JOIN THE STEERING COMMITTEE

WE’RE LOOKING FOR 10 PEOPLE TO JOIN THE STEERING COMMITTEE

Let us know you’re interested here.

As an organization, Resist Hate RI exploded onto the scene after Trump’s election. Forming out of a meeting State Representative Aaron Regunberg scheduled on Facebook to figure out what the hell to do in the aftermath of the election, Resist Hate RI’s founders put on massive meetings in those first few months. At those meetings, they caught activists skills that they could use to change RI.

Having such a small group plan everything was unsustainable, so they decided to create a Steering Committee. Formed in March, the steering committee has worked to organize meetings, lobbying sessions, rallies, house parties and more. At the end of 2017, the steering committee and membership reflected on what worked and what didn’t, and came up with a purpose statement and separated into committee

About half of the current 10-person steering committee is stepping down by mid-2018 because of other commitments or because they are moving away from RI. To ensure RHRI is sustainable and able to meet the progressive goals you and we care about, we want to recruit 10 more people to the steering committee, and we want to start that process now.

The 10 new steering committee members would, ideally, serve for two years before being up for election again. For continuity’s sake, the remaining current steering committee members will stay on through 2018 (one year), at which point they will be a part of the next election in 2019. This would allow the steering committee election cycle to be staggered as RHRI moves forward.

Let us know you’re interested here.

 

What does a steering committee member do?

We are looking for people who will work hard to organize Resist Hate and its members and help put its purpose statement into action. Experience in politics or activism isn’t necessary for consideration.We are hoping the steering committee will become more diverse as a part of this process.

Let us know you’re interested here.

The ideal candidate for a steering committee position is someone who:

  • can give 5-10 hours a week to Resist Hate RI
  • agrees with the purpose statement and wants to work to put it into action
  • is organized, follows through and works hard
  • makes ethical, thoughtful decisions
  • can work well with a group
  • can commit to being on the steering committee for at least two years

Steering committee members:

  • Help determine the purpose and direction of RHRI
  • Meet regularly (currently twice a month) and speak regularly by email, text and phone
  • Plan fundraising efforts, put them into action and keep track of finances
  • Communicate with the membership via email, FB, and blog, and survey the membership
  • Communication with other organizations, and promoting those other organizations and their events
  • Plan educational meetings, community engagements and political actions with RHRI members
  • Run/participate in the Communications, Membership & Events and Administration committees
    • Communications – write emails, design communications, manage Facebook and website, etc.
    • Membership & Events – survey members, manage the member database, answer emails, plan events, organize phone banking, etc.
    • Administration – organize steering committee, fundraise and track financess, run steering committee elections, connect with other organizations, etc.

 

THE TIMELINE

FEBRUARY

By February 28, let us know why you want to be a steering committee member. Be specific:

  • What appeals to you, and what can you add to the organization?
  • What do you see yourself doing? (Communications, Administration, Events and/or Membership) If you’re not sure where you fit in, tell us that too.
  • Tell us your skills and strengths.
  • Let us know how much time you think you could put to RHRI.
  • Tell us how long you think you can make this commitment – for the full two years or less?

MARCH

At our March steering committee meetings, we will review all the people who have reached out with interest, and we’ll set up meetings to talk to all the people who can expressed interest. We’ll be assessing whether people support RHRI’s mission, have the needed skills, and fill the holes we know we’re going to have in 2018.

We may decide some of those who have expressed interest aren’t a great fit for the steering committee in terms of capacity or ability. We’ll be transparent with candidates about the decisions we make.

We won’t be endorsing any candidates over others – we will only be interviewing candidates to ask questions about what they can bring to RHRI in terms of time, skill and vision, and allowing candidates to interview us on what being a steering committee member entails.

START OF APRIL

if we have more than 10 people who are interested in being on the steering committee, we’ll turn voting to add people to the existing steering committee over to RHRI members. We’ll do this online. If you are on the email list, you will be able to vote via an emailed link. Please join the email list so that you’ll be able to vote in April (and so you receive our newsletters and updates!).

END OF APRIL/MAY

At the end of April, the new steering committee will meet up to get to know each other, talk about the future, get on the same page and continue planning the #resistance. In April or May, we’ll announce the new steering committee makeup to all of Resist Hate RI.

2019

Four to five (about half)  of the current steering committee is stepping down, most by mid 2018, because of other commitments in 2018 or because they are moving away from RI. For continuity’s sake, the remaining five to six steering committee members will stay on through 2018, at which point they will be put up for election if they want to stay. Everyone else will serve for a two-year term, and be up for re-election in 2020.

 


 

RHRI PURPOSE STATEMENT: Resist Hate RI bring Rhode Islanders together to fight for racial, economic, environmental and social justice, and against the Trump agenda. We provide a doorway to activism, community-building, education and opportunities for collective action to combat systemic oppression.

How RHRI Did in 2017 & What You Want in 2018

A Summary from our December 10 Community Meeting

On December 10, well over 100 RHRI activists came out to talk about what RHRI had done well in 2017 and what it needed to do better in 2018. People had a lot of ideas for the future, and to be able to put those ideas into action, Resist Hate RI needs your help.

Fill out this survey and let us know.

 

What RHRI members want to focus on in 2018

At the meeting, we asked people to write down three issues they felt were the most important things to focus on in 2018.

 

2018 RI elections, and National Policies

People overwhelmingly said that electing progressives in RI was the most important to them, along with fighting against the federal administration’s policies. One said having legislative ‘scorecards” would be helpful and one suggested support for traveling to elections outside of RI would be good to do.

 

Issues people want to work on

The other top issues people cared about working on in 2018 included: environment, racism and civil rights, voting rights, immigration, reproductive rights, economic justice, education and healthcare.

 

How RHRI did in 2017

In the small groups, people reported on things they liked, things they did not like about Resist Hate RI, and what could be done better as we move forward.

 

RHRI as a connector 

Many appreciated RHRI’s role as an “umbrella,” “clearinghouse,” or “funnel” that they could use to learn to plug into different groups and actions, and felt RHRI had the potential for being able to bring people together to learn and make connections.

 

Rallies, Community Meetings, Education and Actions

People had varying opinions on the events we held throughout the year.

Community Meetings

Some found the educational workshops and trainings helpful, but that RHRI lost momentum with education-only community meetings that lacked breakout/discussion sessions.  A few felt we needed more focus, and one said that they loved meetings with direct actions.

One member said RHRI should hold regular community meetings that are consistent and should distribute agendas in advance. At those meetings, one said there should be “issue leads” that report back on what they’ve done and what they need. Another said there should be translations created for written communications and meetings.

One person felt more informational workshops on lobbying and introducing people to legislators was important.

Rallies

Some supporting attention-getting rallies to show that citizens care, and said they had both expected and wanted more of them planned. One member thought that there were too many marches.

Social Events

A few felt social, community-building events are important in addition to actions and suggested events in other towns (other than Providence), like the house parties RHRI members hosted this summer.

 

Leadership & Direction

Some felt RHRI’s leadership should be stronger/clearer and several disliked the use of Trump’s name in RHRI’s new statement of purpose. One member felt we spent too much time on thinking about what we do and who we are.

One member noted they they were active, attending meetings and rallies, but didn’t feel a part of the group and said they struggled with the one-way exchange of information, and lack of discussion or thought on what to do.  Another said they’d learned a lot but were dissatisfied with the lack of leaderships on where to go with their activism and what they should do with the knowledge they get through RHRI. A few mentioned they felt RHRI was too fragmented and going in too many directions at once.

 

Communication Internally

Several appreciated the moderated Facebook page and its ability to allow people to connect and do outreach. One noted that the Facebook discussions were messy but helpful, and that  the comment shut off in the spring was harmful, and that the discussion had still not yet recovered.

One suggested that if RHRI needed assistance that they make very clear asks, not just on Facebook, for help.

One noted that there was no forum for open discussion of the group’s problems — like lack of diversity. Another suggested having some of the other community groups give RHRI feedback on how it is doing.

 

Communication with Other Groups

Several felt that we’d worked well and closely with other community groups, but others said RHRI should do more to collaborate with activist groups and have more of a shared vision, or at least cross-community education. One said we need to have conversations to communicate across lines of race and class, being wary of labels like parties or group affiliations. One suggested we need both discussion and guidance to activist groups.

 

The future

Attendees had many ideas for 2018 and the future. They wanted to keep promoting activism, and noted that RHRI members have limited time and patience and that discussion must lead to action. One person suggested creating a youth group. Another wanted to ensure we keep on our federal delegation and another said we needed to make connections between national and local issues. Another said we needed to help meet the psychological needs of members who feel battered by the federal political landscape. One suggested knitting and other craft groups that could create things in support of others. Another said we needed to plaster the state with posters.

Others said RHRI needs to work to inspire others, include the voice of feminists, become more diverse and get more people involved, reach out to more of the population and work on building trust. One suggested weekly actions and another suggested a newsletter.

 

RHRI’s Take Action Newsletter: CSA in jeopardy, a civil rights roundtable, and more

In this newsletter:

  • Community Safety Act: Action needed now!
  • Net Neutrality
  • Tank the tax bill
  • The next two weeks: upcoming events
  • The future: keep these on your radar
  • Give a gift

The Community Safety Act could be in Jeopardy

The STEP UP Coalition needs you to call your city councilor and demand the Providence External Review Authority be officially reestablished ASAP, before the end of the year.

The STEP UP Coalition statement is as follows:

“January 1st 2018 is approaching fast, signaling the long-awaited implementation for the Community Safety Act. However, to be able to implement the CSA, the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) must first be re-established. PERA, as written in the CSA, will be the governing body to review and investigate police misconduct and violations of the CSA, to issue reports about how the police department is doing, and to review proposed labor contracts with the police.

PERA is one of the biggest ways the CSA is holding the police accountable, which has made it a target of City Hall. Currently, PERA needs to get up and running fast, to be fully functional by the time the CSA goes into effect on January 1. But the Elorza administration, through its Law Department, is taking the questionable legal position that the PERA ordinance has to be amended in order to do its work. We know that if City Council goes back in to amend PERA, it will just be an opportunity to weaken it and to delay the January 1 start-up of the CSA.

We ask that you call your City Councilor and Mayor Jorge Elorza and demand that PERA be up and running IMMEDIATELY so that the CSA can be implemented on January 1st, 2018 without delay. Any weakening of PERA or delays in the implementation of the CSA is undermining the will of the people. We have very little time due to the holidays to re-activate PERA and implement the CSA as promised so we ask that you please spread the word and start calling your councilors and the mayor NOW and DEMAND that they stop trying to dismantle PERA and start implementing the CSA.”

Ward 1
Seth Yurdin | 401-484-7207 | ward1@providenceri.com | @SethYurdin

Ward 2
Samuel D. Zurier | 401-861-6313 | Ward2@providenceri.com

Ward 3
Nirva LaFortune | Ward3@providenceri.com

Ward 4
Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr. | 401-497-1430 | Ward4@providenceri.com

Ward 5
Jo-Ann Ryan | 401-595-8604, 401-464-2046 | Ward5@providenceri.com | @JoannRyanPVD5

Ward 6
Michael J. Correia | 401-603-6723 | Ward6@providenceri.com

Ward 7
John J. Igliozzi | 401-351-9802 | Ward7@providenceri.com

Ward 8
Wilbur W. Jennings, Jr. | 401-461-3617 | Ward8@providenceri.com

Ward 9
Carmen Castillo | 401-226-4678 | Ward9@providenceri.com

Ward 10
Luis A. Aponte | 401-781-6861 | Ward10@providenceri.com

Ward 11
Mary Kay Harris | 401-481-8268 | Ward11@providenceri.com

Ward 12
Terrence M. Hassett | 401-454-0644 | Ward12@providenceri.com

Ward 13
Bryan Principe | 401-486-2488 | Ward13@providenceri.com

Ward 14
David A. Salvatore | Ward14@providenceri.com |  @DavidASalvatore

Ward 15
Sabina Matos | 401-383-3814 | Ward15@providenceri.com | @Sabina_Matos


 

Fight for Net Neutrality

Tell the Rhode Island Attorney General to sign on to the lawsuit against the FCC’s net neutrality decision. Attorney General Kilmartin has said he is interested in signing but he wants to review the lawsuit first. Urge Kilmartin to sign on now.

 


 

Tank the Tax Bill: Call progressives in Maine and Arizona

Indivisible is bringing back their peer-to-peer calling tool so that progressives like us can help motivate and move progressives in other states with Republican legislators who may be able to be swayed to vote against the tax bill. Can you sign up to make calls to progressives in Maine and Arizona?

 


 

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, December 19: Showing Up For Racial Justice Open Meeting
​7 – 9 PM | 99 Morris Ave, Providence

The meeting will focus on accountability partner asks such as DARE and PrYSM fundraising and continued No LNG action, and more.​ Learn more about what the meeting will cover (and RSVP).

Thursday, December 21: Civil Rights Round Table – A Conversation with DARE
3 – 4:30 PM | Smith Hill Annex, 231 Douglas Ave., Providence

DARE is leading the conversation at the Civil Rights Round Table​, discussing the work they do, and what needs they have. Read more about the event here​ and while it’s not required that you RSVP, you can if you’d like to Toby Ayers at rijc@ricj.org.

Saturday, December 30: The Woman Project HQ’s Sewing Bee
10 AM – 4 PM | UUCSC​, 27 North Rd, Peace Dale, RI 02879

For the last few months The Woman Project has been gathering signed quilt squares to create Petition 2.0. On December 30th, they will turn those squares into a patch work quilt for the legislative session. Sewers and non-sewers are encouraged to attend​. Learn more and RSVP.

 


 

Keep on your radar

TBD, Mueller Firing Rapid Response: Indivisible RI has a placeholder protest event on Facebook for if Robert Mueller, the special investigator, is fired. The protest would take place in Burnside Park. RSVP now so you know what to do and can respond immediately if Mueller is fired​.

Saturday, January 20, 2018: The Women’s March. It’s been a long year. On January 21, 2017 Rhode Islanders made history as part of the worldwide movement known as the Women’s March on Washington. Join together again and recharge to continue to work in 2018. RSVP and learn more.

 


 

Give a gift

The Center for Reconciliation is in need of for funds​ for several projects. Donate here.

The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence has a wishlist​ on their website. See if there is anything on the list you can provide.​

 

Save the Date: Resist Hate RI Community Meeting on December 10

What can we do together in 2018?

It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. We’ve missed you!

After a busy summer and legislative session, the election anniversary and Thanksgiving, it’s time to meet again to review what we accomplished in 2017, think about what worked and what didn’t, and look forward to and plan for 2018.

We are really looking for your input and feedback as Resist Hate RI looks to 2018 and thinks about what we can accomplish together. Even in the midst of the busy holiday season, we hope you can take a few hours to come together and plan for the future of RI.


THE DETAILS

What: Community Meeting

Where: St. Martins Church, 50 Orchard Ave, Providence, RI 02906

When: Sunday, December 10, 2 – 5 PM

Learn more and RSVP!


 

October 14: Black Lives in RI


On Saturday, October 14, Resist Hate RI is hosting an event, Black Lives in RI: The Legacy of Slavery and Structural Racism in RI. The first part of the event will be hosted by Dr. Walter Anthony, Jr. and will feature talks by Jordan Seaberry, Elon Cook and Dr. Tricia Rose. We’ll end the evening by meeting up for music, drinks and food at The District.

1:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Presentations and Discussions (St. Martin’s, 50 Orchard Ave, Providence)

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Music, Food and Drinks ( The District, 54 South St, Providence)


Eventbrite - BLACK LIVES IN RI: THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY AND STRUCTURAL RACISM IN RI

(150 FREE tickets available)


Presentations and Discussions

October 14, 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 50 Orchard Ave, Providence

Detailed schedule for the day:

1:00 PM: Welcome by Dr. Walter Anthony, Jr.

1:15 PM: The Lively Experiment in Context | Jordan Seaberry, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the Institute for the Study and Practice for Nonviolence will discuss the issues we face today in RI. Rhode Island’s racial history is complex from its onset: RI was the economic engine of American slavery. What does it mean to fight for justice in this context, while our neighbors live with the inherited wealth of the Triangle Trade? Together, we can start telling the truth about race in Rhode Island.

1:30 PM: The Legacy of Slavery and the Slave Trade in RI | Elon Cook, Program Director and Curator for The Center for Reconciliation, will engage participants in a discussion of slavery, the slave trade and freedom in 18th and 19th century Providence, Rhode Island. Dialogue will explore direct connections between the local built environment and the history and legacy of slavery and slave trading.

2:30 PM: How Structural Racism Works | Dr. Tricia Rose, a Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, the Director of the Center for the Study of Race + Ethnicity in America (CSREA) and the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives at Brown University, will present “How Structural Racism Works.” This presentation shares ideas from Professor Rose’s on-going research project, which aims to make accessible to the public what structural racism is and how it works in society. The project examines the connections between policies and practices in housing, education and other key spheres of society to reveal the intersectional and compounding effects of systemic discrimination as a significant force in American society today.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Interactive Workshop: The Master’s House


Eventbrite - BLACK LIVES IN RI: THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY AND STRUCTURAL RACISM IN RI

(150 FREE tickets available)


Music, Food & Drinks

October 14, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
The District, 54 South St, Providence


More Information about the Presenters and Host:

Jordan Seaberry is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the Institute for the Study and Practice for Nonviolence .

Elon Cook is a museum activist, race woman and Program Director and Curator for The Center for Reconciliation.

Dr. Tricia Rose is a Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, the Director of the Center for the Study of Race + Ethnicity in America (CSREA) and the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives at Brown University. Born and raised in Harlem and the Bronx in New York City, Rose graduated from Yale University where she received a BA in Sociology (1984) and then received her Ph.D. from Brown University in American Studies (1993). Rose is an internationally respected scholar of post civil rights era black U.S. culture, popular music, social issues, gender and sexuality.

Dr. Walter Anthony, Jr. will host Black Lives in RI: The Legacy of Slavery and Structural Racism. Born 1943 in Tampa, Florida with the distinction “negro” on his birth certificate, Dr. Anthony is retired from many culturally diverse experiences in life: Altar boy, NY State Correction officer. US Marine [stationed in Jim Crow South], Deputy Sheriff, College Academic Dean, College Professor, Director of Sports for Children and Senior Master Track and Field Olympian. However, he credits his travels in India studying with a spiritual master the practice of daily meditation as the biggest inspiration in his life, and something he aims to share with others. In addition to being a Resist Hate RI steering committee member, Dr. Anthony currently volunteers weekly facilitating meditation sessions for inmates at Rhode Island prisons.


Download the event flier, created by Benjamin Branchaud.

Building (and maintaining) a local Resist Hate RI group

by Bethany Foster

Right after the election in November 2016, I was fighting depression about the state of our nation and looking for a group of like-minded people to commiserate and work with. I was at the library in downtown Bristol, where I live, and their calendar of events listed an upcoming meeting of Resist Hate East Bay. I’d heard about Resist Hate RI, and their meetings in Providence, and thought I it about time I show up.

Since that first Resist Hate East Bay meeting, I’ve worked alongside Tracy Cooper Ramos to start and bolster the local group. Over the past several months, we’ve learned a few things about how to start a group and build power in communities. At the last Resist Hate RI meeting in June, Melissa Mangili of the Cranston Action Network and I shared what we learned, and in this blog post, I’ll provide a few tips that you might find useful if you want to start a local Resist Hate RI group.

The more local groups in Rhode Island, the more strength the progressive movement will have. The more we connect with activists around us, the more powerful we will feel and the more powerful we’ll be. If you interested in started a group in your area, let the steering committee know by emailing resisthateri@gmail.com. We can help out with contact information for people in your area, communication via our email blasts and Facebook page, and we can also come out and help you run your first meetings.

 

FIGURE OUT YOUR FOCUS

Are you just interested in working on issues in your town or city? At the State level? In Schools? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to decide where to put your time, but the broader you are, the broader and bigger your coalition is likely to be.

Resist Hate RI can always help to provide you with strategies and issues where your help is needed, but you’ll also likely find local-specific issues to work on as well with your group. Work on balancing between saying focused and being flexible.

 

GET A BUDDY

Work with partners. Find someone in your area who is also interested in creating a group in your community and work together so you can split up the work. Everyone gets busy and partners can pick up the slack to keep the group going.

 

SHOUT IT FROM THE WEB AND FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE

Use every available avenue to publicize the event. Those who are on Facebook forget: not everyone is on Facebook.

  • Put up signs in your local community: I went to my first Resist Hate East Bay meeting because I saw it on the calendar board at the library.
  • Call: Once you have people’s contact information, make direct calls to invite people to your events.
  • Ask your friends: Use your social connections: Tell your friends and theirs about your new group.
  • Emails: Send emails to those who have attended in the past. (If you pair with RHRI, you can also use the RHRI membership list to send out targeted emails to people who live in the area near you.)
  • Add it to the RHRI Facebook page: Publicize on the RHRI Facebook page. All events on the FB page may be included in Resist Hate RI’s email blasts to the entire mailing list.

 

GET PERSONAL

Resist Hate RI is a large organization (we have 3500+ people on our mailing list and 8000+in our Facebook group). At the large Resist Hate RI meetings, there isn’t always time to make a personal connect with fellow activists (something we’re working on this summer by hosting House Parties around the state).

But at these local groups, you can take the time to get to know your neighbors, build a sense of community and foster loyalty to your group. Open every meeting by going around the room and having everyone introduce themselves. Some opening questions we’ve used:

  • What brought you to the meeting? (This is a great for first meetings or new folks)
  • What areas of interest are especially important to you?
  • What other groups are you working with and what are they working on?
  • How are you feeling? How are you coping? (This is an especially important question, especially after a tough few weeks – we asked this question of everyone a couple of weeks after the inauguration when it started to dawn on people that this presidency was going to be as bad as we’d feared.)

 

MAKE CONNECTIONS

Inviting people to speak at meetings is a great way to provide both education on issues and give people a chance to talk about solutions and have their voice heard. Publicizing speakers who are coming to your event may also entice people to come to the meeting.

  • Invite State Senators and Representatives to speak to their constituents. (We have had many at the East Bay meetings.)
  • Local organizations are interested in coming out to speak to your group to talk about the work they do and where they need assistance or how you can help. Connect with groups in your community and the state. (All of these groups came to the East Bay meetings to speak: ACLU, Common Cause, Planned Parenthood, Mom’s Demand Action, RICAGV, Working Families Party)
  • Identify issues related to your locality and ask town officials to come speak about them

 

ACT OFTEN, EVEN IF YOU ACT SMALL

At your meetings, talk about the work you’re doing and organize for next steps. At each meeting, try to have an action. Some of the following might interest you:

  • Filling out postcards for government officials
  • Creating posters for marches
  • Writing letters to the editor

Your group can also campaign for candidates you believe in, show up to support an organization you care about, and get involved in local and state government.

  • Phone banking: Pair with an organization
  • Going door to door.
  • Manning a table at a community event.
  • Attend a town or city council meeting, or a state house committee hearing

 

GO WITH THE EBB AND FLOW

Some of your meetings will be big, some will be small. At some you’ll get a lot of work done, at others you may not. Don’t mistake small for ineffective – a few people can still enact change. Keep your energy up, keep on acting, big and small, and keep the connections between your members strong.

 

The more local groups in Rhode Island, the more strength the progressive movement will have. The more we connect with activists around us, the more powerful we will feel and the more powerful we’ll be. If you interested in started a group in your area, let the steering committee know by emailing resisthateri@gmail.com. We can help out with contact information for people in your area, communication via our email blasts and Facebook page, and we can also come out and help you run your first meetings.

 

Confusing Rollout for Pawtucket’s Free Summer Meals Program

by Jessica Stensrud

The Free Summer Meals Program is state-wide, federally-funded program that takes place all across Rhode Island, providing children 18 and younger with breakfast and lunch (and sometimes snack) at no cost. In RI, the program is supposed to provide an average of 450,000 meals over the course of the summer.

In Pawtucket, however, the rollout has been confusing and disjointed. On Friday, June 23 at Slater Park, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien introduced the Free Summer Meals Program, while at the same time tweeting calendars with the menu items for breakfast and lunch. These calendars noted the program would start on June 26 at all open meal sites, which include libraries, schools, and parks.

But on June 26, when I and fellow activists visited the sites, what we found surprised us and left us frustrated and disheartened: every school site was empty of children and no food was being served or was set up to be served. Staff we could find on site hadn’t heard of the program.

We decided to head to the Pawtucket School Department, eventually getting a meeting with the Assistant Superintendent Secretary Sue Lozy, who explained that the actual start date for many of the sites was July 5, not June 26. She acknowledged that the schedule tweeted by the Mayor had been confusing, and that she would create an updated, more accurate schedule, which has now been posted to the Pawtucket city website and to the Pawtucket School Department’s website.

Lozy also promised that information banners would be put up at all schools and robo-calls in relevant languages would go out across the community.

On July 5, we visited the various sites again, and this time were pleased to see that the schools we visited were set up and serving food. It did still seem like not many children were showing up. We aren’t sure if Lozy or the School Department or the schools themselves are doing the appropriate outreach to let families in the area know that there is free food available to them.

We need to make sure every family in Pawtucket worried about putting food on the table is aware of the program, and make sure that we roll it out better and in a more organized way.

Please call, email, write and/or fax Mayor Donald Grebien’s office, as well as the two Assistant Superintendents and their secretary (all contact information is below) and say:

  • “I want to ask that the [Mayor, Superintendent, etc] appoint someone to make sure the Free Summer Meals Program is operating in an organized way, to ensure that the benefits of the program as being seen by the impoverished children in Pawtucket who depend on it.
  • I want to ask that more is done to inform the people in the neighborhood of the program, so that their children are able to eat the free food available.  What effort is being made to ensure people know about the program?

Mayor Grebien
Address: Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, 2nd Floor Room 200, Pawtucket, RI 02860
City Hall Main Number: (401) 728-0500, ext. 281
Mayor’s Office Fax: (401) 723-8620
Email: dgrebien@pawtucketri.com

Sue Lozy (secretary to the assistant superintendent)
Phone: 401-729-6328
Note: We were told Lozy is due to retire soon so we’re not sure how long she can be reached.

Assistant Superintendent Lee Rabbit
rabbitl@psdri.net
Phone: 401-729-6328
Fax: 401-727-1641

Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Suriani
surianik@psdri.net
Phone: 401-729-6328
Fax: 401-727-1641

Jessica Stensrud is a social justice activist and advocate. She is a co-coordinator for the [Anti-Bullying] Rhode Island Healthy Workplace Bill and has been active in fighting lunch shaming issue in Pawtucket.

How To Be An Ally to Sex Workers

by Bella Robinson

1) Don’t Assume. Don’t assume you know why a person is in the sex industry.  Most people make a choice to enter the sex industry because it is the best option for them.  Many sex workers only have to work a few hours a week because sex work pays a lot more than the majority of other jobs in the US.  Sex work allows sex workers a flexible schedule so they can attend college or pick their kids up at the bus stop after school.  Sex work allows sex workers to pay their rent and to put food on the table for their families.

2)  Don’t Judge. Know your own prejudices and realize that not everyone shares the same opinions as you. Whether you think sex work is a dangerous and exploitative profession or not is irrelevant compared to the actual experiences of the person who works in the industry. It’s not your place to pass judgment on how another person earns the money they need to survive.

3) Address Your Prejudices. If you have a deep bias or underlying fear that all sex workers are bad people and/or full of diseases, then perhaps these are issues within yourself that you need to address.  In fact, the majority of sex workers practice safer sex more than their peers and get tested regularly.

4) Respect that Sex Work is Real Work. There’s a set of professional skills involved and it’s not necessarily an industry that everyone can enter into. Don’t tell someone to get a “real job” when they already have one that suits them just fine.

5) Don’t Play Rescuer. Most sex workers are not trying to get out of the industry or in need of help.  Many sex workers have reported that rescue attempts which usually includes them being arrested,  traumatizes them and leaves them further displaced.  Most rescue efforts do not include offering sex workers any real services like child care, subsidized housing, or jobs that pay a living wage.  Sex workers have been rating these experiences at http://ratethatrescue.org/

6)  Remember “Our Lives Are Not Your Fundraising Material” Many trafficking and rescue organizations exploit sex workers who have been arrested.  They highlight the few rare horrific stories of abuse and exploitation for their fundraising campaigns. They stigmatize sex workers which is known to increase violence towards sex workers.  They create hysteria about phantom pimps and traffickers that rarely exist,  while they profit off the criminalization of sex workers.  Trafficking NGOs are being funded at over 600 million a year just to create awareness about sex trafficking.  Yet 80% of human trafficking takes place in other labor sectors.

7) Watch Your Language. Cracking jokes about rape and dead hookers is not acceptable.  Calling sexworkers derogatory names is not acceptable,  However some sex workers have “taken back” these phrases to show the world that they are proud sex workers who will not be shamed; thus helping to help reduce stigma and change social perception.  (whore, ho, hooker)

8) Do Your Own Research. Most mainstream media is biased against sex workers and the statistics you read in the news about the sex industry are usually false.  Be critical of what you read or hear as most of it won’t be based on evidence based research.  If you want to learn about sex workers, contact your local sex worker rights organization and ask them to provide you or your organization with a free training.

9) Be Discreet and Respect Personal Boundaries. If you know a sex worker, it’s OK to engage in conversation in dialogue with them in private, but respect their privacy surrounding their work in public settings.  Don’t ask personal questions such as “does your family know what you do?” If a sex worker is not “out” to their friends, family, or co-workers, it’s not your place to tell everyone what they do.

10) Show Respect. Realize that sex work transcends ‘visible’ notions of race, gender, class, sexuality, education, and identities; sex workers are your sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, lovers, and friends. Respect them!

11) Be Supportive and Share Resources. If you know of someone who is new to the industry or in an abusive situation with an employer, by all means offer advice and support without being condescending. Some people do enter into the sex industry without educating themselves about what they are getting into and may need help. Despite the situation, calling the police is usually never a good option. Try to find other sex worker led organizations that are sensitive to the needs of sex workers.

12) Stand Up. As you learn the above things, stand up for sex workers when conversations happen.  Don’t let the stigma, bigotry and shame around sex work continue.  Remember it’s important that sex workers be allowed to speak for themselves and for allies to not speak them.   If you want to help be an ally to sex workers, please consider donating or volunteering with your local sex worker rights organization.

Bella Robinson is the founder and executive director of Coyote RI.  

Coyote RI provides support to sex workers and trafficking victims, to include providing non judgmental and compassionate crisis management services.  Coyote provides support services to incarcerated sex workers and we provide case managers to help sex workers access reentry services upon their release.

Coyote strives to provide adequate resource referrals to sex workers.  We have documented the discrimination that sex workers endure when trying to access public services.   We continue to educate services providers and government officials about the best way to help connect  “people involved in the sex industry” to services.

Starting in August 2017 Coyote RI will be providing free HIV & Hep C testing, and condom distribution to sex workers and to the general public.

Coyote strives to reduce stigma and violence against sex workers and we lobby for policies that promote the health and safety of sex workers.  We acknowledge that sex work is acceptable form of labor.   We recognize that the criminalization of prostitution is a form of state sponsored violence and systemic oppression against a highly marginalized population.

Coyote is also one of the 6 local organizations that created the AMOR network, which is a coalition of directly affected people and “people of color” led organizations, building a Rapid Resistance Network to protect our community. 

Want to learn more about the systemic oppression of US sex workers?  Visit http://coyoteri.org/

End the Practice of Sentencing Children to Life in Prison Without Parole

H5183, the Act Relating to Criminals – Correctional Institutions – Parole, is sponsored by Reps Blazejewski, Barros, Ajello, Amore, and Ranglin- Vassell. It would require children sentenced to life in prison to have the opportunity for parole after (a maximum) of 15 years. The Senate passed the companion bill, S0237, and now it’s time to pressure the House to make this bill law.

In January, the house recommended measure be held for further study in the Judiciary Committee  The members on the committee must be contacted and told to bring the bill to a vote.

If your rep is on the committee, CALL THEM and tell them to vote H5183 out of committee. (Find their contact information here.)

Script if your rep is on the committee: I’m (name) and I live in your district at (address). I’m calling to tell Rep. (name) that I expect them to help bring H5183 to the floor for a vote. Children should not be sentenced to life in prison without parole, and this bill will ensure that they are given a chance at a true life outside prison walls. Rep. (name) should stand up for children, and vote to pass this bill.

If your rep is not on the committee, CALL THEM and tell them to pressure their colleagues to bring it to the floor, and to vote for it once it arrives. (Find their contact information here.)

Script if your rep is not on the committee: I’m (name) and I live in your district at (address). I’m calling to tell Rep. (name) that I expect them to vote H5183 out of committee and to the House floor for a vote. Children should not be sentenced to life in prison without parole, and this bill will ensure that they are given a chance at a true life outside prison walls. Rep. (name) should stand up for children, and vote to pass this bill.

The United States stands (almost) alone

International law prohibits sentencing children to death in prison. Yet the majority of states in the US, including Rhode Island, continue to allow the sentence of life in prison without parole for children of any age. The United States was the only country of 197 countries that did not sign on as a “State Party” to a the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which made the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without parole forbidden.

Sentencing minors to life terms sends an unequivocal message to young people that they are beyond redemption, but research on a child’s developmental and emotional state has proven this false. The US Supreme Court has used research on children in overturning cruel and unusual sentences, noting that adolescence is marked by “transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences.”

Under the proposed legislation, H5183, juveniles who are sentenced as adults would automatically come before the parole board after a maximum of fifteen years, regardless of the length of their sentence, giving these young adults the chance to prove their fitness to return to society.

Many children who have been sentenced to die in prison for crimes come from violent and dysfunctional backgrounds. Research has shown that juveniles subjected to trauma, abuse, and neglect suffer from cognitive underdevelopment, lack of maturity, decreased ability to restrain impulses, and susceptibility to outside influences greater even than those suffered by normal teenagers.

The Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth, Rhode Island Parole Board Chairwoman Laura A. Pisaturo, and representatives of the Diocese of Providence and the American Civil Liberties Union all testified in support of the bill. Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski, D-Providence, is sponsoring companion legislation (2017-H 5183) in the House.

Learn more about juvenile justice, and children sentenced to life without parole in the video below, featuring Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.