WOCN, Inc. is a national grassroots initiative dedicated to building the capacity of women of color advocates responding to violence against women of color.
In 1997, a group of women of color from across the country gathered to establish an entity to address the unique challenges facing women of color advocates and activists within the violence against women movement.
The mission of WOCN, Inc. is to eliminate violence against ALL women and their communities by centralizing the voices and promoting the leadership of women of color across the Sovereign Nations, the United States and U.S. Territories.
The purpose of WOCN, Inc. is to work in and beyond the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault to address a broad range of violence affecting communities of color such as human trafficking, police brutality and over-incarceration.
Term: Women of Color
The political term “women of color” surfaced in the violence against women movement in the late seventies to unify all women experiencing multiple layers of marginalization with race and ethnicity as a common issue.
In recent years, the term has been questioned by many for valid reasons related to personal identity and definition, and because the word “color” is not the primary issue for many women with shared ethnicity and race.
We acknowledge these concerns. However, in our work and practice, the term “women of color” is intended to transcend and embrace shades of color and is intended to unite those of us with the following shared global experiences with relationship to varied Western and European-based cultures:
- -Race, Class, Gender-based Oppression and all Intersections
- -Militarism, Targets of War and Police State
- -Loss of Autonomy
- -Violence as the Norm
- -Stolen Legacy
- -Economic Disenfranchisement
- -Cultural/Racial Appropriation and Genocide
We welcome all women of Asian/Pacific Islander, Arab/Middle-Eastern, Black/African American/Caribbean/West Indies, Native/Indigenous, and Hispanic/Latin descent and hope you will join us in rising above language for unity.
WOCN, Inc. is nationally regarded as a women of color-led initiative because: WOCN, Inc. leadership, staff, and WOCN Advisors are made up exclusively of women of color. WOCN, Inc. programming and issue areas are generated and inspired directly from its women of color constituency as a part of continuous dialogues, surveys, and programming conducted around the country.
The WOCN, Inc. Board is comprised of five women of color members from diverse ethnicities, localities, and professions who represent the broad membership of WOCN, Inc.. The purpose of the WOCN, Inc. Board is to define the work and support the growth of the WOCN, Inc.
Anzala B. Alozie, JD, Interim Executive Director: Anzala is Executive Director of Youth Development and the Albany YMCA with the Capital District YMCA. Anzala is located in Albany, New York.
Isa Woldeguiorguis, M. Ed., General Board Secretary: Isa is the Executive Director for The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc., and is located in Salem, Massachusetts.
Shamaine Daniels, JD, General Board Chair: Shamaine is the owner of the Law Offices of Shamaine Daniels, with a focus in immigration law. Shamaine is located in Harrisburg, PA
Edna James, General Board Treasurer: Edna recently retired from federal government after more than three decades working to end family and domestic violence. Edna brings with her a vast knowledge and understanding of family systems, domestic violence, state and federal government programming, systems and funding. Edna is located in South Carolina.
WOCN is representative of many races, cultures and ethnicities, work experiences, levels of education and life experiences. Everyone is valuable and appreciated for what they bring to the table. We will maintain these assumptions in our national work: Difference among humans is NOT a deficit. Cultural diversity is a gift.
- -OPPRESSION is PERVASIVE and HURTS us all, though not in the same ways.
- -“There is no hierarchy of oppression.”
- -Indigenous peoples continue to struggle silently to overcome multiple oppressions. We recognize and honor this struggle as we do the struggles of all communities of color.
- -None of us “invented” oppression; we inherited it. Though its creation is not our fault, we must now accept responsibility for our role in its continued existence.
- -Our commitment to eliminating all forms of injustice must be a lifelong one.
- -Racism, classism, heterosexism, and all other forms of oppression are BOTH systems of oppression and systems of privilege.
- -All of us have had the experience as a target of oppression, as well as the experience of privilege. We must also understand multiple oppressions and/or multiple privileges vary these experiences.
As women of color we have the ability to still exert power/privilege over each other. We must examine our personal role in this as well as educate other women of color about this. Our commitment as women of color to understand and interact with each other deepens our relationships and ensures our collective survival.
Principles of Unity Statements
The principles of unity developed by WOCN staff and advisors are:
WOCN WILL NOT COMPROMISE ITS VALUES OR MISSION
and will make strategic decisions how to voice its perspectives or take action in support of women of color advocates, survivors and their families.
WOCN works to eliminate violence against women and families
as well as all forms of oppression affecting communities of color: ie. Native and tribal nations, Asian and Pacific Islander, African and African American, and Latino communities.
WOCN does not rank one community of color’s issues over another
but acknowledges the similar yet unique circumstances facing each community and fosters an environment for building multicultural alliances.
Recognizes Indigenous peoples as original custodians of this land
and while not ranking their concerns above other communities of color, supports their quest to restore sovereignty and sheer existence.
Committed to “national advocacy through action”
and seeks participation in national venues and weighs in on critical issues with a position that is informed by WOCN groups, membership, and stakeholders.
WOCN recognizes that as individual women of color
we need to be based in various locations in the U.S. in order to better represent our constituents, as well as to receive personal and professional support.
WOCN is committed to grassroots outreach
and having an interstate, regional, and local level impact in support of women of color advocates and activists.
Anti-Oppression Work is Human Rights Work
Issues of priority for WOCN, Inc. that overlap with and further exacerbate violence against women and families include but are not limited to: Cross-generational Domestic and Sexual violence, including child abuse, dating violence and acquaintance rape, and elder abuse, Batterer Re-education and Intervention, Economic Justice and Development Health, including mental and physical health, substance abuse, reproductive health, HIV/Aids, Language Access, Global and border connections and politics, Immigration Restoring Sovereignty for Tribal and Indigenous Nations, Multi and Trans-Ethnic, Racial and Cultural Identity, LGBTQ communities and gender expression, Faith and spirituality.