Not another bs PR statement about #BlackLivesMatter

It’s been a rough week of sadness and outrage. I am forced to be in quarantine to avoid coronavirus because I have many compromising medical conditions but every day I’ve been following many of my friends fight for systemic changes we seek, whether they are on the street or online. I feel heavy yet hopeful that this time, the national uprising will lead to lasting movement toward a more just society. When the coronavirus is sufficiently contained or vaccine becomes available, I anticipate that the struggle for racial justice and liberation of Black and other marginalized people will still be ongoing, and I look forward to joining you out there.

On behalf of the Coalition for Rights & Safety for People in the Sex Trade, I signed on to the call to Defund the Seattle Police Department, which demands the City of Seattle to: 1. defund Seattle Police Department (at least 50% of $363 already budgeted for SPD); 2. fund community-based health and safety initiatives that diminish reliance on the police to solve social problems; and 3. drop charges against protesters. You can join the call as an individual or as an organization by clicking on the link below:

http://tinyurl.com/defundSPD (individual)
http://tinyurl.com/defundspdorg (organization)

As the subject of this post says, I am getting fed up with bunch of self-serving PR statements arriving on my inbox from corporations and organizations expressing support for Black lives that do not reflect their day-to-day operations. Today, I received an email from a local (predominantly white, police-friendly) “anti-trafficking” coalition soliciting donations to themselves, claiming that their mission aligns with the goals of Black Lives Matter, after years of promoting more policing and prosecution of those involved in sex trade which further criminalize Black, indigenous, and people of color. They even quote a white academic “expert” who equates prostitution to slavery, comparing their white supremacist carceral politics to actual abolitionists who fought against American chattel slavery and continue to fight against the unjust criminal justice system and the Prison Industrial Complex. And of course they had to stress that they only supported “peaceful” protest by doubly emphasizing the word “peaceful” by italicizing and then underlining the word. This is opportunistic and shameful. You cannot promote carceral approach to social problems and then claim to be in the movement for Black lives at the same time.

I hesitated making a formal statement on behalf of the Coalition for Rights & Safety about recent police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many other Black men and women that we have not even heard about because so many of those statements are fake and I wanted to focus on mourning and fighting and supporting my friends rather than taking part in the PR fray. But when I saw anti-trafficking organizations using the national attention to their own advantage, I had to say something. But this is not just a statement; we commit to continue prioritizing the rights and safety for the most marginalized sex workers and people in the sex trade, especially sex workers who are Black, indigenous, or people of color, sex workers who are trans, are immigrants, are disabled, and/or lack housing.

Thank you for being in the movement with us. Please call me if you want to talk more about how we can continue to (and better) advocate for Black lives and the lives of other marginalized communities.

Emi Koyama
The Coordinatrix
Coalition for Rights & Safety for People in the Sex Trade

Also read:

You Can’t Say Black Lives Matter Without Including Black Sex Workers by Suprihmbé
Stop Calling Human Trafficking “Modern Day Slavery”

Support Aileen’s, our new community organizing and hospitality space for women working along the Pac Hwy

Aileen’s is a new peer-centered organizing and hospitality space for women working along the Pac Hwy. This is the area south of Seattle stretching from around SEATAC airport to the south end of King County that is home to many women who trade sex and where Gary Ridgeway, a.k.a. Green River Killer, sought his victims.

We are fed up with the lack of services and resources for empowerment in south King County. Pressing concerns include homelessness, legal issues, CPS involvement, substance use problems, domestic violence, police harassment and brutality, sexual assault and harassment, racism, transphobia, among others.

Women along the Pac Hwy need a safe place to get off the street, even for temporarily, a place to get and give support without being hated or judged, a place to share safety information like the bad date line and receive life saving harm reduction tools.

We are currently forming a steering committee of peers to guide Aileen’s as we envision and create our space. Initial plans include a kitchenette with hot drinks and snacks, a dressing room and clothes closet, lounge area, computer and phone access, and an office space offering peer counseling, harm reduction and overdose prevention services, and community resources and referrals.

Aileen’s is by and for women in the sex trade, women who are homeless or unstably housed, women doing survival sex, coming out of prison, having their kids taken by CPS, struggling to make ends meet, as well as women with former lived experience, and sex workers from all walks of life. We welcome volunteers/allies willing to complete our training.

Please support the work of Aileen’s by making a generous donation online at www.gofundme.com/aileens or to: Church of Harm Reduction, PO Box 3484, Federal Way, WA 98063. Aileen’s is a joint project of community groups including Church of Harm Reduction and Coalition for Rights & Safety for People in the Sex Trade.

Also: Join Aileen’s Open House on May 7th at 6-9pm. Please visit www.aileens.org or email info@aileens.org for location.

Report Issued for the Coalition's First Six Months

Coalition for Rights & Safety for People in the Sex Trade issued a semiannual report on its activities since the founding in March 2017. In this six months, the Coalition grew from a figment of imagination into a network of 14 community groups concerned about the safety and rights of people in the sex trade and began working on a variety of policy change projects. Click here to read the report!