June 2019

It’s summertime, which means it’s the busy season!

We’re back working with Northwestern University’s Engage Chicago program from June through August. We’ll be accompanying undergraduates in the Community Organizing concentration on weekly site visits to various grassroots organizations around the city—including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Chicago Freedom School, and others. The eight-week session kicks off on June 27th. We’ll keep you updated on the journey here.

We’re also returning to our loves at PASO West Suburban Action Project on June 10th to teach a Queer and Trans Resistance to Policing workshop in Spanish. PASO recently expanded their membership from exclusively Melrose Park residents to include their neighbors in Berwyn and Cicero. We’ll be helping introduce new members to PASO’s commitments to police abolition and trans and queer inclusion in the fight for immigrant justice.

On June 15th we’ll be leading a daylong retreat for our comrades at Organized Communities Against Deportations, focusing specifically on developing structures for group decision making, and reflecting on some of the collective’s recent campaigns. We had an amazing time teaching a workshop on Linking Anti-Blackness with Anti-Immigration to OCAD’s community leaders last month, and we’re grateful to be back supporting core organizers.

BH

May 2019

A quick April roundup before our updates for May:

We had essays in two new publications last month. The first was in the Advocate, and challenged the widespread notion that the recent election of Chicago’s first Black lesbian mayor, Lori Lightfoot—a corporate lawyer and federal prosecutor—was a victory for Black queer Chicagoans. The second was printed in the Chicago Reader, and reflected on the key successes of the #NoCopAcademy campaign. As youth- and community-led movements make headway in mainstreaming fights against austerity and militarization, holding newly-elected officials accountable, and demanding the redistribution of our city’s resources, we encourage you to keep supporting grassroots abolitionist organizing in Chicago and elsewhere.

We also led a Linking Anti-Blackness and Anti-Immigration workshop on April 16th as part of the Demilitarization School. The three-day summit, hosted by American Friends Service Committee and the War Resisters League, brought together youth leaders from across Chicago, uniting global struggles for justice through the framework of demilitarization. It was inspiring!

On Saturday, May 18th we’ll be teaching a bilingual Linking Anti-Blackness and Anti-Immigration workshop for Organized Communities Against Deportations’ monthly asamblea comunitaria, affirming Black and Brown solidarity in resisting the policing of all our communities. OCAD played a major role in the successful battle to permanently end Cook County’s racist gang database. Their work is indispensable, and it’s a joy to support them and their members!

We’re returning on Friday, May 17th to the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council’s Annual Youth Summit, teaching a new workshop for Black and Brown students on the school-to-prison pipeline. BPNC boasts some of the baddest youth organizers in the city, was a key endorsing org of the #NoCopAcademy campaign, and works hard for poor, worker, immigrant, and youth power. If we like how this new workshop goes, we may add it to our permanent roster!

On that note, we’re taking a break from vogue instruction, and so have removed Intro to Voguing and Vogue and the Prison Industrial Complex from our roster of workshops. Feel free to reach out and ask, based on the needs of your group, what we are available to teach, but be prepared that our voguing workshops may be off the table.

BH

April 2019

In a break from the usual, we’re beginning the month with a video shoot! We’ll be making a (tiny) cameo in Tasha’s music video for Take Care/New Place. Tasha has been one of our co-strugglers for years, and we’re honored to celebrate her by being a small part of this new piece, alongside some other Black women and femmes from Chicago who we’ve long admired and respected. Keep an eye out for the video drop!

We also appeared in a promo for The Coalition to End Money Bond. The coalition is calling for the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices to open a public hearing, and is also hosting a People’s Convening on Money Bond in Springfield this July. Sign their petition, and support their work!

On Friday, April 12th we’ll be leading an hourlong Intro to Voguing workshop for students at Highland Park High School as part of the FOCUS on the Arts Festival. Prioritizing trans and queer students of color, this workshop will briefly ground students in the history of vogue as a form of creative rebellion, then make space for each participant to create and share their own phrase of movement. Passing on the practice of resistance is a key part of our own artistic process, and we’re excited to join forces with these dedicated students.

ArtsEverywhere, an online publication of the Musagetes Foundation, is republishing Vogue Is Not For You, an essay we wrote in 2015. To elaborate on how some of our teaching practices have shifted since we first wrote the piece, we’ll be sitting down with icon Pony Zion at the New School in NY on April 19th to discuss the history of vogue, our individual philosophies as instructors, and the distinctions between exchange, appropriation, and commodification. We’ll share the full article and interview here once they’re published.

BH