A Talk with Janaya Khan: Five Tactics Challenging Injustices

Last month, September 28, 2016, Janaya Khan joined us here at Eastern Connecticut State University (Eastern). For those who do not know, Khan is an activist and social justice educator who spent the past several years fighting for Black liberation, trans-feminism, transformational justice and indigenous sovereignty on the academic and social justice front.

Khan came to Eastern just days after protesting in North Carolina along with her fellow coordinators and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. Khan shared tools with the Eastern community about how to stand up and educate others in the face of racism, discrimination, and micro aggressions.

Khan

Khan reminded us that sometimes our fight to speak for injustices are often challenged by five tactics. These tactics are Derailment,(“Black on Black crime is the a real issue here”), Reduction (“Others are experiencing these things too”), Minimalization (“It was just a joke!”), Tokenism (“I have friends who are Black”), and Hurt (“Talking about these things make me uncomfortable”). Khan empowered those at the workshop and university hour to react to comments like these with thought provoking responses for the challenger that forces them to personally confront their oppressive views. Khan concluded with educating the audience on transformative justice, addressing consent and justice calling for community accountability. This would movement would be anti-police and prisons and in place give people the chance to transform.

“Privilege isn’t about what you’ve been through, (that’s yours). Privilege is about what you haven’t had to go through,” Janaya Khan’s response to a Caucasian man at the workshop who asked how he can recognize his privilege in different aspects and use it to help fight for others. As a community at Eastern Connecticut State University we can all take a moment to acknowledge our privilege and lack thereof for all of those victimized by the injustices effecting the men, women, gender non-conforming, and economically disadvantaged people of color that Khan spoke of. What we can take away from this event is that this movement is heading in a direction where people of all identities can unite together.

For more information about programs sponsored by the Women’s Center in the Unity Wing, please contact our Graduate Assistant, Courtney Mayberry at mayberryc@easternct.edu.

Written by: Joshlynn and Taylor, Student Ambassadors of the Women’s Center

Target Practice

On Wednesday, February 10th at the Student Center, Theatre, Eastern Connecticut State University welcomed Elise Delacruz, the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator at the Connecticut Alliance to end Sexual Violence. Delacruz’ important presentation called “Target Practice: The Relationship of Sexual Violence and Systemic Oppression Communities of Color” called us to think more about the herstories of violence against vulnerable groups of people, with a particular focus on women of color. 

The presentation introduced an important discussion on systemic oppression impacts the complex lives of communities of color and the anti-sexual violence movement. Revealing cases of sexual violence and violation of human rights throughout history and then displaying similar patterns in today’s society displays that this epidemic is no longer a “past issue”.

On example that Delacruz focused on was the subjugation of Black women’s bodies and ways that it has been embedded into the very fabric of our society. For example, J. Marlon Simms, the father of gynecology, experimented on enslaved black women without anesthesia. Another is Sally Hemmings, who was a black woman owned by Thomas Jefferson whom assaulted her at the age of fourteen. Also learning that about five percent of America’s population is currently incarcerated and paralleled slavery in the 1800’s foster perspective for the audience. Through the dissection of oppression in the United States over the decades, Delacruz gave a serious and professional interactive presentation that left the audience to reflect upon themselves and their choices.

We all have a responsibility to do our part to end interpersonal violence. What is your responsibility?

For more information about support services, upcoming programs and/or ways to become more involved with the Women’s Center, please contact Ms. Starsheemar Byrum at byrums@easternct.edu.

On Thursday November 5th, Women’s Center Ambassadors Erika Sanchez and Amber Domond, lead Eastern in hosting its first ever Immigrant Rights Speak Up Speak Out in the Student Center Lobby. Leaders of organizations from Connecticut Students for a Dream, Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, United Action Connecticut, and The Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission spoke on issues affecting the undocumented immigrant community and ways we can take action to fight for their rights and become involved in the movement.

Undocumented students shared their personal stories and truths of their journey coming to the United States and the hardships of what it means to be undocumented while trying to pursue a higher education. These are students who have the drive, dedication, and intelligence to do anything they set their minds to. They are using their voices to reclaim their truths and their identities.

These speakers’ narratives were heard throughout the crowd and their experiences impacted the crowd in a profound way.

Amber, a co-organizer of the event said, “What really inspired me was that the crowd stayed and listened to the stories instead of leaving and actually put down their information to get involved with the cause.”

This Speak Out helped bring awareness to the community and open up this much needed conversation. This was a great step in a long journey where there is still much work to be done.

The fight has just begun.

For more information on CT Students for a Dream or if you want to know more contact:

sancheze@my.easternct.edu

Post Contributor: Erika Sanchez

Girls Fight Back at Eastern!

Girls Fight Back is an organization founded by Erin Weed in 2001. It was inspired by the late Shannon McNamara, who was murdered on June 12th, 2001. Girls Fight Back empowers students to learn about violence prevention withint their community in addition to self-defense skills. For over fifteen years, Girls Fight Back has been an inspiration for students around the country for learning the simplest, most effective techniques in self-defense and safety precautions. On September 22, 2015, Eastern Connecticut State University was honored to be visited by Girls Fight Back’s National Speaker Bree Swartz for an evening program. The presentation reviewed the basics of using your intuition, understanding the definition of consent, and safety tips such as having awareness, using eye-contact, and setting boundaries. Techniques on how to be an active bystander and a good ally, how to support a survivor of assault, and verbal de-escalation skills were also discussed. In what Swartz called “Badass Ballet,” the basics of self-defense were covered with much enthusiasm.

Throughout the seminar, Swartz presented a professional yet light-hearted atmosphere where the audience was fully involved in the teachings and techniques being taught. Afterward, Swartz introduced a self-defense training course called Impact, hosted by Kirkland Productions, which seeks to empower people about personal safety and self-defense even further. To wrap up the production, students were asked to join a group picture where they displayed their defense positions and smiled for the camera to conclude a successful evening.

Post Contributor: Emma Costa

Take Back the Night: Thank You

Post Contributor: Erika Sanchez
On behalf of the Women’s Center, we thank everyone for their assistance and participation in Take Back the Night. The event provided a safe environment where students could feel comfortable in speaking up about their experiences, witness the many people on campus who support them, and learn about the various resources that are available. With persistent focus, leadership, and action, we united to help give voice to victims and bystanders of violence. However, the conversation does not end there. Together we must continue our eorts in ending sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and stalking within our communities. We look forward to seeing you next semester and hope you will join us again next year as we take back the night!

If you, or someone you know, have experienced sexual assault, stalking, or other forms of interpersonal violence such as dating and domestic violence, we encourage you to seek out supportive services. Eastern has a Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT) available to give guidance, support, and information. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to visit www.easternct.edu/saiv or speak with the Coordinator of the SAIV-RT, Starsheemar Byrum at byrums@easternct.edu or (860) 465-4314.