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After 31 years in prison, Al Sasser is giving a voice to men still inside
Jun09

After 31 years in prison, Al Sasser is giving a voice to men still inside

My piece is everything about the relationships fostered while under the most traumatic circumstances of sensory deprivation, political pressure and uncertainty.  The reality of human confinement is extremely difficult to describe adequately.  However I will endeavor to share the Truth of our existence while we struggled to rise above it. I hope to honor each individual involved with the process of building us up. Encouraging us to discover the endless possibilities available to those of us who were willing to direct our courage in a positive way. The bonds we’ve managed and continue to maintain were previously thought to be impossible.  Contrary to those critics our relationships changed the prison culture, installed hope and made what was idealistic, realistic.  A true paradigm shift. Making Contact has provided me with an opportunity to exercise my right to be a voice in this world.  In doing so, I am able to be a channel through which many others speak their truth; many of whom otherwise would go unheard. It’s one benefit to speak, another to serve as a channel through which others can share. I’d like to offer this perception conveyed by storyteller Leslie Marmon Silko, “As with any generation the oral tradition depends upon each person listening and remembering a portion and it is Together-all of us remembering what we have heard and Together-that creates the whole story, the long story of the people.” Each person adding to the story, in the spirit of the orator, transforms the story which then belongs to all whom participate in its telling.  Through my work with Grooming for Griots, I endeavor to capture and contribute to the shaping of a people’s collective consciousness by sharing the Truth in word and deed. What stories do we share when we speak to strangers, to our children, our parents, sisters, brothers and friends? Is the degree of truth 100% or does it differ depending upon to whom we’re speaking?  Is speaking truth so difficult that we’d rather hide behind falsehood in our attempt to mask truth? It’s said that, “Truth crushed to the ground will live to rise again.”  This implies strongly that truth cannot be denied and inevitably will surface.  Truth is an absolute and backed by God. Truth exists for reasons of clarity, confidence, conviction and serves as the suit of armor which protects one from being misdirected while on the arduous journey to spread the truth and dispel myth. The truth will truly set us free from the prisons of the mind.  How will you participate in the breaking of psychological chains that stagnate progressive advances?  Speak it and Live it.  Then it...

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Making Contact’s Violence Against Women of Color Live Chat
May21

Making Contact’s Violence Against Women of Color Live Chat

“This hierarchy of human life where if you are a woman of color and you’re impoverished, you’re at the very bottom and your life is seen as not worth anything.” –Margaret Prescod Join us on May 21st at 3pm PST as we discuss domestic, healthcare and police violence against women of color. This conversation continues our ongoing coverage on the cultural and structural dimensions of how violence against women and is being produced in solidarity with the National Day of Action to End State Violence Against Black Women and Girls. Follow the conversation on this page at 3pm and add your voice using the #vawchat hashtag. Black women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35 percent higher than white women. In Mexico an indigenous woman is 3 times more likely to die in child birth than a non indigenous woman. In the United States 3 women are murdered every day due to male domestic violence. End Violence Against Women of Color More information: Her Resilience Kimberly Robertson’s obituary Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders Sojourner Truth Radio HBO Tales of the Grim Sleeper LA Weekly, Grim Sleeper Returns: He’s Murdering Angelenos, As Cops Hunt His DNA The Grim Sleeper timeline Nick Broomfield Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer, A.C. Accountability in Maternal and Reproductive Health: Experiences from Civil Society from India, Mexico, and Nigeria Femicide in Mexico: Mapping of Silence Archival Footage: AP, New Sketches of California Serial Killer, December 18, 2009 ABC News, Grim Sleepers Mysterious...

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East Oakland Mural honors women effected by violence
May20

East Oakland Mural honors women effected by violence

Her Resilience, the arts organization featured in Not Throw Away Women is an art-based, women-centered project intended to honor, commemorate and celebrate the lives of women affected by violence in the Oakland community. The project was created by Hazel Streete in honor of Kimberly Robertson, a young Black woman who was raped and murdered in Oakland last spring. Participating artists include Kira Marriner, Melody Shaiken, Nicole Gervacio, Magick Monica, Joanne Ludwig, Summer April Lelia, Shana La Reina, Kate Klingbeil, Adee Roberson & Ximena Soza (collaboration), Kindah Khalidy and Angelica Padmavati. Here are some photos from the project and listen to the radio segment above. And follow the #VAWchat Twitter hashtag on Thursday May 21st at 3pm PST for our live chat on violence against women. Image from Her Resilience...

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A story and a call to action: It’s time to end domestic violence
May12

A story and a call to action: It’s time to end domestic violence

I had internalized the belief that being Black and female automatically puts me at a disadvantage and the only way to change these odds was to tie the knot.  Well, that knot was tight and uncomfortable and only added to my oppression not ease its burden. At nineteen, I wanted to be a wife.  I’d had faith in the fairytale, the happy-ever-after meme, and was sure my life would be better for it.  But to my surprise and dismay, getting married brought me out of my mother’s house and into the transitory life and punishing hands of a man who would make my life a living hell. My abuse began only hours after a civil judge in a county courthouse deemed me a ward of the patriarchal state.  I had become the property of the man I’d married. “You see this piece of paper?  It means that I own you”, said my newly wedded spouse well before the ink on the certificate of marriage bondage was dry.  But wasn’t slavery over?   I remember telling myself that he must’ve been out of his damn mind. Our ceremony had been quick and dirty.  We were in and out of that office like a fast food drive-thru.  No one, not even me, had time to digest this rush to poor judgment.  But there I was, a blushing bride and mother (my son was 2 years old) with cheeks soon to be reddened by the slap of a man I’d barely knew. We’d left the courthouse for a bar where we met with his family to celebrate our nuptials.  We threw back shots and shouted at one another across the table in the dark and noisy din.  It was my habit to include everyone in the conversation when I spoke so it didn’t occur to me that making eye contact with my sister-in-law’s boyfriend, as I turned to address him, would land me in a world of trouble. LG (his initials) didn’t say a word before he hauled off and smacked me on the side of my face.  He’d waited until we were behind closed doors, though I’m certain that the sound of the impact and the sharp cry from my lips that followed could be heard all the way into the kitchen where his three sisters and mother had gathered as though forming a listening party. They were soon to become co-conspirators to his abuse against me.   It was the beginning of many other unwarranted and unwanted hits to my body.  And like the first time, he continued the pattern of striking first before telling me what I’d done to deserve his...

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Follow #Blackspring social media coverage here
May01
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Loretta Ross on Trust Black Women and the fight for Reproductive Justice
Apr09

Loretta Ross on Trust Black Women and the fight for Reproductive Justice

When such a racialized strategy is used to weaken the prochoice movement, as an African American women I felt the best people to respond would be the black women who were under attack. For over 20 years Loretta J. Ross has been fighting for the rights of women of color. As a co-founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective she organized women of color in the reproductive justice movement and was one of the creators of the term “Reproductive Justice” in 1994. In this 4-min interview exceprt, Ross talks about starting the Trust Black Women campaign in response to anti-abortion billboards and legislation meant to shame Black and Asian women and make abortions...

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Deadly Force- Interview with Julie Perini
Feb27

Deadly Force- Interview with Julie Perini

Following up on last week’s show on police shootings, Making Contact’s George Lavender interview Julie Perini one of the producers of “Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon” about the “ghostly scratchings” she created at the sites of police violence. Listen to the entire show here: https://www.radioproject.org/2015/02/deadly-force-police-shootings-in-black-and-white/ And for more about her work go to:...

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Storytelling fellow Rochelle Robinson on normalized violence against black women.
Feb23

Storytelling fellow Rochelle Robinson on normalized violence against black women.

I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. My experience informs my narrative and the perspective I plan to bring to this project as the new Community Storytelling Radio Fellowship – about how it feels to be Black, female, often economically disadvantaged, and at a disproportionately high risk of physical and sexual violence. These stories rarely make it into mainstream media; our lives and our deaths get no attention and would appear we don’t deserve any…There is little justice, little consequence, and no national outcry to put an end to the violence against us because committing acts of violence against Black women is not thought of as unusual. And, shouldn’t we be used to it? In thinking about my story, I was drawn to that of Kimberly Robertson, a young Black woman who was raped and murdered in Oakland last spring. Her body was found at Francis Marion Smith Park at Park Boulevard and Newton Avenue, and except for the minimal local media attention, she was all but forgotten. However, Kimberly’s unfortunate and untimely death caught the attention of a local resident, Hazel Streete, who was inspired to coordinate a local art project, “Her Resilience: A Mural for Women Affected by Violence,” now underway at Park Community Garden in East Oakland. In this way, Kimberly’s life and the life of others will be memorialized, honored and serve as a reminder that women’s lives matter, and for me that means Black women, too. Her Resilience: A Mural for Women Affected by Violence In Oakland from Lea Bruno on...

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ProPublica’s Ryan Gabrielson on police shootings and black teenage males
Feb20

ProPublica’s Ryan Gabrielson on police shootings and black teenage males

The investigative journalism outlet ProPublica set out to analyze the data on hundreds of cases for signs of racial disparity. Their startling findings were released in the report “Deadly Force in Black and White” In this extended interview, Making Contact Producer George Lavender interviews Propublica reporter Ryan Gabrielson on the the finding s in their report and how police justification for shootings has changed with new laws. Listen to our show “Deadly Force: Police Shootings in Black and...

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Deadly Force: Police Shootings in Black and White

Why are so many of those killed by police young people of color? A recent ProPublica investigation found that a young black male is at twenty one times greater risk of being shot dead by police than his white counterparts. On this edition of Making Contact we’ll hear from one of the reporters who analyzed the data on police killings to come up with that startling conclusion, as well as stories of family and community members who say the justice system itself needs to be put on trial. Featuring:  Ryan Gabrielson, journalist ProPublica Walidah Imarisha, author and educator Kristian Williams, author “Our Enemies in Blue” Kent Ford, founder of the Portland Black Panthers Shirley Isadore, mother of Kendra James Joyce Harris and Baruti Artharee, co-chairs of the Black Justice Committee Percy Hampton, distribution manager of the Portland Black Panthers More information: Arresting Power Deadly Force in Black and White Walidah Imarisha Index of people killed by police since 2013 Portland ‘sleeper hold’ death in 1985 had similarities to New York choke hold death History of Lynchings in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 Names Portland police training review drafts of Frashour shooting show how lieutenant’s analysis...

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