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Community and resistance tour speaks to need for systematic change

By Amanda Dahill-Moore
The Guilfordian
October 8th, 2010

On Sept. 30, downtown Greensboro's HIVE buzzed with activity.

"Welcome friends," said Katie Yow ‘08, as she opened the Community and Resistance Tour with a wide sweep of her hands.

"The HIVE is a radical community space," said senior and art major Hillary Flint. "It's a great way to connect to people outside of Guilford."

Opened in 2007, the HIVE seeks to provide a space where different communities within the Greensboro community can learn from one another, exchange ideas, and share stories and resources. The acronym stands for History, Information, Vision, and Exchange.

The Community and Resistance Tour unites activists, artists, and authors across the nation who address the necessity for systemic change in corporate media, prisons, and institutions of thought that perpetuate social injustice.The tour emphasizes community-building similar to establishments like the HIVE. Through open dialogue, the tour also seeks to connect grassroots organizations with independent media.

Jordan Flaherty and Victoria Law are two of the five speakers on the tour that is scheduled to stop at 65 cities in 80 days.

Flaherty, a journalist and community organizer, took the stage first. His main topic was in revealing the untold stories of institutionalized racism that threatened and destroyed lives in post-Katrina New Orleans.

"Seventy-five percent of African Americans displaced by Katrina say they want to come back, but feel ‘kept out' because of economic barriers," Flaherty said. "How did organizing fail? And what does it mean?"
Flaherty recounted stories of police brutality that claimed the lives of African Americans in the aftermath of Katrina.

According to Flaherty, the true stories were not told by mainstream media and it took three years for the work of grassroots organizations to hold the media and other institutions accountable.

"Part of the tragedy of Katrina is that the voices have been silenced," Flaherty said. "I want to amplify and multiply those voices."

Law, a writer and artist whose primary focus is justice in women's prisons, spoke next.

Law pointed out that injustice in areas as diverse as housing, education, and prisoner and women's rights all spring from the same flawed system.

"Keep in mind that prisons are an exaggerated mirror of what we are fighting for on the outside," Law said.

One of these issues is the chronic sexual abuse that occurs when women prisoners are under the complete power of male guards.

Like Flaherty, Law emphasized the need for voices to be heard. According to Law, silence and the fear of speaking out perpetuate these problems.

Programs are needed that "allow women a space to tell their stories, validate their existence," Law said.

In 2009, four women in Raleigh, N.C., filed a lawsuit saying that they had been raped, groped, molested, and threatened in prison. They filed a Class Action lawsuit, meaning that they would be able to speak on behalf of countless other women who had similar experiences but were afraid to come forth.

Many of the approximate 3,000 women incarcerated in North Carolina have a history of abuse and most come from the lowest economic rung.

"They need support and allies on the outside," Law said.

The evening came to a close with community members sharing their projects. Some of the projects and organizations included the Spectrum Doula Collective, a North Carolina project that provides care to any person experiencing any pregnancy outcome, and Queer People of Color (QPOC), an organization that supports LGBT people of color.

Isabelle Moore, a drummer for Cakalak Thunder, also talked about her experience "drumming for social justice."

"These struggles are inter-connected," said Flaherty when asked how people could unite their different causes. "There is huge power in people coming together."

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