Freedom Socialist Party Press Conference Solidarity Statement

"Good morning,

My name is Kennedy Moore and I’m an alumnus of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist of color civic engagement and mentoring organization based in South L.A.  We strongly support this petition to make L.A. a “Sanctuary City” for all.

As many of you are aware, the majority of homeless in L.A. are African American.  The black face of homelessness in L.A. is a human rights crime that has been perpetrated by this city for generations.  Over the past few decades, L.A. has become a haven for multi-million dollar gentrification schemes that have made living here grossly unaffordable for people of color.  It’s criminal when it’s become commonplace to see people lying on the streets and sidewalks because there is no affordable housing.  It’s criminal when city officials allow multi-million dollar developments to be built in communities of color where poor and working class residents are being routinely displaced and dispossessed from their homes.   As a young person growing up in South L.A., I became accustomed to seeing my neighborhood blighted with empty lots and boarded up buildings.  It’s a crime to have thousands of black and brown folks struggling to survive in shelters, cars and on the streets or doubling and tripling up in their family’s homes.  Downtown Los Angeles continues to explode with high end retail and residential development that caters to the elite.  At the same time, downtown’s homeless population, which is majority African American, female and older, continues to be pushed to the brink.  And setting aside 5 to 10 percent of new developments for affordable housing will not cut it for the scores of black, brown and immigrant youth who comprise the majority of homeless youth in L.A.  The city needs to address these human rights abuse and open habitable spaces and buildings to homeless communities who are bearing the brunt of economic depression, joblessness, mass incarceration and sexual violence. On behalf of the youth of the Women’s Leadership Project the city must take immediate action to provide shelter and services for homeless and sanctuary for immigrants living in fear of detention and deportation."

-Kennedy Moore

Future of Feminism '17

By: Sikivu Hutchinson

On May 25th, approximately 130 youth and adult attendees participated in the “Future of Feminism” conference for girls of color and allies of all genders at the Foundation Center in South L.A.  Spearheaded by young women of color with a focus on intersectional feminism, the L.A. County Human Relations Commission and Women’s Leadership Project conference was the first of its kind in South L.A.  Participating schools and organizations included Dorsey High School, King-Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, Gardena High School, Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, Fremont High School, LAUSD School Police, David & Margaret Youth and Family Services, Barrio Youth in Action and the L.A. Commission for Children and Families. 

Top Left to Bottom Right: (WLP Workshop: Challenging 'Isms: Heterosexism, colorism & sexism pt. 1 ; WLP Panel Discussion ; MC HS: Intersectionality, Sexual Violence & Homelessness ; Challenging 'Isms: Heterosexism, colorism & sexism pt. 2)

Students attended youth-led workshops on the intersection of sexual violence and homelessness; media representation, mental health and intimate partner violence; combatting every day sexism, racism, colorism and heterosexism at school campuses; redressing the school-to-prison pipeline through transformative justice; and deconstructing transphobia and homophobia through the examination of social norms such as dress, speech and gender-coded behavior.  Partner organizations Youth Justice Coalition, Media Done Responsibly, Peace Over Violence and the GSA Network (in collaboration with Fremont HS and the Trans Youth Support Network) provided support.  

Left to Right:  Clay Wesley & Kennedy Moore ; KD Students reflect on gender, race and class ; GSA/Trans Youth Support Network Gender Box museum 

 The conference was emceed by WLP alums Kennedy Moore (2016) and Clay Wesley (2009).  WLP health educator Issachar Curbeon opened the event with a video highlighting WLP youth perspectives on intersectional feminism.  Issachar and former WLP intern Marlene Montanez co- moderated a feminism and advocacy panel featuring WLP college alum from UCLA, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Mt St Mary's University, CSUN, CSULB, El Camino College and UCSC.  Panelists Miani Giron, Liz Soria, Marenda Kyle, Dercy De La Cruz and DJ/activist Kumi James gave their perspectives on identity, colorism, navigating racism/sexism and white supremacy in academia, pushing back against Eurocentric beauty standards, and community activism.  The event concluded with a commentary and presentation by King-Drew Leadership and Feminism Club students on the Vagina Monologues and its significance for women's rights, civil liberties, free speech and feminist self-determination.  The reading was based on a student-led production mounted at King-Drew during the spring semester for Women’s Day, a mandatory school-wide event focusing on gender justice and anti-sexism.  St. John’s Health Center, the Youth Justice Coalition and the Positive Results Corporation provided informational resource tables for conference participants. 


Denim Day '17: Youth Leaders of Color on Ending Rape Culture and Sexual Violence

By: Sikivu Hutchinson

On Denim Day, April 26, 2017, 10th-12th grade students from the Women's Leadership Project (WLP) and Young Male Scholars' (YMS) programs at Gardena High School and King Drew Magnet of Medicine and Science conducted sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention workshops with over one hundred and twenty students in health, math, social studies and Advisory classes.  Students discussed the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment on school campuses and communities, the stereotypes associated with rape and sexual assault victims, and the normalization of violence against women and girls of color in mainstream society. 

YMS/WLP leaders Folarin Oguntayo, Ashley Rojas, Deaven Rector & Sidney Onyenachi

YMS/WLP leaders Folarin Oguntayo, Ashley Rojas, Deaven Rector & Sidney Onyenachi

Markell and Markease Harris break "coercion vs. consent" down

Markell and Markease Harris break "coercion vs. consent" down

Despite being marginalized inmainstream media representations of sexual violence victimization (which tend to foreground the experiences and lives of white victims), African American women have some of the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, with nearly 60%of Black girls reporting sexual abuse victimization by the age of eighteen. 

Students engaged in debate about the implications of victim-blaming and victim-shaming for sexualviolence victims and survivors, as well as the often fraught issue of giving consent in a relationship.  Speaking as male allies, peer educator leaders from YMS stepped up about male responsibility for being aware that "no means no" and being conscious that sexual violence can happen across gender identity and sexual orientation.  Students were informed about the low rates of reporting among African American women violence victims, the prevalence of social media predation, cyberbullying and sex trafficking as well as recent examples of sexual harassment in sports, entertainment and politics with high profile offenders like Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby.

WLP/GHS Gardena on "victim-shaming"

WLP/GHS Gardena on "victim-shaming"

WLP King-Drew Adebayo, Drea & Dawnyai on queer youth & sexual assault

WLP King-Drew Adebayo, Drea & Dawnyai on queer youth & sexual assault

Students also underscored the role homophobia and transphobia play in silencing male and LGBTQI sexual violence victims and addressed the lack of safe spaces for male survivors in the dominant culture. The similarities, nuances and pervasiveness of marital rape, date rape, familial rape/incest and statutory rape were also addressed. WLP coordinator Issachar Curbeon and peer educator leaders Sidney Onyenachi, Deaven Rector, Ashley Rojas, Markell and Markease Harris, Jasmine Townsend, Folarin Oguntayo, Zorrie Petrus, Eva Mancias, Lucina Ambriz, Shondrea Wooden, Dawnyai Hardy and Adebayo Ojute did an outstanding job of debunking myths and misconceptions about rape culture while educating fellow students about resisting and protecting themselves against sexual violence and sexual harassment.  

WLP Alumni Achievements: 2016

Congratulations to WLP alum-interns Clay Wesley & Lizeth Soria, recipients of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable's Spirit of the Kings' award for their work w/foster care & undocumented youth. 

Women's Leadership Project alumnus Miani Giron, will be attending UCLA Medical School in the Fall of 2016.  Miani is a 2016 graduate of Syracuse University and a 2012 alumnus of Gardena High School. Miani was president of WLP from 2011-2012 and is the first in her family to go to college. She wrote this piece about WLP for The Feminist Wire in 2012:

Coming into Consciousness

By Miani Giron

In the three years that I’ve been involved in the Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) my awareness and outlook on social issues have been positively impacted. Before I joined I was unaware of issues like HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and de facto segregation and how they directly affect my community. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was ignorant of the issues that have the potential to destroy my community, because it’s not my fault that no one ever took the time to educate me on these matters.  WLP has made me aware of issues that degrade women; as a result, not only am I conscious, but I am outraged and determined to actively do something about it. My participation in WLP increased my interest in talking to young women in my community to raise awareness. I’m encouraged to advocate and be active in my own school-community.

While all the social issues we discuss in WLP are of great importance to me, the issue of mainstream media and female representation really concerns me...