Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Happy Black History Month from WWAV!

Working at Women With A Vision has made me grow as a critical thinker, and has given me the tools to apply a deeper set of analysis to nonprofit work. In celebration of Black History Month, this blog post illustrates two events in which WWAV brought intersectionality to its partnership in the New Orleans community.

Earlier in the month, I attended an open house for the new Palmyra apartments in Mid City. This building is permanent, affordable housing that uses a Community Land Trust model, which guarantees neighborhood stability, local decision-making, and long-term affordability for the future. The organization who made it happen, Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI), is committed to the development of affordable housing and the promotion of just and equitable community development that centers the needs of residents most vulnerable to housing discrimination, displacement, and neighborhood planning exclusion. Check out their Facebook page for more news about the project.

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Here is a photo of the building. It was taken by Alicia Serrano of MidCityMessenger.com.

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Here is a map of the geographic context of the Palmyra Apartments, taken from the jpnsi.org.

WWAV recognizes the relationship between lack of affordable housing and attaining other economic opportunities, like employment. We see that homelessness is one of the main issues that impoverished women in New Orleans face. We also witness the increasing rent prices in this city, where renters spend over 30 percent of their income on housing; considering that 48% households are female-only led in New Orleans, high rents place a great burden on poor women of color in New Orleans.

Another important event that WWAV hosted this month was our inaugural Black Feminist Porch Talk on Tuesday, Feb. 16th.

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Here is a flyer from the event.

This topic for this month was Beyonce’s newly released music video, “Formation.” We talked about the backlash that she received, in contrast to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance of “Alright.”  While Kendrick was praised for his homage to blackness and exposure of racial disparities in modern-day America, Beyonce is assessed under a different light as a black female. Her image is over-sexualized and the issues she brings up are pushed aside. Read more about this discussion here.

We also talked about what it means for New Orleans and Louisiana to be the setting of the song and video. Local dancers, local musicians, and of course the houses all appear in the cinematography of “Formation.” Does it matter that many of the scenes were taken from a bounce music video, and were not original images? Were the bodies of water triggering to the trauma of the community rather than artistic displays?

New Orleans is an important microcosm for the all the issues we face nationally, including gun violence, police brutality, and criminalization. As my one of my nonprofit role models, Avery Brewton, pointed out, Beyonce did what a musician and artist is supposed to do: she’s bringing people together and making them talk about the issues. Criticize and pick apart her video and lyrics all you want, but you can’t deny that New Orleans has once again risen to the top of a national conversation, thanks to Queen Bey.

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WWAV Executive Director, Deon Haywood, leads the discussion on Beyonce’s music video, Formation.

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We had a great turnout from community members and partners at our first porch talk of the season.

Like us on Facebook to catch the next Black Feminist Porch Talk, and talk to y’all in March!

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2016 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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