For a number of years, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault held a "Dual Roles & Get Together" event focused on Latino bilingual advocates who help support survivors of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. In the process of developing professional growth and development specifically for communities of color, the 2019 Communities of Color Summit was born. This opened up the door for a variety of advocates from communities of color to gain experience, knowledge, and training from national and statewide leaders within the movement to end sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.
In September, the coalition hosted the 2019 Communities of Color Summit. This year's theme was "Reclaiming Our Time," to honor and stand in solidarity with our sister Rep. Maxine Waters. Rep. Waters serves California's 43rd congressional district. In July 2017, Rep. Waters sent a strong message to all who witnessed her exchange with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. When Sec. Mnuchin attempted to dodge a direct question posed by Rep. Waters, she held him accountable with the words "reclaiming my time" - a phrase rooted in House floor procedure that went viral on social media.
This was a defining moment for women, especially women of color, who like "Auntie Maxine" have grown tired of people in power deflecting from issues that impact us and have used misogyny, patriarchy, and racism to systemically oppress and silence. Rep. Waters spoke with confidence and let so many know that her time, our time, and our presence is valid and we will NOT continue doing "business as usual" while ignoring the experiences and stories of un-served people.
Pictured above: Rep. Maxine Waters speaking with confidence and "reclaiming her time"
The Communities of Color Summit united advocates of color from all over Iowa for two and a half days, where they had the opportunity to share and learn from one another, be recognized for their work, and gain inspiration from other advocates of color in the movement against violence, especially from within our own communities. Advocates discussed the intersections of social justice issues and shared unique cultural approaches to addressing important issues within communities of color.
The passion, enthusiasm, energy, knowledge, and happiness shared during the summit was not only priceless, but it exceeded our goals and re-energized advocates of color around the state. And this necessary energy will be reflected in the quality of services survivors receive.
We would like to give thanks to IowaCASA staff, the Iowa Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office, the summit's keynote speakers, workshop presenters, and its many sponsors for their work and dedication to make the 2019 Communities of Color Summit “Reclaiming Our Time” a success.
IowaCASA is committed to the ongoing work of creating and sustaining spaces similar to this for advocates of color.
Transcending Advocacy Award Recipients at the 2019 Communities of Color Summit
Pictured left to right: Yoshida Thomas, Human Trafficking Specialist for Friends of the Family; Sumaya Rabee, Multilingual Outreach Community Coordinator for Rape Victim Advocacy Program; and Anasia Sturdivant, Domestic Abuse Youth and Campus Advocate for Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support. These three passionate advocates were honored for their efforts to go above and beyond in order to support survivors.
Legacy Award Recipients at the 2019 Communities of Color Summit
Pictured left to right: Lisa Ambrose, Director for Amani Community Services; Hibo Jama, Director for Nisaa African Family Services; and Lata D'Mello, Assistant Director for Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity. These three inspirational leaders were honored for their innovative work to to better meet the diverse needs of all survivors.
Service in Excellence Award Recipients at the 2019 Communities of Color Summit
Pictured left to right: Dara Jefferson, University of Iowa and formerly a Victim Advocate for Resources for Indigenous Survivors & Empowerment; Barwaqo Aden, Assistant Director for Nisaa African Family Services; Maria Alonzo-Diaz, Counselor and Advocate for Crisis & Advocacy Services; Luana Nelson-Brown, M.S.P.H., Director for the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change. These four were honored for their exceptional work providing comprehensive and culturally specific services for survivors.
Trailblazer Award Recipients at the 2019 Communities of Color Summit
Pictured above: Janelle Melohn, M.P.A., Director for the Crime Victim Assistance Division in the Iowa Attorney General's Office. Janelle was honored for her tireless efforts to lift up and support communities of color.
Pictured above: Shundrea S. Trotty, M.P.A., Director of Iowa Services & Projects for the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Shundrea was honored for her efforts to push back against oppression and racism, and for her fearless leadership at the coalition.