New Orleans Call for Action!


In March 2005, the City of New Orleans, and specifically the Treme Community, one of the oldest communities of free Africans in America, generously hosted INCITE! for the Color of Violence III. Local residents, activists and organizers opened their homes, school, churches, community center, auditorium, and hearts to us, sharing their struggles while helping us create a unique space for organizing against all forms of violence against women of color in the U.S. and around the world.

Just six months later, New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, in which the many intersecting systems of oppression we theorized and organized around at COV III converged in the lives of survivors. The Treme Community, which for many of us was a temporary home for three beautiful days in March, was particularly hard hit by waves of water, racism, classism, and the impacts of U.S. imperialism abroad. Women of color, because of their location at the intersection of these forces, as well as their roles as caregivers to young, elderly, and disabled people, have been on the front lines of struggles for survival in the days and months following Katrina. However, the needs of low-income women of color struggling against poverty and powerlessness resulting from systemic racism and sexism have not been central to government or non-profit responses.

INCITE! is now calling on women of color who participated in the Color of Violence, members of INCITE! chapters & affiliates, and women of color allies, to support the women of New Orleans through the work of the INCITE! New Orleans chapter.

What can I do?

  • Join or support an INCITE! delegation to New Orleans! The women of INCITE! New Orleans have been centrally involved in establishing and supporting the Women's Health and Justice Initiative, a multi-dimensional community-based organizing project centered on improving women of color access to quality, affordable, and safe health care services, integrating sexual health and reproductive and environmental justice. The Initiative’s first project is opening up a Women’s Health Clinic, which is located in the historic Tremé community. The clinic promotes a holistic, community-centered well-woman approach to primary health care and will provide a wide range of preventative health services.

    INCITE! New Orleans is also building a Women of Color Organizing and Resource Center, which will serve as a hub for organizing among low-income women of color for meaningful participation in the reconstruction of New Orleans, the rights of workers - both immigrant and non-immigrant - who are the backbone of reconstruction efforts, health, safety & housing rights for women of color returning to New Orleans, and community-based responses to violence and approaches to safety.

    Volunteers with health care, education, community health promotion and stress, grief, domestic violence, and sexual assault counseling experience are urgently needed to support the work of the Women's Health and Justice Initiative, as are volunteers with administrative, multi-media, and construction skills.

    Individuals with fundraising & organizing experience with respect to housing, environmental justice, health and safety, immigrant and workers' rights, and violence against women are needed to assist in the development and establishment of the Women of Color Organizing and Resource Center.

    INCITE! strongly suggests that volunteers plan to stay at least a week between the 1st and the 15th of the month so that the local community can best accommodate everyone without a sense of weariness in a city still operating with limited resources. Between 3 and 6 volunteers can adequately be accommodated. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE PRIORITIZING THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN OF COLOR IN THESE DELEGATIONS.

    Be aware that delegation participants will be housed under varying conditions (on sofas, futons, air mattresses) and will be asked to bring basic supplies for themselves and to meet local needs. We will be working long hours, and will likely participate in physical work as needed to assist in various INCITE! Projects.

    For more information about how to join a delegation, please contact INCITE! New Orleans at whji_info [at] yahoo [dot] com or call us at 504.524.8255.

  • If you cannot travel to New Orleans, we still need your help! We urgently need financial donations to get our women's clinic and Women of Color Organizing and Resource Center off the ground! No amount is too small.
    Please make your check out to WHJI and send to:
    1362 Constance St
    New Orleans, LA 70130

  • Organize a fundraiser or supply drive in your community to help meet women's basic health needs in New Orleans in the face of collapsed infrastructure, widespread presence of environmental contaminants, mold, and refuse, and failure of supplies collected by the Red Cross and FEMA to reach women most in need.

  • Organize to support folks in your area! New Orleans residents have been scattered throughout the country, and many are still housed in government facilities (i.e. army bases), shelters, churches, and hotels. Support New Orleans residents in your area by:

  • Identifying where survivors are living and organizing in your area;

  • Facilitating forums for New Orleans survivors to come together, share their experiences, and organize around the right of return and New Orleans reconstruction;

  • Distributing information about resources available in your local area to survivors. Government agencies have made little or no effort to help survivors access local housing, income support, education, child care, medical, transportation and anti-violence resources.

  • Support local survivors' councils in their advocacy efforts around relief, return, and rebuilding. Offer office space, fax, copying and telephone facilities and woman power to their organizing efforts.

  • Facilitate legal clinics to assist survivors in accessing information and benefits from FEMA and the Red Cross, and in fighting eviction and foreclosure proceedings with respect to their homes in New Orleans.

  • Advocate for a full accounting of the current location of all New Orleans residents and publication of FEMA and Red Cross databases. Demand an extension of hurricane-related housing and income support. Visit Support the following survivors’ demands:

The People’s Declaration: Survivors Assembly Demands Identified by survivors on December 9, 2005
  • We demand that the local, state and federal government make conditions possible for our immediate return. This includes the following:

  • The Nagin Administration must make temporary housing such as apartments, hotel rooms, trailers and public housing developments available for us while we rebuild our homes.

  • The government must put an end to price gouging, stop all evictions and make rents affordable.

  • Local residents must take the lead in rebuilding our communities and must be hired to do the rebuilding work.

  • There must be immediate debt relief for debt associated with this disaster.

  • Quality public education and childcare must be provided for our children.

  • Quality affordable health care and access to free prescriptions must be provided.

  • The government must immediately clean up air, water and soil to make it safe and healthy for people to return home.

  • We demand that the government provide funds for all families to be reunited and that the databases of FEMA, Red Cross and any organizations tracking our people be made public.

  • We demand accountability for and oversight of the over $50 billion of FEMA funds and the money raised by other organizations, foundations and funds in our name.

  • We demand representation on all boards that are making decisions about relief and reconstruction. We also demand that those most affected by Hurricane Katrina be part of every stage of the planning process.

  • We demand that no commercial Mardi Gras takes place until the suffering of the people is lifted.

  • We are calling for survivors and supporters to participate in a Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend 2006 conference and demonstration to make these demands heard!

For more information about our work in New Orleans and how you can support these critical projects, please contact INCITE! New Orleans at whji_info [at] yahoo [dot] com or call us at 504.524.8255.
Be sure to let us know about the organizing you are doing in your local area so that we can share that information with the women of INCITE! New Orleans!