Statement: Do Not Militarize Our Mourning: Orlando and the Ongoing Tragedy Against LGBTSTGNC POC

See the original post on the Audre Lorde Project website. June 15, 2016

We at the Audre Lorde Project are devastated by the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando which resulted in the murder of 49 queer and trans people (the majority of whom are Black, Latinx, and/or Afrolatinx), including Enrique Rios from Brooklyn. We send our deepest condolences to all of the families, lovers, and friends of the victims and all of the Southern queer and trans organizers who continue to fight for liberation in their name. We are with you in solidarity.  We are constantly reminded that there is no separation from our need to heal and our need to organize for our continued survival. We need each other now more than ever.

Our community in New York City is struggling today as we reconcile with the constant reality that we are considered disposable by a racist, transmisogynist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic country. From our experiences on the ground as an organizing center for and by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two Spirit, and Gender Non Conforming People of Color (LGBTSTGNC POC) we know that this massacre is not the exception, it is part of the economy of violence against LGBTSTGNC, Black people & People of Color, indigenous people, and immigrants. It makes explicit what the institutions of war, prisons, detention centers, and the police teach our communities every day: that we were never meant to survive.*

Contrary to what the media and mainstream LGBT organizations and publications are depicting: the victims and survivors are Black, Latinx, AfroLatinx, Trans, Gender Non Conforming, undocumented, and working class. These identities matter. They matter because of the US occupation and militarization of Puerto Rico and Latin/South America due to US sanctioned economic violence. They matter because our communities have to make separate Latinx nights at clubs due to racism even within the LGBT community. They matter because Black and Latinx club sanctuaries and safe spaces (like Starlight in Brooklyn, Club Escuelita in Manhattan) are routinely shut down due to rampant gentrification and increased policing of our neighborhoods. They matter because Bayna Lehkiem El-Amin, a Black HIV/AIDS counselor and Ballroom community leader, has been demonized as a homophobe and is currently awaiting sentencing in Rikers for defending himself against an attack by a white gay man. They matter because there is an epidemic of murder of Black and Latinx Trans Women and Gender Non Conforming people and this tragedy is part of this ongoing colonial project.

The fact that only the race of the perpetrator and not the victims is being discussed is telling. Besides erasing the lived reality of Muslim LGBTSTGNC people, Black Muslims, and LGBTSTGNC people of color more generally, this promotes the xenophobic stereotype that Muslim people and immigrants are more “homophobic,” and become “radicalized” elsewhere. The culprit becomes the figure of the “Islamic terrorist,” and the heroes become the politicians, the police, and the military. We reject this deliberately racist framing. Individual perpetrators are part of a much larger system of militarization and colonization. We recognize that terrorism is not imported, it is home grown in a culture that is deeply anti-Black, anti-immigrant, and anti-queer. It is of a culture where the Christian Right has attempted to pass over 200 pieces of anti-LGBT legislation across the country, it is a culture where 59 year old Mohamed Rasheed Khan was beaten on his way out of a Queens mosque this month, where an immigrant detention center in Santa Ana still detains and assaults many Latinx trans women who came to the US to escape US-backed political violence. In order to do justice to the victims of Orlando we have to address these problems at their root causes, not their symptoms. While the daily violences of settler colonialism (the continued occupation of indigenous land), of Christian supremacy, of anti-Black policing, of Islamophobia, of criminalization of gender non conformity, of immigrant detention and deportation are never elevated to the status of national tragedy, we must commit ourselves to abolishing these systems if we want to prevent Orlando from ever happening again.

Already the NYPD, along with other security forces across the country, has heightened security outside of our bars and Pride events. This has looked like armed cops in riot gear policing our safe spaces – cops who are carrying the same kind of weapon that Omar Mateen used in Orlando.  Politicians (both Trump and Clinton alike) are calling for a harsher crackdown on “Islamic extremism.” Our allies are pledging to keep us safe as we assemble for Pride this month. But we ask: safety for whom? They call for increased policing, but never for affordable housing. Hate crimes legislation has been shown to fuel mass incarceration and disproportionately criminalize Black and People of Color survivors of violence. The Christopher Street Pier, a sacred space for LGBTSTGNC youth and poor people of color, is barricaded shut by NYPD during Pride. Calls for gun control never seem to include demands for demilitarization of the police.

In order to prevent the violence we witnessed in Orlando, it is more important than ever that LGBTSTGNC POC turn to each other for community safety rather than relying on systems that were never meant for us. It is more important than ever that we reject increased militarization at home and abroad. It is more important than ever that we uplift the experiences, politics, and movements of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx queer and trans people fighting for self-determination of our bodies, homes, neighborhoods, clubs, and lands.

It will be imperative that we look towards each other for our political survival, for our collective well being and safety.  We honor the names of those lost in Orlando, as a reminder of the conservative backlash in this country and reminder we must continue to fight, to love, to build power and transform violence and colonization that has always deemed our bodies expendable.

In Solidarity, Audre Lorde Project Members, Board, Staff

 

* Audre Lorde’s “Litany for Survival”

 

For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone for those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children's mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours;

For those of us who were imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads learning to be afraid with our mother's milk for by this weapon this illusion of some safety to be found the heavy-footed hoped to silence us For all of us this instant and this triumph We were never meant to survive. And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive

November 23, 2021

Looking back & what's ahead: NFG's November 2021 Newsletter

As we're approaching the end of the year, our team at Neighborhood Funders Group has begun reflecting on the many ways we've been organizing with funders to move more money to racial, gender, economic, and climate justice. In this month's newsletter, you'll find our highlights from 2021 and a glimpse of what to expect from each of our programs in 2022 to get you excited about continuing to co-conspire with the NFG community.


  

AMPLIFY FUND

  • In 2021, Amplify Fund distributed $3.6m in general operating grants to our 56 grantees in 8 places, including $700k in capacity building grants and collaboration grants; we hope you consider co-funding these amazing organizations with us!
  • We also worked on a more public presence this year by creating and distributing videos about our grantees and our grantmaking model, and by publishing in a major magazine.
  • Next year will be a big transition: our grantees are leading our theory of change refresh, our Steering Committee is doubling down on efforts to shift our field towards racial justice and power building, and we are fundraising (i.e., encouraging you all to join our Steering Committee) to ensure the Amplify Fund continues for years to come.

 

DEMOCRATIZING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

  • This year, the Democratizing Development Program (DDP) brought community and philanthropic leaders together to advance BIPOC organizing and policy solutions for land, housing, community ownership, and power.

  • ICYMI: check out our sessions on Addressing the Housing Crisis in New York and Beyond, which featured tenant leaders and advocates in New York State who are building power to address the housing crisis, and Philanthropy and the Case for Reparations in collaboration with the Decolonizing Wealth Project, featuring organizations that are advancing reparations as a strategy to heal, restore, repair, and rebuild communities.
  • In 2022, DDP will be engaging local and national-level funders interested in learning how to be more aligned with movement priorities, with a focus on power building strategies for housing justice. Our sessions will share experiences of how funders have approached partnership and power-sharing with community organizations, and outcomes that are possible through this approach.

 

FUNDERS FOR A JUST ECONOMY

  • Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) focused our efforts this year on learning from movement partners who are building a powerful movement for inclusive worker power, considering both rising fascism and the new federal administration, and sharing how funders can support multiracial, multi-gender movements toward policy wins that build community and worker power, combat austerity policies, and support transformational and longer-term strategies toward racial, gender, climate, and economic justice.
  • We did this through many programs and reports this year. Don’t forget to rewatch and re-read some highlights, including the March Policy Briefing and learning about the amazing local organizing in Nashville, Houston, Washington DC, and Southern California’s Inland Region.
  • Next year, FJE aspires to double down our efforts to organize funders to resource grassroots power building, address racial capitalism, and commit more money to movement organizations that are boldly organizing to improve the quality of life, health, and working conditions of Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, low-income communities, and queer, trans and gender non-binary people. Stay tuned for more information about upcoming meetings with the US Department of Labor (every few months) and FJE’s annual Policy Briefing in March 2022.

 

INTEGRATED RURAL STRATEGIES GROUP

  • Integrated Rural Strategies Group (IRSG) deepened its roots in rural community-led work with the launch of our Movement Advisors Committee; launched the Resourcing Rural Organizing Infrastructure: A New York Case Study report containing analysis and funder recommendations for supporting rural communities; and continues to support funders in actualizing these recommendations and the guidance of our Movement Advisors by developing a Rural Equity Funding Toolkit that includes a funder self-assessment and set of resources.
  • IRSG will be hosting its flagship annual event — the Multiracial Rural Equity Summit — on December 9. We invite any funder interested in learning the critical role rural communities play in advancing justice and equity to join us. For a taste of what we’ll dig into at the Summit, check out this 10-minute video on how funders can support place-based rural community power.
  • In 2022, IRSG will live into its charge to mobilize philanthropy by launching a New York Rural Organizing Funding Portfolio, offering funders of all types the opportunity to resource rural community organizing across New York State in a strategic, coordinated portfolio. We will also be hosting workshops and learning communities to mobilize philanthropic resources to build rural power with our Rural Equity Funding Toolkit.

 

MIDWEST ORGANIZING INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDERS

  • In 2021, the Midwest Organizing Infrastructure Funders hosted our first events, which have already moved resources to organizing and power building work in the Midwest. We also launched our first campaign and worked to deepen our relationships with funders to better understand Midwest-specific needs around moving resources to movements for racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.
  • To connect with us, please read our November newsletter and email Amanda Hwu to learn more about opportunities for engagement.
  • In 2022, we will be launching our inaugural Coordinating Committee to guide the vision and priorities of this new program, continuing our racial justice campaign for Black farmers, and designing and hosting interactive spaces for funders to deepen their engagement with grassroots organizing infrastructure in the Midwest.

 

PHILANTHROPY FORWARD

  • In 2021, Philanthropy Forward hosted virtual sessions and peer coaching spaces for the 16 CEO Fellows in Cohort 3. We hosted Network Gatherings for 50 current and past Fellows to deepen their work and analyses on racial & gender justice and community power building to disrupt and transform the future of philanthropy.
  • To learn more about Philanthropy Forward, please see here; and get more info about Cohort 3 here. Please contact Adriana Rocha for any additional questions.
  • In 2022, we look forward to launching Cohort 4 and continuing to provide programming for Cohort 3 and the Philanthropy Forward network.

 

NFG is offering a few more opportunities this year to co-conspire with us! Keep reading to find out more about IRSG's Multiracial Rural Equity Summit, and funders — don't miss our final Member Connection Call of the year on December 1.

At this Member Connection Call, we'll ask you to share how you've centered care in your grantmaking and/or what you've shifted at your foundation to fund BIPOC communities to build power. Share what support you may need as a grantmaker to fund racial, gender, economic, and climate justice with even more resources so that BIPOC communities, low-income communities, workers, migrants, rural communities, people with disabilities, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, women, and all of our communities thrive in a liberated world where we are all well, where we are all cared for, and where there is abundance for all.

In solidarity,

— the NFG team

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October 28, 2021

Philanthropy’s horoscope for care + liberation: NFG's October 2021 Newsletter

I’ve been on NFG’s staff team since July 2019 — popping into your inbox (whether you knew it was me or not) as one of the behind-the-scenes creators/writers/editors of our monthly newsletters and other communications pieces.

In addition to being NFG’s Director of Membership and Communications, I’m a puppy parent, an avid car camper, a chaser of sunrises & sunsets, and one of many queer folx who leans on astrologer Chani Nicholas to help me ‘discover and live out my life’s purpose.’

For those of you who are not astrology aficionados, we’re now in Scorpio season (I’m an Aquarius sun, Gemini rising, and Cancer moon). And Chani’s horoscope for me this season really struck a chord; here’s a snippet:

“In astrology, the house we associate with physical ailments is also the place where we toil. This Scorpio season, you’re called to investigate how the two interweave. How do your work habits and expectations impact you physically? Where does stress live in your body? How does it let you know?

By gathering the morse code of your heart beats, your nerves as they rustle, or the needling heat of a back ache, you transfigure these inconveniences into valuable data: into information you can pivot from. By heeding the complaints of your body, you leave an offering at the steps of your most precious temple — you.”

This invitation to collect the data from my body, locate where I feel stress, and explore the interconnectedness between my work habits & expectations and my body’s aches, pains, fatigue, satisfaction, etc. is a welcome and timely one.


Over the past year + some change, the NFG team has begun to explore what it means to create & steward our culture of care. We are still in the nascent stage of defining NFG’s culture of care and how it will & can evolve. So far, this has looked like the following:

  • Annual self-care stipends for staff
  • Flexibility with annual professional development funds and the ability to repurpose some of those funds for our individual wellness
  • More administrative closures at the end of the year and at other times of the year (NFG closed for 3 weeks at the end of 2020 and will be closed from December 15, 2021 - January 4, 2022)

We’re continuing to imagine what kind of world is possible — and what role philanthropy plays in moving all of us toward liberation — when we honor the data from our bodies, dismantle the oppressive structures that aren’t serving us at work or in any parts of our lives, and truly center care for ourselves as individuals, in our teams, with our movement leaders & grantees, and in our communities.

I’m ruminating on questions like:

  • How do we center care in our work as we all grapple with white supremacy culture characteristics of urgency, quantity vs. quality, and perfectionism?
  • How and where do we incorporate care into schedules that have many folx in 4, 5, or 6+ zoom meetings a day? What is the toll of the way we work on our bodies, minds, and spirit?
  • How is care reflected in our organizational policies, in our theory of change, and in our values and work culture? Where can care be more deeply rooted in these aspects of our organizations?
  • How do we fully resource our team as humans to show up as their full selves and feel fully supported to do their best work (which also means taking breaks and pausing and resting and honoring whatever data our bodies tell us)?
  • How does care, wellness, and the ability to be well show up in philanthropy (or not)? And what does that mean for NFG as we strive to fulfill our mission to organize philanthropy to support grassroots power building so that Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities and low-income communities thrive?
  • How can our practices of care at NFG and across the philanthropic sector ripple out so that Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, low-income communities, workers, migrants, rural communities, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, women, and all of our communities thrive in a liberated world where we are all well, where we are all cared for, and where there is abundance for all?

Last week, NFG’s President, Adriana Rocha, and I hosted our October Member Connection Call, where we asked grantmakers who joined us from Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York: how you are caring for yourself, your team, and the movement leaders & grantees that you're supporting as we move through Scorpio season to the end of the year? Members shared ideas and practices including: creating care packages for team members; organization-wide pauses & sabbaticals as a call to rest (see this article from Headwaters Foundation on sabbatical, shifting culture, and systems change); starting the day with a walk outside instead of emails; centering healing justice in our work; and extending care into grantmaking by providing wellness grants (shoutout to NFG’s Amplify Fund!).

I pose this same set of questions to you: 

  • How are you caring for yourself?
  • How are you caring for your team?
  • How are you caring for movement leaders and grantees as a grantmaker?

Send me a note to let me know; we’ll keep sharing these strategies for care in NFG’s communications.

And funders: please join us on December 1 for NFG’s final Member Connection Call of the year, where we’ll continue this conversation on care + liberation, as well as reflect on what you’ve done/learned in 2021 to shift your grantmaking to move more money to racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.

Sending all the good & nourishing vibes your way,

Courtney Banayad
she/her
Director of Membership and Communications
 

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