Equality Ride House: Los Angeles

Say Hello to the Equality Ride House: Los Angeles

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 Click here to watch the video. Click here to download the transcript.

 

Equality Ride House: LA takes place January 1 to March 31, 2015.

 

Stay in the Loop with the Equality Ride House Program:

#1 Get on the email list

Join the national  Equality Ride House email list to learn about ways to be involved from your hometown.

If you are local-ish to Los Angeles, then this is the list for you. Get invites to trainings, events, and other fun ways to participate.

#2 Get on the Social Media

Follow the House Community on Facebook.  

Follow live-tweeting and other updates on Soulforce’s Twitter.

Enjoy photos of House Life on Soulforce’s Instagram: @soulfulaction.

#3 Get on the Fundamentals Training Train

Curious about how LGBTQI issues and race are connected? Want to understand what organizing in mixed spaces looks like? Wondering what we mean when we say “white supremacy” or “assimilation” or other activist concepts? Join the Fundamentals Training and feel like a House member. All are welcome. It’s free, online, and takes place over 2 weeks on a loop.

Email House@soulforce.org to join the Fundamentals Training. 

Meet the House Leadership

 

Briana and Jordyn Having Coffee

The House Life is sustained by so many great folks. These two here are the House Facilitator Briana Ureña-Ravelo (left) and LA House Fellow Jordyn Sun (right).  Coming soon are the stories and profiles of the Crew and Support Team comprised of Casey, Natasha, Andrew, Randall, Aly, Susan, and Amber.

Get to know Briana:

My experiences in a first generation Latin@ family, the Baptist church, and in the racially segregated and often queer-intolerant and erasing Midwest is what spurred my interest in activism and to do justice work. Being Afro-Latina and queer has given me a lot of perspective and insight and effected how I am received and navigate different spaces, both ones that are more outright oppressive or racially monotonous and those that claim to be “tolerant” and “diverse”, and how the Conservative, capitalist, and white nature of the Christian Reformed Church plays into that treatment and perception in various cultures.

It is with that deeper understanding and knowledge of the complexities of oppression in mind that I come into the work I do pushing for us to look deeper than the individual points of marginalization that affect us and see all of our struggles as interconnected and necessary to our emancipation. There’s also the understanding that in systems and institutions that are inherently oppressive and intolerant and inherently violent in the many ways violence can be done, there is no asking for inclusion or diversity in them, just for their dismantling. We have to seek answers within ourselves to the problems that plague our communities.

With that in mind, I hope to be able to meet a bunch of great organizers across the country and to expand both my own knowledge and understanding of social justice and grassroots organizing in schools, communities, and beyond and those of others, and to be able to support and lead people in some great freedom work, which is exactly why I am so jazzed to be on the Soulforce team.

Get to know Jordyn:

For me the most powerful possibility that energizes me about the Equality Ride House is the hope that there may be one less person out there in the world who believes they don’t belong. It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was an eager freshman on a Christian campus with little imagination of how to navigate my identity as an queer woman of color. Working with Soulforce helps broaden the way in which I understand my experience as well as how an intersectional framework is mandatory when it comes to dismantling the systems which constantly pits oppressed communities against each other. In the next few months we’re here, I hope to open doors for activism which centers others who exist at these intersections and weave together enough work for this to be carried on by youth leaders and community partners.

What: In the past, the Equality Ride has taken the shape of a bus of young activists traveling the country to visit colleges and universities where religious opposition to LGBTQ people is prevalent. We are now shifting to an Equality Ride House format that establishes communities of activists to work together towards the same goals of conversation, education, and reconciliation on the relationship between LGBTQI lives and racism in a religious context.

We commit to working in solidarity with students on campus, supporting the leadership of LGBTQI people of color in this project, and welcoming people of all ages and identities who are down for the cause to join in and take on meaningful roles.

 

Equality Ride Backstory

This ongoing project started in 2005 when there were fewer than 10 active and out LGBTQ student groups in the country.  Since then, Soulforce has visited 101 schools and contributed to 17 school policy changes and the growth of over 30 student and alumni groups.  In this time, we led 6 buses on cross-country tours to host workshops, classroom visits, meetings with administrators, and direct action where necessary at colleges, universities, and seminaries.

You can watch an Equality Ride Redux video here from the 2006 and 2007 Equality Rides. The major differences are that we engage with police far less (usually not at all), get on campus far more, and have opened up participation to all ages.

Then and now, we continue to focus on schools where campus policy or culture, largely driven by religion, is in opposition to LGBTQI people and people of color.

The Soulforce Equality Ride is now at an inflection point.  As many student and alumni groups have sprung up, our role is naturally changing into a solidarity and co-worker position.  The needs we hear students express are More resources and training! More networking with students at other schools! More time to put in place sustainable structures!

We hear you. Based on your feedback, we are debuting the Next Generation Equality Ride.

Shift #1: Introducing the Equality Ride House and the Soulforce Crew

The Equality Ride is utilizing regional leadership teams called “Crews” comprised of students, alumni, and community activists to become the Riders themselves. As much as possible, we want the people who live, work and study in the conservative sectors we visit to be in charge of the programming. These localized team efforts that allow for participants to be as public or as “behind the scenes” as they want to be. Crews will live and/or work in Equality Ride House that serve as the central organizing hub for all the volunteers working on this project together.

Shift #2: Introducing an Intersectional Approach

The content of our training and conversations on and off campus is growing to reflect the challenges that students and community members face that include homophobia, transphobia, racism and other forms of injustice. We are excited about broad cultural shifts grounded in the understanding that religious discrimination is a took of many oppression and links our issues and identities.

This approach will be reflected in the diversity of leadership, volunteers, staff, workshops, and aims of the Crews on and off campus. We recognize that the conversation about culture and policy on campus is related to off campus realities that impact many marginalized groups.

Given that…

….Less than 2% of LGBTQ funding goes to communities of color

…Many of the schools we visit were birthed of out a reaction to desegregation in education

…The vast majority of the boards of trustees, schools presidents, and leaders of the Religious Right are white men for reasons not distinct from their anti-LGBTQ beliefs

Soulforce is dedicated to putting forth an appropriate and converse challenge to this reality by seeking and supporting a majority people of color leadership in Equality Ride organizing positions and staff.  We want racial diversity within our programs and invite all who, like us, are dismayed and fired up about changing the reality of race, particularly within fundamentalist settings, to apply.

We believe it bears being upfront about how we understand the nature of what we are challenging and the steps we are taking to resist those beliefs and practices in form, content, leadership, and process.

Shift #3: Introducing Longer Term Engagement

Participants in the Equality Ride work will all receive training, resources, partnership, and work retreats to prepare and implement their strategic plans on and off campus. Instead of working with a school for 3 or 5 days, we can now be present and active for months. The localized nature of the Equality Ride House lends itself to follow up and lasting activist relationships. To bolster that, we will provide seed grants, alumni support, and ongoing leadership development opportunities like travel stipends and conferences.

 

 

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