Featured Network Highlights: February 2017

This year we are featuring highlights from our network every month to celebrate the achievements of our members across our network. 

We are proud to recognize our Bard College chapter as Chapter of the Month, Nhanwdie Smith from our Greensboro chapter as Organizer of the Month, and Black University from our Greensboro chapter as Campaign of the Month.

BARD COLLEGE | Chapter of the Month

As we start the next semester at Bard College in a tense political climate, we are first and foremost concerned with being a safe and productive space for our black and brown community members. With February being Black History Month, we are focusing on collaborating on events such as Bard’s Race Monologues and Black History Month Gala that will feature and uplift black and brown artists with spoken word performances, as well as visual pieces. In addition, during February we are going to publish a portrait campaign (follow over Instagram @bardmillionhoodies4justice) with the hashtag #BlackFuturesMonth to further uplift our young black and brown family as we cultivate strength and strong relationships to fight on in this time.

Laying the groundwork for a solidarity campaign fighting student debt is another priority of ours, which will begin by discussing resources already available to students through the admissions office, but are not transparently publicized to the student population. Our chapter will actively re-work these resources to be easily accessible to our community members, as a first step to aid black and brown students in expensive PWI’s.

Lastly, in terms of our on-campus efforts, the Bard chapter will be working with other clubs on Bard’s campus to help uplift the Sanctuary Campus initiative that has been started on our campus. We will be collaboratively organizing a benefit show to provide funds to the Sanctuary Fund, a fundraising initiative collecting to cover room and board fees for accepted undocumented students. This fund was created and endorsed by Bard College, partially thanks to our members. We are looking to further support our undocumented peers through this benefit and supporting the Sanctuary Campus movement.

Off-campus, Million Hoodies Bard Chapter is busy building relationships and working on collaborative efforts such as the Hudson Valley Hate Free Zones and co-creating the Hudson Valley Progressives Website. The Hate Free Zone initiative is in collaboration with BLM Hudson Valley to work towards building and sustaining safe spaces for our vulnerable community members. The website project is geared towards our goal of increasing political education. The website works to provide succinct overviews of social justice issues through accessible language and, beyond that, provide resource links to Hudson Valley groups working around certain issues to uplift ways to plug into the larger community.  

Check out two leaders from MHJ Bard, Wailly and Misbah, at the No Ban, No Wall rally in Poughkeepsie speak:

Submitted by Bard College chapter leaders Davon Blanks, Wailly Compres, and Lexi Parra

BLACK UNIVERSITY | Campaign of the Month

Black University, a campaign co-organized by our Greensboro chapter, was birthed by the leadership of black youth from Historically Black Colleges-Universities dedicated to having an equitable, accessible, oppression-free world. In North Carolina we are in a critical time period as the state inflicts regressive violence on HBCUs with Senate Bill 873 (Lawmakers trying to Bankrupt Historically Black North Carolina schools) and ​​marginalized communities with House Bill (Understanding HB2). Youth across the state have been mobilizing across various identities and perspectives. Black University as an organization has developed an anti-capitalism position with the understanding that capitalism is responsible for the oppression of black and brown people globally. This space is necessary to understand the complexities of the power structures that control funding for institutions, mass criminalization of black people and interconnecting systems that contribute to the exploitation of everyone. Self-actualization thrives when spaces are intentionally made safe and anti-oppressive language becomes transmissible.

Submitted by Greensboro chapter leaders Delaney Vandergrift and Nhawndie Smith

NHAWNDIE SMITH | Organizer of the Month

Dear kindred,
For the past two years I have been fully committed to the movement for Black lives. I began my journey in building community with those dedicated to liberation from the Beloved Community Center and the Queer People of Color Collective in Greensboro, North Carolina. Here I have begun to recognize where I am most needed. The radical love and power from these spaces inspired me to get involved with a national organization with similar intentions, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, birthed following the murder of Trayvon Martin. This past Sunday Trayvon would’ve turned 22, and I am numb by the thought that I made it to 21 when he was not given the chance to even turn 18 years old. Black and brown people are criminalized daily by the media and governing bodies that only see us for our profit, to eventually dispose of us when we no longer have value to them.
Myself and many of my peers are still unlearning this violent disregard and learning what freedom looks like for us in this lifetime. This education is coming through Black University, a coalition of Black HBCU students in North Carolina. This campaign I am moving forward with so many radical minds is a means to end the socially constructed tales Black and Brown youth internalize daily. We are taking space for young black people of all identities because we know that we keep us safe, not the state or any governing body. By the hands of North Carolina’s state legislature and previous governor Pat McCrory we realized our existence as resistance. Various violent pieces of legislation (house bill 589, house bill 2, senate bill 873, and house bill 972) acted as the blueprint for legalized violence everywhere. We recognize the scapegoating of the most marginalized, particularly Black women, girls, and femmes as a trend of violence from white supremacist, transphobic patriarchy that we must uproot away from our spaces.

We must be present beyond traditional ways of thinking, existing, and loving if we are to survive the changing times. Anti-black, ableist class struggles will not get us free. Classist, homophobic, and transphobic movements for racial justice will not bring liberation for all oppressed people. There is an urgency of solidarity in this political moment, for the sustainment of the Earth and bodily autonomy for all that exist on it. The tools to dismantle the masters house are in a shared understanding of exploitive systems and a united front willing to be transformed in the service of the work.

With revolutionary love,