April Monthly Mosaic: The #SSDP2016 Issue

  It’s conference time! Today marks the first day of SSDP2016—the biggest and best SSDP conference we’ve had to date. With UNGASS 2016—a United Nations’ General Assembly special session on “the world drug problem”—around the corner, drug policy reformers from around the world have been working overtime mobilizing, strategizing, and strengthening their coordinated efforts to change global perceptions and policy regarding the war on drugs. Because the consequences of drug prohibition are far-reaching in their impact on different communities across the globe, exposing oneself to new perspectives is crucial to understanding  the totality of the drug war. As drug policy reformers from around the world gear up to demonstrate the need for changes from international to local levels, SSDP2016  is bringing together students, alumni, and allies from over 350 global chapters to share their wealth of knowledge with each other and make lasting connections. Then, after an inspiring weekend at SSDP2016, many conference attendees will board SSDP buses to New York City to bring their expertise to UNGASS 2016. This issue of the Monthly Mosaic will highlight the SSDP2016 sessions that are most closely tied to SSDP DARE’s mission to facilitate collaboration and engagement with presently underrepresented perspectives, individuals, and movements.

Our Picks for #SSDP2016

The SSDP2016 conference program was put together through session proposals and feedback from the SSDP network.  Many of these amazing sessions will explore the overlap of race, class, gender, geopolitics, and the war on drugs—and two of them were organized by SSDP DARE specifically to discuss intersectionality in drug war activism. Please attend the DARE Special Plenary Session and the SSDP DARE meetup on Saturday, and please also consider attending one or more of SSDP DARE’s recommended breakout sessions—listed below—to broaden your horizons and gain invaluable insight on the global war on drugs. Road to UNGASS: What You Need to Know About the Special Session and Why It Matters Saturday, April 16  10:30am – 11:45am The upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem has been a hot topic of conversation since the governments of Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico called on the UN to host an international conference on drug policy ahead of the scheduled meeting in 2019. UNGASS 2016 stands out from other international debates on drug policy because of the growing consensus among member states that punitive approaches pushed by the War on Drugs have failed. This session will provide an overview of the events that led to UNGASS, its importance in the grand scheme of drug policy reform, potential outcomes, and why it should matter to anyone with an interest in drug policy. Immigration Reform Isn’t the Only Latino Issue Saturday, April 16  10:30am – 11:45am National news headlines as of late have focused on immigration reform as the main Latino issue that will drive Hispanics in numbers to the polls this election cycle, but immigration reform should not be the only thing on Latino voters or politicians’ minds. Drug policy reform is very much a Latino issue and something that more Hispanic organizations should pay mind to. The Latino population, already the nation’s largest minority group, is set to transmogrify the demographic profile of the United States according to the Pew Research Center. In the same way, that marijuana arrest rates have managed to sweep thousands of people into the criminal justice system, particularly blacks in disproportionate numbers, similar arrest rates, and patterns are happening to Latino communities. The drug war is a vehicle for mass deportation. DARE Special Plenary Session—Fierce Allies: Collaborating Across the Divide for Drug Policy Reform Saturday, April 16  12:00pm – 1:15pm Students for Sensible Drug Policy Reform is committed to integrating and addressing broad ranging issues, from drug education to criminal and racial justice.  Doing so effectively requires us to build resilient multi-perspective collaborations and engage in fiercely honest dialogues about the very issues that divide us.  In this interactive plenary, J. Miakoda Taylor, will lead us in resourcing practices and probing inquiries that empower each of us to transform the obstacles of shame, fear, and rage into catalysts for Fierce Allyship. La Guerra Contra las Drogas en América Latina Saturday, April 16 3:00pm – 4:15pm A roundtable panel focusing on drug policy reform in Latin America, one of the regions most affected by the Global War on Drugs. SSDP students from Mexico will join activists from El Salvador and Honduras to explore the issues most affecting their home. SSDP DARE Meetup Saturday, April 16 7:00pm – 8:00pm Interested in broadening perspectives in SSDP and the drug policy reform movement? Join members of SSDP’s Diversity Awareness Reflection and Education (SSDP DARE) committee for an open conversation about facilitating diversity and inclusion in the drug policy reform movement. Please bring your own dinner. Keynote—Almost Another Dead Black Man: My Transformation from Brutalized Student to Impassioned Advocate Sunday, April 17 9:45am – 10:15am In 2009, Alex Landau was a 19-year-old college student with little sense of the dangers posed by the color of his skin when he was nearly killed by three Denver police officers for “driving while black.” His body was savagely beaten, as was his sense of place in the world. Alex will share how this experience catalyzed his entry into the movement for the transformation of law enforcement in the service of social and racial justice in solidarity and through a lens of passion, intersectionality, and coalition. Eliminating the Need for Safe Spaces: Combating Oppression in Our Own Activist Communities Sunday, April 17 10:30am – 11:45am As activists, we tend to think of our own community as a place free of racism, sexism, queerphobia and other forms of oppression. Although we all value justice and equity, each of us has grown up in a society that normalizes oppression, which can spill over into our activist communities. In order to realize our common goal of ending the drug war, it is important that we can address oppression within our activist circles. Come hear from fellow SSDP chapter leaders on how to identify and address oppression in our chapters and on campus. The Mental Illness of Drug Policy Sunday, April 17 10:30am – 11:45am This session will be devoted to exploring the issue of how drug policy affects the mentally ill community. We will examine rates of arrest and incarceration for drug crimes, as well as rates of recidivism among the mentally ill post-incarceration. We will take time to discuss some of the most prominent proposed solutions to this problem from a public policy standpoint. The War on Drugs: Women on the Frontlines Sunday, April 17 4:30pm – 5:45pm Though men are often seen as the primary targets of the drug war, women have long been on the frontlines. Women comprise one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. prison population. Two-thirds of women in federal prison are there for nonviolent drug offenses. Three-quarters are mothers—many of them sole caregivers. Pregnant women and mothers are uniquely vulnerable to criminal justice involvement. Conspiracy laws coupled with mandatory minimums have sentenced women to decades—or even life—in prison simply for living with a partner in the drug trade. Meanwhile, activist groups like SSDP boast strong female leadership, and the legal cannabis industry has more female executives per capita than all U.S. businesses as a whole.The women on this panel will share powerful stories about what it means to be a woman in Drug War America.

Take Action.

Do the SSDP DARE (and get 10 points on the SSDP Chapter Activity Tracker)!
  • Attend the SSDP DARE meetup at SSDP2016 on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Shenandoah Suite.
    • Bring your dinner, and join SSDP DARE for an open conversation about facilitating diversity and inclusion in the drug policy reform movement.
  • Share the Monthly Mosaic on Facebook or Twitter using #MonthlyMosaic.
  • Email a photo of your chapter reading the Monthly Mosaic to your outreach coordinator.

Get Involved.

Each month, SSDP’s Diversity, Awareness, Reflection and Education (DARE) committee publishes the Monthly Mosaic, a newsletter dedicated to exploring intersectionality and the War on Drugs. Previous newsletters have covered topics such as  privilege, domestic violence, trans awareness, Black Lives Matter, and women’s unique experiences with the drug war. The DARE committee strives to promote inclusivity within the SSDP network, and facilitate collaboration and engagement with presently underrepresented perspectives, individuals, and movements. In order to ensure that the Monthly Mosaic more intentionally and meaningfully reflects these values, the DARE committee is pleased to invite members of our student and alumni network to submit ideas for upcoming issues. If you have any questions, please contact Frances at frances@ssdp.org. We look forward to reading your submissions!