Rethinking and Deconstructing Violence with Youth

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Check Out Talking Pictures Festival: April 14-17 2011

Now in its third year, the Talking Pictures Festival celebrates independent films from around the world mixed with brand new offerings by local filmmakers. The festival will take place April 14 – 17, 2011.

This year the Festival is proud to present two inspiring documentaries that confront head-on the issues of sexual and domestic violence – TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives, about the way art transforms a sexual abuse survivor’s life at Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project, and Sin By Silence, which documents a group of incarcerated women advocating against domestic violence.

Another film titled “Concrete, Steel, and Paint” focuses on how restorative justice can be used to build bridges between prisoners and community members.

More information about these films, as well as others in the Festival, can be found at here.


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Killing Season: A Conversation about Violence – April 9th 2011

Please join Project NIA and Building Communities, Ending Violence at Depaul University on Saturday, April 19th from 2 to 4:30 p.m. as we welcome Krista Wortendyke who will talk about her powerful photography project Killing Season: Chicago 2010.

After Krista’s presentation, participants will brainstorm ways that we can use this photography project in our organizing and educational work about violence. Specifically, we will leave with several ideas for concrete activities that we can use along with the photography project to spark dialogue and change around violence in our communities. Let us know you are coming by RSVPing at projectniaevents@hotmail.com.

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Tools for Working with Youth #2: Engaging Conversations about Masculinity & Femininity

Reposted from Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls Blog

I grew up in New York City loving rap music. I was blessed to become a fan of the music at a time when women like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and others were central to hip hop culture. I could see myself at least partially represented in their music and personas.

Rap music is only a part of hip hop culture but it is the most visible and commercialized part. As such, it deserves special scrutiny in terms of its influence on our culture and on the young people who consume it. The case that I want to make here is that it is extremely challenging today to develop a healthy gender identity for young people who uncritically consume rap music and images. Some of the key features of contemporary rap include:

1. the overrepresentation of women as sex objects. Sex is usually shown as a commodity.
2. the overrepresentation of women as male adornments.
3. the overrepresentation of men as power brokers.
4. the growing relationship and association between the sex industry and hip hop [for example, the glamorization of so-called pimping by artists like Snoop Dog and 50 cent].

Consuming a steady diet of these representations surely distorts young people’s understanding of themselves as men and as women. We cannot ignore how this contributes to violence against girls and young women. Last year, I come across a TED talk by Tony Porter from A Call to Men addressing his own personal journey in struggling to define a healthy masculinity. As part of our ongoing series to share resources and tools that can be useful in our work with youth to address violence in their lives, I think that this video should be required viewing for young men and women in our violence prevention programs.

Finally, another useful resource to engage youth in conversations about how hip hop culture can influence their self-image is Brigitte Gray’s spoken word piece titled “My Letter to Hip Hop.” This piece can be a great starting point for encouraging young people to write their own letter to hip hop.

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Ceilings of Oppressions: A Photo Project about the Cradle to Prison Pipeline

Artist, photographer, and activist Halley Miglietta has created a wonderful project titled “Ceilings of Oppressions.” She uses panoramic photographs with accompanying words to convey the cradle to prison pipeline that so many young people in our country experience. This is powerful work. We think that this is the type of project that educators can undertake with their own students. For more information about this work including the artist’s statement, click here.

Ceilings of Oppression by Halley Miglietta


Killing Season: A Photo Blog

As part of our “Something is Wrong” curriculum, Mariame developed a workshop about youth homicides in Chicago. We have heard from educators and organizers that this has been of use to them in discussing the issue of youth violence with students.

We recently discovered a moving photo blog called Killing Season: Chicago 2010. The purpose of the blog is described in the following way:

As of May 1st 2010, it was estimated that the same number of Americans were killed in Chicago as in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. In a time when Americans are focused on simultaneous wars in places that are beyond our immediate reach, I am interested in exposing the breadth of violence that occurs right here in the city of Chicago. It is common to hear someone say after a particularly devastating day for the city, “And it’s not even summer yet.” As the temperature rises so does the homicide rate. Beginning on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day, I will track the homicides in the city. Once the crime scenes are processed and the yellow tape is taken down, I will visit and photograph the location of each murder. The images will be descriptions of the places where these acts took place. Some of these places might fit neatly into stereotypes that we may have about where things like these happen, but I expect others will be more surprising to those who feel that their neighborhoods are safe. The images are individually meant to be reflections, meditations on our city and collectively, a call to action. Once completed, the images will be compiled in an editioned book. The sheer volume of images as they stack up over the season will be the primary voice of the project.

This blog can be used as an additional resource to discuss violence in our communities.

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New Resource: Cradle 2 Prison Blog

Since early 2010, Project NIA and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum have partnered to sponsor a comic arts project for youth to address the history and current manifestations of the juvenile justice system.  This is part of the Museum’s new interactive exhibit called Unfinished Business: Juvenile Justice.  Project NIA and the Hull House Museum first co-sponsored a comic arts workshop at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) in August 2010.  Teaching artist Elgin Smith worked with young men and women who are incarcerated at JTDC for several weeks to create art work that will be turned into a graphic novel to be released in the Spring of 2011.  Below are a couple of the pieces that were created by youth during the workshops:

Created as part of comic workshop at JTDC (August 2010)

Created as part of comic workshop at JTDC (August 2010)

For the second part of this project, Project NIA and the Hull House Museum were joined by the Chicago Freedom School (CFS) to offer a comic arts workshop for youth on the outside.  Nine youth worked with teaching artist Rachel Williams to create art which will also be incorporated into the final zine.

NIA volunteer and incoming CFS board co-chair, Eva Nagao was instrumental in coordinating the second workshop series which was held at the Chicago Freedom School over the course of 5 Saturdays in October and November.

Eva has created a new blog called Cradle 2 Prison: Examining the Juvenile Justice System through Art.  The site will provide ongoing information about the workshops as well as other resources such as infographics and art that depict the juvenile and adult criminal legal systems.  Special thanks to Eva for putting this together!