Monday, February 27, 2017

Black Lives Matter

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi created Black Lives Matter (#BlackLivesMatter) as a call to action for Black people after George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin (#TalkAboutTrayvon). Trayvon was 17 when George Zimmerman took his life February 26, 2012. Trayvon was an honors student in English and loved math. He hoped to be a pilot one day. Zimmerman targeted Trayvon because he thought it was suspicious for a young black man to be walking in his neighborhood. In "The Killing of Trayvon Martin," Mike Armato and I discuss how a gendered and sexualized racism meant that Trayvon Martin's existence as a young African-American man became the focus of Zimmerman's trial, resulting inTrayvon's death being labeled a killing rather than a murder because African-American boys and men were assumed to be inherently dangerous.   

Although founded because of Trayvon Martin's death, Black Lives Matter is not limited to addressing extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes but is focused on affirming the lives of all Black people, including queer, trans, disabled, undocumented, criminalized, women and across the gender spectrum. 

There have been White people who have grumbled about and protested the idea of Black Lives Matter and have countered with All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. While of course all lives matter, these responses miss the point that Black people in the United States face a particular and unique set of conditions and that without attending to these conditions we cannot create a society free from oppression.  A basic idea in Black Lives Matter is by centering the lives of Black people, we can create a better world for all or "When Black people get free, everybody gets free."  

One way in which Black Lives Matter has influenced IMPACT Chicago is in our examining and revising our approach to getting to safety after an attack. For many years, our getting to safety mantra ended with "911." We have changed that mantra to end with "Get to safety" or "Walk to Safety."  The original mantra was based on good intentions but didn't reflect the realities of Black women who have defended themselves against violence. The guiding principles of Black Lives Matter and Mariame Kaba's book No Selves to Defend helped us see the necessity of changing our safety mantra.

The change to "Get to Safety" is consistent with our commitment to expanding people's choices and not offering a formulaic approach to self-defense. Everyone has benefited from this change because the emphasis is on people making choices based on their assessment of themselves, their relationship with the person(s) targeting them, and their knowledge of the situation they are in and no assumptions about what safety is for all. This is an example of how centering the lives of Black people benefits everyone.

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor
Professor Emeritus Sociology and 
Women's and Gender Studies
Northeastern Illinois University

#TalkAboutTrayvon toolkit 
Done in partnership of Black Lives Matter Global Movement & Showing Up for Racial Justice

Monday, February 20, 2017

Women Are Worth It

In "IMPACT Chicago Shows Women They Are Worth Protecting," Taylor Justin, author of Haute Seeker, blogs about her interview with IMPACT Chicago instructor Molly Norris.

Taylor and the founder of Runaway Addicts will be hosting an IMPACT workshop on April 26, Denim Day, a national day of protesting misconceptions of sexual assault by wearing denim. Keep on the lookout for registration details.

To read the blog and to hear the podcast, go to here. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

I still remember the faces and names of the women in my course: Lisa Amoroso, 1991

Lisa with daughter Carmen and signs for the Women's March
Lisa Amoroso took the IMPACT Core Program in 1991 and has been a volunteer ever since. At one time or another,  Lisa has done just about every volunteer job available in those 25 years—including mat moving and class assisting, serving as a board member (1991-2012), chairing the board (2012-2014), chairing our annual fund drive (1995-2015), and being the co-director of the Administrative Team (2012-present). In these past 25 years, Lisa has been involved in almost every major administrative decision, from changing our name to IMPACT, hiring new personnel, and most recently, leading the team effort to consolidate our cloud-based work into Google Office.
IMPACT Chicago is so fortunate that Lisa brings her many talents to her volunteer work. Lisa received her Ph.D. from the Kellogg School of Management with a joint degree in Management, Organizations, and Sociology. She is a Professor of Management at the Brennan School of Business Management at Dominican University where she teaches a range of courses, including Negotiations, Human Resource Management, and Organization Behavior.
In reflecting upon why she volunteers for IMPACT, Lisa said:  “The empowerment I felt during my first IMPACT course has altered so many aspects of my life. I still remember the faces and names of the women in my course and the majesty of each woman as she tapped into her strength. I feel that everything from parenting to teaching to simply being has been positively shaped by the foundational values of our organization. One thing that makes IMPACT’s culture particularly special to me is that these values are not assumed, but explicit, and refined to ensure alignment with IMPACT’s mission. I love that IMPACT is continually learning, questioning, and changing. It has been truly an honor for me to work with the administration staff, instructors, and volunteers.”
Martha Thompson, Instructor and Co-director of the Admin Team

Monday, February 6, 2017

Donors Make an IMPACT

Tuition covers about 65% of the costs of the Core Program and IMPACT for Girls. Donors cover the rest. Thank you to all those who supported the IMPACT Chicago 2016 Fund Drive! Your generosity enables to bring self-defense training to more women and girls.

Jeanne Adams in honor of Hillary Clinton
Janet Altman
Lisa Amoroso in honor of Laura, Martha, Tara & Kathleen
Mary Amoroso
Lucinda Ballet-Stanley
Cyd Curtis & Bill Bates
Dolores Bjorkman
Jill Britton on behalf of IMPACT’s amazing board of directors
Abigail Bunce
Darcy Chamberlin
Nancy Cohen
Christina Collins
Maury Collins
Dori Conn
Dee Costanzo in memory of Adrian Costanzo
Cynthia Curtis Bates in honor of Dianne Costanzo
Tammy & Jim DeBoer
Lauren Densham
Robyn Dobrozsi
Julie Dorfman & Jerry Herst
Maureen Dunn
Cheri Erdman
Carol Ference
Kira Freigang
Laurie Fuller
Eileen Gelblat
Crystal Golson
Jennifer Gould
Robyn & Tijuana Gray
Debborah Harp
Margit Henderson
Victoria Herbert
Loretta Jackson
Valerie Jenkins
Carol Jennings
Dana Kanovitz
June Kirk
Kasey Klipsch
Susan Landwer
Kelly Lavengood Schenkel
Ruth Lipschutz
Carmen Maso
Susan McConnell
Claire Mellish
Marianne Merola
Dorothy Meyer in honor of women everywhere
Deb Mier & Sheila Hickey
Jeannette & Terry Mostrom
Molly Norris-Van Eaton
Clara Orban
Lauren Perez
Liz Pfau
Rachel Pildis
Lisa Pines
Sara Polonsky
AC Racette
Pearl Rieger
Sandra Romero
Judy & Don Rosedale in honor of Katie Skibbe
Roger Safian
Mayra Salgado
Laura Sanders
Kelly Schmeltzer
Gail Schubert
Yehudit Sidikman
Katie Skibbe
Jennifer Spitz
Laurie Squire
Linda Stawicki In appreciation of: Jill Britton and Henry Borczyk
Nikki Swafford
Tracie Szotda
Margaret Tomasik
Caryn Trombino
Iris Waichler
Frederick Warner
Kimberly Wright
Shu-Ju Yang
Rebecca Zisook

It is not too late to donate. Please send a check to IMPACT Chicago, 4057 N. Damen Ave Chicago IL 60618 or contact Tara at to donate through PayPal. Thank you!