Resources on Justice – Jennifer Scott

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Jennifer Scott is a curator and public historian, whose work explores connections between museums, arts and social justice. As Jane Addams Hull-House Museum director, she leads the vision, curation and community engagement efforts of the nationally significant historic site. Hull-House addresses issues of peace, incarceration, immigration, citizenship, race, gender, sexuality, and social activism through a number of ground-breaking exhibitions and programs. Previously, Jennifer was Vice Director and Director of Research at Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic house museum in Brooklyn, New York specializing in socially relevant applications of history, culture, and the arts. In 2016, she launched two NEH-funded initiatives in Chicago: Making the West Side: Community Conversations on Neighborhood Change, and Securing the Common Good.  Jennifer teaches in the graduate program of Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago and at The New School in New York. She is one of the editors for Museums and Civic Discourse: Past, Present and Emerging Futures.


 

  1. NEIGHBORHOOD CHANGE RESOURCES 

Working with an historic house museum that greatly impacted Chicago’s Near West Side, at Hull-House, we are thinking a lot about creating and sustaining just and equitable neighborhoods. Last year, we launched Making the West Side , a project that draws attention to the systematic neglect and inequity that exists on the West Side. We engaged artists, activists, residents, social service and public health practitioners, educators, philanthropists, historians and other stakeholders in explorations of neighborhood history and change. Three of the most helpful resources on the histories of West Side disinvestment, displacement and activism are: 1) High Rise Stories: Voices From Chicago Public Housing by Audrey Petty. One of our favorite Chicagoans, Audrey has created an invaluable document of former public housing residents, including stories from West Side residents who have been displaced and ignored due to demolition and gentrification. Audrey also facilitated multiple storytelling and mapping workshops with us for West Side residents; 2) Family Properties: How The Struggle for Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America by Beryl Satter is a must-read. Satter’s book outlines the forces of racially discriminatory banking and housing policies and practices that created slums and destroyed West Side neighborhoods.  3) Lastly, Hull-House Maps and Papers: A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Problems Growing Out of the Social Conditions is a Hull-House and Chicago classic. In the 1890s, the radical women reformers of Hull-House conducted the first comprehensive study of Chicago’s Near West Side. This anthology includes inspiring essays and colorful maps from a pioneering sociological study that was intended to catalyze social change.

  1. FREE STREET THEATER HQ ENSEMBLE

Free Street Theater, created almost 50 years ago as a radical and innovative theater, is multi-generational with a youth ensemble called HQ. I have been getting to know Free Street’s HQ ensemble through our partnership for a project called, “From Brown V. Board to Ferguson: Fostering Dialogue on Education, Incarceration, and Civil Rights. This project is sponsored by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and we work with the ensemble to facilitate dialogues with youth around issues of gender equity in education, the criminalization of girls and the increase of girls in the juvenile justice system. I am continually impressed and inspired by the Free Street youth who are deeply committed to the learning, understanding and fight against unjust systems. The youth ensemble mounts an annual performance on a social justice or civic engagement issue. In previous years, HQ focused on issues of mental health and gun violence in Chicago. This year, Free Street HQ Ensemble will present excerpts from their play, CHECKMATE, a performance in response to the election year and the continuing fight to assert our rights. CHECKMATE asks, “How do you make change when you can’t vote?” Free Street describes the play as “a toolkit and a call to action that explores the impact of youth-led movements on social change, and emphasizes the power of imagination in creating radical solutions to everyday problems.” Free Street’s new show opens on April 21 and runs through May 6. Go support!  

  1. {she crew} & SHECAST

This summer, for the third consecutive year, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will host {she crew}, an intensive six-week journaling-to-performance summer program for girls 12-14. The girls spend this time transforming their own words and self-expression about their personal growth and a range of feminist and social issues into a theatrical piece performed at the close of the program. The first year we hosted them, they blew us away with their show, Girl Riot which showcased their emerging ideas about activism and rebelling against gender-conforming stereotypes. This year, {she crew} is developing an exciting new podcast: SheCast, they describe as “Chicago’s for-girls-by-girls {& gender variant} podcast. A place for youth to tune into a safe space created by peers, focusing on current events, self-care, expressive writing, and peer advice.” The first episodes will be made available in summer 2017. We can’t wait! We also love {she crew} because they make great feminist t-shirts available in our museum shop!

  1. NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF EMPOWERMENT FOR THE FORMERLY INCARCERATED

Benny Lee is a Hull-House collaborator and a co-founder of an extremely important organization in Chicago, the National Alliance of Empowerment for the Formerly Incarcerated (NAEFI). A former, Vice Lords leader, death row inmate and keeper of the Conservative Vice Lords History, an important social change organization on the West Side of Chicago, Benny does tremendous work to advocate for and transition individuals who are newly released from incarceration back into their communities. 

  1. PROTEST BANNER LENDING LIBRARY

Hull-House’s featured artist, Aram Han Sifuentes, currently has a timely residency at Chicago Cultural Center called, “The Protest Banner Lending Library.” The original Hull-House social reformers created an Art Lending Library to democratize art access and allow a broad range of people to be able to appreciate art and beauty in their homes in the 1890s. We are thrilled that Aram has transformed this idea into a Protest Banner Lending Library! We worked with Aram at Hull-House on her insurgent project, Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t (September 8 -April 30 2017 at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum), feeling the strong need to engage the museum’s publics in conversation during the contested past and post-election season. Aram’s unsanctioned voting stations encouraged awareness around all those who are shut out of voting rights in the U.S., and it invited in marginalized voices. Following the presidential election, the voting stations have been transformed into letter writing booths for the Chicago mayor and the new U.S. president. As part of Hull-House’s exhibition programming, Aram facilitated one of her protest banner-making workshops during the week of the presidential inauguration and before the women’s day protests. Within eight hours, over one-hundred people joined us to create protest banners. Aram’s residency at the Cultural Center ends on May 18, so you still have time to go visit, create a protest banner or check one out! Also, come visit her exhibition at Hull-House before it closes on April 30! It is more important than ever that your voice is heard!

 


Resources on Justice – Mashaun Ali Hendricks

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Mashaun Ali Hendricks is a restorative justice practitioner and visual artist. He specializes in providing training and professional development for youth services providers, including K – 12 teachers and school administrators, community organizations, and criminal justice systems. As a visual artist, Mashaun owns the streetwear brand, TRAP House Chicago.


1. Condemnation of Blackness 

Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

2. Chicago Million Dollar Blocks 

Starting with the identification of “million-dollar blocks” in the early 2000s, researchers have been identifying “hot spots” for mass incarceration. From this analysis, an emerging consensus has developed: incarceration has had a devastating impact on low-income African-American neighborhoods. Meanwhile, more affluent and white areas have gone largely unscathed.

This project was developed by Dr. Daniel Cooper and Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, with the guidance and hands-on support of DataMade. The map is based on data obtained by the Chicago Justice Project from the Cook County Circuit Court. It represents all adult convictions between the years of 2005-2009. For each conviction, we have data for what the offense was, the length of the sentence, and the offender’s residential address.

The site also suggests alternatives to incarceration.

3. USDOJ – Office of Community Oriented Policing Services 

Toolbox for Implementing Restorative Justice and Advancing Community Policing.

4. Key & Peele – Negrotown: Uncensored 

This video is pure magic.

5. TRAP House Chicago – Crime Pays

The CRIME PAYS project by TRAP House Chicago features t-shirts with the words Crime Pays printed on the front in a bold graffiti-style font. On the back of the shirt is a list of professions that depend on crime to pay their salaries. A percentage of the sales of the shirts, and of all Trap House Chicago clothing, goes to fund the organization’s nonprofit wing, TRAP (Teens Reaching All Potential), which seeks to address the root problems of poverty and violence through teaching the values of restorative justice.

 


Resources on Justice – Aymar Jean Christian

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a Fellow at the Peabody Media Center. Dr. Christian’s first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by opening development to independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Cinema Journal, Continuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He leads Open TV (beta), a research project and platform for television by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. His blog, Televisual, is an archive of over 500 posts chronicling the rise of the web TV market, and he has written regular reports on TV and new media for Indiewire, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Tubefilter. He received PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.


1. Independent News

Getting quality information and informed opinion is increasingly important and challenging. Cable news has been terrible for television journalism, though the broadcast era standard of “objectivity” very often meant marginalizing real experiences of people living through difference and ignoring progressive ideas altogether. On the web you can find excellent written and documentary work that better reflect America’s political complexity and social realities from Mic (particularly The Movement series), The Intercept, and even established outlets like Democracy Now!. These treat the fight for equality as an objective position and often report from intersectional perspectives. In print, there are plenty of quality sources. Chicago may be more known for In These Times but blogs like the Black Youth Project and Rad Fag offer necessary, critical viewpoints.  

  1. Hyperallergic

I get most of my news of the art world from Hyperallergic, which not only covers artists and exhibits, but is one of the few art-based publications to regularly address inequality. Whether it’s W.A.G.E.’s newest report, gentrification in Boyle Heights, or studies on racial and gender inequality in art gallery representation, Hyperallergic presents a fuller, more justice-oriented perspective on the art market.

  1. Creative Commons

Every artist should know about Creative Commons. In the United States, original works are automatically copyrighted, protecting intellectual property upon creation. Most artists view this as an asset – indeed there’s even increasing talk among artists about collecting residuals, or secondary payments, on sales of their work. However, not every artist is interested in retaining intellectual property rights, and Creative Commons allows them to clearly signal to others that their works can be borrowed, manipulated, even profited from. Creative Commons offers tiers of licenses for original works, specifying varying levels of acceptable use of the original, thus opening up the public domain to more creative works, which spurs more creativity and collaboration in society.  

  1. Open TV (beta)

Justice must also involve entertainment industries, which have unfair and unequal supply chains. We have to continually push our TV habits beyond only corporate media like Netflix and HBO to support emerging and independent artists working toward more robust representations of cultures. Moreover, justice-oriented media consumption should not only support independent and community-minded artists, but also organizations committed to supporting them. My project Open TV (beta) is designed to create pipelines for intersectional artists, mostly in Chicago, investing in the development of new stories by queer, trans, cis-women and artists of color. I’m not the only one. You can subscribe to indie TV by and about diverse communities through Black & Sexy TV, SLAY TV, Revry, Section II, among others. Outside of TV, podcast network Postloudness features shows like Black Girl In Om, focusing on wellness for black women and women of color, and AirGo, a talk show featuring Chicago’s community-based artists and activists.                

  1. Chani Nicholas

Mainstream astrology can be overly prescriptive, solipsistic, and locked into traditional gender roles. Chani Nicholas prefers to ask questions and suggest affirmations, connecting personal concerns to political currents including misogyny, racism, transphobia and homophobia. She is as likely to inspire you to organize a demonstration as construct an altar or meditate.

 

 


Resources on Justice – Amina Ross

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Amina Ross is an undisciplined artist engaged in the reevaluation of visual and written language. As of late Amina’s interests have led to an exploration of conceptions of Body and Beauty within communities dedicated to alternative modes of healing. Amina works across mediums, shaping spaces that honor darkness and love. These ambitions led to the founding of 3rd Language (2011-2015), queer arts collective. Currently these ambitions manifest themselves within Beauty Breaks, a participatory art project and workshop series. Amina is currently a teaching artist at Hyde Park Art Center and Co-Lead artist of Teen Creative Agency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.


 

 

  1. Tips For Joining the Movement – by Radical Faggot

I interact with a lot of people everyday, ranging in age from 7 to 70 years old, from all corners of the city. In conversations big and small I often get asked the question “Well what can I do?”… those folks doing the asking referring to their quest for a course of action in a time that is so heavy. That question “Well, what can I do?”  takes slightly different variations, is said with different tones of voice and different levels of resignation to what may feel like our fate, but at its core the same desperate seeking for the right course of action is the same. And in searching for an answer to this question I turn to this guide. Radical Faggot does the work of getting to the point, to all of the points without cutting any crucial corners.

2. Do Not Fear The Darkness: Tips and tricks for standing strong in the face of the unfathomable – by Lyra Hill


I love this little book. It is filled with small, practical solutions to the big things that loom large around and inside of us – like FEAR, TERROR and TREMENDOUS SADNESS. I think about the things that have pulled people of the past through times of immense horror, and in these moments of recalling the miraculous survival of so many I know that we humans possess a great power within our small selves. A great power capable of  healing ourselves and others. I know that we are more powerful together, I also know that when I am grumpy, hungry, hurt and especially tired, I may forget how powerful I am, how powerful WE are – Do Not Fear The Darkness is a pocket-sized, portable and kind reminder.

3. Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines – Edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams with a preface by Loretta J. Ross

In seeking to describe my deep, deep appreciation for this book, in seeking to articulate all of the vastness that is conveyed through it’s pages — I keep returning to the completely simple and age old saying “mother knows best”. In seeking answers to problems and systems that are simultaneously ridiculous and unabashedly violent, I take cues from the mothers within this book. Black mothers have been and will continue to be revolutionary, my own black mother included. Black mothers have always made ways where there seemed to be none, creating their own systems, languages and solutions to whatever reality they may have faced. In the midst of warfare against themselves and their families, mothers of color have continued to “birth new worlds.”

4. Finding Soul on the Path to Orisha – by Tobe Melora Correal

My mom gave me this book not too long ago, with a note that read something like, “I hope to have raised you with many of these ethics in place”. Except less formal in tone and much more beautiful than I’ve re-written it.  And within this book I saw so much of me reflected, and heard so much of my mother’s voice reverberating in the space between the page and my memory. I’ve found this book to be an anchor, a textual reminder of the tradition I grew up within, so much I’ve heard made tangible through text on page.

5. Emergent Strategy Handbook – by Adrienne Maree Brown

A lot of my work happens at home. I co-run a space called F4F, holding events in the attic above my apartment. One of these events is Beauty Breaks, an on-going workshop and performance series based in re-thinking wellness and beauty. Having the work I do occupy the space I live in forces me to take a holistic approach to working with people and making things . I feel the impacts of what I bring into the world, and I live with those impacts, quite literally.
A holistic approach – within medicine – is characterized by the treatment of a whole person, a whole body. A holistic practitioner approaches the body as a complex organism made of various interconnected systems. A holistic practitioner does not see my ailing stomach and deep feelings of loss as completely unrelated circumstances. Band-aids are of no use to me right now. I am calling for holistic solutions, I believe Adrienne Maree Brown is as well. Brown’s writing has been incredibly formative for me, I first encountered Brown’s work through a zine at Allied Media Conference. Read about Adrienne Maree Brown’s emergence framework here: emergence (speech from opening for allied media conference 2013).

 


Resources on Justice – Allison Burque

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Allison Burque is a licensed therapist, organizer, and dedicated advocate for the health and political agency of Chicago’s queer community. Prior to establishing her private practice, she was a social worker for Howard Brown Health Center and a member of the collective Chances Dances, where she co-coordinated two grassroots arts grants: Critical Fierceness, and the Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant. She is a core organizer of Make Yourself Useful, a network of people committed to actively fortifying POC-led racial justice movements in Chicago and beyond.


 

  1. After Hours Trans/GNC Health Drop-IN at the Howard Brown Health Center

The Howard Brown Health Center offers free health care services without an appointment for trans and gender nonconforming people on the first and third Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m. Participants are able to access primary medical care, information about hormones, HIV/STI testing, behavioral health services, and even access to a free clothing swap. This service is organized by Trisha Holloway, a long-time activist, and is regularly evolving its programming to meet the needs of Chicago’s trans/gnc communities. Contact Trisha for information.

  1. Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK)

Mothers Against Senseless Killings started in 2015 after a corner in Englewood became “the deadliest” block in Chicago. Tamar Manasseh, founder of MASK, decided to take matters into her own hands and gathered a group of mothers to monitor the block. Everyday from 4pm-8pm they sit on the street corners, talk to neighbors, hand out food, and create a culture of community respect and accountability to prevent gun violence. MASK has recently been awarded ownership of a vacant lot on this corner and they wish to turn it into a family-friendly play lot where members of the community can peacefully gather and MASK can continue their effective anti-violence work. Consider donating to their campaign to support the development of this space.

  1. Transformative Justice Law Project 

TJLP provides free, zealous, life-affirming, and gender-affirming holistic criminal legal services to low-income and street based transgender and gender non-conforming people targeted by the criminal legal system. In addition to the very rad training, education, and legal work TJLP provides, they also offer a monthly name-change mobilization. The event takes place the last Friday of every month at the Daley Center and the TJLP crew will literally walk people through completing and filing their paperwork in order to get their name/gender marker changed on legal forms. It makes a very clunky bureaucratic process accessible and, in many cases, affordable (free!). Contact TJLP here for more information.

  1. Equal Justice For All Act (HB3421)

95% of people being held at Cook County Jail are waiting for trial, the majority of these locked up individuals are nonviolent, and some owe as little as 100 in bond in order to be free before their trial date. Illinois State Representative Christian Mitchell has introduced the Equal Justice For All Act to the General Assembly in order to abolish cash bonds for nonviolent offenders. The hope for this is to eliminate the current criminal legal system that punishes people for being poor, keeps people away from their families & employment as they await trial, and essentially incarcerates people without their constitutional right to due process. To support this bill, please contact your Illinois State House Representative by finding them here, and let them know you expect their vocal support on this act.

  1. Chicago Dyke March

Chicago Dyke March Collective is a grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender resilience. It is the radical response to the Pride Parade, where programming is created by and for QTPOC. The thoughtfulness, inclusivity, and practice of social justice values this group manifests is continually inspiring. And their instagram is totally hilarious. Learn about them here, support them here, and attend the march this summer!

 


Resources on Justice: Jeffreen Hayes

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Jeffreen Hayes, PhD is a trained art historian and curator, who merges administrative, curatorial and academic practices into her cultural practice of supporting artists and community development. Hayes is both an independent curator and the Executive Director of Threewalls, a non-profit contemporary art space based in Chicago. Hayes earned a PhD in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, a MA in Art History from Howard University, and a BA from Florida International University in Humanities. She has worked with several museums and cultural institutions across the country including Hampton University Museum, Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art and Rebuild Foundation. Hayes held fellowships at Ithaca College in the Art History department and in the Cartoon and Caricature Division at Library of Congress as a Swann Foundation Fellow.


 

1. Grantmakers in the Arts Statement of Purpose on Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy

Grantmakers in the Arts’ statement of purpose is a guiding principle for my work as an arts leader and in the different capacities in which I practice racial equity in the arts: as an executive director, curator, and community organizer. While this value–racial equity–is a personal one, it drives my professional work, and having a clear statement from grantmakers committed to practicing it in their funding supports my leadership, perhaps unknowingly. The statement is a primary reference when defining my vision and values for any project I am working on, whether in my capacity as a curator or director of a non-profit, because of its clarity and intentionality of language. Thoughtfulness goes a long way in justice-community work.

2. Bell Hooks, “Loving Blackness as Political Resistance”

This essay has been and continues to be core to any framework in which I am building a platform. Found in Bell Hooks’ book Black Looks: Race and Representation, “Loving Blackness” argues that loving Black people, Black experiences, Black being is an intentional, radical act against white supremacy. This would call for all groups of people to acknowledge and celebrate difference, which makes for a heterogeneous culture and makes our experiences fuller on so many levels. With the increased visibility of oppression and violence against Black people, loving blackness is a necessary strategy for survival. With Hooks’ text, I think about spaces in which I exist, and how to create environments and experiences that welcome blackness unapologetically.

3. Augusta Savage, Harlem Renaissance Artist, Activist and Community Organizer

Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage (1892-1962) leads my arts and leadership practice in ways that continue to manifest. Savage is best known as a sculptor, and specifically for her 1939 World’s Fair commission, Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp), which depicts young Black children as the strings of a harp but also as the future. What most inspires me about Savage is her grassroots work in Harlem; offering free art classes to children and adults in her art studio; teaching and hiring notable artists (Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Selma Burke); and under the WPA, creating the Harlem Community Art Center, which served as the model for the South Side Community Art Center. Savage truly kept her community at the center, and her foresight to develop a training ground for artists was remarkable.

Savage with her work Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp)

4. Shinique Smith, There were Saturday Afternoons, mixed-media installation, 2013 (commissioned by Birmingham Museum of Art)

This work vividly remains as a reminder of the power of art, community and difference, and the possibilities of art spaces meaningfully engaging with their community’s history. Commissioned by the Birmingham Museum of Art, the work was a collection of personal items–shoes, clothes, and tours–of Birmingham residents, young and old, for the commemoration of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing (1963). Though the lost lives of 4 girls – Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley – spurred the commission, Shinique Smith created a work that spoke to the current violence against children – Sandy Hook and Trayvon Martin. Violence against children is heinous, and how does an artist-artwork draw sensitivity to the victims without exploiting them is a question I consider as we continue to experience these violent acts as a collective. Smith’s piece is one that brings the issue into the gallery space in a sensitive way, honoring the lives, those lost and those living, and does not water down her aesthetic.

Shinique Smith, There were Saturday Afternoons, mixed-media installation, 2013

5. The Boondocks & Luther (comics/comic strips)

Almost thirty years apart, these comics, Luther (1960s-1970s) and The Boondocks (1990s-2000s) put in graphic form strategies for educating and discussing racism through the lens of children. Brumsic Brandon created Luther in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and wanting to continue the work of Dr. King and believed the masses would receive the lessons much easier if “hearing” them from children. This is a similar strategy Aaron McGruder used in The Boondocks, although the lessons and commentary on race are more pointed than Brandon’s, given the generational differences. What they both share is the intention around speaking about race and racism in the United States at moments in our history when many believed we were past race. These comics remind me that visual-popular culture serves as important accessible and scholarly texts that can advance justice in ways that traditional academic texts and practices cannot.

Luther by Brumsic Brandon.

The Boondocks by Aaron McGruder


Resources on Justice: Sarah Ross

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Sarah Ross is an educator and artist whose work uses narrative and the body to address spatial concerns as they relate to access, class, anxiety and activism. She co-founded the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP), a cultural project that brings together artists, writers and scholars in and outside Stateville prison to create public projects concerning segregation, criminalization and incarceration. During this time Sarah worked closely with local artists, activists, lawyers, torture survivors and scholars on Chicago Torture Justice Memorials—a recent four-year campaign for reparations for survivors of Chicago police torture.


 

  1. CRITICAL RESISTANCE 

CR has been around for almost 2 decades now. I learned about them in the mid 2000s, and in 2007 I went to the 10 year conference in Oakland. Their framework trained me up on what abolition is— and their work has made prison abolition a much more common term, idea, and vision. They put out The Abolitionist newspaper, which goes to thousands of people in prison and published an edited volume called Abolition Now. I recommend reading both. Plus they have lots of tools on their website to think about how to teach abolition and ways of addressing harm that don’t rely on punishment, prisons and policing.

2. INCITE

I’ve followed the work of INCITE for a while and appreciate their analysis of ‘carceral feminisms’. In the 2000s I worked with people who identified as women, and who were surviving domestic violence and I saw how social service systems relied on police and prisons as a solution to violence, not the source of it. INCITE’s work succinctly understands this. Furthermore, their work helped me more deeply understand how (the figure of the) white woman has been— and continues to be —used as a reason to criminalize and lock up more and more people of color. INCITE’s work names this racism and resists it— and builds much needed resources and support for women, trans, and queer people of color.  

3. YOUTH JUSTICE PROJECTS

There are so many people and groups doing work with and by young folks. I am excited about these projects because they are leading our future! I’ve followed Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles from afar and only seen them speak a few times, but when I did, I was blown away. These young folks articulated the ways they solved problems without policing, fought for better education and housing, and organized against the use of gang injunctions and other policing tools that so heavily surveilled them. In Chicago, Project NIA, founded by the amazing Mariame Kaba, has done similar work that focuses on how criminal legal systems ensnare young people. Project NIA has created tons of circular resources, developed workshops, started peace circles, and hosted exhibitions. In 2011 I attended a summer workshop around the PIC that Project NIA hosted. I learned so much with other organizers and see their work show up in the world in powerful ways today— like the work of Page May who is a cofounder of Assata’s Daughters a grassroots collective project project that, among other things, offers political education, black feminist theory and organizing training to black girls.  

4. LEGAL TEAMS AND LAW PROJECTS

I’m a big fan of law projects in Chicago like the People’s Law Office, Transformative Justice Law Project, Uptown People’s Law in Chicago, The Children and Family Justice Center, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Cabrini Green Legal Aide, Metropolitan Tenants Organization and others. They represent and believe people when others won’t, they sue state systems for misconduct (or worse) and are able to use the law for us, when so often it’s used against us.

5. EDUCATION PROJECTS

There are also many awesome education projects that offer free or low cost education to people. Centro Autonomo, Sister Jean Hughes Adult High School, the Michael Barlow Center, the Odyssey Project, even Chicago City Colleges offers free GED classes and some free college credits. Free and affordable education, housing, and healthcare are some key ways to build communities of care necessary to ending segregation, prisons and policing. We might see this connection more clearly by looking at this rise in gun violence in Chicago and the state’s inability to pass a state budget, which has, for 2 years resulted in little to no funding for basic, life sustaining services.


Resources on Justice – Aaron Hughes

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Aaron Hughes is an artist, activist, teacher, and Iraq War veteran based in Chicago. He works collaboratively with a range of art and activist projects and organizations including the Tea Project, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Warrior Writers, National Veterans Art Museum, Justseeds Artist’s Cooperative, and Prison & Neighborhood Arts Project.


 

  1. Community

The successful projects, organizations, and movements for justice that I know of have been deeply rooted in community. Communities defend, sustain, grow, inspire, and transform movements just as movements defend, sustain, grow, inspire, and transform communities. Personally, my community of artists, activists, and veterans have saved my life, motivated me to act, given me ways to fight for justice, inspired me to make a deeper commitment to organizing for the long haul, helped me understand the intersectionality of oppression, and connected me to new friends and family. Some of the organization’s in my community include:

  1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence given on April 4, 1967 at the New York’s Riverside Church and the emerging Chicago based Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild. network

(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Image from Democracy Now!)

April 4, 2017 will be the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam speech linking the war in Vietnam with racism at home and highlighting the intersection and destructive power of militarism, racism, and materialism. To this day this speech humbles my heart and provides a vision of a path forward towards a more just future. A year to the day after the Beyond Vietnam speech, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee while campaigning for sanitation workers.

It is no coincidence that the Chicago based Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild. network announced its first public action Looking Back, Not Going Back, a citywide convergence and teach-in, for this same date, April 4, 2017. Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild. is a network of more than thirty Chicago organizations committed to building a united front to Resist repressive policies and neo-fascist tactics; Reimagine our futures knowing that our progressive struggles—anti-racist, anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-xenophobic, and Queer—are inextricably linked; and collectively Rebuild our communities. It is in this vision of a united front that highlights the intersections, just as Dr. King did fifty years ago, that I see Chicago’s path towards a more just future.

(Graphic from the Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild. network.)

  1. Graphics for the Movement from Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative (Celebrate People’s History Poster Series and Justseeds Graphics Page)

(Image from Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.)

 Celebrate People’s History Poster Series

Since 1998, Josh MacPhee has organized and curated Celebrate People’s History Poster Series to highlight the stories of people’s movements and underdogs who are often left out of history books. The series pulls from Howard Zinn’s framework outlined in his famed book, A People’s History of the United States of America, making the project a powerful and popular tool for education and political organizing. Prints from the series end up in classrooms, community centers, activist spaces, and art spaces inspiring and educating students and activists alike.

Top Left: I am Trayvon Martin by Jesus Barraza, Mazatl, & Melanie Cervantes

Top Right: Resistance! by Tara Murino-Brault

Bottom Right: Sanctuary Cities NOW by Pete Railand

Bottom Left: Protect the Water | Defend the Land by Melanie Cervantes

Justseeds Graphics Page

This page hosts graphics by Justseeds members and their allies that are created with and for a broad spectrum of people’s movements. The graphics are free for people to use on flyers, posters, banners, t-shirts, and websites for the movement. Most of the graphics are inspirational, uplifting, and highlight messages from frontline organizations. These graphics are an amazing resource when developing designs for political posters or in preparation for demonstrations. They also inspire artists to produce their own graphics and get their message out there. Download and distribute for the movement today!

  1. Public Libraries

Everywhere I’ve lived in the United States I’ve found the local public library and used it for information, inspiration, meetings, shelter, and relaxation. Libraries are abundant in resources. Just think of all those books on topics from legal rights, to organizing, to gardening, to poetry. A few of the publications in the Chicago Public Library that I think of when considering the struggle for Justice are:

I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle by Charles M. Payne

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit 

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire 

The Long Haul: An Autobiography by Myles Horton

  1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat, activist and former First Lady of the United States, reading from the Declaration in 1948. Image from United Nations.)

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, this document outlines universal and unconditional rights and has been used as the inspirational underpinnings of legal arguments, powerful people’s movements, and groundbreaking organizations including:

 


Resources on Justice – Carron Little

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Carron Little creates public engagement projects for neighborhoods and cities. She founded Out of Site Chicago in 2011, a public performance series that has funded and produced over seventy public performances by local and international artists to date. Little teaches in the Performance Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in Chicago Public Schools.


 Five selected texts:

N-Paradoxa – International Feminist Art Magazine edited by Katy Deepwell

Living by the Word by Alice Walker

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacob

The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz

Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord

I’ve been asked to write about Justice in relation to the texts I have chosen and as a way of living in the world as a creative practitioner. For me justice starts at the point of thinking about what I am going to make and this is highly connected to how I choose to live and engage with the world. I never know what I am going to make when I start a project and this unknowing is an important part of the process. I go in with my eyes open looking and listening.

For example, Eden Unluata curated five artists in Uptown in 2013 for Open House Chicago. Each artist was given a historic building and I was given the Bridgeview Bank. I knew I wanted people to walk away with more wealth than what they entered with. In a meeting with the Bank Manager who was rather dubious about The Queen of Luxuria’s performance, I explained that each participant would walk away with a gift, that the performance was structured like a game of monopoly looking at value and personal happiness. Through further research I came across statistics related to pay inequality in America. I decided to create a calculation where I evaluated what people hadn’t received due to pay inequity. The statistics in 2013 were shocking with Hispanic women earning 53% to the average salary of a white male counterpart. African American women were earning 63% and white women 73%. Each of these statistics have moved up 5% since. Through the performance research of the project I discovered something even worse. Every time I perform this work fifty percent of the participants I interview are earning 15,000 dollars a year or less. When we talk about justice, art has the capacity to reveal the problems that we don’t want to see. This project reveals how people and families are impoverished systematically across racial and gender lines.

In 2015 I was commissioned to do a public engagement project for the neighborhood of Beverly. I had proposed to interview eight people over the age of seventy about their life stories. In bringing the eight participants together throughout the development and making of the project we discussed everything from race relations in America, the Civil Rights Movement, to queer history and culture in context of a worldly perspective and the women’s liberation movement. Open space was made for these people who had been neighbors for fifty years to get to find commonalities and become friends. It also gave room to a younger generation to

learn about their untold history. We all learnt some much from each other. After doing the performance for Beverly Art Walk in 2015 I chose one of the participant’s stories to develop further and started to research through archive in the city. I contacted institutions in Chicago and down state and started to uncover an undocumented story of Women Mobilized for Change that were a women’s collective that grew out of the Civil Rights Movement. They existed for eight years and made a lot of progress in fair housing legislation helping to pass through Bill 155 in Springfield. In 2016 I got funding from Chicago Park District to create a public performance that traveled around the park district. I put together a diverse group of women from all parts of the city, I gave them the poem, the music, the research and with a theater Director and Choreographer asked them to collaborate to create a public performance. We invited original members of Women Mobilized for Change to each performance and after each performance we held hour long circle conversations talking about the issues raised in the performance. Women Mobilized for Change held their first conference on March 4th 1967 and we were able to book Chicago Cultural center fifty years to the exact same day, date and time.

Women’s history being written out of history is a constant struggle within a local and global context. Magazines like N-Paradoxa, the International Feminist Magazine seek to redress this and it is imperative that we provide the tools for the next generation. I was traveling last semester for SAIC doing admissions work and I was in St Louis where this one student said to me: “I’m a child of the nineties, I grew up with no positive female role models. I want to address this in the work I do.” I was horrified that collectively we have all let down the next generation if we don’t make diverse representations now. Writing diverse representations of people into the work we create is imperative and inclusive representation is justice in form. It is imperative that we think about how we make and produce images. It will not be easy, as there are so many divisions to heal, so many prejudices to overcome but everyone entering these spaces is working for justice and that has to be acknowledged, supported and mutually respected. We will make mistakes and the conversations won’t be easy but we have a long road to walk and we need to do it collectively and thoughtfully for the next generation.

That is why I have selected these five texts that have informed the work that I do as an artist. Living by the Word by Alice Walker was a vital book growing up and helped shaped my consciousness as a teenager. The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz I’ve carried with me from London to Chicago and is structured around the story of one women from birth to death who is forbidden to leave the house. The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs is a vital book re-thinking our cities and is important to the work I do as founder and director of Out of Site Chicago. In the current climate, I would like to recommend Surpassing the Spectacle by Carol Becker and Spectacle Pedagogy by Charles R. Garoian and Yvonne M. Gaudelius. Both these texts reference and are inspired by Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle that was written in 1967 and predict the current times we are living in.

 


Resources on Justice – Diaz Lewis

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Diaz Lewis – the collaborative duo comprised of Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera and Cara Megan Lewis – create art to prompt social change. After the couple met in 2012, they worked across the divide between Cuba and the U.S. Now based in Los Angeles, their practice as artists and activists is fueled by deconstructing social processes and the symbols and politics behind them. The pair dissect themes such as rhetoric, immigration and property rights from two distinct and often opposing angles. Diaz Lewis were most recently artists-in-residence at the Chicago Cultural Center through the support of the Joyce Foundation. Today on the blog they share with us their Top 5 Resources on Justice.


 

  1. “Apology of Sócrates” by Plato

When reading the Apology of Socrates one could be led to believe that when Plato developed his famous Allegory of the Cave he was actually describing the struggle of Socrates when he attempted to open the eyes of his greek contemporaries. The Apology gives readers the possibility of understanding the main principles of philosophy and the ideological basis of Western civilization through the eyes of the political struggle of that time and context. With this read one realizes that philosophy, when used right can be as a strong a tool for social change as a riot.

  1. “Before the Law” a parable contained in the novel “The Trial” by Franz Kafka

Before the Law is less of  a short story and more of  a shout for mobilization of the people and the poor. With this paradox Kafka forces us to consider our own societal self-censorship and the chains that keep us oppressed have been locked by ourselves. This is the book that can make you re-think yourself as a political actor for the first time when you are just a teenager. It’s cry for social justice hits you in the heart.

  1. “Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota” Report by Bethany Carson and Eleana Diaz, April 2015.

This report is the most detailed investigation and explanation of the immigration detention system and the business of the For-Profit Prison Industry in the United States.

  1. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

In this letter King exposes the social context and the ideological walls that made impossible his long deferred dream of Social Justice.

  1. “Un libro levemente odioso,” by Roque Dalton, 1972

This is a book of sarcastic poetry from a revolutionary and politically involved Salvadoran writer who considered Cuba to be his 2nd homeland.