get involved in work in Charleston or Birmingham email email@example.com
TLC@SONG is a collaboration, combining Transgender Law Center’s policy advocacy and litigation expertise with SONG’s leadership and grassroots organizing prowess to create a better reality for our Southern communities.
Garden Party & Open House
We are so excited to have Asa King and Micky Bradford on deck as TLC@SONG staff moving the work forward! The Garden Party is on April 21 in Atlanta and is a chance for our members and supporters to come check out our office, meet new staff, hear about the progress and plans of the collaboration, and meet other folks who support this crucial work. RSVP & Join us!
Georgia Department of Justice Investigation
As a result of a settlement of a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the case of Ashley Diamond (a transgender woman sexually assaulted while incarcerated in the Georgia Department Of Corrections (DOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a system-wide investigation of abuse and discrimination against LGBTQ people in the Georgia DOC. This includes state prisons inside of Georgia and issues related to housing, healthcare access, protection from sexual assault, staff harassment and safety of LGBT persons.
We are collecting stories to present to the DOJ and are looking for:
- People who are LGBT identified
- Formerly or currently incarcerated in a Georgia state prison (This does NOT include Georgia jails.)
- Experienced discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, issues accessing healthcare, etc. while in prison
- Willing to share their experience with an attorney and/or the DOJ investigator
For people who are currently in prison, call Flor Bermudez from Transgender Law Center at 510-380-8229.
If people in prison or elsewhere would like to send a letter, it can be sent to:
Transgender Law Center (Southern Regional Office)
ATTN: Asa King, Esq.
PO Box 11250
Atlanta, GA 30310
*Please ensure mail is labeled “Legal Mail.” This is very important for people in prison so that guards cannot read the contents of the letters.
We’re Hiring A Summer Legal Intern!
APPLY for this opportunity with Southerners on New Ground and Transgender Law Center for a summer legal internship! Position based in Atlanta. In times like these we need all the trans and queer liberation lawyers we can find! http://bit.ly/23ywmSb
We are conducting a transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) listening tour in the South through the spring, summer, and fall of this year. If you want to know more about the tour or be a potential host contact Micky@transgenderlawcenter.org.
BLACK LIVES MATTER + COMBAHEE ALLIANCE
We continue to engage national coalitions and alliances that help flank and support our local organizing and leadership of Black SONG members. Our relationship with both Black Lives Matter and the Combahee Alliance has brought critical thinking, strategy, resources, and training to SONG. Both embrace the guiding principle of, “sharing and making accessible space for all Black folx regardless of perceived sexual identity, gender identity and expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs or immigration status or location,” and of providing the training and leadership to invest in Black leadership and build Black and Brown unity to make key and risky interventions of our time.
Our Queering Immigration organizing continues to be deeply embedded in our membership, Free From Fear Campaigns, and our collaboration with the Not1More Deportation Campaign (housed with Mijente), and other regional and local immigrant liberation organizations. Our priorities include: cultural resilience and kinship building; exposing, confronting, and overcoming unjust immigration laws; and deportation defense.
In April we attended the We Want Freedom: Resisting Criminalization In the Southeast Convening. You can read more about the experiences of SONG members at the convening HERE. Additionally, we were happy to support one of our sister organizations, GLAHR, on their co-release of a new report with the Advancement Project about felony driving laws in Georgia. You can access the report HERE.
Our regional immigration organizing fellow, Eujenia Osoria is planning a series of regional cultural events with our members so stay tuned for that! If you’d like to get more involved in our queering immigration organizing contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOLUNTEER WITH US!
Do you have undeniable grassroots fundraising skills? Want to help us transcribe and add captions to our videos? Are you a gifted interpreter or translator with some extra time? Want to lend your art, graphic design, research or copy editing skills? It takes a village to get to liberation and we’re always looking for SONG members and allies to help us roll out the important work of building and maintaining an organization. If you you’d like to volunteer your time and skills you can let us know at email@example.com.
New Swag & Online Store!
Queering Immigration Events!
SONG 2016 Cultural Caravan!
Meet our 2016 SONG Organizing Fellows!
Free From Fear Campaign Website!
Collaboration with AgitArte!