Tuesday, February 2, 2016

WLP Kicks Off Step Up/Step Back sexual harassment campaign

WLP GHS discussing Step Up campaign

WLP 2014-2015

By Issachar Curbeon
We are excited about putting together a powerful visual project to spread awareness about the sexual harassment and verbal abuse young Black women are experiencing in the LAUSD. The campaign will be developed during January-March 2016 and will include Gardena HS, King-Drew Medical Magnet and Crenshaw HS.

To provoke conversation In November 2015, during our first session with Women’s Leadership Project's Women of Color in the U.S. class, we administered a survey to gauge the self-esteem of the girls in the class. The survey was designed to find out if young women felt safe, supported and respected on campus

Unfortunately, we were not surprised when the survey revealed that more than half of the girls had been sexually harassed on campus or in their communities; and that more than half of the class recognized disrespect towards Black girls as a major issue on campus. 

To create a sense of sisterhood among the girls we decided to do an adaptation of an exercise called Step Forward, Step Back tailored to show them that they were not alone in their experiences of harassment on campus. 

Step Forward, Step Back is traditionally a privilege exercise where participants stand in a straight line in the middle of an empty space and respond to statements about their personal social class experiences. With each true statement (i.e ‘step forward if your parents went to college) individuals either step forward representing experiences and circumstances that have afforded wealth, education, health, and wellbeing; or step backward representing experiences that frustrate educational, economic and social advancement. 

The exercise reveals that success in our society is not an equal race, there are in fact, experiences that marginalized people face due to racism, sexism and economic inequality that act as major obstacles to resources and opportunities to succeed. 

The campaign will involve the following elements:


Slogan tweets and posts (via Instagram and Twitter)
·         Descriptions of forms of sexual harassment
·         Responses to harassers
·         Images on street harassment, sexual harassment and sexual violence
·         Stats on sexual violence affecting Black girls, Latinas and other girls of color
·         Short video clip observations on what can be done to stop harassment
Short blog articles (via Facebook and WLP blog)
·         Reflections on a harassment experience
·         Poems and spoken word challenging harassment and the responsibility of men/boys to get involved as allies*
I.                    February 23-25 (King-Drew Medical Magnet & GHS)
Hip Hop, Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Forum
·         Student-facilitated discussion on sexual harassment, sexual violence and media images in hip hop and popular culture
o   Participants:
§  Women’s Leadership Project/Women’s Day
§  Young Male Scholars
§  Media Done Responsibly

II.                  February 11-March 10th
Video piece
·         Small group discussion about images of Black women and women of color in the media
·         One-on-one interviews about WLP members’ perspectives
·         Whole group “Step up/Step Back” exercise with filmmaker Elizabeth Bayne

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

WLP Celebrates Five Years of Advocacy and Excellence

Despite an uphill battle against budget cuts, political challenges and sexist/racist public policies, WLP is still standing.  Hats off to the amazing activists, scholars and visionary leaders (the majority of whom are the first in their families to go to college) who have made WLP a strong voice for young feminist of color leadership.  The video features WLP alum from Syracuse University, CSUDH, CSULB, UCLA, El Camino College, CSUN and Southwest College, as well the classes of 2016 and 2017.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Busting the School-to-Prison Pipeline Forum

The Women's Leadership Project and Young Male Scholars' Program present:


FACT: The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately locks up African American and Latino youth, leaving many with criminal records and no possibility of “re-entry” to employment, housing or higher education
FACT: Foster care and homeless youth of color have some of the lowest rates of college transfer and graduation amongst college youth populations
FACT: Black girls are disciplined in greater numbers than Asian, Latino and White boys.  Black girls are suspended/expelled six times more than white girls; while black boys are supended/expelled three times more than white boys.
FACT: LGBTQ youth of color have disproportionately high suspension/expulsion and push-out rates in U.S. public schools

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

WLP Support Campaign

Dear WLP Supporter:

Once again, due to fiscal and political reasons, WLP is in jeopardy of being shut down and we need your help.
When you get a chance could you please send a one-two line email of support with the subject line: "Why WLP is Important to the Community" or "What WLP Means to Me" to the following individuals?
Your email can be as a simple as "WLP means giving young girls of color a voice in a climate where there a few gender justice programs expressly for girls of color."
"WLP means access to college, social justice and leadership skills"
Please include your affiliation in your signature.
Sikivu Hutchinson, Founder
WLP & Black Women for Wellness

WLP December Events:
12/9: HIV/AIDS & Youth of Color trainings 
12/12: School climate facilitation
12/15: Guest speaker: Cheryl Dorsey, Author/Activist & LAPD whistleblower
12/16: Guest speaker: Miani Giron, WLP 2012, Syracuse University, 2016

What does WLP Mean to Jamion Allen ? It saddens me that I would even have to explain,not once but for the third time this year. This program is my heart i've had so many opportunities because WLP was active program during my junior and senior years of attending Washington Prep High School. Myself and girls before and after me have been fighting to keep our program for the last two and a half years and it's just not fair. I have worked along side my mentor Ms. Sikivu Hutchinson for the past 3 years and I've created an open SAFE space for girls of color who have no one to guide them , or who have answers for questions that they fear to ask. We are breaking down barriers left and right. Taking this program is harmful to us and to our community. This is coming from someone who has given their all for this program.  -- Jamion Allen, WLP 2013

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WLP presents: Author/Activist & LAPD Whistleblower Cheryl Dorsey

On December 15, 2014, WLP Gardena will feature author, activist and retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey in an illuminating discussion about her career and work as an outspoken woman of color in the male-dominated culture of the LAPD.  Ms. Dorsey's acclaimed book Black and Blue: The Creation of a Manifesto chronicles her fight against racism, sexism and the Good Old Boy's club in the Los Angeles Police Department. She writes, "LAPD’s problems and internal struggles, which precipitated the creation of the Christopher Commission in 1991, are the same issues facing the department in 2013; they’re cultural and systemic. The department crafts an image of any officer who complains in such a way that makes that officer appear distasteful, and therefore anything that they say or do is rejected. However, I am an honorably retired police sergeant who's willing to expose the department's two-tiered system of discipline and the manner in which the LAPD condones acts of sexism, racism, and reverse racism."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Women's Leadership Project Co-Sponsors "Bridging the STEM Divide" Conference

On Saturday Sept. 13, the Division of Animation and Digital Arts (DADA) participated in the Bridging the STEM Divide conference at the Stauffer Science Lecture Hall. Over 100 local high school students attended the event, which was focused on exposing students of color to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) both as academic disciplines and also as career paths.
This daylong conference started off with a keynote address from Dr. Clifford Johnson of the USC Physics department. Johnson, who has collaborated Animation program since 2011, said improved science literacy benefited everyone. “It is important for a stronger and more democratic society as scientific decisions that affect us all should be participated in by all,” he said.
Physicist Dr. Clifford Johnson

Two workshop sessions followed the keynote, with each split into three areas: Women of Color, First Generation College Students, and STEM careers. The workshops were aimed at demystifying the STEM fields, and bridging the gap that creates massive disparities in representation for people of color in the professions they support.

King Drew Med Magnet STEM students

Research suggests a major contributor to that disparity is public attitudes and culture. “People have a perception that STEM is not for people of color, that somehow there is maybe a lack of ability or interest in it, or both. It even makes people of color think that this is the case. It creates an environment that is hard for people of color to work in,” Johnson said. “Doing well in a subject is hard enough, doing it while people around you (maybe even your friends at school or family) think that it is not for you is even harder.”
l-r: Linda Watts, Devin Waller, CA Sci Ctr., and Sikivu Hutchinson

The Bridging the STEM Divide conference, which was initially conceived by Sikivu Hutchinson of the Women's Leadership Project and the L.A. County Human Relations Commission, and Ramon Chairez of the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI), is part of a series of similar immersion programs at USC, UCLA and UC Berkeley. The conference was also co-organized and sponsored by Rosalind Conerly of the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, Mar Elepano of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Cynthia Joseph of the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations, and the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative.
Women of Color in STEM panel

“All of the panelists spoke of being underestimated and discriminated against in their college departments as well as in the workplace,” Hutchinson said. “Many of the panelists spoke of their experiences being the sole person of color in their professional fields/workplaces and stressed the importance of finding mentors to steer their journeys in college and careers. The Women of Color in STEM panel focused on media representations of STEM as a white male dominated field and how it discourages girls of color from pursuing STEM.”
Dr. Stacey Finley, Biomedical Engineering

Fighting the stereotypes facing Black and Latino youth—young women in particular—was a major focal point of the conference. The event not only provided opportunities for networking and scholarships for the students, but it also provided uplifting dialogue on workplace discrimination and how it should be challenged. Scholarly advice was coupled with emotional stories of personal experience, giving space for the students, faculty, and organizers to empower each other and bring in an end to the divide that disadvantages students of color.
Johnson said: “STEM is part of our culture - we should all contribute and enjoy it, regardless of background.”
- See more at: http://cinema.usc.edu/news/article.cfm?id=14550#sthash.Oymg9uJn.dpuf