Weekly Email Update 6.20.22

"Slavery occurred at an intersection of racism, homophobia, and negative attitudes towards sexuality, largely influenced by Christian ideology. Juneteenth, therefore, celebrates the end of an inherently heteronormative, sexphobic system of racial oppression. There are intersections here."
Gabrielle Alexa Noel, 
author of "How to Live with the Internet", essayist, software developer, and sex-positive content creator

Editor’s Note: Sam and I (Joanna) are away this weekend celebrating Pride month with our respective friends and chosen families, so we would like to share these words that were originally printed in the Weekly Email Update sent out on June 21st, 2021. Have a great week, friends! 

   “As this Summer Solstice weekend unfolds, we mark the longest day of the year, the first time Juneteenth is federally recognized, and the continuation of Pride month... it's quite a weekend, WeCAN readers! We would like to share with you an enlightening excerpt from "Black & Queer: What It Means to Celebrate Juneteenth and Pride in the Same Month" by Gabrielle Alexa Noel, an author, essayist, and sex-positive content creator, who is also Black and Queer. We hope this piece helps all of us to better understand what it means to identify as both BI&POC and LGBTQIA2+ during the month of June and the social intricacies that are woven into the identity of any person straddling two communities. You can learn more about the author here: https://gabriellealexa.com.

     "Every year on June 19th, we celebrate the ending of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1st, 1863, it took more than two years for news to reach the enslaved in Texas. Juneteenth, aka Freedom Day, acknowledges that delay and is observed as a day of pride and reflection. Juneteenth also sits directly in the middle of LGBTQ+ Pride month, which was established in 1969 to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising. Both are celebrations of important milestones for Black and LGBTQ+ liberation. And yet, as a Black queer person, this overlap sometimes splits my identity in half.
     In Black spaces, where Juneteenth is primarily celebrated, there is a perception that being LGBTQ+ is antithetical to Blackness. Other Black people tell me all the time that queerness was constructed by white people, although there is so much evidence to disprove that, and that it’s an intentional endeavor to weaken Black families and communities. My celebration of Pride is met with scorn by other Black people who wonder why there is seemingly more support for LGBTQ+ liberation than for Black liberation. At the very least, I’m told I should endeavor to be Black “first.” Liberation movements do not occur in succession, and I don’t have to pick one aspect of my identity to focus on. They all simultaneously exist and inform how I am marginalized. And yet, as I’m fielding questions about why I gave up on Black men or why I’m actively going against nature, it does feel like they’re trying to incentivize me to choose a side.
     On the other hand, LGBTQ+ spaces can be notoriously racist, evidenced by the phrase that has decorated gay bars and dating app profiles alike: “No fats, no femmes, no Asians, no blacks.”
     I’m used to both rejection and fetishization. White queers have said everything to me from, “I’m not attracted to Black girls,” to “I just love Black skin, it makes you so attractive.” But there is also overt and systematic discrimination. Mainstream LGBTQ+ organizations have even advocated for policies that were ultimately harmful to QTPOCs. In that context, Pride feels more like a celebration of white queerness. When LGBTQ+ movements neglect to center or uplift Black and Brown people, they are centering white supremacy instead; their silence creates some of the problems we see today, like the severe rates of poverty and homelessness amongst Black queer folks.
     It’s also ironic that we neglect to center QTPOCs when the Stonewall riots were incited by Black and Brown drag queens and trans women as a reaction to police violence. Considering the particular way in which the police harass, assault, and re-victimize Black trans women, it is impossible to extract race from our conversations about Stonewall. But, somehow, we ended up with a historical Stonewall film that follows a white, cis gay man in their place.
     Similarly, when we talk about slavery, it’s important to note the presence of Black queerness and its impact on perceptions of Black bodies. When the Portuguese arrived on the continent of Africa, representations of queerness and gender fluidity reified ideas that Black people were inferior and sexually indiscriminate. Slavery occurred at an intersection of racism, homophobia, and negative attitudes towards sexuality, largely influenced by Christian ideology. Juneteenth, therefore, celebrates the end of an inherently heteronormative, sexphobic system of racial oppression. 
There are intersections here. And in not talking about them, homosexuality has been reframed as un-African and a “white disease,” even though there are countless examples of homosexuality across cultures.

     When I hear people refer to the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community as two separate entities, black queer folks like me learn that we cannot belong in either camp. “Safe spaces” are never quite safe for us. We forfeit safety from homophobic violence in exchange for safety from racial violence and vice versa. White LGBTQ+ people and cis Black folks do not have to make the same critical decisions. And this complicates my celebrations of both.
     The LGBTQ+ community and the Black community have intentionally been positioned as rivals, even though their liberation movements overlap. During the Bush administration, government funding was intentionally diverted to Black religious organizations that were most likely to vote against same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, in the 1960s, a lot of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups referred to gay as “the new Black.” Gay right’s activist Frank Kameny even stated, “Now that it is becoming unfashionable to discriminate against Negros, discrimination against homosexuals will be on the increase.” He considered homosexuality to be the last major area where prejudice and discrimination were prevalent, minimizing the struggle for Black liberation in this country.
     In the quest for stricter anti-discrimination laws, LGBTQ+ organizations failed to realize how the criminal justice system was harming the exact people they had set out to protect via mass incarceration.
     Recognizing how Black issues in this country are often sidelined, celebrating our collective freedom on Independence Day—and not Juneteenth, when all ethnicities were freed—is off-putting. But to also share a month with LGBTQ+ Pride, which started a hundred years after Juneteenth, has drawn the ire of the Black community. By commemorating important days in our history, it keeps us educated about this country’s mistakes. Otherwise, those mistakes end up happening again. The fact that so many people are aware of Pride but don’t have the same energy for Juneteenth reflects the role of white supremacy in the structure of this country.
     These are the issues that complicate my experience as a queer Black woman. I want to celebrate all of the facets of my identity. I want to recognize the struggles my many communities have had to overcome and not be forced to pick between marginalized communities. The quote “Until we are all free, we are none of us free” by poet Emma Lazarus rings true.”

Gabrielle Alexa Noel”*

*https://www.wecantogether.net/weekly_email_update_6_21_21

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WeCAN WEDNESDAYS

     Exciting news: WeCAN is co-sponsoring a series of events this Summer with Brattleboro Democrats and Rep. Emilie Kornheiser! The series continues on June 29th, 2022 and runs through August. Join us at the Brattleboro Town Common where we will celebrate politics, get to know candidates new and old, and maybe even throw ourselves a 5 year birthday party...we can't wait to see you there!
You can find more information below in this email or go to https://www.wecantogether.net/wecan_wednesdays_2022, where these events will have a dedicated space on our website. 
If you would like to volunteer or set up a table for your organization, please use the following links:

Click here to volunteer: https://www.emiliekornheiser.org/volunteer/
Click here to sign up to table or represent a candidate: https://forms.gle/4JuNT7Uw1hwQkHGp8

If you would like to sign up to help at the WeCAN table, please email us at [email protected] Thank you!

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Weekly Email Update 6.13.22

"I guess you'd call me an independent, since I've never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves, no matter what the party label."
-Jackie Robinson b.1919; d.1972
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.


     This week's email is chock full of new events, listings, and goings-on in and around Windham County, fellow activists. We encourage you to take a moment or two out of your busy day and look through this email to see how you can best get involved this week and beyond...

WeCAN WEDNESDAYS

     You will notice too, dear Reader, that WeCAN is co-sponsoring a series of events this Summer with Brattleboro Democrats and Rep. Emilie Kornheiser! We are SO EXCITED! The series starts this Wednesday, June 15th, and runs through August. Join us at the Brattleboro Town Common where we will celebrate politics, get to know candidates new and old, and maybe even throw ourselves a 5 year birthday party...we can't wait to see you there!
You can find more information below in this email or go to https://www.wecantogether.net/wecan_wednesdays_2022, where these events will have a dedicated space on our website. 
If you would like to volunteer or set up a table for your organization, please use the following links:

Click here to volunteer: https://www.emiliekornheiser.org/volunteer/
Click here to sign up to table or represent a candidate: https://forms.gle/4JuNT7Uw1hwQkHGp8

If you would like to sign up to help at the WeCAN table, please email us at [email protected] Thank you!

Editor's Note: All WeCAN Weekly Email Update submissions for next week's email will be due on Thursday, June 16th, 2022 (to [email protected]) as I am taking the weekend to go to the first annual Pride celebration in my hometown of Hamden, CT! Thank you, too, to all of you who expressed such kind words upon the passing of my Grandmother last week. I am so thankful for such a wonderful, caring community of fellow activists. Until next time...
-Joanna 

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LEAN LEFT ACTION OF THE WEEK

New Hampshire

In our small towns, elections are won or lost by a very few votes. In 2020, the closest races for the NH House of Representatives were determined by just 754 votes, an average of 53 votes per race. What this means literally is that every single vote counts. The far-right will try to intimidate voters or cause confusion at the polls. 

  • Help the NH Voter Protection team recruit poll inspectors and poll observers, staff the hotlines, and get out the message about how voters can vote safely.SIGN UP HERE!

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Weekly Email Update 6.6.22

“We cannot be antiracist if we are homophobic or transphobic… All Black lives include those of poor transgender Black women, perhaps the most violated and oppressed of all the Black intersectional groups.”
– Ibram X. Kendi b.1982
American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and historian of race and discriminatory policy in America. In July 2020, he assumed the position of director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Kendi was included in Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

  
     Happy Pride Month, friends!! From our WeCAN family to yours, we wish you the happiest, safest, most liberating Pride Month ever. Are you organizing local Pride events or are you attending ones yourself in June? Send us the details at [email protected] and we'll be sure to list them in upcoming Weekly Email Updates this month. We look forward to partying and protesting with you! 


     This week's new entries include volunteer opportunities, a state senate candidate forum, free Summer food in Putney, a Sing Out the Vote concert to benefit progressive initiatives, a Pride family potluck, and so much more. Scroll on through to the end of this email to see all the amazing ways you can connect with Windham County and make a difference. Until next week, friends...

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VOLUNTEER CHEFS NEEDED

Groundworks Collaborative is seeking donations of prepared food at our shelter at 54 South Main Street, Brattleboro, VT for the following evenings this month: 
Saturday 6/11 
Sunday 6/12 
Saturday 6/25 
Monday 6/27
 
We have 34 people staying with us each night. Meal drop off typically occurs between 5pm-6pm, however if you need an earlier drop off time, our staff will warm it at dinner time. 
To contribute please contact Karli at [email protected] or 802-257-5415.
Thank you so much for your support!

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COMMUNITY ACTION OF NOTE:
SCOTUS Abortion Rights Decision Day Rallies with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England 

(We're) sure you’ve been unable to escape the news about the imminent threat to our constitutional right to abortion. The official Supreme Court opinion is expected to drop any day now. At Planned Parenthood, we are bracing for bad news, and along with it, a second surge of public outcry against such a harmful and politically driven disregard of human rights.

To prepare, we are planning events for the public to come together on Decision Day.  

On Decision Day, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund will host the following rallies:

  • Burlington: Unitarian Universalist Church, 152 Pearl Street at 5 p.m.; if on a Wednesday, the start time will be pushed to 6 p.m.
  • Montpelier: Federal Building, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, 87 State Street at 5 p.m.
  • Bennington: Bennington Four Corners at 5 p.m.
  • Brattleboro: at 4pm in location still TBD (WeCAN will do our best to bring you information as it happens via Weekly Email Update, Emergency Response Email, FB Post, and/or Rapid Response Text)

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Weekly Email Update 5.30.22

"Schools are scared to death/ The truth us, one education/ under desks,/ Stooped low from bullets;/ That plunge when we ask/ Where our children/ Shall live/ & how/ & if.
It takes a monster to kill children./ But to watch monsters kill children again/ and again and do nothing/ isn’t just insanity—it’s/ inhumanity. The truth is, one nation under guns.
What might we be if we only tried./ What might we become if only we’d listen."

Untitled, by Amanda Gorman
American poet and activist. National Youth Poet Laureate. 

     Merry greetings and platitudes seem woefully insufficient this week, beloved WeCAN Community. Nevertheless, here we are. We, this beautiful community, who are prepared to give of ourselves in the hope of creating something better than what we have. We gather together, we organize, and we dare to forge a world where all are safe from harm and all voices are heard, equally. Our efforts are needed now more than ever, so let's get right to it. 
     For inspiration and comfort this week, we turn to poet and activist Amanda Gorman* and her response to the latest school shooting in Texas:


* Amanda Gorman is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
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From Everytown for Gun Safety:
Turn your outrage into action. Here are some actions you can take NOW to protect our communities from gun violence and hold lawmakers and the gun industry accountable after Uvalde, Buffalo, and continuing daily gun violence.
Looking to get involved at the local level? Gunsense VT is eager for you to volunteer. Sign up here: https://www.gunsensevt.org/get_involved and help advocate for common sense gun laws that will save lives. 


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Lean Left VT Action of the Week

Volunteer in New Hampshire
Like to take walks? Walking through New Hampshire to talk to voters is starting in June! Our approach will be to use "deep canvassing" techniques to listen to voters' concerns and help hone the issue message for the campaign and begin to measure candidate support. If you haven't taken the "deep canvassing" training from Swing Blue Alliance, we urge you to sign up here

  • Let us know if you're interested in canvassing. Our first canvassing opportunity is in Keene in June, but we will be adding more towns as campaign offices open up on the western side of the state. By filling out this form we’ll know if you interested in Keene and future notices about specific canvassing opportunties.  Fill out this form!

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