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August 2012

FIERCE Youth Fight for Fairness

 
FIERCE’s Education for Liberation Program includes a primer on LGBT history, society’s power structures, and social activism.

Walking down the street garnered her constant harassment and it made Jah-dae want to do something about it. A 22-year-old from upstate New York, Jah-dae Ross is black and identifies as gender non-conforming. She moved to the City because she wanted to become more politically involved. “I tried starting a gay-straight alliance at my community college back home but it fell flat; the students weren’t ready for it at the time.”

Although she now lives in Red Hook, Jah-dae has found her “home” at FIERCE—a group for LGBT young people of color. While applying to transfer to the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, she completed the first part of Education for Liberation—a three-phase leadership development project that explores systemic inequality in society and challenges participants to create their own solutions. A $25,000 grant will help FIERCE involve more people in the program.

“The program is amazing and eye-opening. I learned about the struggles transgendered people have gone through, about the history of classism in our country, and how oppressed communities have a lot in common and can work together for justice,” says Jah-dae.

Working with FIERCE and other organizations, she is also helping to organize two campaigns: the first to stop racially biased stop and frisk practices by the police, and the second to organize West Village businesses to help LGBT people seeking shelter from harassment. Staff at FIERCE are also helping her with practical matters, such as transferring credits and figuring out financial aid.

Jah-dae has also been chosen to represent the group at this summer’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit and is excited to apply what she learns there to producing videos. “I want to make a piece interviewing people as they go through the Education for Liberation program to show how their awareness and ideas transform, and how they put them into action.”

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