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Community Group Seeks to End Violence and Discrimination
by Alena Scarver
2007-05-01

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On March 24, Sankofa Way held a meeting to discuss the violence against gays and lesbians in third world countries, with a heavy focus on Nigeria and Jamaica.

Sankofa Way Spiritual Services, Inc., is a non-profit, faith-based organization that speaks out against social issues that affect society. Sankofa Way engages the community through workshops and trainings focusing on topics such as prejudice and homophobia.

'This is a difficult topic to discuss, especially when it's us committing the violence,' said the Rev. Deborah Lake, executive director of Sankofa Way.

The discussion topic of violence and discrimination against gays in Third World countries came to fruition as people in the meeting discussed how unfair it is to overlook the horrors of violence in certain countries while gays and lesbians in the United States do not have to worry about being killed or tortured because of their sexual orientation.

The members of Sankofa Way introduced themselves to the larger group, stating their purpose for becoming involved in the organization.

Obligation and homage to all the people who fought for their freedoms as well their future generations were the main focal point for fighting against these injustices.

'Historically gays and lesbians and Black people didn't care until everyone cared. We have to make them care,' said Damien, a member of Sankofa Way.

A video called 'Dangerous Living' was presented to the group to provide a visual about how horrific the treatment is for gay people in different countries.

The video displayed images of people being severely tortured and preachers speaking out about the 'immorality and sins of homosexuality.'

Bill Weeks, political co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign discussed the fights against discrimination in the United States should be the model for other countries.

'All around the world, people know the song We Shall Overcome. We have to keep perspective that social change was started with a small collective,' said Mark, a participant in the town hall meeting.

Although the video had no sound, the subtitles talked about women who were raped in order to exorcise their lesbianism.

The participants discussed reasons why people see homosexuality as a sin and therefore try to use their beliefs as a reason for persecuting gays and lesbians.

'Some of these are carried out in the name of God. What do Islam and Christ have to say about homosexuality,' said John Ademola Adewoye.

The members of Sankofa then presented ideas to spread the message to the public about fighting the injustices committed against gay people.

Public education and long-term strategies were discussed to determine the methods that Sankofa Way wanted to pursue. The public's general awareness about what was going on in other countries and make it cool and interesting with accurate data so the message can be more marketable.

'I was thinking about presenting this topic at the Bud Biliken Parade. We could tell the people about fighting for gay rights and get them to sign petitions,' said Will Lockett.


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