For many of us who are continually confronted with articles, images, conversations, and classes about pockets of social tension in the world, it’s easy to see that patterns of violence erupting from that tension often correspond with patterns of identity. Identity manifests in many ways: race, sexuality, gender, political affiliation, geographic location, religious identification, etc. While the motivations for violence can be hidden or hard to decipher (political power struggle, resource competition), the violence itself very often runs along lines of identification, like the lynchings of African Americans in U.S. history (race) or practices of corrective rape in South Africa (sexuality).
The Student Peace Alliance and STAND have decided to combat this identity based violence by raising awareness about specific examples and providing engaged students with resources to raise awareness themselves. Over the next school year, starting this September and continuing through May of 2015, we will highlight an issue related to identity based violence every month. The themes will include race, religion, sexuality, mobility, and many more.
So, how is this going to work?
Each month, we will provide background information and resources on the campaign’s webpage and Facebook page to help you better understand the issue, take action, and organize events in your community. The month’s topic will have two different focuses. On one hand will be a domestic example of the month’s theme, and on the other will be an international example of the month’s theme. By partnering the two examples, we hope to create a holistic picture of the issue we want to combat and also unite two passionate and active constituencies to create a movement towards peace that crosses boundaries of interest and geography.
This month, we are focusing our attention on violence perpetrated by officials or state-sanctioned actors. Domestically, we focus on police in the United States, whose actions have been put in the spotlight over the past month by the riots in Furgeson. The Student Peace Alliance picks apart issues like the lack of accountability, racism, sexism/transphobia, protest suppression, and the militarization of police weaponry. As an action, we are writing letters to representatives supporting Hank Johnson’s upcoming bill to limit militarization of police forces.
Internationally, we focus on early peaceful uprisings in Syria and the Syrian regime’s violent crackdowns in the early weeks of protest. We explore the early conflict, pattern of strategic arrests, women & gender-based violence, US media coverage, and methods of suppression used by the Syrian regime. As an international action, we’re writing letters to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to make the protection of women and girls a priority with the $378 million we have promised to send to Syria.
The Campaign to Prevent Identity Based Violence will be as powerful as we choose to make it. Check out the website, share the Facebook page like crazy, start a discussion, and take action.
If you have any questions or cool stories, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Sallly at email@example.com
Luke (and Sally).