Friday, November 7, 2008

Video Submissions and updates on the NJ4

As I say in my last post – electing Barack Obama isn’t the end of our work for social justice. Indeed, it is only the beginning. As you could tell in his speech it was less victory than an acknowledgement of the long roads we have ahead. In the spirit of struggle then, I wanted to give an update on Renata Hill. Renata is better known as one of the New Jersey 4 – four Black lesbians who refused the advances of men, and responded to their sexual and physical harassment by defending themselves, and subsequently ended up in jail. I posted about her trial about a month back urging readers to write to the District Attorney to let him know how we felt about the lawsuit.

I received an update recently informing me that over 500 people wrote to the DA. The retrial has been pushed back to November 20th, which gives her advocates more time to put pressure on the legal system to do the right thing. *

In wonderful news Venice Brown was released on bail on October 7th! Venice’s 21st birthday was a few weeks ago, and it’s wonderful to think of her being able to see the faces and feel the support of her family on her birthday. Her appeals will be sometime in November.

Patreese Johnson is still locked and facing around 9 years of sentencing. According to the blog freenj4, she is feeling very alienated. Please write to her and send her some much needed love and encouragement.

Patreese Johnson #07-G-0635
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1000
Bedford Hills, NY 10507

Terrain Dandridge was released back in June – I heard she spent her first day out of prison visiting with Angela Davis…I don’t know if that’s true but I love the image!

In the spirit of continued activism, I also want to highlight this call for youth media producers from the Human Rights Watch and Adobe Youth Voices.

“The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in partnership with Adobe Youth Voices seeks youth-produced media works on human rights issues for its second annual YOUTH PRODUCING CHANGE program to screen in our New York, London, Boston and San Francisco film festivals in 2009-10.

We are currently seeking film, video and animated works on human rights issues created by youth ages 19 and younger. For information on how to submit your film, please click here.

Feel free to be in touch with Jennifer Nedbalsky at 212/216-1247 or nedbalj(at)hrw.org if you have any questions or would like further information.”

*November 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I find this ironic as there is no doubt in my mind that the violence that causes transphobia is linked to the violence against Renata and the many other lesbians who refuse the advances of men. Violence against women often comes, I feel, from not confining to rigid gender roles regarding what a woman should and should not do. When these women defended themselves they defied our gender stereotypes, which many transwomen, transmen, and gender non-conforming people also do on a daily basis.

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