By Equal Voice Action
Organizing across diverse communities, identities, and issues is essential for effective coalition building and advocacy for inclusive economic and social policy. A case study in grassroots collaboration involving an organizational member in the Louisiana Equal Voice Network offers not only a success story but an engaging, hands-on resource for forging alliances for change.
BreakOUT! is a member-based organization working to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans. The Congress of Day Laborers, or Congreso, a project of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, is a membership organization and leadership pipeline for day laborers and immigrant workers and families in New Orleans.
Finding their overlapping members on the same end of police profiling and discrimination in their native New Orleans, these groups formed a fruitful partnership based on “a common language of justice and a shared purpose to fight for liberation.”
Since beginning their Vice to Ice partnership in 2011, the two groups have secured noteworthy policy wins, earning protections against discriminatory police profiling based on gender identity, and ending local police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
Now, as they work to advance their collaborative model, the Vice to Ice partners have released a new toolkit for grassroots organizers who are working within and across different identities, issues, and spaces to come together in solidarity for a common objective.
From Vice to Ice is a practical, hands-on resource for on-the-ground organizing and coalition building across intersections of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, country of origin, and language. The guide includes workshop curriculum for educating and activating individuals across the immigrant and LGBTQ communities; detailed activities and icebreakers for negotiating language barriers; insightful testimonials from engaged members and trainees; and other resources.
While the toolkit is geared primarily toward organizations working for change across the South, it offers a flexible, inspirational blueprint that can be adapted according to context and needs.
“Our partnership has been transformative – both in terms of the practical aspects of our work and in the personal evolution that we see with our bases,” the Vice to Ice partners write. “To see one’s struggle in someone else is not only therapeutic, it is transformative – our members have taught us this time and time again.”
In sharing the toolkit widely, BreakOUT!, Congress of Day Laborers, and contributing partner Southerners on New Ground (SONG) seek to foster more productive partnerships and alliances in service of the greater goal of equity for all: “We believe that community organizing across different communities – across the spectrum of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality – is the method in which we build the power we need to create the communities we desire…Let’s get free y’all!”
BreakOUT! is a membership-based organization that seeks to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans through youth organizing, leadership development, and healing justice. Learn more by visiting: youthbreakout.org.
The Congress of Day Laborers, or Congreso, is a membership organization of day laborers working in the Greater New Orleans area through the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, a hybrid, multi-disciplinary impact strategy center, “think and do tank,” and membership organization that is part of the Louisiana Equal Voice Network. Founded by the day laborers who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the Congreso is a hub for immigrants across the Southeast region, and a leadership pipeline for hundreds of immigrant workers and families into public life and social movement participation. Learn more by visiting: nowcrj.org.
Southerners on New Ground (SONG), a contributing partner for the toolkit, is a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South. Learn more by visiting: southernersonnewground.org.