This is the second United States Social Forum, which brought together over 15,000 activists, organizers and community members from across the United States and around the world to share strategies for advancing human rights and social justice. The ROOTS Coalition, grantee partners of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation’s U.S. Movement Building Initiative, expands the current agenda beyond marriage equality and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to include the needs of the most vulnerable communities and the structural causes of queer oppression.
Kenyon Farrow, Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice in New York City, explained, “The most vulnerable people in our communities face discrimination from schools, landlords, lenders and employers. This leaves them underemployed, underhoused and without access to formal education. This creates a pipeline into poverty, continuing the legacy of state-sponsored violence against poor people.”
“Queer people are immigrants, the working-poor; we are hard working single-mothers, domestic workers and bus drivers, journalists and educators. We live in rural communities, the big cities, the reservations and on the gulf coast. Immigrant rights, reproductive justice, environmental racism, indigenous sovereignty, the economic recession and ecological destruction are all issues that affect our communities,” added Paulina Hernandez, Co-Director of Southerners On New Ground, a southern regional organization based in Atlanta, GA.
The coalition released the Queer and Trans Peoples Resolution for Safe Self-Determination, generated through a collective process called the Peoples Movement Assembly. Over 500 people over the course of the USSF worked together to produce a set of principles for Safe Self Determination. According to the statement, Safe Self-Determination is defined as a call to action to hold government systems accountable for ALL forms of state sponsored violence enacted upon queer, trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, gender non-conforming people; and to fight for specific and concrete human rights and overall system transformation. Central to the resolution is deconstructing the US and global capitalist economy while building alternative economies, infrastructure and interdependence among groups rooted in the most vulnerable communities. The resolution also recognizes the need to work on 3 key areas of crisis-level struggle for our communities: liberation within work, wellness, and safety.
In the closing ceremonies, the more than 15,000 participants of USSF committed to upholding the resolutions produced by the 52 Peoples Movement Assemblies that took place over the course of the week, including the Queer and Trans Peoples Movement Assembly.
Caitlin Breedlove, Southerners On New Ground: 404-549-8628
Kenyon Farrow, Queers for Economic Justice: 212-564-3608
Joaquin Sanchez, Communications Liaison for the Queer and Trans Peoples Movement Assembly: 917-575-3154