In March 2005, the City of New Orleans, and specifically the Treme Community, one of the oldest communities of free Africans in America, generously hosted INCITE! for the Color of Violence III. Local residents, activists and organizers opened their homes, school, churches, community center, auditorium, and hearts to us, sharing their struggles while helping us create a unique space for organizing against all forms of violence against women of color in the U.S. and around the world.
Just six months later, New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, in which the many intersecting systems of oppression we theorized and organized around at COV III converged in the lives of survivors. The Treme Community, which for many of us was a temporary home for three beautiful days in March, was particularly hard hit by waves of water, racism, classism, and the impacts of U.S. imperialism abroad. Women of color, because of their location at the intersection of these forces, as well as their roles as caregivers to young, elderly, and disabled people, have been on the front lines of struggles for survival in the days and months following Katrina. However, the needs of low-income women of color struggling against poverty and powerlessness resulting from systemic racism and sexism have not been central to government or non-profit responses.
INCITE! is now calling on women of color who participated in the Color of Violence, members of INCITE! chapters & affiliates, and women of color allies, to support the women of New Orleans through the work of the INCITE! New Orleans chapter.
What can I do?
• Join or support an INCITE! delegation to New Orleans. The women of INCITE! New Orleans have been centrally involved in establishing and supporting the Women’s Health Center project of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (http://www.communitylaborunited.net). They are also building toward the creation of a Women of Color Organizing and Resource Center, which will serve as a hub for organizing among low-income women of color for meaningful participation in the reconstruction of New Orleans, the rights of workers – both immigrant and non-immigrant – who are the backbone of reconstruction efforts, health, safety & housing rights for women of color returning to New Orleans, and community-based responses to violence and approaches to safety.
Volunteers with health care, education, community health promotion and stress, grief, domestic violence, and sexual assault counseling are urgently needed to support the work of the Women’s Health Center.
Drivers and individuals willing and able to conduct intake, outreach, and provide childcare are also needed.
Individuals with fundraising & organizing experience with respect to housing, environmental justice, health and safety, immigrant and workers’ rights, and violence against women are needed to assist in the development, resourcing, and establishment of the Women of Color Organizing and Resource Center.
INCITE! will be coordinating rotating delegations of 3-10 individuals for stays of a week or more throughout the early part of 2006 to support these INCITE! New Orleans initiatives. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE PRIORITIZING THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN THESE DELEGATIONS.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call and leave a message at (484) 932-3166.
IMPORTANT! INCITE! NEW ORLEANS ASKS THAT YOU NOT TRAVEL TO NEW ORLEANS WITHOUT PARTICIPATING IN A COORDINATED DELEGATION. Resources, including housing, transportation, and food continue to be scarce in New Orleans, and many are being taken up by “relief” workers and contractors, to the detriment of New Orleans residents seeking to return to their homes.
Be aware that delegation participants will be housed under “rough” conditions (on the floor, no hot water, etc.) and will be asked to bring basic supplies for themselves and to meet local needs. We will be working long hours, and will likely participate in physical work needed to assist in rebuilding basic infrastructure.
• If you cannot travel to New Orleans, we still need your help! The Women’s Health Center needs supplies and material support. Organize a fundraiser or supply drive in your community to help meet women’s basic health needs in New Orleans in the face of collapsed infrastructure, widespread presence of environmental contaminants, mold, and refuse, and failure of supplies collected by the Red Cross and FEMA to reach women most in need. For a list of supplies needed, please contact us at email@example.com or call and leave a message at (484) 932-3166. Send your financial contributions to INCITE!, P.O. Box 226, Redmond WA 98073 and put INCITE! New Orleans in the memo line.
• Organize to support folks in your area! New Orleans residents have been scattered throughout the country, and many are still housed in government facilities (i.e. army bases), shelters, churches, and hotels. Support New Orleans residents in your area by:
• Identifying where survivors are living and organizing in your area;
• Facilitating forums for New Orleans survivors to come together, share their experiences, and organize around the right of return and New Orleans reconstruction;
• Distributing information about resources available in your local area to survivors. Government agencies have made little or no effort to help survivors access local housing, income support, education, child care, medical, transportation and anti-violence resources.
• Support local survivors’ councils in their advocacy efforts around relief, return, and rebuilding. Offer office space, fax, copying and telephone facilities and woman power to their organizing efforts.
• Facilitate legal clinics to assist survivors in accessing information and benefits from FEMA and the Red Cross, and in fighting eviction and foreclosure proceedings with respect to their homes in New Orleans.
• Advocate for a full accounting of the current location of all New Orleans residents and publication of FEMA and Red Cross databases. Demand an extension of hurricane-related housing and income support. Visit http://www.katrinaaction.org. Support the following survivors demands:
The People’s Declaration: Survivors Assembly Demands
Identified by survivors on December 9, 2005
We demand that the local, state and federal government make conditions possible for our immediate return. This includes the following:
The Nagin Administration must make temporary housing such as apartments, hotel rooms, trailers and public housing developments available for us while we rebuild our homes.
The government must put an end to price gouging, stop all evictions and make rents affordable.
Local residents must take the lead in rebuilding our communities and must be hired to do the rebuilding work.
There must be immediate debt relief for debt associated with this disaster.
Quality public education and childcare must be provided for our children.
Quality affordable health care and access to free prescriptions must be provided.
The government must immediately clean up air, water and soil to make it safe and healthy for people to return home.
We demand that the government provide funds for all families to be reunited and that the databases of FEMA, Red Cross and any organizations tracking our people be made public.
We demand accountability for and oversight of the over $50 billion of FEMA funds and the money raised by other organizations, foundations and funds in our name.
We demand representation on all boards that are making decisions about relief and reconstruction. We also demand that those most affected by Hurricane Katrina be part of every stage of the planning process.
We demand that no commercial Mardi Gras takes place until the suffering of the people is lifted.
We are calling for survivors and supporters to participate in a Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend 2006 conference and demonstration to make these demands heard!
How do I get involved?
CONTACT US at:
call and leave a message at (484) 932-3166
Send your financial contributions to INCITE!, P.O. Box 226, Redmond WA 98073 and put INCITE! New Orleans in the memo line.
Be sure to let us know about the organizing you are doing in your local area so that we can share that information with the women of INCITE! New Orleans!
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and their communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing. For more information, see our website at: