Breakthrough & COVID-19

How Breakthrough is continuing to build community despite COVID-19.

The world is experiencing an unprecedented moment, mourning the significant loss of life while yearning for connection, relief and community. In addition to the pandemic itself, there’s been a disturbing rise of intimate partner violence around the world, termed the “shadow pandemic” by UN Women. Data was recently released on the growing rates of infection at US prisons, as well as immigration and juvenile detention facilities. And research from the Human Rights Campaign confirms that the pandemic will disproportionally affect LGBTQ people.

At the root are intersectional issues that have been at the forefront of Breakthrough’s programming over the last 20 years. Despite our physical isolation, we are responding by utilizing digital spaces to foster unprecedented connection with affected communities. As we listen to one another, we are learning how to create the world we want.

PROGRAMS

Our Our Stories: In Vivid Color media project is growing. We continue filming girls and gender non-conforming youth of color from regions we have yet to visit through video conferencing applications and first-person mobile filmmaking practices to explore how they are adjusting to life under COVID-19: its effects on their education, family and personal relationships, their creative practices and dreams, and their emotional and physical health. The nine cast members who have been interviewed have been invited to reflect on the many changes they’ve experienced since filming to actualize their stories and address our current reality.

Breakthrough Spotlight is a collaborative video and podcast series featuring stories and conversations on the issues affecting partner organizations and the communities they serve, as well as our youth documentary cast, and other activists and artists from around the world. Our goals are to uplift and amplify the innovative and impactful ways they are responding to the crisis of COVID-19, share resources, and create opportunities in these uncertain times. We will also ask our participants to reimagine our current systems in ways that are more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable for all, including our planet.

We Count! is a multimedia campaign to build the civic power of youth of color, especially those from LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities, and amplify their ideas and dreams for the future. Together with leading community organizers, Breakthrough will offer tailored voting and Census resources, a safe space for listening to and storytelling by young people engaged in the civic process, and a springboard for action toward putting power back in their hands. Through mass media, We Count! will amplify the experiences, passions and imaginations of GenZ voters in order to inspire and offer resources to their peers.

In March, we launched By & For: Our Communities, an initiative of Our Stories. With partners like the Black Youth Project and Wear Your Voice Magazine, we’ll be offering columns, podcasts and additional platforms for affected communities to talk about their lives both within and outside of the pandemic, on their own terms.

Each Month, Breakthrough columnist Gloria Oladipo will publish a piece in the series alongside Black Youth Project Managing Editor Amber Butts. Both essays will be hosted on each partner’s website, inviting a wide and diverse audience into the conversation.

TikTok Partnership

We’re partnering with Diné scholar, writer, and advocate Charlie Amáyá Scott on By & For: A TikTok Community. Every two weeks, Charlie will publish a new TikTok video exploring timely issues affecting Black, Indigenous and People of Color in fun, informative ways. Follow them on TikTok here!

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Featuring original podcasts from our youth media partners, our first creative collaboration is with the My Colorful Nana Project podcast, a powerful series that invites all people to consider and celebrate their definitions of the words “beauty,” “femininity,” and Blackness, through the lens of hair. Check our website on Wednesday, 4/29, for the next episode!

We know that our personal stories of life under COVID-19 can inspire critical questions for building a more liberated society in the future. What will listening to our communities teach us about overcoming the systemic barriers that were in place before this moment? We have and continue to explore this question across a range of new projects throughout the pandemic, and we hope you will join us.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: COVID-19 edition

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This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re also investigating the culture that breeds sexual violence—particularly among queer and trans youth of color in forced isolation—on Twitter, in collaboration with author George M. Johnson and partners Break the CycleNAPIESV and SafeBAE. We are inviting our audience to join us in outlining a vision for a world where issues like sexual violence can never again be compounded by any other unforeseen crisis on the horizon.

Back to Basics

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Every Thursday in April on Instagram Live, Breakthrough Producer/Editor Alex Yakacki hosts a drag-y make-up show while bringing joy and resources to queer communities.

SKOLL Virtual World Forum

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On April 3rd, nearly 100 participants attended our Telling her.stories: Youth, Media and the Power of our Voice” panel at the Skoll Virtual Forum. Breakthrough Creative Director Moni Vargas hosted a conversation with Breakthrough India’s Nayana Chowdhury, Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love‘s Wazina Zondon and The My Colorful Nana Project‘s Lauren Stockmon Brown on the role of first-person storytelling and creative media in strengthening the agency of girls and gender non-conforming youth of color. If you missed it, you can view it here.

The Uplift

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Also on Instagram Live in April, Breakthrough Creative Director Moni Vargas, wearing her other hat as a DJ, hosts The Uplift, an interactive music mix show for those who could use a moment to shake the stress off at home!

We hope you’ll join us on as we build initiatives, and that you stay safe and well during these trying times!