#BlackLivesMatter Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition Response to NC HB 2

hb2 2

Photo by Bryan Perlmutter

#BlackLivesMatter Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition Response to NC HB 2

On the anniversary of the passing of Blake Brockington, a Black trans teen from Charlotte, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly moved to attack working people and create dangerous conditions for women, LGBTQ people, black and brown people, and any workers who experience discrimination or who struggle to make ends meet.

The General Assembly and Governor McCrory chose to criminalize trans and gender nonconforming children and youth, and to scapegoat trans women and other trans people for rape by passing NC HB 2. House Bill 2 bars city and county governments from raising their municipal minimum wage, as well as prohibits anti-discrimination policies that account for gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation. Lawmakers were given only 5 minutes to review the bill and it passed within a 12 hour period without a single trans person of color being allowed to speak.

This bill reinforces the school to prison pipeline that trans and gender non-conforming students of color already face by making their choice of toilet grounds for suspension or arrest.

This bill rolls back decades of hard-won progress, and will harm our whole state. It undermines municipal democratic control, advancements in anti-discrimination policy, and further prohibits wage increases. This is a direct assault on working families and particularly working women of color who are most likely to be paid poverty wages. LGBTQ folks of color are workers, and we are worth more!

This bill uses trans panic and the scapegoating of trans women to derail real conversations about safety and consent. Trans and queer people are survivors of sexual assault, too. Our safety matters and we don’t make our community safer by threatening others with the brute force of the murderous police or incarceration. If our state is truly concerned for survivors of sexual assault, it will make comprehensive consent and sex education mandatory. This law does nothing to prevent indecent exposure and sexual assault, which are already illegal, but instead prevents local governments from protecting the safety and livelihoods of queer and trans people.

We honor and fight for Blake by affirming that our lives matter. Anti-transgender bias and legislation and persistent structural racism directly impact the devastating rates of suicidality, unemployment, physical and sexual violence, poverty, incarceration and homelessness experienced by transgender people of color.

Trans and Queer people of color demand a living wage and freedom from criminalization and discrimination, in the workplace and in the bathroom.

Tonight, we are calling for a Special Session of the People outside of the Governor’s mansion. For Blake Brockington, for Angel Elisha Walker, for all Black and Brown trans and queer people in North Carolina who have been murdered, disappeared, or incarcerated, it is our duty to speak. It is our duty to demand freedom, to demand a living wage, to demand education, to demand comprehensive health care that is accessible and free of charge.

QPOCC, The Tribe, #BlackLivesMatter North Carolina, Sister Song, Ignite NC, Southern Vision Alliance, Youth Organizing Institute, #BlackLivesMatter Gate City, Workers World Party, SONG NC, Greensboro Mural Project, GenderBenders, Fight for $15, QORDS, Trans Pride in Action, Queer Youth Circus, House daLorde, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI-NC), SAFE Coalition NC, LGBTQ Center of Durham, Center for Family and Maternal Wellness

Urgent Appeal: Support Trans and Queer Activists Arrested Tonight in Raleigh!

Photo by Bryan Perlmutter

Photo by Bryan Perlmutter

As You Read This, Protesters Arrested in Raleigh Tonight Need Your Help!

Brave queer, trans and allied North Carolinians were arrested tonight for shutting down the street at the NC Governor’s mansion as part of the Black Lives Matter and Queer/Trans People of Color’s protests of HB2 in Raleigh.

HB2 is a bill that the NCGA and Pat McCrory have passed that rolls back protections for LGBTQ folks in a Charlotte city ordinance, enforcing a statewide standard that would make trans and queer people vulnerable to workplace discrimination, criminalization in the restroom, and block cities from raising the minimum wage.

Let NC legislators know that you stand with our state’s queer and trans population and that we take care of our own. Help these fighters get back to their lives and pay their legal fees!

To learn about Durham Solidarity Center’s Freedom Fighter Bond Fund, click here.

Donate Now to the Freedom Fighter Bond Fund!

Stand Up for Trans Justice: Sign the Petition Demanding that RDU + TSA Reform their Policies and Treat Trans Passengers with Dignity and Respect


Please sign this petition demanding accountability from TSA and Raleigh-Durham International Airport! YOI is in solidarity with Dolores and all trans and gender non-conforming people subjected to this kind of violence.

To Representatives of the TSA and Customer Service Relations at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, are writing to express outrage over the treatment of RDU passenger and North Carolina resident, Dolores Chandler, during an incident involving Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) on Wednesday, December 9, 2015.  Further, we demand that TSA and RDU take steps to immediately reform their practices and issue a formal apology to Dolores Chandler (see list of steps at the bottom of this letter).

Dolores Chandler identifies as transgender and uses gender neutral “they/them” pronouns.  Dolores frequently travels for both work and in their personal life. Dolores wears upper-body binders on a regular basis.  This is a normal practice for transgender people; Dolores never anticipated that as a direct result, they would be subjected to a traumatizing and disrespectful experience at the hands of RDU’s TSA agents.

On December 9, Dolores was catching a flight to New Jersey to attend a work-related conference.  Dolores is currently employed at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center as a rape and sexual violence prevention education specialist.  Upon exiting the full body scanner at the security checkpoint, two areas of their body were flagged: their front/crotch area and the left side of their chest.

The following is Dolores’ account of the incident:

“I consented to the first of several pat downs, which happened in public. The TSA agent ran her hands along my left side and felt what she called an ‘anomaly’ because my left side was not the same as my right side. She asked me what I had on and I replied, ‘My undergarments’. She then leaned down to look at my front/crotch area and said, ‘Now what do you have going on down here?’ as she lifted my shirt slightly and prodded my around my waist. Looking at someone’s crotch and asking, “What do you have going on down here?” is not an appropriate question to ask anyone, regardless of their gender or gender presentation.

While in public, the TSA agent repeatedly and loudly referred to my chest area as having an ‘anomaly’. I explained what I was wearing at least two more times, and requested a private screening. I was led there by 3 TSA agents.

Once in the private screening room, I was questioned again about my undergarments. Several times, I said to the TSA agents, ‘I am wearing something that has clasps on the side.’ While attempting to communicate to the TSA officers that I was feeling stressed and uncomfortable, I was cut off and told ‘there’s no need to get emotional’ and patted down again. The TSA officer shook her head at me and stated that there was an anomaly that she was unable to clear-up and that until the anomaly was cleared I would be unable to board my flight. Another supervising TSA agent informed me that if I felt so strongly, they could ask law enforcement to be present.

Another female supervisor was called in for another pat-down. She stood behind me and patted down my upper body. She felt and dug deeply into my armpits. She held up a paper sheet in front of me and instructed me to hold it with each hand while I lifted my shirt with the opposite, so that she could inspect underneath. I’m not sure what the sheet was intended to do because she leaned over to look beneath my shirt at my binder.

When they were done, they told me to have a good day and walked out of the room, offering no apology and leaving the door wide open.  I left the room and walked toward my gate in tears, I finally found a quiet place in the ‘family bathroom’ where I sobbed for a long time.”

Dolores filed a formal complaint through the TSA’s website and received an inadequate response from RDU TSA Customer Service Representative, Karen Merrit, in which she stated that the TSA was following protocol.

While we understand that the TSA’s top priority is security, the TSA also claims as part of its mission to treat travelers with fairness, dignity and respect.  In this case, the TSA agents failed to do so.  Dolores’s treatment was insensitive, disrespectful, and done in public.

Dolores emphasizes that they have not had this experience at other airports.  In comparison, Dolores would like to uplift their experience Thanksgiving weekend at the airport in Austin, TX:

“I recently traveled to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday and was pleased by the presence of “All Gender Bathroom” signs. While I was subject to a pat-down at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, the TSA agent was extremely respectful, communicated exactly where they would place their hands and did not touch me elsewhere. To me this shows that the TSA and its agents do have the capacity to treat travelers with dignity and respect, while still prioritizing security and safety.

This experience is just one in a well-documented history of inadequate and insensitive treatment of transgender travelers by the TSA. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey indicated that 1 in 5 transgender travelers have reported harassment or disrespectful treatment by airport security.  Countless transgender travelers have been outed without their consent in the process of trying to get through airport security, which sometimes results in further harassment and mistreatment by TSA agents and other airport staff.

The burden of how travelers are treated to ensure a dignified experience should not be on the passenger, but rather written into the policies, procedures, and practices of RDU and the TSA. A traveler should not have to talk openly nor explain their gender identity and expression with strangers in order to safely board their flight.

Durham and Raleigh are fast becoming desirable travel destinations and Research Triangle Park is a high tech region that attracts international firms and enterprising start-ups.  RDU is often the first place encountered by those that travel to, or move to our area.  Adopting inclusive and sensitive best-practices should be a top priority for our airport authority.  We hope that RDU will use this as opportunity to re-evaluate its practices and procedures so that it can be a model to its peers for providing top quality, secure and respectful services.

We, the undersigned, demand that RDU do the following:

  • Issue a formal statement and apology that acknowledges the TSA agents’ disrespectful treatment of Dolores Chandler.
  • Provide a list of steps the agency will take to ensure that problematic practices change (for example the practice of assuming a person’s gender before they enter a body scanner).  These steps should include a timeline and be made in consultation with organizations that represent transgender people, including but not limited to the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
  • Provide adequate training for TSA agents and RDU staff on transgender competency and adopt a screening policy in consultation with the trans community.


Thank you for your timely response to these requests.


We, the undersigned

* for identification purposes only

Dolores Chandler
The LGBTQ Center of Durham
The Durham Solidarity Center
The Youth Organizing Institute
Southern Vision Alliance
Ignite NC
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
Jillian Johnson, Durham City Council Member, at-large *
Loan Tran, Board Member, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) *
Elena Everett, Director, Southern Vision Alliance


Successful Rally & March for #BlackLivesMatter May Day!

On May 1st, 2015, over 400 people gathered in front of the Durham Police Department headquarters to protest police abuses, including racial profiling and violence against Black and Brown communities.  We heard from speakers calling for solidarity with the Baltimore protesters, who have taken to the streets in reaction to the police murder of Freddie Grey.  They also spoke of solidarity with workers, students, teachers, migrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ communities.  We marched through downtown Durham, taking the streets as we went, and gathered again in front of the Durham County jail.  There, we joined families and friends of prisoners who were protesting the 23-hour lock-back at the jail.  Prisoners are held in their cells 23 hours a day, and only let out for showers and phone calls in the middle of the night.  We finished by marching around the jail so that all prisoners could see our support for them through their tiny windows.May 1 -1 May 1 -2 May 1 - 3 May 1 -4 May 1 -5

#BLACKLIVESMATTER MAY DAY #Baltimore Solidarity March

Meet on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5 pm at Durham Police Headquarters (505 W Main Street) for a short rally then march to the jail on S. Mangum in solidarity with the ongoing demonstrations to end the prisoner lock-back

Durham is answering the call from Baltimore!

“Greetings sisters and brothers from the streets of Baltimore. As we draft this appeal the city of Baltimore is being occupied by a regional mobilization of police, and the national guard. The mass outrage over the slaughter of Freddie Grey has grown from protest to resistance. Baltimore is the ‘new’ Ferguson, and we need the intervention of all who have participated in the Black Lives Movement on a national level, and we need it now.

We are calling on activists to turn next Friday, May 1st 2015, into BLACK LIVES MATTER MAY DAY.


Come out for HkonJ this Saturday!

Join us in downtown Raleigh for Historic Thousands on Jones Street


Come out for Justice on Valentine’s Day!

This Saturday, February 14, will mark a major day in the fightback for workers, students, and people of color across the South. Beginning at 9 AM Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh, the 9th annual Moral March on Raleigh and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly (HKonJ) will be held.

Organized by the NC NAACP, the Historic Thousands on Jones Street began in 2007 as an effort to organize people against extremist attacks on voting rights, workers’ rights, and social justice.  While the first march in 2007 drew 3,500 people, last year’s event saw over 30,000 in the streets of Raleigh.

Even with the great success of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, a great amount of work remains to be done.

In the spirit of building broad United Front to #endthewaronyouth, several young people have organized the first ever state-wide Black Lives Matter Youth Assembly to take place at historical Shaw University at 1pm after HKonJ.  This space is exclusively for folks under 35 to discuss, exchange, and take collective action for change.

Join the people of North Carolina as they stand against these attacks on our rights, and work to build a future based on equality, social and economic justice.  People Over Money!

DPS Workers Win Fight for Back Pay

Durham Public Schools custodial workers recently won their fight for 22 days worth of back pay. These workers, employed by the now-bankrupt Integrity Facilities Management who DPS contracted with, found themselves out nearly three weeks of pay just before the Thanksgiving holiday. After workers organized, rallied, and protested, the Durham School Board voted unanimously to pay 130 custodial workers nearly $200,000 in back wages.

However, while many of the 143 workers were given their wages, 40 former workers, who were undocumented, employees were not paid for their 3 weeks of hard work.  Following their bankruptcy filing, Integrity was sold to another contracting company, Premiere.  Premiere, agreed to pay the back wages but left behind the undocumented workers. In response, the former undocumented workers and their co-worker allies marched again on the DPS administrative office, even after threats.  Premiere announced that same morning that they would pay every worker what they were owed, regardless of status.

This is a huge victory for justice for the worker and immigrant community in Durham.  The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated.

Now onto April 15 to Raise Up for $15/hr and union for all low-wage workers, as well we also send solidarity out toward the Durham People’s Alliance Living Wage Campaign!

Upcoming Events:

February 13 at Pullen Memorial Church – Friday the 13th Spooky Sleepover: Come out for a pre-HKonJ youth and student convening at the Pullen Memorial Church in Raleigh!  Make some signs, eat some pizza, and meet some great organizers from across the state.  Click here to RSVP!

February 14 at Shaw University – #BlackLivesMatter Youth Assembly: After HKonJ, make your way to Shaw University at 1 PM to meet with activists from all over the state fighting racist police and privatized prisons.

February 21 at the Hayti Heritage Center – Workers World Party Durham Branch Community Forum: On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, come to the Hayti Community Center to discuss the legacy of Malcolm X and his continued importance in the struggle for equal rights worldwide.

February 27 at UNC Charlotte – UNC Board of Governor’s Meeting:  NC Student Power Union mobilizing students, faculty, staff and community members from throughout the state to the meeting.  The UNC Board of Governors will announce which centers & institutes will receive budget cuts. All of the centers & institutes up for review work with marginalized groups of people including the Poverty Center, Stone Center for Black Culture & History and Juvenile Justice Center to name a few.

April 15, 2015 –  Raise Up 4/15Fast food workers nationwide will be going on strike this day, marking a turning point in their heroic fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union.


Strike for $15 & Dance Parties Kick off Solidarity September

Welcome New DSC Board Members!
Sept 4: NC Stands with the Fight for $15, Fast Food Workers Go on Strike!
Sept 5: Ding Dong Art Pope is Gone! DANCE PARTY @ the Pinhook!
Sept 5-6: Durham Blues Festival @ the Hayti!

Welcome New Durham Solidarity Center Board Members

This summer has been a busy one. The Durham Solidarity Center co-working space been bustling with meetings: from the newly forming Triangle Anti-War Committee to hosting community-led responses to the killing of Michael Brown.  DSC has been providing space and support to organizing, because from Gaza to Durham to Ferguson, black and brown lives matter!

This month we also welcomed two new amazing board members!

Felicia Arriaga –  Hailing from Hendersonville, NC, Felicia is an organizer with the Adalante Coalition, working for tuition equity for undocumented students, and has experience working in solidarity with farm worker struggles.  She is a current PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Duke University.

D’atra (DeeDee) Jackson – DeeDee moved back to North Carolina in January from Florida where she graduated from Florida International University and where she was a key organizer with the Dream Defenders.  She is now the state-wide coordinator for the NC Student Power Union!

We are very excited to welcome these two new members to the board!

Upcoming Events

Sept 4: NC Stands with the Fight for $15, Fast Food Workers Go on Strike!

GATHER AT 11:30AM AT THE DURHAM FARMERS MARKET: Join fast food workers from across North Carolina for a rally on September 4th as we build our movement for a better future for our families and all workers across the South and the nation. We believe that we will win!


SEPT 5: Ding Dong Art Pope Is Gone – Dance Party
Where: The Pinhook (Downtown Durham) | Sliding scale $2-$20
When: Doors open at 7:00p; dance party til 2a
Why: For the past 2 years, we have exposed the Pope/Koch agenda.  We are clear that Art Pope is simply moving back into the shadows where he’s been puppet-mastering lobbyists and paid-off elected officials for decades. Our work is far from over. Party planners will donate all proceeds raised toward efforts to undo his dastardly deeds of the past two years. Donations will support members of the Southern Vision Alliance: NC Student Power Union, Ignite NC, Youth Organizing Institute.

SEPT 5-6:  27th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival
Day 1: Friday, September 5th at St. Joseph’s Historic Theatre
Doors open at 5 PM & the show starts at 6 PM 
Advance Tickets: $35 | Same-Day Tickets: $40
PURCHASE TICKETS: http://hayti.org/tickets/

A Spectacular Lineup:
-The Campbell Brothers
-Phil Cook
-John Dee Holeman
-The Rousters

Day 2: Saturday, September 6th at Historic Durham Athletic Park
Gates open at 5 PM & the show starts at 6 PM
Advance Tickets: $45 | Same-Day Tickets: $50
PURCHASE TICKETS: http://hayti.org/tickets/

Another Spectacular Lineup:
-Kermit Ruffins
-Shemekia Copeland
-Grady Champion
-The Ori Naftaly Band
-The Calvin Edwards Trio
-The Red Dirt Revelators
-Rick Tobey

New board members: D’Atra (left) & Felicia (right)


JUST(ice) DANCE – Post HKonJ Fundraiser

dsc fundraiser 2-8

Join the Durham Solidarity Center and the Carolina Abortion Fund for our Moral March on Raleigh AFTER-PARTY!!

We will be celebrating our collective struggle for justice and equality. This has been a hard year for North Carolina with countless laws passed that have slashed voting rights, economic and educational equality, health and other social justice issues. Through it all, though, our voice has grown stronger: we have joined arms for Moral Mondays and marches, we have protested and have been arrested– it is a new year and we fight on. Come feel the pulse of justice and dance your ass off for the struggle!!

*Cost: $5-$20 Sliding scale, give what you can all proceeds go to local organizing

*Doors open at 9 Music starts at 10!

RSVP on Facebook today and invite your friends!

All Roads Lead to Raleigh for the Moral March on Raleigh HKonJ Peoples Assembly – February 8!

From the NC NAACP and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Coalition:

On February 8, 2014, we will gather on Wilmington St. between South St. and MLK Jr. Blvd at 9:30 AM in downtown Raleigh. We will march to Fayetteville Street at 10:30 AM after which we will begin the mass people’s assembly on the doorstep of the State Capitol.

For the past seven years, a fusion movement has been growing in North Carolina. In 2006, the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition was formed under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and the North Carolina NAACP. It has grown to include over 150 coalition partners. Each year this fusion movement comes together on the second Saturday in February to hold a mass people’s assembly to reaffirm its commitment to the 14 Point People’s Agenda and to hold lawmakers accountable to the people of North Carolina.

This year’s annual people’s assembly will be held in the wake of a powerful push back to the immoral and unconstitutional policies supported and passed by Governor Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate Leader Phil Berger, Budget Director Art Pope and other extremists in the NC General Assembly during the 2013 Session. After 13 Moral Mondays in Raleigh leading to almost 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience and 23 local Moral Mondays spanning the entire state, the Forward Together Moral Movement and the HKonJ coalition will join together once again for the Moral March on Raleigh HKonJ People’s Assembly.

We are calling on all people of conscience and concern to join us as we stand against the extreme and regressive agenda being pushed in North Carolina. This agenda is a reflection of what is happening across the United States.

If you believe that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, if you understand that what happens in North Carolina has implications for the future of the nation, if you believe that we can build a moral movement together to save the soul of our state and country, then join us as we tell Governor McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly, “Forward Together, Not One Step Back!”

For more information, visit the official HKonJ website and RSVP on Facebook.

Students fight the school to prison pipeline

n-SCHOOL-LUNCH-large570A coalition of organizations, including two that are part of the Durham Solidarity Center – NC HEAT and the Youth Organizing Institute – held a press conference on January 23 to announce a Federal Complaint relating to policing of Black and Brown students and students with disabilities in the Wake County Public School system.   Led by Advocates for Children’s Services’ Push-Out Prevention Project, the complaint is similar to one that was filed against the Durham Schools last year.
In Wake County nearly 45% of juvenile criminal proceedings originate from out of the schools – for things like cutting in line or a water balloon fight.
For more information on the complaint and the work that these organizations have been doing to challenge the school to prison pipeline in Triangle schools, see these articles here, here, here, here, and here.