Dr. Parker and Youth Leaders Attend 2009 Inaugural Celebration
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2009
The e-mail Patricia Parker received shortly after New Year’s Day seemed like a dream. She and members of the Chapel Hill youth action group that she founded were invited to celebrate the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20 – for free. Parker, a communication studies associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, is the founder of the Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism. The flagship project of Parker’s nonprofit is Striving Sisters Speak!!! (S³), a group of young minority women in low-income neighborhoods who are working to create coalitions of social justice in their communities.
Originally published here.
Patricia Parker—associate professor in communication studies, IAH Fellow and IAH Leadership Advisory Board member—is tired. “But it’s a good tired,” says Parker, who has had a busy few years.
In addition to the typical teaching and research load of any UNC faculty, Parker’s latest activities include founding a nonprofit organization that works with local low-income communities, establishing a group to empower young women of color, taking members of that group to the Presidential Inauguration, planning and executing a conference on models of youth/adult collaboration, going with a group of young women to Chicago for a conference on community organizing… and then starting the planning process to do it all again next year.
Originally published on "The Revolution Starts at Home" tumblr:
What does transformative justice/ community accountabilty mean to you?
Transformative justice means that we are all loving participants in an intentional journey towards justice and wholeness with each other, with the planet and within ourselves at the same time. It means we do what it takes to be present enough with each other to be transformed by each other. Community accountability means we give an account of our reality to each other, and then we give it again and we listen. It means we can really speak to each other and listen to each other and transform our actions accordingly. It means we build structures that allow us to do this collectively and to invite more of our community into the process.
How do you create justice and safety in your communities without using the police or the state?
In Durham, out of the work of UBUNTU (a women of color/survivor led coalition to end gendered violence and create sustaining transformative love) and a delegation from North Carolina to the Critical Resistance 10 Conference we created something called the Durham Harm Free Zone. The manifestation of the Harm Free Zone include an initiative facilitated by the Ella Baker Women’s Center through which residents in a local public housing community have implemented their plans to create safety in their community by building relationships and pushing back against the imposed criminalization that the housing authority levies against them.
This has been an inspiring process to witness, especially in the name of Ella Baker who was raised in communities creating safety without even the option of calling in the police. Another exciting outgrowth is the Safe in Our Streets youth organizing and awareness collective which is part of the SpiritHouse youth program. It has been amazing to watch visionary youth collect stories and create transformative performances, PSA’s and campaigns that are accountable to the safety needs of queer youth of color and other criminalized youth of color in our communities.
The miracle that impacts me the most everyday is that by ritualizing our relationships and intentionally building radical alignment I have the rare and priceless experience of having a network of comrades to call on in times of need, times when I don’t feel safe, and times when I don’t know how to help someone else arrive at safety. This is the ongoing fruit of organizing together, the trust and action built from knowing who has your back and who will support you in having someone else’s back too.
In collaboration with the NC Dream Team and The Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism, and sponsored by the Chapel Hill’s Public Arts Commission and the Office of Public and Cultural Arts, local visual artist Luis Franco and poet and writer Kane Smego organized a project with African American, Latino, and multiracial youth to discuss racial identity and issues of racism through the expressive medium of the graphic novel or comic book.
During a series of twelve Saturday morning workshops at the Street Scene Teen Center (and additional outside work) the teens developed their characters by writing poems about themselves and their own experiences with racism. They then crafted story lines, storyboards and plot sequences, and drew and colored the various frames to bring their superheroes to life on the pages of their very own comics. The teens’ artwork and poetry debuted in an exhibition at The ArtsCenter recently in Carrboro.
“Comics Speak!” grew out of a response to a community need for expression, discussion, and collaboration. The goal was to empower youth of color to use the arts to confront the obstacles they and their communities face on a regular basis, as well as celebrate the vibrant cultural identities they possess. The project provided space and instruction for these youth to connect and identify these issues, by using both visual art and spoken word as a means of communicating with the community at large. The project was an extension of two earlier community workshops conducted by Chapel Hill’s Sacrificial Poets that identified a desire for an artistic means of expression for the teens that was positive and identity-affirming.
Source: Chapelboro. http://chapelboro.com/lifestyle/arts-entertainment/comic-speak-at-the-artscenter