Many thanks to the Honest Weight Food Co-op community for your generous Envirotoken donations from April to June! Together, you’ve raised almost $400 for the Social Justice Center. We are grateful!!!
SUMMER HOURS COMMENCE: We will will be closed Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-4 PM from July 6-August 3. We are providing community organizing training to youth as part of the Albany L.I.G.H.T. program (summer employment). ❤ Thanks for your patience if we are a little slow to respond.
Our updated hours will be:
Each week, Food Not Bombs serves a delicious meal at 33 Central Avenue. Their mission is to provide healthy, tasty food for communities dealing with food insecurity. Their volunteer organization receives cull and donations from local stores, then prepares food at the Free School, and brings it to the Social Justice Center (or Townsend Park across the street if the weather is right!) to support our community.
Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fnbalbany/.
Written by Angelica Clarke, Executive Director, Social Justice Center of Albany
The Social Justice Center of Albany has been a part of the Capital Region community since 1981. The Center has offered space and resources to radical activist and service organizations throughout its entire tenure. In the past year, I have become the Executive Director at the Social Justice Center, succeeding poet and organizer, Victorio Reyes, who was director for over a decade. Before that, I was on the Board of Directors. The Center has supported my organizing since I came to the Albany area; it has also nourished much of the activism in this region for the past three decades. I was introduced to the space through organizing on SUNY Albany’s campus against the 2010 program cuts. The room reservations for Save Our SUNY were being cancelled on campus, and the Social Justice Center was happy to welcome us into their space and offer mentorship when we needed it. Organizers from Save Our SUNY ended up going on to found New York Students Rising, which is currently a member organization of the Social Justice Center.
Our mission is to create and support the work that will bring about an end to all the systems that perpetuate war and violence on the bodies of marginalized people. We are a community of artists, healers, dreamers, strategists, organizers, builders, and above all that, we are revolutionaries seeking system change. Our policies ensure a Board of Directors that is majority People of Color, Women, and Queer-identified people. We are an organization that values multi-generational collaboration because elders can remind us to stay the course, and young people can ensure we forge an innovative road forward to the world we want.
The Center has supported and created projects to help end racism, war, imperialism, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and all forms of state violence, while supporting cultural expression and making space for creativity within all of that work. We have created a space that can serve a broad set of needs in our community. The Center offers affordable monthly memberships to a wide variety of groups, along with office space and assistance with organizational development to help new projects flourish. Our success is based on our dedication to partnerships, coalition building and maintaining a long view on how to best meet the needs of our community. One of the main ways we support work in our community is simply by offering an ethically run, affordable place to help organizations navigate the world of grants, nontraditional fundraising, and maintaining a rigorous politic without having to jump through the hoops of becoming their own freestanding organization. We are both an umbrella and an incubator for building new activism.
The Social Justice Center has long been living in a space where queer, Black feminist revolutionary leadership guides our work. We have the honor of being in a community where queer, Black women’s voices are the voices of leadership. This year, we have been proud to partner with Holding Our Own, Inc. on an evolving project that seeks to bridge the gap between the social movements to end Mass Incarceration and Gender-Based Violence. The project has dared to ask uncomfortable questions about private and public healing, community restoration, social transformation and justice that the current systems and institutions in place cannot answer. This work has revealed that these questions are often overlapping and circuitous. In early 2015, we helped send a delegation of Women of Color, including myself, to the Incite Color of Violence 4 conference in Chicago. That delegation brought back invaluable knowledge, resources and support to our region, as well as revealing the expertise already present here by elevating the often unheard issues faced by Women of Color.
That is one example among many of the ways we build coalitions that help move our community closer to our vision of a future where people across identities can engage in radical fellowship and support each other, both materially and emotionally. At our annual potluck supper, many folks in attendance talked about the most impressive work that has happened in the Center this year for each of them. The overwhelming response was that personal liberation and emotional growth were the priorities for the year and that our community has helped to facilitate that growth. I gave the same response: fellowship with Women of Color through the organizing work and building we have been doing have changed how I address my work and allowed me to prioritize self-care while being a leader in the local movement against Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration. We have spent the year aspiring to embody the Audre Lorde quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”
Only multi-generational, multi-racial collaboration guided by the Social Justice Center got us there; ending our year by reflecting on self-love, even as we prepare for the work ahead.
This year we have decided to embark on a fundraising campaign that will support The Social Justice Center into the future, ensuring we can support each new wave of activism while nourishing existing organizations and bringing about the activism in this community that will make the changes we need to live safely and happily, meeting the needs of marginalized communities. The Center is going to raise $30,000 by May 19: the birthday of Malcolm X (and one of our board members). We want to renovate to make our space more useful for the long-term work ahead: from installing a new boiler to creating a backyard garden; from redoing the floors to adding staff time. In order to focus our attention on building the new, we must have facilities that support growth and staff available to meet the needs of our growing base of support.
We have spent three decades working towards a loving praxis, combining our political analysis with our organizing and development work. The Social Justice Center still strives daily to be a space that supports the community through play and political organizing. You should stop in some time for a dance class, healing and organizing workshop, poetry night or meeting to help end mass incarceration and police brutality. We’d be happy to have you.
Our contact links:
In her article, “Say Her Name: Women, Mass Incarceration, and Violence- Part 1”, Naomi Jaffe explores the various ways in which women- especially women of color- have been the biggest victims of the mass incarceration movement, and the violence that it perpetuates. As Jaffe mentions, “Women, particularly women of color, are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population”. Not only are women being imprisoned at alarming high rates, but the negative impacts of the criminal justice system on low-income, impoverished communities are largely felt by women who aren’t even imprisoned.
Women continue to be the primary caregivers in disadvantaged communities, so when these communities are targeted and it’s members become victims of the criminal justice system, it is the women who are left systematically and socially deprived. The power forces that control the criminal justice system may claim it is to protect society from harm, but all it is doing is leaving many minority communities with a “profound void of youth, elders, parents, partners, teachers, and wage-earners”. Additionally, both the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence have also increased due to this system. The combination of the detrimental results of mass incarceration have overall perpetuated the subordination of women of color and the depravity of black communities.
Read the full article by Naomi Jaffe here: http://holdingourownonline.org/2016/01/11/say-her-name-women-mass-incarceration-and-violence-part-i/
While the Social Justice Center has not issued a statement of our own, we feel compelled to offer the words of Queer & Trans Latinx and Black folks to help our community process this outrage. Last night, there were two vigils in Albany and today there will be one at 6 PM. Link to the vigil here.
The video offers words from Familia: Queer & Trans Liberation Movement. Their caption for this video reads: After the news of 50 people killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, we asked four Trans and Queer Latinx leaders for their thoughts. Here you will find the raw and unscripted footage.
In addition, during the vigil offered last night by Black Lives Matter: Upstate NY there was a reading by Rosa Clemente from Janaya Khan’s (Black Lives Matter Toronto) statement in response, which you’ll find below.
If you want to become a Sustainer, you can join the ranks of dozens of folks who support the Social Justice Center with a donation each month. We use those funds for general operations, critical stuff like keeping the lights on and paying for insurance, to make it easier to run an independent, activist-run, radical community space.
It’s easy and once it’s set up, the payment comes out automatically.
The Social Justice Center Board of Directors needs your help. For more than 30 years the SJC has been home to local grassroots organizations fighting for social justice. As the Executive Director, Angelica has fostered a sense of community and solidarity, continuing our mission and expanding our reach. We are so fortunate to have her!
Unfortunately money is tight and our resources are stretched thin. Shortly we will be sending out our Spring mailer to raise money to cover our day-to-day operations and we are planning a major fundraising campaign for later this summer (stay tuned!).
BUT we have a specific and very time-sensitive need that we hope you can help with RIGHT NOW:Angelica needs health care! And we need your help to raise the money to make that happen. Angelica is always there for us, our neighbors and our community. Let’s step up and support her in this work! Click here to donate!
Please give whatever you can. We are attempting to raise $4,200 which will cover the cost of health insurance for the remainder of 2016 ($600 a month x 7 months). Any extra raised will be applied to 2017.
Please share widely with your friends and community members!
With Gratitude & Solidarity,
The Albany Social Justice Center Board of Directors
Naomi, Victorio, Jean, Sybil, Laura, Alisa, Ellen, Ariela & Colin
“Dear Alexis, Ariel, & Asha:
‘Many of us who rallied behind you from the beginning did so in an attempt to offer comfort and reprieve in the immediate aftermath of the attack. We also understood that by coming forward you were opening yourselves up to an additional onslaught of calculated violence from members of the general public; as well as members of the UAlbany student body and faculty, social and news media, and local law enforcement. The false notion that violence can only be measured in kicks and punches is a convenient mainstay of patriarchy and white supremacy. It is clear to those of us who endure the never ending barrage of insults, micro and macro aggressions, thinly veiled threats, personal slights, media mischaracterization, and double standards in law enforcement that violence knows many forms. And while these affronts cannot always be quantified or freeze framed for those privileged enough to evade them, we want you to know that we wholeheartedly understand and empathize with the challenges you are currently facing, and will continue to face for the foreseeable future.’
‘Lastly—Alexis, Ariel, and Asha—we’d like to thank you for inspiring so many of us with your resilience, dignity, strength, poise and grace amidst such adversity. You should all hold your heads with pride in knowing what you have already overcome and accomplished in your lives.’
We’ve got your back.
People of Color Caucus, Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration”
Click the link to read the full letter below: