Guest Post from Corinna Yazbek and Katie McKay Bryson members of the Gender Justice Working Group of the US Social Forum.
We’re going to the U.S. Social Forum (USSF), and hope to see you there!
That Detroit is hosting a massive convergence around people’s solutions to economic, ecological and social justice issues won’t come as a surprise to Feministing readers. What may be news is how affordable it can be to attend! People are walking, rolling, flying, biking, and driving from around the country to come together between Tuesday, June 22 and Saturday, June 26. Registration is still open for tent city camping and other spaces to sleep are available at varying costs through solidarity housing, hotel room blocks and sublets from local folks. Most importantly, registration for the Social Forum is available on a sliding scale for individuals and organizations, ranging from $10 for youth, homeless people, and international attendees and $60 for volunteer-run organizations, to progressively higher charges for students, lower- and higher-wage working people, larger organizations, and foundations.
The Gender Justice Working Group (GJWG) is working tirelessly to organize spaces and events that illuminate at the USSF the gender, transgender, and LGBTQ justice issues present in the movement and our world. We are a diverse group of activists representing organizations stretching coast to coast. Many of us will be presenting and facilitating workshops during the Social Forum, including a workshop Corinna is co-facilitating with Lilianna Reyes from TransGender Michigan and Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan on TransFeminism on Wednesday, June 23rd.
As Marina Karides described in a post last week, one GJWG project is a comprehensive guide to all USSF workshops, People’s Movement Assemblies (PMAs), and events that feature a gender justice lens. The guide includes a statement of principles created by the Queer Liberation Group on homophobia, transphobia, and creating community safety and access at the USSF.
Plan to pick up your guide at the Gender Justice tent, a volunteer-staffed hospitality and meeting space for gathering and organizing informal and impromptu events with others attending the forum. Organizations are encouraged to bring materials related to gender justice to leave on tables inside the tent. We will provide some refreshments and would love contributions from others to help welcome and sustain gender justice activists.
All week long, the Gender Justice tent will offer people the opportunity to contribute to the Gender Justice PMA by creating vision statements on gender justice to be shared at the PMA on Friday, June 25th. Our hope is to bring a clear, direct, and action oriented resolution around gender justice to the General Assembly on Saturday the 26th.
Our own work as coordinators of partner programs at Hampshire College (the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program and the Population and Development Program) is deeply intersectional and collaborative, drawing from the activist traditions and lenses of both reproductive and environmental justice. (Read more about these movements in the wonderful recent Movement Strategy Center publication, Fertile Ground: Women Organizing at the Intersection of Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice.) We feel privileged to be challenged daily to focus our work on shared goals, to build a movement rich in different perspectives. We look forward to coming together with others who do intersectional work at the U.S. Social Forum in just seven short days!
We want to close with a quote by fellow activist, Mia Mingus — who, with Stacey Milbern and Sebastian Margaret, will be at the USSF to put down a transformative model for disability justice. In her speech at Creating Change 2008, Mia spoke to the vital nature of a shared vision:
“Those of us living at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and disability know that multi issue politics are not just a winning strategy but indeed they are the only way that we will survive.”
Katie McKay Bryson is Coordinator of the Population & Development Program at Hampshire College, and has worked previously in the fields of environmental justice, access to affordable housing, and higher education. She can be reached at kbryson[at]hampshire.edu.
Corinna Yazbek coordinates the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps and the New Leadership Networking Initiative at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College. Corinna has worked in the movements for economic justice, prison-abolition, anti-racism and youth empowerment locally and around the country for years. She is a champion of sex positivity and sex workers’ rights, a donor to FIERCE, and an avid runner. She can be reached at cyazbek[at]hampshire.edu.