Originally Posted on September 11, 2017
Recently, I attended a Slutwalk protest in Detroit. I had been anticipating it for weeks. I was so excited to see all the signs and the outfits. But the Slutwalk is so much more than signs and outfits. It's not just about women walking around half naked. It's about taking a stand against rape culture. It's about speaking out against victim blaming, slut shaming, transphobia, sexism, homophobia, racism; I can go on and on. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just about women being proud to be sluts. It does play a part in it ,though. And I'm not mad about that.
Detroit's Slutwalk took place in Palmer Park. One of the bordering streets of Palmer Park, is Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile. Woodward Avenue is a notable street for sex workers. Many transgender sex workers have lost their lives on Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile, making it an important street to have the protest at. I remember one of the speakers asking everyone to have a moment of silence to think about all of the sex workers who had lost their lives on the street we were standing on. That was the first time I had heard about that. I remember riding past those women as a child. I never thought about how dangerous it was for them. I never realized how many had actually died on that street.
Counselors had took the time out to support the cause and to also provide support to people who could be triggered by the stories of the speakers. I will be honest and say that a lot of the stories about rape were triggering for me. I tried to hold it in and distract myself, but my friend encouraged me to talk to one of the counselors. The counselor understood that I was angry. She told me that attending the protest was a step forward to me, and I agree that it was.
Hearing stories from victims of sexual assault and domestic violence gave me mixed emotions. I balled up my fists from anger as I listened to the things they experienced. It felt like I would burst into tears at some moments. I also thought about how much courage it took for everyone to share their stories.
Screaming "Sexual assault is not our fault!" with the other protesters was empowering for me. We also screamed, "Who's streets? Our streets!" and it made me feel so happy. It felt better to know that I wasn't alone. There was no judgement. No one was there to spread violence and hate. The protest was filled with love and support. I hope to see more of it in the future.
#Feminism #GenderEquality #LGBTQIAIssues #Peace #slutwalk #detroitslutwalk
Originally posted on August 10, 2017
For most of her life, Jaleesa Milton Durham dreamed of being part of a sorority. She admired the work of Delta Sigma Theta Inc, a non-profit whose union of college educated women focused on serving the needs of the Black community. However, her dream was initially denied by having to miss out on the collegiate experience.
Nevertheless, Durham persisted, teaming with Belinda Stafford, the pair began to research local non-collegiate organizations with a focus on LGBT issues and community service. After an exhaustive search along the path to finding a sisterhood, they were never able to find the right fit. Then, on June 7, 2012, they founded Detroit's Zeta Psi Zeta sorority to embody their values of "sisterhood, service, loyalty and humility".
"We all come from different walks of life, bringing in our own individual styles to make Zeta a place for every women to fit in and feel loved and respected," said Durham, emphasizing the sorority's slogan "A Different Breed of Femininity". While the Zeta Psi's do place a focus of the LGBT community, all are welcome to join their sisterhood.
In addition to LGBT issues, Zeta Psi Zeta aims a critical lens at other issues disproportionately affecting women. Domestic violence and women's rights are major components of their message, as perpetrators of the former are continually excused and shielded from justice in contemporary society. "We focus a lot on avenues circling around the aid for women to walk in peace. We really focus on uplifting and motivating...in our sisterhood." Further, motherhood is a aspect of life dear to the hearts of Zeta Psi Zeta's membership. "Most of my sisters are mothers and they do great things helping kids find their way in life, by doing various projects geared towards kids of all ages."
While their message is on point, the Zeta Psis also answer the call to action. "The need to feed and serve is never ending," stated Durham, in reference to the sorority's initiative to help the homeless. Many of their members volunteer at local soup kitchens and partner with other groups to assist the less fortunate in the community. Even without specific organization, the sisters will contribute out of pocket to help those in greatest need as part of their daily walk through life.
In keeping with their values as an LGBT sorority, they partnered with Michigan's Epsilon chapter to form the "Be True to You" campaign. It's purpose, to provide a safe space for LGBT individuals to seek advice regarding the process of coming out. "It is hard to tell loved ones you are a homosexual of any sort and we give an out let to be able to get helpful tips on how you can feel comfortable with sharing your truth with those closest to you."
The Metro-Detroit Political Action Network is honored to have their organization join the Detroit Slutwalk: Consent is Mandatory March as co-hosts. In addition to tabling the event, sister Antia Harris will be representing the sorority with a speech during the rally.