Category Archives: Art & violence

August 19: The Monument Quilt in Chicago

Join us on August 19 to witness and interact with a historic display of The Monument Quilt in Chicago. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories of survivors of rape and abuse, alongside messages of love and support from allies in the movement to upset rape culture. By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal.


The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how America responds to rape. We are building a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.

The Chicago display of the quilt is part of Force:Upsetting Rape Culture’s summer tour across the country to learn more about the tour and how to get involved in the project.

Display Lead Coordinators:
Rape Victim Advocates and Mujeres Latinas en Accion

Supporting Partners
1. Project NIA
2. Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women
3. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
4. Project&
5. Adrienne Spires
6. Jane M Hussein Saks
7. Chicago Women’s Health Center
8. Affinity Community Services

RSVP on Facebook here

For more information on becoming a supporting partner of the Chicago display, please email

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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Art & violence, Events


S.H.O.P: Stop the Violence, Heal the Person, Open the Mind, Promote Peace – Sept 15

Please join the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women (and our members, Global Girls, Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health (Sisters Empowering Sisters), A Long Walk Home, and Young Women's Empowerment Project) for a YOUTH-ORGANIZED & YOUTH-LED Conference about Violence in the Lives of Chicago Girls.

When: September 15, 2012
Where: Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Room 300
Time: 10:30 to 5 p.m.
Info: At no cost to participants but PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. You can register HERE.

This conference is targeted to those who identify as young women between the ages of 13 to 22.

Description of the Day:
10:30 am — Registration

11:00 am — Opening Performance by Global Girls

11:30 -1:15 pm- Individual Youth-Led Workshops by Global Girls, A Long Walk Home, Sisters Empowering Sisters, and Young Women’s Empowerment Project — workshops will focus on developing media literacy, sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, and institutional violence against girls.

1:15-2pm- Lunch

2-3pm- Self-defense and Writing Workshop — There will be two workshops available. One is a creative writing workshop led by the young women of Sisters Empowering Sisters (ICAH) and the other is a self-defense workshop led by IMPACT CHICAGO.

3-3:15pm- Break

3:15- Youth Poetry Slam

4-5pm- Self Care and Q&A/Closing
Conference participants will be invited to visit various “self-care” stations at the end of the day.

For more information about the conference, contact the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls & Young Women at

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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Art & violence, Events, Violence, Youth voices


Three Little Girls

Just wanted to share this great, powerful video by Jasiri X (together with 10 year old Hadiyah Yates), Three Little Girls.  Here’s the reasoning behind it:

For Woman’s History Month we wanted to shed light on how violent this society is especially towards woman and girls. “Three Little Girls” tells the stories of the senseless murders of Christina Taylor Green who was killed during the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Brisenia Flores who was gunned down by anti-immigrant militia intent on starting a race war, and Aiyana Jones who shot to death while asleep in her home, by the Detroit Police Department, while they were filming a reality TV show.

I realize these are sad stories, but how can we not be moved to action by the cold-blooded killings of innocent little girls? We have to begin to take an unflinching look at a culture that continues to glorify guns, bombs, and war and sees violence and aggression as the only solutions to its problems.

And here’s the video:


Tools For Working With Youth #2: Engaging Conversations about Masculinity & Femininity

I grew up in New York City loving rap music. I was blessed to become a fan of the music at a time when women like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and others were central to hip hop culture. I could see myself at least partially represented in their music and personas.

Rap music is only a part of hip hop culture but it is the most visible and commercialized part. As such, it deserves special scrutiny in terms of its influence on our culture and on the young people who consume it. The case that I want to make here is that it is extremely challenging today to develop a healthy gender identity for young people who uncritically consume rap music and images. Some of the key features of contemporary rap include:

1. the overrepresentation of women as sex objects. Sex is usually shown as a commodity.
2. the overrepresentation of women as male adornments.
3. the overrepresentation of men as power brokers.
4. the growing relationship and association between the sex industry and hip hop [for example, the glamorization of so-called pimping by artists like Snoop Dog and 50 cent].

Consuming a steady diet of these representations surely distorts young people’s understanding of themselves as men and as women. We cannot ignore how this contributes to violence against girls and young women. Last year, I come across a TED talk by Tony Porter from A Call to Men addressing his own personal journey in struggling to define a healthy masculinity. As part of our ongoing series to share resources and tools that can be useful in our work with youth to address violence in their lives, I think that this video should be required viewing for young men and women in our violence prevention programs.

Finally, another useful resource to engage youth in conversations about how hip hop culture can influence their self-image is Brigitte Gray’s spoken word piece titled “My Letter to Hip Hop.” This piece can be a great starting point for encouraging young people to write their own letter to hip hop.

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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Art & violence, Hip Hop, Media, Violence


Black Girls As Cultural Producers…

Girls and young women are usually considered consumers in our culture. In fact, they are a sought-after demographic by advertisers who want to sell their wares. Books like Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture and Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture speak powerfully to the ways that youth in the U.S. are constantly marketed to and how childhood itself has become commodified.

But this is only one side of the picture… All across the country young people are resisting being treated mainly as consumers. They are also producing their own media (zines, videos, music, etc…). One recent example that we have found which deserves to be highlighted is a video by two young black ages ages 9 and 10. In their open letter to rapper Lil’ Wayne, they express their disappointment and dismay at being verbally disrespected. They explain:

“Letter to Lil Wayne” is a direct statement of justice from Watoto From The Nile. Growing tired and fed up with the constant degredation of Black women inside of Hip Hop music, they voice their views and opinions on this melodic track.

Here is the powerful video:

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Art & violence, Hip Hop, Youth voices


Losing the Struggle against Gender-based Violence to Kanye West…

Today my goddaughter excitedly told me that Kanye West released the video for his latest song “All of the Lights” on youtube. She told me that I had to see it because it was “brilliant” (her words).

After our phone conversation, I went to my computer to see the video. As a long-time rap music fan, I had to agree that the song itself is indeed brilliant. West has created a symphony, melding together dozens of sounds and voices. I would defy anyone who is a fan of rap music not to appreciate the sonic beauty of this song.

Then there are the actual lyrics to the song. Here are a few lines:

I slapped my girl, she called the feds
I did that time and spent that bread
I’m heading home, I’m almost there
I’m on my way, heading up the stairs
to my surprise, a n-gga replacing me
I had to take ’em to that ghetto university

Once again, we have a song that is already a big hit and will only become a greater one now that the video has been released addressing the very serious of issue of domestic violence. In the song, Kanye has hit his girlfriend. She calls the police. He goes to prison and pays a fine. Then he returns home, presumably after spending time behind bars, to find his former girlfriend in bed with a new person. He reacts violently to this, continuing the cycle of violence. What message is Kanye intending to send with this verse? That he went to prison but learned nothing while inside? [Which would actually be an accurate portrayal given the reality that prison only creates better prisoners.] Is he making the point that violence is justified if your ex-girlfriend has a new partner? What exactly are these lyrics implying?

Here is another verse of the song:

Restraining order
can’t see my daughter
her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order
public visitation
we met at Borders
told her she take me back
I’ll be more supportive
I made mistakes
I bump my head
courts suck me dry
I spent that bread
she need a daddy
baby please, can’t let her grow up in that ghetto university

Any of you reading this who have had experience with domestic violence will recognize the “honeymoon phase” of the cycle of violence in the lyrics quoted above. Kanye is telling his ex-girlfriend that he has “made mistakes” and is begging to be taken back so that he can be a father to his daughter. However concurrently, he also informs the audience that “courts suck [him] dry.” Presumably, he is pissed off about having to pay child support for the daughter that he doesn’t want to let “grow up in that ghetto university.” Pulsing underneath these lyrics is the constant threat and possibility of violence.

As of today, the video for the song has already received over 800,000 views. That is in just one day since the video was posted on youtube. How can any of the messages that we as anti-violence educators and organizers offer have even half the reach of this song and video? The reality is that we are being completely drowned out by the power and reach of popular culture messages about gender-based and other forms of violence. Until we are able to gain new allies in that world and can respond with equally powerful and “brilliant” counter-messages, I fear that we are just continuing to swim upstream against the current. This, it seems to me, is the great challenge of anti-violence work in the 21st century.

Here is the video for the song:


Posted by on February 20, 2011 in Art & violence, Incarceration, Media, Violence


Just for fun… a preview of sorts

Wordle: chitaskforce preview Mariame and I have been working like crazy to get the website up – and we’re so close!  I’ve been looking for a way to share a preview of it – and this morning created this word cloud from the main page.  Clicking on the image on the left will take you to the full sized word cloud.

The website is looking great and it’ll be up at by the end of the month.  Tons of useful data, tools, innovative models and concrete recommendations for systems change…. stay tuned!

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Posted by on February 12, 2011 in Art & violence, Violence