Archive | February 2011

You Can Combat Hate Based Violence

Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to countless communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.

Some assert that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual hate crime report offers the most comprehensive national picture currently available on the magnitude of this pressing problem. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SCLC) also monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and expose their activities. Research indicates that “…there are 932 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, and others.” (Southern Poverty Law Center) The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that there are 28 known hate groups in the state of Pennsylvania alone. According to the research done on this phenomenon by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups is growing. American communities have learned that failure to address hate-based crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension.

Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.

While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across our nation are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses. The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities. Hate violence can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action.

The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. The list below contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations listed below have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based violence include but is not limited to:

National Organizations
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Web: http://www.adc.org
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.

American Jewish Committee
Web: http://ajc.org
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town

Anti-Defamation League
Web: http://www.adl.org
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.

Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.

Center For Democratic Renewal
Web: http://www.thecdr.org
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.

Center for New Community
Web: http://www.newcomm.org
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.

Choosing to Participate
Web: http://www.facing.org/
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.

Connect America
Points of Light Foundation
Web: http://www.pointsoflight.org/sponsors/connectamerica.cfm
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Web: http://www.cair-net.org
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.

NAACP
Web: http://www.naacp.org
Combats racism and fights for civil rights.
National Council of Churches
Web: http://www.ncccusa.org
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Web: http://www.thetaskforce.org
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.

The National Urban League
Web: http://www.nul.org
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Web: http://www.pflag.org
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.

Political Research Associates
Web: http://www.publiceye.org/
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Web: http://www.saldef.org/default.aspx?zone=misc.faq
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center
Web: http://www.splcenter.org
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)

Study Circles Resource Center
Web: http://www.studycircles.org
Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)

100 Black Men of America
Web: http://www.100blackmen.org
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.

Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center, FBI Hate Crimes Annual Report, 100 Black Men of America, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Study Circles Resource Center, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Center For Democratic Renewal, Choosing to Participate, NAACP, National Urban League, Connect America, PFLAG, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art

Nicelle Mitchem Teaches Others How to “Recognize, Celebrate and Honor Women’s Ongoing Contributions to History.”

March is National Women’s History Month. Each year, in honor of National Women’s History Month, March is filled with workshops and conferences that highlight the accomplishments of women in various facets of life such as science, literature, government, and medicine.

The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) sets the theme and coordinates the observance activities for National Women’s History Month throughout our nation. Often, women of color are overlooked in mainstream approaches to our nation’s history. The National Women’s History Project champions their accomplishments and leads the effort to write women back into history. It has been reported that the Women’s History Month programs and events often have had wide-ranging effects not simply on individuals but also on our nation as whole.

With an emphasis on positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds, the NWHP has developed a nationwide constituency of individuals and organizations that understand the critical link between knowing about historical women and making a positive difference in today’s world. It is believed by many researchers and others that recognition of the accomplishments of women has a notable impact on the development of self-esteem for girls and young women.

For further information about National Women’s History Month related activities or the National Women’s History Project, please see NWHP’s web site, http://www.nwhp.org.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Victims of Abuse

What barriers does an abused person face when attempting to end a violent relationship? As a long-time advocate for victims of domestic violence, Nichelle Mitchem recognizes that the complexity of the legal system and the absence of legal assistance cause some victims to stay in an abusive relationship. By understanding of the importance of the access to legal information, assistance, and often representation for battered women, Mitchem has sought to enhance the accessibility to legal services for victims of domestic violence for much of her career.

Whether serving as an administrator of legal service programs for battered women or as the executive director of a domestic violence agency, Nichelle has been asked to present on: the dynamics of domestic violence, available supportive services, and the legal aspects of domestic violence. “Like shelter and counseling, access to legal information and assistance serve to empower abused persons,” Mitchem says. When discussing domestic violence with various audiences, participants often pose the question, “Why doesn’t the victim just leave?” In response, Mitchem says, “Most victims want to leave and many try. Even under the best of circumstances, leaving a relationship is difficult. Violent relationships are complex; and victims in these relationships are faced with many barriers to leaving. These barriers include the lack of knowledge of: civil and criminal protections afforded to them under the law as well as available legal resources. Additionally, the abusive partner occasionally uses intimidation and/or violence to stop the victim from severing the relationship. As a result, victims often fear retaliation for ending the relationship.”

Mitchem asserts that, “Victims often stay, because they fear that the abuser will find her and kill/harm her, the children, other relatives, or friends. They stay with the hopes that the violence will end, because they are financially dependent on the abuser, lack alternative housing, or are trying to keep the family together. They stay hoping change is possible. It takes strength and determination to survive violence. However, as time goes on, surviving an abusive relationship becomes more difficult.” This fact is particularly true for economically disadvantaged battered women and abused women with disabilities.

Mitchem has sought to enhance access to legal services for this particularly vulnerable population by understanding of the importance of legal information, assistance, and representation for many battered women, particularly those who are indigent, homeless, and/or disabled. During her tenure as executive director, domestic violence agencies have launched and/or expanded on legal service programs that assist clients in negotiating legal and other challenges that might arise as they seek to eliminate domestic violence from their lives. These very necessary programs assist survivors of domestic violence to build long-term safety and security for themselves and their children.”

For information about available legal services and other programs for victims of domestic violence in your community, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at http://www.thehotline.org. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

“Hope and Change”

Van Jones’ inspiring words about the Wisconsin residents that have been occupying their state capitol building which appeared on The Huffington Post on Tuesday morning are worth quoting: “In the past 24 months, those of us who longed for positive change have gone from hope to heartbreak. But hope is returning to America—at last—thanks largely to the courageous stand of the heroes and heroines of Wisconsin.

Reinvigorated by the idealism and fighting spirit on display right now in America’s heartland, the movement for “hope and change” has a rare, second chance. It can renew itself and become again a national force with which to be reckoned.

Over the next hours and days, all who love this country need to do everything possible to spread the “spirit of Madison” to all 50 states. This does not mean we need to occupy 50 state capitol buildings; things elsewhere are not yet that dire. But this weekend, the best of America should rally on the steps of every statehouse in the union.”

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

50-State Mobilization to Save the American Dream

In response to Wisconsin’s newly-elected Tea Party governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, MoveOn released the emergency action alert which appears below, requesting our help to support workers not only in Wisconsin but across the nation. It has been reported that hundreds of thousands of regular Wisconsinites—teachers, firefighters, police officers, students, and others—have taken to the streets of Madison. These Wisconsin residents have been and continue to be demonstrating at their state capitol building for the last 7 days and nights. In support of workers, MoveOn is helping to lead an emergency call for rallies in every state capital this Saturday at noon to support workers in Wisconsin and oppose attacks on programs that hurt workers, wherever they occur.

The citizens protesting at the Wisconsin state capital building communicates that working people — with their countless allies, students, seniors, women’s organizations, and more — are inspired and ready to fight. Additionally, it sends a clear and unequivocal message to the right-wing politicians and those in the media suggesting further concessions from working people. Working people did not create the recession or the budgetary crisis facing federal, state and local governments, and there can be no more concessions.

It should be apparent to all that some want to scapegoat workers and their unions, and is trying to exploit the economic crisis for an all-out assault on unions, public employees, and all working people in a campaign that is funded by corporate billionaires. It is apparent that their goal is to silence the voice of all working people to fight for better working conditions and improved standards for all workers.

As referenced in the action alert released by MoveOn, the Wisconsin Governor’s proposed state budget is NOT simply about that state. There will continue to be a ripple effect felt around the country. In state capitals across the country, and in Washington, D.C., Republicans are using the poor state of the economy as an excuse to slash vital programs and hurt workers. Consequently, some argue that the American Dream itself is under attack.

MoveOn’s emergency action alert reads as follows “…50-State Mobilization to Save the American Dream. Calling all students, teachers, union members, workers, patriots, public servants, unemployed folks, progressives, and people of conscience:

In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich, and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response and vital human services. The right to organize is on the chopping block. The American Dream is slipping out of reach for more and more Americans, and we have to fight back.

We call for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Demand an end to the attacks on workers’ rights and public services across the country. Demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.
We are all Wisconsin.
We are all Americans.

Add your endorsement and this Saturday stand together to save with other workers to save the American Dream. P.S. In addition to allies like PCCC, Color of Change, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, Campaign for Community Change, National People’s Action, TrueMajority, US Action, Progressive Majority, and Courage Campaign, green jobs visionary Van Jones has joined this call to action as well…”

MoveOn’s emergency action alert asks that recipients of the action alert share the content of that document with family, friends, colleagues, and others. Secondly, the alert asks for emergency rallies in front of every statehouse this Saturday at noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Share the information contained in the action alert and join the movement to demand that: the rich and powerful pay their fair share of taxes; and investment to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

TELL CONGRESS NOT TO SHORTCHANGE VICTIMS OF ABUSE

For many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Research indicates that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Indigent women are more vulnerable. The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. This evening, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) released an action alert which reminds us that domestic violence can eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action.

NCADV’s Action Alert recent reads as follows, “On February 14th, President Obama presented to Congress his budget for Fiscal Year 2012. The FY12 budget proposal, which requires congressional approval, provides $3.73 trillion in spending for mandatory and discretionary programs, including an estimated $777 million for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and related programs (Ms. Magazine).

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives began consideration of their own spending measure, HR 1. This bill, also referred to as the Continuing Resolution (CR), primarily provides funding for the current year, Fiscal Year 2011. The major concern surrounding HR 1 is that it is $100 billion less than the president’s FY11 budget proposal submitted to Congress last year, providing the largest budgetary cut in the nation’s history, according to a statement from Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY).

While the prevailing majority party in the House (under Republican leadership) justifies the cuts as fiscally responsible, Democrats in both chambers of Congress and the White House view the Republican approach as haphazard. For example, Democrats argue that reducing spending for vital criminal justice, social service and educational programs is like cutting off the nose to spite the face. Outlook According to reports from Congressional Quarterly on Tuesday, HR 1 does not have any support beyond the House of Representatives, and President Obama has vowed to veto the bill. It is likely that the House will complete work on HR 1 by February 17th. However, the endgame for the Continuing Resolution–which is temporarily funding the government at FY10 levels through March 4th–is not so clear.

Congress will need to pass another extended Continuing Resolution, a consolidated spending bill or a combination of the two by March 4th in order to prevent a government shutdown. Over the next several months, Congress will draft and amend its own spending measure for FY12 using the president’s budget proposal as a blueprint. Congress is required by law to pass an annual budget by September 30th. However, passing the budget by the fall deadline is a rarity. With a divided Congress that has yet to complete work on the current fiscal year budget, the FY12 budget-appropriations process is expected to be a grueling tug-of-war match.

But, with your help, WE CAN preserve VAWA, FVPSA, VOCA and related funding! Join the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and other similar organizations to take action to honor the countless nameless and faceless victims of intimate partner crime. Take Action Now Through March 4th MEET in district with members of your congressional delegation who sit on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and tell them not to shortchange victim services.

Your federal elected officials will be home from February 22-25. They need to hear from you about how beneficial VAWA, FVPSA, VOCA and related programs are to the communities they represent. Conversely, they also need to understand the impact that cuts to these programs will have on their communities. Our strength is in our numbers, so bring your friends, colleagues and fellow survivors to your meetings.” For further information, please contact publicpolicy@ncadv.org. Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art

Nichelle Mitchem Poses the Important Question, “Is Every House A Home?”

For many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Indigent women are more vulnerable.

On average, more than three women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country . Annually, women experience an estimated 2 million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship. Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.

Over 15 million children in our nation live in homes where there has been at least one incident of domestic violence in the past year, and seven million children live in families where severe partner violence has occurred. Data indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home. Growing up in abusive household can pose a threat to not only the child’s physical health but his mental health as well.

Research indicates that the non-abusive parent is often one the most important protective factors in the lives of children who witness domestic violence. All women, children, and men have the right to live in a safe environment and to conduct their lives without emotional, physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse.

Often, one of the greatest concerns for battered women is the affect of living in a violent home environment on children. In some instances, the domestic becomes so severe that women with children leave their homes without a place to go. Research indicates that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. In a 2007 report by the United States Conference of Mayors, thirty-nine percent of the city leaders who were surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness among households with children.

Victims of domestic violence experience difficulty finding housing. There simply are not sufficient beds to house all the battered women and their children seeking shelter. The U.S. Conference of Mayors report indicated that city leaders turn persons experiencing homelessness away from shelters and transitional housing because of lack of capacity all or some of the time. Not only do battered women experience challenges in securing a bed in a shelter, they also often have difficulty securing a safe, decent, affordable apartment.

Domestic violence thrives on apathy. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. How you can help? Advocate for increased funding for domestic violence programs and public housing.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art