The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

US Social Forum: Final Thoughts

Andrea Quijada, Executive Director, Media Literacy Project

As Media Literacy Project staff members begin to integrate our experiences and knowledge gained from the US Social Forum into our programs, we wanted to share with all of you some of the thoughts that will inform our work this coming year:

  • LGBTQI communities need access to media tools. However, media policies are being written as you read this blog, media policies that have huge implications for our daily lives. One example of such media policies has to do with the need for Net Neutrality—the need for a free Internet. Without Net Neutrality, queer health websites (like this one) could be blocked by Internet providers! We encourage all of you to join the Media Action Grassroots Network. Join us in telling the FCC that we need a free and open Internet.
  • Queer communities must address multiple oppressions in order to strengthen our movement. LGBTQI leadership, from the local to national level, must represent—both in presence and in analysis—the breadth of our communities. Our movement needs LGBTQI working-class, people of color, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers in leadership roles.
  • An increase of responsible speech in our media systems would have positive impacts on the queer community. We hope that all LGBTQI organizations join the National Hispanic Media Coalition in urging the FCC to conduct a report on the impact of hate speech on various oppressed communities. MLP strongly believes that journalists and news reporters must be responsible with their messages and with their framing of stories in order to increase understanding and accuracy in articles and programs.
  • The quality of our health impacts our abilities to tell our stories, and our stories must be heard.  Our stories are our histories, our culture, our identities, and our influence. In addition, healthy communities are a fundamental outcome of media justice.
  • Media must be defined broadly because media are rooted in culture. A dance, a song, a poem—each is a form of media. We must elevate forms of media that best speak to and reflect the communities we come from, are part of, and work in.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | USSF, USSF_mlp | Leave a comment

Reproductive Justice and Intersections With Queer and Trans Health

A year ago the Media Literacy Project (MLP) created a set of guiding principles to steer our mission and our vision for media justice. These principles clarified which steps to prioritize in our strategic plan, and named the communities we would prioritize in our outreach and organizing programs. One result was the development of our Girl Tech Collective, an initiative to train young women of color (ages 15-24) in media justice, media production, media messaging, and reproductive justice. All the women in GTC are members of various organizations from Women Building Community (WBC), a cohort supported by the New Mexico Community Foundation’s WBC Fund.

MLP’s commitment to taking on reproductive justice led to an invitation to join the Third Wave Reproductive Justice Network—a network of Third Wave Foundation grantee organizations from across the country. Their work spans the various intersections that overlap with reproductive justice (RJ). RJ is defined as the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives. All of the network organizations do various reproductive justice work through complementary strategies including birthing rights, sexual violence prevention, queer youth organizing, fighting for comprehensive sexuality education, and support programs for youth in alternative economies, specifically youth of color and trans youth.

The RJ Network provides a space for organizations to share, learn, and build with one another as we develop collective goals to support the reproductive justice needs of our respective communities. We saw the US Social Forum as an opportunity to collaborate and were excited to have a workshop at the US Social Forum on June 25 in Detroit. Reproductive Justice 101: Creative Vision, Innovative Strategies, and Powerful Networks was facilitated by staff and volunteers from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, New Voices Pittsburgh, Media Literacy Project, SAFER, and Third Wave. Over 30 people attended the four-hour workshop where we created an RJ timeline, diagrammed issues and key players in our movement, shared our visions for a world with RJ, and created digital stories.

Mariela Alburgues shares what Reproductive Justice means to her community. click photo to see video

In the RJ timeline activity, participants discussed various events such as the 2006 Free the NJ4 campaign, the forced sterilization of women of color and women with disabilities, the use of Depo Provera on Native women in Phoenix and Oklahoma City in the 1980’s, and the current incarceration of transgender and gender variant people who are systematically put in prisons which refuse to place them in facilities based on their gender identity.  What emerged from the conversations following the activity and throughout the workshop was that reproductive justice, as a framework, centers the lived realities of low-income youth, women, and trans people of color, and that we need support, networks, and policies which create a world where we can each live our lives without limits, barriers, and borders.

The Media Literacy Project is currently creating digital stories from the interviews we conducted with some of the workshop participants. These stories will be shared on our website and will be included in our Girl Tech Collective community event this Fall. Please visit our website for an example of how we deconstruct media within an RJ framework, or sign-up to receive updates on all of our media justice campaigns.

Andrea Quijada, Executive Director, Media Literacy Project

June 26, 2010 Posted by | USSF, USSF_mlp | Leave a comment

Culture and Arts = Organizing

For the past two years, the Media Literacy Project (MLP) has begun integrating cultural work into our programs. The inclusion of arts and culture in our work is a result of the collective strategic planning and organizational visioning work by our staff. Results include partnerships and alliances with local social justice and media arts organizations, and the development of our community organizing and outreach initiatives such as Digital Justice for Us and Girl Tech Collective.

As MLP continues to strengthen our work to meet our mission of creating a healthy world through media justice, we often seek inspiration and tools from local and national organizations. On Thursday, June 24, I attended a workshop at the US Social Forum titled, Cultural Organizing for a Just Society: Making Art and Culture Integral to Social Justice Organizing and Movement Building. Candelario Vazquez, MLP’s Media Justice Organizer, also attended the panel. Coordinated by the Arts and Democracy Project, panel speakers included artist Ricardo Levins Morales artist Carlton Turner, and cultural worker amalia deloney, among others.

Carlton Turner speaks on cultural organizing at the US Social Forum.

The panel was arranged so that each panelist would speak, followed by some sort of activity—paired discussion, response writing, or a moment of silent reflection. After the activity, there was time for questions and answers. The questions and answers often led to audience discussion. It was in one of the audience discussions on the topic of narrative where Nick Szuberla from Thousand Kites shared insight. The conversation had rendered the statement, “Narrative comes from listening, and from listening comes strategy.” Nick shared that we must amplify and repurpose content, particularly in relationship to policy. He reminded us that what often happens in media is a framing contest, and that public perception could be what shapes policy. Essentially, he was saying that if we (as rural, low-income, queer, people of color) do not control the framing of a story, our voices our not included in the creation of policy. Let’s remember that all policy has real day-to-day impacts on our lives (healthcare, immigration, media) and our lived experiences must be included in policy construction if it is to support all of us, and not just some of us.

Carlton Turner spoke as an artist and as the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS. He shared his concern that community organizing is often separated from arts and culture. His observance that “[this] division takes the heart out of the movement” created ripples in the 60-member audience that was crowded into the room to participate in this particular session. He continued on with, “when we relegate art to something separate, we remove the process.” He reminded us that art has always been integral to our lives, including the fact that the English alphabet is taught through a song. He cited this teaching tool as an example of how we need art to learn information.

amalia deloney, cultural worker and Grassroots Policy Director for the Center for Media Justice also shared the importance of the artistic process, and how organizing and art are one and the same for CMJ’s Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net). She told the story of a day in December 2010 when 18 staff from the 9 anchor organizations of the 160+ member network attended a Media Policy Day at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The members met with Commissioners and shared stories illustrating their various communities’ needs with regards to broadband access. Following the policy day, the members participated in a Media Justice Leadership Institute. On the final night there was a noche cultural (similar to a talent show), whereby two participants rewrote Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and created Broadband in Yo Face. amalia broke down the various steps involved in the creation of a song which was a viral hit in the Spring: someone wrote the song, three people sang it, two djs recorded it, it was sent to a hip hop artist to adjust volume levels and remix it. She emphasized the collaborative process in this artistic process and described MAG-Net as a place where “we give people a home to do cultural and political organizing—where you can bring your whole self.”

Media Literacy Project, as an Anchor Organization for MAG-Net, agrees. We continue to grow and expand as we develop our strategies for cultural organizing, and as we continue to learn and share in spaces like the one created in this workshop.

For further information and tools on arts and cultural organizing, please stay tuned to Arts and Democracy Project. They are currently developing a website as a resource tool to demonstrate how art is used to demystify and change policy.

Andrea Quijada, Executive Director, Media Literacy Project

June 25, 2010 Posted by | USSF, USSF_mlp | Leave a comment


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