Join Us to Help End Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and CASS is joining survivors, advocates, and allies to spread the word.

Did you know that one in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence by a partner in their lifetime? For Black and Hispanic women, this number jumps to 30 and 33 percent, respectively. And for trans folks, it’s estimated that 30-50 percent have experienced domestic violence.

This is an issue that affects all of us, and it’s one we cannot be silent about this or any month.

Here’s a look at what we’ll be doing this month to help end domestic violence:

  • Stop Light Party – October 14
    Join us for a fun evening of building healthy relationships at our DVAM Stop Light Party!
  • Twitter Chat – October 17
    The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s DVAM Twitter Chat will be from 2-3 pm on the 17th in both English and Spanish. Use #Safety4Survivors to add your voice to the conversation. More information on the chat and NNEDV’s Week of Action is available here.
  • #PurpleThursday – October 19
    Wear purple to bring awareness to domestic violence. Share a photo of your #PurpleThursday style with us – tag us @SafeSpacesDC!
  • Safe Bar Collective Training – October 22
    We’re offering a public, discounted Safe Bar Collective Training. Groups of two or more bar/restaurant staff members can attend to become safety captains at their establishment.

Plus, we’re debuting a new poster in the coming weeks! Keep an eye out for ways you can be an active bystander.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, we encourage you to seek out help and resources from DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) and D.C.’s crime victims hotline.

 

Image courtesy of National Network to End Domestic Violence.

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!

Let’s get CJ hired!

For three and a half years, CJ made his living as a hard-working cashier. He always came to work on time and constantly went above and beyond to achieve the very best at the retail store where he worked. But despite his work ethic, CJ watched and waited as other people were hired and promoted to manager positions. For all his accomplishments, he remained where he was as a cashier.

Then one day, something happened to CJ: he got sick.

When he went to his boss with a doctor’s letter, his boss refused him outright and fired CJ on the spot. CJ was devastated.

“When I got fired, I was so distraught because I worked so hard to get to that position,” says CJ.

Sadly, for trans people of color like CJ, finding and maintaining a stable job can be a challenge.

In DC, the unemployment rate for the transgender community is 36 percent, and skyrockets to 55 percent for Black trans people. Research shows that the root cause of unemployment for trans people is tied directly to discrimination. What’s more — 40 percent of transgender adults were refused at least one job because of their gender identity and 47 percent of employees preferred hiring a less qualified cisgender applicant over a more qualified trans applicant.

The new Safe Bar Collective is working to fix that. Your support on June 8th during #DoMore24 will help us ensure that trans people of color — including CJ — are trained, hired, and supported.

The Safe Bar Collective is piloting a program to provide four trans people of color with access to safe and supportive employment in partner bars and restaurants this summer. CASS and the Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC (ROC-DC) will provide everything CJ and the three other participants need to thrive — including restaurant job training, hygiene kits, and transportation stipends to and from work.

Take the pledge to help CJ access safe, supportive employment at a Safe Bar!

Thank You For Your Support to #FreeGiGi!

Yesterday GiGi Thomas was given a 30-year sentence and 10 years were suspended. The sentence is 20 years, however, she will not serve all of them.

GiGi Thomas is a transgender woman of color who has worked for more than 15 years supporting people in need in the D.C.-Baltimore area. She served as a client consultant with the sex-worker rights and human services organization HIPS and recently completed a Masters in Social Work from Howard University. Over the years, GiGi helped thousands of community members find shelter and sustenance, reunited families, cared for the injured, and spoke out about injustice especially regarding the treatment of the trans community. Gigi’s peers describe her as “one of those people who just gives and gives with all they have,” and an “amazing woman with a heart of gold.”

Since October 2015, GiGi has been held without bail in a men’s prison, often in solitary confinement. At her trial in February 2017, her attorney argued for involuntary manslaughter and a jury (obviously not of her peers) found her guilty of 2nd degree murder. The prosecuting attorney misgendered her and erased the context of her experiences as a trans woman of color, social worker, and community leader.

The ongoing support from the community to right this injustice has been amazing — you’ve written letters, shared stories, and appeared in the courtroom.

The judge reported that she examined the strong community support — and that GiGi’s support was “different from normal support.” Your letters and presence at the courtroom demonstrated that GiGi is appreciated in our community and her work is valuable.

GiGi will be at the jail for about two weeks, and will then be transferred to Baltimore to be placed. You can write to her in the meantime at GiGi Marie Thomas (A65386), PG County Correctional Center, 13400 Dille Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.

The work continues to #FreeGiGi, as well as other incarcerated Black trans women who fight this system daily.

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