PrYSM, or Providence Youth Student Movement, formed in 2001 as a Southeast Asian grassroots organization in Providence, RI.
Southeast Asians came to Providence as refugees from U.S. military imperialism and wars in Southeast Asia and the Khmer Rouge Genocide in Cambodia, and resettled into under-resourced centers of urban policing. PrYSM mobilized Southeast Asian youth against poverty, gang violence and the deportation of Cambodian-American refugees. They continued their advocacy work for the Southeast Asian community in Providence, whether for direct services for older Southeast Asian refugees, or protesting the unjust policing of Cambodian-American youth.
PrYSM’s work continues today in intersectional, justice-based programs such as Queer and Trans Thursdays, AfterHourz, Organizing Circle, and the Community Defense Project. Queer and Trans Thursdays provide space for queer youth in Providence to come together and organize for queer justice, and AfterHourz opens PrYSM’s space to the larger community for weekly events. The CDP offers legal support for low-income communities of color facing police violence, and Organizing Circle empowers Southeast Asian youth to take direct action in the Providence community against injustice. PrYSM is also a member of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network, a collective of Southeast Asian grassroots organizations working towards radical and transformative justice.
Image Description: Poster with PrYSM’s location (669 Elmwood Avenue, Suite B7 Providence RI), phone (401-383-7450), website and email (www.prysm.us and firstname.lastname@example.org). Also describes PrYSM’s core values of Peace, Love, and Power. Text: “Since 2001, PrYSM organizes at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation by centering youth, female, queer, and people of color leadership in our campaigns, our organization, and our community.”
Since 2014, PrYSM and other Providence organizations have been campaigning for the Community Safety Act, a police accountability bill that would end police profiling and abuses of power against marginalized peoples in Providence. PrYSM has helped organize protests, pressure city council members, and educate the wider community on why the CSA is vital for Black and brown communities. While PrYSM is a Southeast Asian organization, it recognizes the continuity of struggles between all people of color in Providence and advocates for the safety and well-being of all.
Image Description: Two people holding a banner that reads “My skin color is not a crime. Community Safety Act”
Though its programs and campaigns have changed over the last 15 years, PrYSM’s three organizing principles – Peace, Love, and Power – continue to drive their work. PrYSM’s commitment to Justice and Love teaches us about meaningful solidarity, love-based activism, and youth empowerment in taking direct action against injustice.