I made it to Vienna for the 1st Black European Women’s Congress and I am so grateful to be here. Unfortunately the hotel does not have a wireless connection and I am having connection problems using the cables, so I cannot blog live and share the photos and videos I have taken (yet), but in a few days you will be able to see what words can barely describe: sisterhood is a wonderful thing.
Imagine a room full of intellectuals, activists, artists, mothers, students and others who want to make Europe a place where black women (men and of course children) are treated with respect, given fair access to jobs, where their education and accomplishments are acknowledged (but not considered novelties). The Europe we invision is truly competitive in the global arena because it is inclusive and thus benefits from the talents and diversity it has, to truly become an economic leader.
Okay, I am back to one of the many working groups. More later!
Vienna Declaration from the 1st Black European Women’s Congress
Declaration of the Black European Women´s Congress
Vienna, 27 – 29th September 2007
We Black European Women from 16 EU Member States, and Switzerland, gathered in Vienna from 27 – 29th September 2007 within the framework of the European Year for Equal Opportunities for All; under the initiative of AFRA – International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives (Austria) and coorganised by Tiye International, (The Netherlands) hereby announce the creation of the Black European Womens Network (BEWNET).
We, Black European Women, insist on the recognition of the crucial role played by Black Women economically, politically, culturally and socially in the European context. We are determined to implement and mainstream Black Women´s Empowerment in Europe as a core policy issue.
Our gathering here is an indication of the necessity for the EU to dialog with Black Women’s Organisations EU-wide. The European Year for Intercultural Dialog therefore presents an opportunity to initiate and strengthen partnerships and alliances. We welcome purposeful efforts to engage with the EU in the implementation and in consequence in the securing and exercising of our Rights as full citizens of the EU and EEA.
Black European Women Congress 2007 Recommendations to the EU
1. Identity and Empowerment
• Despite the legal framework, forms of multiple discrimination, including gendered racism, continue to exist. The Black European Women Congress recommends the enforcement and implementation of Article 13 to eradicate all forms of discrimination across all member states.
2. Challenges faced by Black youths
• Educational System and Civil Services must incorporate Anti-Racism training and qualification for personnel at all levels and recruit Black professionals. In addition, we recommend to set up legal guidelines for all public and corporate educational institutions to offer anti-racist material, services and curriculum.
3. Psychological conflicts affecting black communities especially Black women and children
• The Black European Women Congress recognizes mental health as a primary issue pertaining to Black communities dealing with racism. Government must provide financial and structural means to allow the establishment of autonomous institutions that provide mental health care for Black people dealing with the effects of racism.
4. Current Barriers of Black Women to the European Labour Market
• Companies and employers are required to implement Human Resources measures and tools designed to recruit Black personnel reflecting the diversity they express in their mission statements.
5. Political Participation
• Development of programs which assure, support and include appropriate political representation and participation of Black women.
Saturday, Sep 29, 2007
I will be blogging live, or at least reporting daily from the 1st Black European Women’s Congress in Vienna tomorrow through the 29th. Look for photos and perhaps videos to accompany my reports. Wien, here we come!
10 Opinions/Observations from September 20th rally in Jena, LouisianaPosted by Shawn Williams on September 23rd, 2007
I have had a chance to collect my thoughts since last Thursday’s historic rally in Jena, Louisiana, and I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts about the events of the day.
1. Black is Beautiful
There were many times when my companions and I had to retreat because the people flow was at a stand still. I don’t trust any of the estimates under 30,000, and 50-75K is probably more realistic.
2. We Trashed Jena
The Jena rally was a peaceful protest, but the day’s events produced a lot of trash. For any future gatherings such as this, there would need to be lots more trash cans in place.
I was on one of the last buses out of Jena, and it was left pretty much like it was found; with the exception of trash all over the streets. Most of the trash consisted of water bottles discarded by attendees.
3. Emergency Response/Red Cross were on Point
The American Red Cross was in full effect last Thursday as were local emergency response teams. It was hot! There were a few people who passed out due to heat related complications. The Red Cross handed out free bottles of water throughout the day.
4. A Deviation in the Program
There was a point in the afternoon right after Jesse Jackson spoke when it seemed like no one knew what was next. Many folks were looking for Rev. Sharpton and Michael Baisden, but as far as I know they were in were in Alexandria.
While a march went on in Jena, there were others who left for some type of concurrent event in Alexandria. I heard Rev. Jackson say “we are going to march to Ward 10 park as was planned.” (twice)
At last I heard, Rev. Sharpton was on his way back to Jena, but I never saw him and I don’t know if he ever made it. I still don’t know why there was a separate event going on in Alexandria.
There were so many young faces in the crowd last Thursday. Kids were sporting their college gear, frat letters, and school colors. They did more walking and shouting than anybody.
5a Black Colleges Represented
The majority of college buses and vans I saw were from HBCU’s. I saw no (visual) representation from Texas A&M, University of Texas, University of Houston, or others though Texas had a large contingent of protesters.
6. Rev. Jesse Jackson still knows how to hype the crowd
In the hot Louisiana sun, Rev. Jackson inspired the thousands who were gathered in front of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse. He was rapping and rhyming as usual, but the people still love him. One of my friend looked at me and began quoting Jackson word for word as he spoke. We laughed, but his words were still timely and relevant.
As we drove in on Hwy 8 Thursday morning, the town was exactly like I had pictured in my mind. As we neared Jena, one of the first things we saw was a house flying an American flag and a Confederate flag out front. Just down the road was a triple-wide church. The courthouse was on Courthouse Road and the high school was on High School Dr.
The ladies pictured at the left seemed to just take it all in stride. I did see a couple of houses who were allowing marchers to come inside, but I didn’t check the extent of what was really going on.
There were a lot of folks who had tape up around their property to discourage folks from walking in their yards. You can see this in the above right picture.
For some reason I didn’t figure that I would make it to the place where it all started while I was in Jena. But as the day progressed people began migrating towards Jena High School.
It was about a mile and a half walk from the courthouse, and this was the first time I realized just how many people had come to town for the rally. The entire street was packed with black folks wearing black.
I plan to devote a post to my experience at Jena High School, but it was quite impactful. The courtyard where the tree once stood was so small.
Not only was the tree gone (left), but there was very little evidence that it had even been there. It began to sink in that everyone in a school this size would know each other, and all of the acts that are chronicled in this saga were more intimate than I had originally imagined.
I’m not sure how it translated to T.V., but there where a number of white folks in Jena last Thursday. Some seemed to be children of the 60’s who were reliving their radical roots from the past. Others were hawking anti-Bush books, newspapers, and posters.
There were also young people who seemed a little uneasy with this unfamiliar territory but glad to be there none the less. But none of them seemed to get the memo about wearing black.
10. On 9/20/07, we drove the media agenda
It is not lost on me that had it not been for the Jena 6 rally, O.J. Simpson would have been the biggest story in the news that day. It seemed like every television station from the South and Southeast was represented with a news truck. Cameras and anchors were all over the place.
Daphne is designing and making delicate, beautiful handmade jewelry in southern Sweden. I picked up a pair of earrings and a necklace from her in the early days of her business to wear to a formal dance. I’m looking forward to adding to my collection.
Daphne says: From my mother I inherited a passion for pearls. I chanced one day on a small shop in New York City where beads were sold and found one of the sales assistants making a beautiful pearl necklace. For my wedding I returned to the same little shop and placed an order for the necklace that I imagined for months.
My pieces are inspired from the women I have met over the years living in 6 different countries on 2 continents.
See her collection here and pick up something wonderful today.
by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)
Like many public events these days, this week’s Jena rally came together largely through the efforts of bloggers. One of them was Dallas resident Shawn Williams, 33, who helped spread the word through his Dallas South Blog (www.dallassouthblog.com) .
In an e-mail interview with The Dallas Morning News Friday, the pharmaceutical salesman and member of Friendship-West Baptist Church reflected on his blog and the Jena rally:
The News: Give us the background on the Dallas South Blog. Did you create it? What is its aim?
Mr. Williams: I started Dallas South Blog 15 months ago as a way of expressing myself, but as the site has evolved, the goal is to promote positive images of African-Americans to contrast the negative images put forth daily in the popular press.
The News: Have you been involved in other civil rights movements or protests before?
Mr. Williams: I think the movement is ongoing. Since college I have been aligned with these types of issues in some form or fashion, but most recently I worked to rid our neighborhood of a sexually oriented business that was being built in walking distance of a charter school.
The News: What was your role in this week?s trip to Louisiana?
Mr. Williams: Besides helping to get 1,000 folks that left from our church on the right bus, I was just a participant. I marched, I listened, I shouted, but mostly, I was there in support of the young men who stand accused.
The News: Did you network with other bloggers?
The News: How will Thursday’s event advance the civil rights movement?
Mr. Williams: No one can answer that. I am hopeful that the African-American community will commit to seeking justice and equality for the long hall. Cases like this happen all over the United States. We must use this energy to highlight injustice and to take responsibility for our own community and our own future.
End story by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)
The latest: Bail was denied Friday for a black teenager whose arrest in the beating of a black classmate led to this week’s huge civil rights demonstration in the central Louisiana town of Jena, according to the father of one of his co-defendants. The bond hearing for Mychal Bell, one of the group known as the Jena Six, was held this afternoon in a juvenile court in Jena. Lawyers would not comment because juvenile court proceedings are secret. But John Jenkins, the father of one of Bell’s codefendants, said Bell’s bail request was denied. Bell’s mother left the courthouse in tears and refused to comment. A man accompanying her said, “Denied” as they walked out.
Francis says: Just as Governor Orvil Faubus tried to bar the doors to the desegregation of Arkansas High Schools a half century ago, even in the face of a Federal Court order to desegregate, so the Jena courts seem to be in full revolt against the wisdom of the Louisiana 3rd District Appeals Court. The Junvenile Court, like Jena itself, is intransigent and unreconstructed.
In the AfroSpear, we’ve got to hang that town with its own nooses in the court of public opinion.
When an appeals court orders overturns a conviction, and then orders a lower court to hold a bail hearing, the appeals court is normally saying, “Let this person go, or at least set bail that the person is able to make.” But appeals courts don’t say that directly. They give the hint to the lower court, so that the lower court can maitain its dignity by coming to the right conclusion after a nudging.
In this case, the Jena local courts don’t listen to nudges, even when the come from higher courts whose decisions are the law of the land, and whose suggestions and guidance are meant to be heeded.
If I could read the decision of the Third District Court of Louisiana, I could make this argument more effectively, based on that Court’s own ruling of last week.
In any case, now we got to turn up the heat, emphasizing in our blogs that the Jena local courts are in full revolt from the Louisiana justice system and demanding federal intervention (which seems to be coming in the form of Congressman Conyer’s Justice Committee hearings, which will increase the national focus and pressure.
We’ve got to turn this case into a trial of justice in Jena and of justice in America itself, demanding to know, in various forums, what America will do to right this injustice.