BYP100 DC Making noise and uplifting radical Black Joy in the DMV
BYP100 DC Chapter
BYP100 DC is a collective of around 40 Black activists who organize, protest, lobby, and create to fight for Black liberation in the DC metro area (aka, the DMV). Our chapter was one of the original BYP100 chapters started in 2013 after the Trayvon Martin verdict galvanized young Black activists to start BYP100 to strive for justice. Since then, we’ve been turning up for Black people by engaging in political education, organizing direct actions and campaigns, working with coalitions, participating in lobby days, and doing cultural productions like mixtapes and zines. We focus on transformative change and work through a Black queer feminist lens, meaning that we understand that oppression is intersectional and layered, so we focused our efforts on empowering the most marginalized members of our community. See some examples of what we do below, and email us at email@example.com if you’re interested in getting involved!
A key part of BYP100 organizing is connecting our members and our communities to consciousness-raising and learning opportunities. We facilitate political/popular education workshops internally and externally using a Black queer feminist lens. We started our Black Against Empire workshops in 2017 to engage high-school and college-aged students around our current political landscape, the implications for our city, and potential ways to resist. The first few Black Against Empire workshops focused on analyzing “Trump’s New Deal for Black America” to decode its harmful rhetoric and violent political intentions and to provide insight and support around organizing strategies to protect our communities.
Direct actions are at the heart of BYP100’s work. On Mother’s Day 2017, BYP100 DC members joined the Black Mamas Bail Out national action led by SONG aimed at removing Black women and caretakers from cages to reunite them with their families. We recognize the deep harm that prisons and jails inflict on cis and trans Black women and gender non-conforming people. We bailed out 9 people for the Black Mamas Bail Out, and we’re continuing this effort. In the Fall of 2017, we partnered with DC Greens and a number of other partners for the Grocery Walk, a march to demand DC decision makers to end food apartheid in DC by making deep investments in grocery store options and healthy food access in DC’s Wards 7 and 8. (DC’s Wards 7 and 8 are predominately Black and only have 3 grocery stores serving around 150,000 residents. Meanwhile, the rapidly gentrifying Ward 6 has 10 grocery stores for 82,000 residents.)
BYP100 DC has engaged in a number of divest-invest campaigns with our coalition partners in the local and national Movement for Black Lives coalition. In 2017, we pushed for the passage of the NEAR Act (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act), a piece of legislation that shifts power away from the police and to the community and invests money into programs that provide important resources like counseling and workplace development. We’re working with No Justice, No Pride through direct action organizing to push DC Pride to invest in Black and brown queer and trans leadership, and we joined SWAC (our local Sex Workers Advocacy Coalition) to push for the decriminalization of sex work. We also continue to organize with food justice coalition partners at DC Greens to push elected officials to invest in healthy food access in DC’s Wards 7 and 8.
- BYP100 DC and M4BL DC: M4BL DC (Movement for Black Lives DC) is a collective of Black-led organizations (Keep DC 4 Me, Black Lives Matter DC, BYP100 DC, Pan-African Community Action and Stop Police Terror Project, Law 4 Black Lives, Black Immigration Network DC) and allied organizations (Asian Pacific-Islander Resistance, and Standing Up for Racial Justice) that work towards the social and economic liberation of Black people and all oppressed people.
- BYP100 DC and SWAC: SWAC (Sex Worker Advocates Coalition) is a group of individuals and organizations promoting the human rights, civil rights and liberties, health, safety, and well-being of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers in DC, and advocating for legislation and other policy changes to challenge the system of sex work criminalization. On September 14, we participated in a hearing for the Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Safety and Health Act of 2017, which would repeal all current DC laws that call for criminal penalties for commercial sex work engaged in by consenting adults. The bill was introduced on October 5, 2017.
BYP100 DC engages with policy makers around Black liberation issues because we recognize that legislators and decision makers have insurmountable control over Black lives and the well-being of our communities. In 2016, we organized a Lobby Day where BYP100 DC activists went to the Hill to meet with policy makers to discuss transformative policies that better reflect a Black queer feminist future. BYP100 DC has also testified before DC Council committees on education, public safety, public health, and transportation. In 2017, we established a partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to engage in the annual Issue Advocacy Day where we leveraged our power to highlight the policies and issues that are most important to Black LGBTQ individuals and communities.
In April 2017, we launched MelaNation, our quarterly art zine (short for “magazine”) that aims to engage Black folks in the DC area with political education and to uplift the perspectives of local Black artists and writers. We also run a blog and facilitate workshops through MelaNation. You can see our MelaNation blog posts and read the zine online for free at www.melanationzine.com.