Black women and girls speak out against street harassment following attack in Southwest DC

Tonight women from Ward 8 will organize Reclaiming Our Bodies, a food table and speakout to tell their community that women and girls deserve to feel safe from harassment in public spaces. Organized in response to an incident where a 16-year-old girl was harassed, followed, and threatened at a monthly food table in Ward 8, the speakout will give community members an opportunity to share their personal experiences with harassment and demonstrate support for non-criminal, community-based solutions to street harassment on a citywide level.

“Society will try to make women and girls believe that it is normal to be harassed in the street by men. We are told to cover up, watch where we go, watch what we do, and not be comfortable in our own skin. On the 23rd, we say NO to this culture,” said Schyla Pondexter-Moore, organizer of the speakout and mother of the attacked teen. “We have a right to wear what we want! We shouldn’t be telling women and girls to not get raped and harassed. We need to tell men not to rape and harass.”

According to a 2014 study by Stop Street Harassment, 65% of women will experience street harassment, a problem that disproportionately impacts women of color and LGBTQGNC people. Another study by the Black Women’s Blueprint shows that 60% of Black girls will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18, and a 2017 CDC report showed that Black women are twice as likely to be murdered than women of any other racial identity.

In D.C., pending legislation entitled the Street Harassment Prevention Act seeks to address gendered violence using a three-pronged approach, including citywide data collection, an awareness campaign offering support and resources to those targeted, and training for government employees on how to prevent and interrupt incidents of harassment. The bill will help to prevent incidents of violence against women with a non-punitive, non-criminal approach.

Press is invited to attend the speakout, which will take place at 3900 South Capitol Street Southwest on Wednesday, August 23rd from 5 to 9 PM.

Men: You can do better. We want to help.

Last Monday, a 16-year-old Black girl from Ward 8 confronted her harassers — men who serve food in her community — and told them clearly, calmly, and repeatedly: “No matter what I’m wearing, I deserve to walk down the street without being harassed.” Their response? They contorted their faces in disbelief of the radical idea that women and girls deserve to feel safe in public spaces.

Blaming women for the harassment they experience while navigating public spaces is unacceptable. Yet, men continue to blame women — or their attitudes or their profession or their clothes — for their actions. We need to rethink this common refrain. We need to rethink masculinity.

Are you or someone you know ready to commit to working to construct a new understanding of masculinity? If so, apply by August 23rd to join the second cohort of Rethink Masculinity, which runs from mid-September to early November!

ReThink Masculinity, a partnership between Collective Action for SafeSpaces, ReThink, and DC Rape Crisis Center, is a consciousness building group, for and by men, to construct healthier masculinities.

The program is a two-month long consciousness building group focused on equipping men with the skills and community to rethink how they express their identity. Rethink Masculinity is committed to being intersectional, to centering queer and trans people, and to building a culture of accountability and trust. Applications are open to all men, regardless of assigned gender. People of color, queer and/or trans men, and DC natives are encouraged to apply.

Questions? Want to learn more? Join us for an informational happy hour next Monday at Nellies or email daniel@collectiveactiondc.org or stephen@collectiveactiondc.org.

Want to take action in solidarity with the girls harassed in Ward 8? Come out on August 23rd from 5-9pm for “Reclaiming My Body,” a speakout and food table where people can still get the food they need and feel safe.

Join Us to #PassSHPA!

For far too many of us, street harassment is a fact of daily life. Street harassment, however, is more than just catcalling on the street. Someone might be targeted by a harasser for any number of reasons, including actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and housing status. With a significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale just last week — CASS is more committed than ever to addressing all types of street harassment in our city. That’s why we partnered with D.C. City Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau to introduce the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2017

The Street Harassment Prevention Act, which we affectionately call SHPA, will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

CASS and our partner organizations know that we need holistic solutions to the problem of street harassment that rely on community-based initiatives rather than law enforcement.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Tweet. Join CASS for a Twitter Town Hall on June 29th at 8 p.m. to discuss street harassment in DC and #PassSHPA.
  2. Organize. Before the Twitter Town Hall tonight, join CASS and CM Nadeau at Sudhouse at 6 p.m. to learn how you can plug in to advocacy work.
  3. Testify. Share your story of harassment with the DC Council on Wednesday, July 12th.
  4. Amplify. Join our Thunderclap to share your support of the SHPA. 
  5. Share all of the above with your friends!

This is the perfect opportunity to engage in local activism and protect your friends and neighbors. Let’s #PassSHPA!

We Did It! #DoMore24 Wrap-Up

Wow! Thanks to amazing supporters like you, we were able to #RaisetheBar! Because you gave, because you drank with us at happy hour, because you tweeted and took selfies, because you shared our campaign, Collective Action for Safe Spaces raised more than $9,500 through our #DoMore24 campaign to launch the Safe Bar Collective!

Your support will provide CJ, Kiki, Cassandra, and Maria with access to safe and supportive employment in our partner bars and restaurants this summer!

But our work is not done yet — there’s still so much we have to do to make bars a safe space for ALL, and here’s how you can help:

  1. Donate to the Safe Bar Collective. Missed the campaign but still want to support trans folks of color in DC? Give here!
  2. Patron our Safe Bars. The full list of all our trained bars can be found here.
  3. Share the Safe Bar Collective with your networks. We need everyone on board to make bars a safe space for all, especially trans folks of color. Share our campaign on Twitter and Facebook today!

Also, we need people to testify in support of the Street Harassment Prevention Act on Wednesday, July 12th.

Introduced in February, the Street Harassment Prevention Act is one of the first of its kind to establish a comprehensive framework to address street harassment in our community through non-criminal solutions.

Now we need YOU to share your stories of harassment in the District to show the Council how important this act is to community safety. Sign up to testify or submit written testimony here, and we’ll be in contact with resources and support!

From all of us at CASS, thank you.

Let’s Make DC Nightlife Safer for *Everyone* This #DoMore24

Trans people face tremendous hurdles — like wage inequity, lack of legal protections, and implicit bias — when it comes to securing stable unemployment. In DC alone, 36% of trans men and women have faced unemployment during their lives. But for Black trans people, this statistic increases significantly to a staggering 55%.

Chronic unemployment stemming from literal and figurative discrimination leads to housing instability, lack of health insurance, and poverty — all things that no person should have to face in one of the wealthiest cities in America.

With feedback from our widely popular Safe Bar program, CASS is stepping up our commitment to making bars safer for *everyone* with the new Safe Bar Collective!

If you haven’t heard already, the Safe Bar Collective will provide four trans people of color with access to safe and supportive employment in our partner bars and restaurants. By providing job training, hygiene kits, and transportation stipends, we aim to support people like Cassandra (who started transitioning after she moved to DC) and CJ (who was fired when he asked for sick time) not only get a job, but with the resources they need to keep it.

“I moved to DC because I wanted to be in a city where I could succeed and be myself,” says Cassandra. “I knew I could be myself here.” Cassandra’s job in the Safe Bar Collective will be her first job since she transitioned. Let’s show Cassandra the support she needs and deserves.

Safe Bar Collective can make real impact on real people’s lives, but we can’t do it without you. Today is #DoMore24, our 24-hour giving challenge. We need to raise $13,000 to launch the Safe Bar Collective and we hope you can help us reach our goal. Here’s what you can do:

Donate $48 — today only, your donations will be matched, which makes your $48 automatically $96! With this funding, we can supply our pilot program participants CJ, Kiki, Maria, and Cassandra with the resources and training they need to succeed!

Take a selfie — Tweet a selfie of yourself with this sign and some Tweet that says why you’re supporting our #DoMore24 campaign. Don’t forget to use the #RaisetheBar and #DoMore24 hashtags to help CASS win bonus cash from United Way, the organizers of #DoMore24.

Spread the word — Follow our campaign on social media today and spread the word with your friends, coworkers, paramours, and anyone else you know! Need some ideas to make your own posts? Check out our social media toolkit.

Let’s show Cassandra and CJ they support they need and deserve — and make DC safer for *everyone.*

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