On December 10th, 2017, International Human Rights Day, SDL held a self defense workshop by and for womxn of color to close #16days of activism to end gender based violence. Aside from learning important, possibly life saving defense skills, the event held a safe space to build community and sisterhood and empower survivors. Check out a 360 video below of the workshop.
November 25th marked the start of #16Days of Activism. This years theme was “Together we can end Gender Based Violence in education.” Gender Based Violence occurs in many spaces and it is our hope to continue to eradicate the systems that perpetuate the lack of investment in our girls. In our world today GBV comes in many shapes and forms, whether it be cyberbullying, displacement of womxn and children because of home and war violence or a lack of access to quality schools that provide a gender equal curriculum. Throughout the #16Days, Sister Diaspora highlighted stories of womxn affected by Gender Based Violence. We held a vigil for our sisters murdered this year, called our local representatives to push for legislation protecting victims of domestic violence and ended #16Days of Activism on December 10th with a self-defense workshop for womxn of color. #EndGBV
Below is a video of our ‘Remembering Our Sisters’ vigil held on November 30th.
In celebration of Women’s Day, NYU Wagner BSA partners with WomenWerk to host the 5th annual WomenWerk Conference celebrating Women’s Day. The 2018 theme is Reset: Bounce back from setbacks and will explore best practices for resilience to deal with unexpected challenges. Learn more about this year’s inspiring theme on the conference website.
The 2018 celebration will bring together leading professionals for insightful discussions and our 5th Annual award presentations.
Early Birdbird tickets and full details are available here :
For the coming holidays and future gifts, support these Womxn of Color owned businesses by making your purchases with them rather than large corporate chains.
- BGLH Marketplace
Wrap your skin and hair in Leila’s whipped shea butter!
2. Hi Wildflower
Hi Wildflower offers fragrances and beauty products!
3. Kew & Willow Books
Get your read on at this new bookstore in Queens!
4. CRWN Magazine
A new kind of print magazine for Black women. Beautifully photographed, brilliantly written, printed and perfect bound; CRWNMAG is 130 pages of your hair culture and lifestyle, published quarterly. Thumb through it and see the diversity of Black hair — and find yourself there.
5. Castlefield Design
From custom invitations, to branding, packaging, and products of original design, shop Castlefield for some elegance!
6. Adorned by Chi
For cute clothing and accessories!
7. Brown Toy Box
Brown Toy Box was founded to help parents and community supporters of children of color find high-quality toys, books, classroom decor and other products that culturally affirm and empower them.
8. Cha Cha Covers
Latina owned business based out of LA making non-toxic nail art!
9. Harlem Haberdashery
Check out the clothing! Custom-made apparel company creating looks for celebrities, recording artists and sports stars for over 20 years. This uptown boutique Haberdashery draws inspiration from the rich cultural history and distinctive style of the Harlem Renaissance while adding a future-forward edge to thier exclusive designs.
10. Soko Glam
Learn about and purchase Korean skin and beauty products to give yourself and your skin a gift.
11. Roots Healing
Give the gift that keeps giving with these hand-made Ayurvedic gift baskets. Each one is made to order and uses all organic ingredients and eco-friendly materials. Gift one to your loved one, bring it to the white elephant gift exchange or buy one for yourself to indulge in some self-care post holiday season!
November 25th marks the start of #16Days of Activism. This years theme is “Together we can end Gender Based Violence in education.” Gender Based Violence occurs in many spaces and it is our hope to continue to eradicate the systems that perpetuate the lack of investment in our girls. In our world today GBV comes in many shapes and forms, whether it be cyberbullying, displacement of womxn and children because of home and war violence or a lack of access to quality schools that provide a gender equal curriculum. Throughout the #16Days, Sister Diaspora will be highlighting stories of womxn affected by Gender Based Violence. We will be holding vigils for our transgendered sisters murdered this year, calling our local representatives to push for legislation protecting victims of domestic violence and ending #16Days of Activism on December 10th with a self-defense workshop for womxn of color. It is our goal to raise our voices & lift the stories of womxn who have been impacted. #EndGBV
As the national media continues to ignore the rising murders of transgender womxn, we continue to make sure they are not forgotten. We will continue to push legislation that will stop the criminalizing of womxn who aim to be free of violence. At our SDL ‘Remembering our Sisters’ Vigil we honored our sisters who were taken away from us too soon.
As daughters of immigrants/migrants, and DREAMERS ourselves, Sister Diaspora for Liberation opposes the termination of DACA. DREAMERS are our teachers, our students, our neighbors, our service workers, our healthcare providers, our sisters and brothers, and so much more. We reject the notion that DACA recipients are second class citizens of this country. Above all they are an integral fabric of our our society. It is unfortunate the the 45th President of the United States continues to play with human lives, without a care for what it means for a DREAMER to lose a job, a home and the right to provide for their families. We denounce the hate, the xenophobia and the strategic plan to target and eradicate our communities and stories. Sister Diaspora for Liberation will continue to collaborate with fellow organizations in support of DACA. #SisterDiaspora
SDL’s Full Spectrum Birth Support Program joined the 2017 Women of Color in Solidarity Conference to provide a workshop on Womb Care, falling in line with this years theme, “Connecting Head, Heart & Soul: Healing Women of Color by Women of Color.”
Lead by sisters Leilani Montes, a certified doula with over 3 years of Doula birth work experience, Lourdes Carrasco, a recently graduated Doula with trainings on moon cycles and menstruation care, and Erica Lim, an MSW with clinical and group facilitation experience, the workshop provided an insightful understanding of what basic womb care is for women in various reproductive stages and tips for keeping a healthy womb through gut health and herbal medicine. The workshop tied womb care to birthing justice issues and the broader fight for social justice for Women of Color as we work to reclaim control over our bodies rooted in a love ethic.
Now more than ever we, as daughters of Diaspora, must turn the male gaze theory on its ear and exemplify the possibilities of us telling our own stories. This Feminist Film Festival provides a platform for the necessary conversations around the intersections of oppression and the ways it manifest in how we show and tell our Herstories… an evening of celebration and love as we look to shift the narrative away from the standard notion of what is gazable- from the exoticification of women of color to added layers of class, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. –SDL
Sister Diaspora for liberation is a collective of women activist that unite to share their experiences and struggles. This was their first annual Feminist Film Festival, titled- Layered Gaze. The SDL members were able to get co-sponsored by Grand St. Settlement and endorsed by Bangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative- BAWDI, FistUpTv, New Negress Film Society, Trust Your Struggle, Word Up: Community Bookshop – Liberia Comunitaria, and Yeah, That’s What She Said.
It was such a great turn out, and such a spectacular experience for not just for me as a woman, but as a WoC, and a mom. Volunteering at the festival, and having my son watch all my sisters and I work hard to make the film festival a success really brightened my heart. It was such a great success, and a beautiful day filled with positivity and unity. So many uplifting films depicting the struggles and similarities women of color suffer and strive through.
Here is what some of the members had to say:
It was a day filled with images that honored our own stories. – Christina, SDL Founding Member
It was SDL’s very first community offering. We’re extremely happy of its success! Engaged audience members walked away with a deeper understanding of the layered lives of women of color live. And that’s a win. – Leilani, SDL Founding Member
One of my favorite films was “Seventh Grade,” because it was an actual experience that was shared that I had similar a similar struggle with in school. My friend was being bullied because of the same circumstances, and like the filmmaker said during the talking prompt, “I kinda filmed what I wished I would’ve done.” I really resonated with her words, because it’s exactly how I felt when I was younger. So, this film festival really solidified that us women of color have similarities in our struggles, and we must join together to always uplift and love each other.
I am so proud to be part of such a diverse uplifting sisterhood.
Hope you enjoy!
By Minerva Arias -@NamasteItUp
I’m a big believer in earth-based medicine and connection to Spirit allowing us to heal naturally. I strongly advocate for the need for us all, but very specifically women of color; women of the Diaspora to remember that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected and we cannot tend to one and forget the others. Bri Maya Tiwari says “the key to freeing ourselves from the chains of unconscious, troubled memories that keep us from our path is the cultivation of an awareness of the individual links of those chains.” She’s referring to recovering our ancestral memories but it’s a beautiful way to express the grounding principles of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of preventative health and healing. According to Ayurveda, we are health (versus the dominate narrative of being unhealthy) and when we’re in rhythm with both our internal and external elements, we operate at our optimum health.
On the path of practice, we adopt the belief that disease happens from within, and so must any cure. We decide that any lack of peace or dis-ease or illness becomes an occasion to go deeper into ourselves, to examine where we must make changes in order to heal our bodies, feelings or lives. We accept that our ailment is an assignment, and that to complete it satisfactorily, we must do research into it and into ourselves…. On our individual path on the human journey, each of us is meant to learn the truths of our physical, mental, and spiritual lives that are particular to us and shared by others. These truths unite us to our families, our tribe, the entire human race and the universe as a whole.
In the United States, women are more prone than men to suffer from Major Depression Disorder, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) with rape being the most likely trigger, and twice as likely to suffer from Generalized Anxiety disorder, Panic disorder and eating disorders.[i] According to the National Institute for Health, 1 in 4 women die from heart disease – coronary heart disease (the most common), coronary microvascular disease and broken heart syndrome – yes you read that right, broken heart syndrome. For Black and Latina women, the numbers are even grimmer. Factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight, and diabetes contribute to the high prevalence of heart disease among Black women. Among Latinas, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity are factors for high rates of heart disease. Keep in mind that more than 45% of Latinas have been diagnosed with diabetes, 83% of midlife Black women are overweight or obese, and 53% have high blood pressure.[ii] According to Ayurveda, the primary causes of diabetes are an unhealthy diet, which aggravates the earth and water elements in our body, lack of exercise, excessive sleep and stress.
Now let’s add stress factors to the equation. Stress and a lack of coping mechanisms are contributors to the onset of chronic disease.[iii] The layers of stress women of color carry on the daily are real: racism, sexism, lower wages, social microaggression, the second shift (taking care of the home), being mothers to children of color in this militarized and trigger happy nation and let’s not forget living with 45 in charge. It’s no surprise that women of color are more likely to suffer from a range of health issues.
Digest that shit
Ayurveda says you aren’t what you eat but rather what you digest. It doesn’t take a scientist to tell us that when we are under stress, our relationship to food changes therefore impacting our ability to digest properly. Food nourishes the multiple layers of our bodies – physical, mental and spiritual. Therefore, when there’s an interruption anywhere along these processes, it impacts our entire system.
Many times, those interruptions are external and systematically intentional, like food deserts. According to tolerance.org, 23.5 million people who live in low-income areas are more than a mile away from a supermarket. Low-income census tracks have half as many supermarkets as wealthy ones – only 8 percent of Blacks live in a census tract with a supermarket versus 31 percent of whites. Many of us are left to shop for unhealthy food choices in corner stores and bodegas. Statistically, low-income districts have 30 percent more convenience stores; stores that serve as nothing more than processed food, alcohol-serving, sugar pushing agents of our corrupt and tainted food industry. Without access to wholesome, healthy food choices, low-income residents are left with limited options and ultimately become addicted to sugar, fat and chemically altered food substitutes.
However, this does not mean that we cannot dismantle from our psyche and purge from our spirit the unhealthy relationship to food this system has created for us women of color.
March is also nutrition month, and it was important for us sisters of SDL to highlight the interconnectedness of our heart, mind, body, spirit health to our relationship with food and the stresses of oppression. “Slave traders who swept into Africa brought with them the concept of human alienation – the separation of [wo]man from his spirit, and [wo]man from his environment.”[iv] While we continue to organize against the external interruptions, there are ways for us to reconnect and reclaim that, which was always ours – our divine health.
Our breath. There is an urgent need for us to reconnect to our breath. Too many of us are ‘breath grabbers’ meaning we don’t experience the fullness of our breath and its magic. Besides bringing more oxygen to the brain, deep and slow breathing improves blood flow in small blood vessels, regulates heart rate, which leads to blood pressure reduction. This, inevitably, prevents our brains from keeping us in a state of stress! By controlling our breathing, it also triggers our parasympathetic nervous system (our ‘rest & digest system’, which activates the more tranquil functions of the body; those that help maintain a healthy, long-term balance). This allows for increased focus and calmness, and plays a role in decreased feelings of anxiety and depression.
The breath is one form in which prana is carried. Prana is a subtle form of energy that is also carried through water, food, emotions and thoughts. It is the vital link between physical, subtle and casual body. Incorporating pranayama practices into our daily lives is a powerful way to clear the oppression junk that runs ramped in our systems from the space it occupies in our minds, the ways we hold it in our bodies and the ways we take it in through our food. We can create a lot more space and freedom through our breath than we think.
While there are still lots of barriers (lack of access – physically and economically) to fresh food, there are ways to change our relationship with the food we put in our bodies. We can start with honoring the food we eat. Bringing back practices of our ancestors to give reverence to Mama Earth for her bounties that allow us to stay nourished. Then give thanks to all the hands that made your meal possible – from the people who planted the seeds; to those who break their backs harvesting it; to the ones who see it from the fields into the markets and finally, to the cook who prepares our meal for sustenance and enjoyment.
We can begin to change our daily habits and eat with the cycles of the earth so that we can optimize our internal systems. Then and only then can we digest all of it properly! Ideally, breakfast should be eaten between 7-730am. Lunch should be our biggest meal of the day eaten between 11am-1pm while dinner should be consumed between 6-7:30pm. Giving up ice and drinking room temperature water to keep the flames of our digestive system burning right. This way, we can break down not only our food, but our thoughts and emotions, too. Other small ways to reclaim our digestive health is to lay off the processed foods, foods treated with chemicals and not eating refined foods. In the process of creating refined foods, the fibrous cover is separated from the food and by doing so diminishes its holistic benefits. Fiber is essential for the colon as it helps with our bowel movements. The most common result of eating too much refined food (like refined sugar in candy, chocolates, etc) is constipation and too much of the air quality in our bodies (which leads to things like hyperactivity, nervousness, worrying).
Layer by layer we can begin to break the chains of oppression and reclaim our right to be in our bodies, to connect with our spirit and to honor what was stolen from us – our intuitive way of living. Harvesting #ALoveEthic is done on a daily in our journey of healing individually and collectively. To understand the ways in which the system was set up to keep us distanced from our own healing and our health is the first step. Next is incorporating small steps daily, which makes the process manageable.
From our healing hearts to yours: Happy Women’s HerStory Month & Nutrition Month. Remember to incorporate JOY into your life every day. This doesn’t mean to brush over and ignore the realities of this life, to pretend that your sadness or ailments don’t exist but simply a call to remember your JOY as well.
[iv] the core of fire by aina olomo
Now more than ever, it is important for women of color and of the Diaspora to create space for our voices and art to be uplifted, viewed and heard. It is crucial for us, as daughters of Diaspora to turn the male gaze theory on its ear and to exemplify the possibilities of us telling our own stories. This Feminist Film Festival provides a platform for the necessary conversations around the intersections of oppression and the ways it manifest in how we show and tell our Herstories. Liberation is our Politics and Love is our Ethic. Through the creation of Layered Gaze Film Festival we are shifting the narrative away from the standard notion of what is gazable – from the exoticification of women of color to added layers of class, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Continuing to break the chains that oppress us. Join us for an evening of celebration and love.
Get your tickets and more information here: https://layeredgazefilmfestival.eventbrite.com
Special thank you to our Co-Sponsor and festival host
Grand Street Settlement
Strengthening New York City neighborhoods in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn since 1916 and currently supporting more than 7,500 New Yorkers of every age