News

December 2020

We had a special experience at the MacDowell residency, and can now see a path through to the completion of our piece World After This One, which we hope to find a way to present to the public in 2021. We were lucky to share the residency with old friend Kay Ulanday Barrett, and new friend Wo Chan, who were instrumental in helping us workshop and develop the piece. What an unexpected joy to be accompanied by other trans and gender-nonconforming artists of color on this journey.

Serendipitously, our interview with South Side Weekly as part of their Envisioning New Futures series can be listened to here. Check out the rest of the interviews with the series here.

We’ll be taking the remainder of 2020 to rest up from an eventful fall, to safely spend time with family and loved ones, and to prepare ourselves for the fights ahead. We hope you find rest, connection, and joy in these dark months.

BH

November 2020

We’re writing to you with limited internet access from MacDowell in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Our original fellowship here in May was postponed due to COVID-19, and the campus has now reopened with new social distancing measures. We are here focusing on our in-progress performance World After This One. We recently finished the script for this piece (huge thanks to our editor Kemi Alabi) and are now delving into movement and staging, looking to some of our longtime collaborators like Nic Kay, Ivelisse Díaz, and Anna Martine Whitehead. Send us some creative vibes as we work on getting the piece ready to share publicly sometime in the next year!

We’re also excited to be a (virtual) guest speaker in Dr. Ninoska M’bewe Escobar’s class Black Performance History at Smith College on November 24th. We’ll be sharing some of our current work, discussing what creative practice looks like for contemporary Black artists, as well as the role of the arts in grassroots movements, specifically in the fight to abolish prisons and police.

Let This Radicalize You: A COVID Memorial Mixtape to which we contributed as part of last month’s National Week of Mourning can be listened to and read in transcript form here. Organized by Kelly Hayes, and featuring words from other fighters we admire like Juliana Pino Alcaraz, Aislinn Pulley, and Bresha Meadows, the full recording was played at a vigil outside the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in downtown Chicago, honoring those still incarcerated during this pandemic, and those on the inside who have already died. Don’t forget their names. Don’t forget we are owed reparations from this government, that universal healthcare is long overdue, and that incarceration and public health can never coexist.

Highlights from our discussion with Jae Jin Pak and Dior Vargas as part of Advancing Leadership’s panel Building Intersectional Movements last month can be viewed here. We also sat down with South Side Weekly Radio to discuss the strategies and practices for imagining liberated futures alongside our larger communities, the recording of which we will share soon.

There’s not a lot we can say about the uncertainty and imminent violence we are facing this election week, but we do want to share some important resources that have been useful to us:

Prepare and breathe : Bystander intervention and de-escalation training from American Friends Service Committee

Why Treating White Nationalism as Domestic Terrorism Won’t Work and How to Not Fall For it by Nicole Nguyen & Yazan Zahzah

The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism by Alberto Toscano

Reclaiming Possibility: A Rant Against Despair by Kelly Hayes

And for a little joy, here is footage of activist Keiajah Brooks reading the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners for filth.

There are more of us than there are of the fascist forces, but that doesn’t matter unless we join together and fight back actively.

Take care of each other, we’ll see you next month,

BH

October 2020

We forgot an important August update back in September! You can read our piece in Noname Book Club’s publication Out Of Print here. The essay, In A Pandemic, Prison Abolition Is Necessary & More Possible Than Ever, came out a little late, but is still pertinent. We hope it can provide some guidance and hopeful visions in these crucial weeks.

We’re proud to be featured this month on a panel for Advancing Leadership’s annual symposium, this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The panel, Building Intersectional Movements: Disability Justice & Racial Equity, on Wednesday the 14th, will examine the intersections of disability and Black and brown freedom movements, and imagine future visions for abolition that don’t just include but unite communities of color and those with disabilities.

We’ll additionally be participating in a smattering of teaching and speaking engagements. We’ll be talking briefly to members of Building Healthy Communities in East Salinas, California on defunding police, participating in a second panel for Southern New Hampshire University on why voting is a necessary but also insufficient tool for social change, and leading an Abolition 101 workshop for students and faculty in the Occupational Therapy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Lastly, we’re grateful to organizer Kelly Hayes for including our voice in the COVID Mixtape, part of a series of digital events for the National Week of Mourning, honoring the more than 200,000 people lost in the U.S. to the pandemic thus far. We know one of the ways fascism takes hold is by normalizing and numbing us to its own violence, by not allowing us the space we need to grieve and process the immeasurable losses we are collectively experiencing in this moment. We hope this offering can be a small piece of both healing and resistance in the face of death and indifference, and encourage you to participate in collective mourning however you can, both out of respect for those we’ve lost, but also out of respect for your own right to feel pain, knowing that you are worth more than we are currently being offered by the state.

BH