Who We Are
A philanthropic arts project seeking to amplify the voices of Black Sex Workers by addressing their needs through peer support, legal assistance, housing and other basic needs assessment. Our goal is to create a safe space where the unique experiences and needs of current and former Black Sex Worker voices are validated and responded with appropriate needs based resources.
The rights of sex workers have been and are under attack in the United States, impacting our lives through impoverishment, incarceration, and violence. As a Black-led collective with members representing marginalized communities, we are aware that current policy directions in the US will be further devastating for Black, trans and other marginalized populations, as well as directly affecting communities of color all the while strengthening the prison industrial complex off our backs. The moral and legal panic of sex has left the sex worker community vulnerable but, by extension, it has also illuminated labor discrimination and dictating what work is, who is allowed to work, and how. We aim to push forward with our work in the arts through politicizing, visibility, activism, and advocacy for the rights of sex workers.
Our Primary Goal(s)
Using multimedia art approaches to push our agendas, we are passionate about supporting the immediate needs of Black and sex workers of color through direct action. These needs can be financial, emotional, educational or sustainability strategies. We are focused on reclaiming what it means to mobilize with other social justice community organizations whose mission aligns with ours in order to shift public perception of the definition of work, and valuing the contributions of what sex workers do for their community. We contribute to policy change from our perspective as a sex worker-led and Black-led organization.
Current strategies and methods we will use to implement your mission and primary goals
A) Our specific goal is to use cultural forms such as: dance, performance, the visual arts and whore culture, to highlight the advocacy Black sex workers in the United States who are radically organizing for human, civil, and labor rights. We need to create awareness, change minds, change what people think about sex workers and who they are, and ensure that Black sex worker perspectives are foundational in this work. We will engage through social media, our website, voter registration campaigns, homelessness awareness, political arts, and public performances, to drive attention associated with this process through a coalition that is sex worker-led representing trans, economically repressed, immigrant/migrant, and people of color.
B) A primary long-term and ongoing goal is providing a housing fund for sex workers experiencing homelessness, houselessness, and other economic-related issues unique to our communities. The BSWC has created the BSWC Radical Housing Initiative (BSWC RHI) to address the widespread epidemic of poverty, financial stability, and economic repression of sex workers. A simple and accessible application form will be utilized to assess the immediate needs of those who are experiencing financial hardships due to the nature of our labor, stigma, and legal ramifications of sex work.
C) Another primary goal is to continue our political activism through global recognitions of sex worker rights. We combine our political strategies with social justice groups to highlight our human, civil, and labor rights. We represent Black sex workers through the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (We will represent in Geneva, Switzerland in March, 2020), sitting on national sex workers rights board (Desiree Alliance), continued work with Best Practices Policy Project to highlight criminalization of sex work, and global touring for the BSWC in the political arts that amplifies the voices of Black sex workers through performance arts.
D) The creation and execution of Our web series The Quotidian Whore (focusing on the intersectionality of race, global feminism, and ideas behind work and labor), the continuation of the BSWC website, and utilizing promotional materials to socially engage audiences through radical performance dance, representing direct engagement intended to factual political changes, activist practice, and revolutionary acts of political resistance through arts.
These projects are long-term and will continue to center the voices of black sex workers of color through a political justice framework
Our unique contribution?
The BSWC is unique in that there are no sex worker coalitions/groups/organizations that leadership is Black-led and specific to the needs of Black sex workers (and sex workers of color). We are a vital component that is often overlooked or implemented as a footnote to the important historical contributions that Black sex workers have made to the sex worker rights movement. Our goal is to change the heirarchy of the sex worker rights movement. As well change the ideas and language around what is sex and what is work. We want radicalize our voices front and center. Our work is critical to the modernization efforts for sex workers of color to lead and not be led by voices that have overshadowed us far too long in the sex worker rights movement.
Our links to other similar efforts/movements?
We draw on the history of the civil rights movement. We are a collective that advances the rights of Black sex workers by creating empowerment and leadership within already existing sex worker rights organizations (example: We have a long-standing relationship as board members of Desiree Alliance). We partner with socially-conscious individuals/ organizations/coalitions of color to establish our declarations of self-determinations, our health, and body autonomies. As a collective, we are able to intersect with other social justice movements that embody sex worker issues such as HIV/AIDS, reproductive rights/health/justice, criminalization/decriminalization issues, Black Lives Matter, immigration, LGBTQI rights, labor rights etc.
A proposed timeline with a progression of dates detailing how you will carry out your project 2019-2020
Our projects are long-term and ongoing. We project a 2-5 year goal of sex worker advocacy to determine affirmative results that positions Black sex worker rights leaders as groundbreaking authorities within our movement and beyond. The BSWC RHI will continue long-term as we see no eradication of homelessness and criminalization of sex workers in the near future. The 2020 work for the UN UPR is projected 08/2019 - 11/2020. The political arts projects are also long-term as these components are the foundational purpose of the organization.
What inspired you to want to do this project?
The BSWC was founded because there was no representation exclusive for Black sex worker empowerment through visual political arts activism. There was a need to build upon the philosophy of giving sex workers of color a hand up - not a hand down. We want to bring the voices of Black sex workers a place in our movement that initiates power as leaders. Giving Black sex workers full autonomy over our narratives allows us to smash outdated and archaiac institutions that have historically enslaved our lives for the past three centuries in America.
Having personally experienced chronic homelessness and houselessness, Akynos founded the BSWC Radical Housing Initiative (BSWC RHI) to alleviate the emotional and financial needs that sex workers of color face on a daily basis. Being homeless and a sex worker of color is a crime in America which makes us angry that the wealthiest and most developed nation in the world consists of racism, patriarchy, and heirarchal institutions that pander to social financial classism and favoritism of white supremacies.
When successful, what impact will your project have on the intended community?
The BSWC is already doing the work towards Black visibility in the sex workers rights movement, the arts communities, and social justice movements.
Our global tours highlight Black performance art raising awareness of the unique issues Black sex workers and sex workers of color face in the U.S.
The BSWC RHI has already assisted several sex workers of color obtain/maintain housing, pay current/outstanding bills, childcare assistance, etc. This work speaks for itself on sustainment and the vital importance for the health and well-being of sex workers of color.
Leadership of color is imperative in that all voices are heard equally and respectfully in our movement.
Briefly describe the work you have done to date to research, design, and/or deliver the services of the project
We are politically and socially active in many areas of intersectional justice. Our goal is to continue and sustain Black sex worker leadership.
Our successes include:
• an intersectional strategy meeting in direct response to the FOSTA-SESTA legislation and took place in Brooklyn a week following the April 11th, 2018 passage of the Bill
• A series of public actions on June 2, 2018 (International Whores Day) to interact with the public about questions they may have about sex work and our history, including a rally in Washington Square Park, the “whore in a box” art installation and a symbolic reenactment of the historic church occupation in Lyon at Judson Memorial Church
• Creating Black led sex work performance for the Festival of Resistance at MOMA-PS1
• Fundraising and resource distribution to prevent homelessness and hunger to sex workers directly impacted by FOSTA/SESTA and other laws
• Global representation of US based Black sex workers at events such at the International AIDS Conference
How We Get Funding
The BSWC relies on organization/foundation/government grants, organizational/individual sponsorships, and crowdfundings. We continually seek funding through various avenues of revenue sources.
What is the structure of our organization?
The BSWC is not limited to the projects as the requested application requires for fiscal sponsorship. We are engaging in our community’s investments on many levels and actively seek appearances, projects, and work that fulfill the commitments of our mission statement.