Ella Baker, an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, once said, “The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm.” As a sexual violence prevention educator and youth co-conspirator, I feel the wisdom in these words every time I have the opportunity to witness young people working toward justice and asking for what they need. In fact, youth have been at the forefront of most of the major social movements of the past century.
In the summer of 2015, Anaja McClinton and Erin Thompson approached the Center for support around creating a sexual violence prevention workshop for her friends and peers at school. Anaja knew young folks who had been directly impacted and she felt like the issue sexual violence was not being addressed at school. When we met with Anaja and Erin, it was clear that they were fired up and ready. They wanted to see change for the benefit of their friends, fellow students, and future students. And they were ready to work for it. Without any hesitation, they approached their parents and caregivers, asking them to support their efforts, and they directly communicated their desires and needs with the principal at their school.
By the end of the fall semester, Anaja and Erin had the full support of their principal. Moreover, they requested that the district consider sexual violence prevention programming at both of the high schools in Orange County Schools. Continue reading “2016 Teal Ribbon Award Winners”
Hollaback! Durham & Chapel Hill organizers are excited to announce the launch of our new local chapter. Hollaback! is an international organization dedicated to ending street harassment and harassment in public spaces.
Organizers from the teen-led Youth Against Rape Culture (YARC) activist collective have a lot to say about how street harassment affects the lives of young people in the area. “I was harassed by a guy on Franklin Street when I was 11 years old,” says organizer and Chapel Hill High School senior Hannah Hodge. “It’s messed up that some creep on the corner catcalling is what made me feel like a woman.”
Hannah’s experience of harassment is not unique. Street harassment is an often misunderstood phenomenon that affects all types of communities, whether suburban, urban, or rural. According to a 2000 survey, 87 percent of American women had been harassed by a male stranger; nearly half had experienced “extreme harassment” such as groping, following, or assault. Harassment is experienced even more often by LGBTQ-identified individuals, who are commonly left out of mainstream discussions of harassment.
Youth organizers have enjoyed both moral and logistical support from mentors at the Center. Executive Director Shamecca Bryant explains the Center’s interest in supporting this campaign: “We recognize the role that street harassment plays in creating a culture of violence against women and violence against marginalized individuals. We see our work as complementary to Hollaback and their mission to shine a light on the seriousness of street harassment.” YARC team mentor and Center staff Rachel Valentine echoes that sentiment: “Harassment – whether it’s sexist, racist or homophobic – gets its power from the threat of violence that lingers behind it.”