As summer winds down, we’re transitioning into a lighter fall, and planning on taking some time off in October.
In an August recap, we want to give huge love to artists Melisa Stephen and E. Armea who included words from our poem Layleen’s Bill (With Revisions) in Chicago’s Black Trans Lives Matter mural in the Andersonville neighborhood. We also looped back to teach a specialized workshop based on Critical Resistance’s concept of abolitionist reforms to youth from Freedom Lifted. And finally, we were featured on the Groundings Podcast, discussing grassroots struggles for police and prison abolition here in the city, and their inherent opposition to the Black misleadership class. Check it out.
This month we’ll be leading a Trans & Queer Resistance to Policing workshop for our loves at Assata’s Daughters, and an Intro to Neoliberalism workshop to participants in the Economic Justice Summit for The National LGBTQ Workers Center. We’ll also be participating in a panel discussion on September 21st, hosted by the National Lawyers Guild, an expressly abolitionist legal aid association, on the significance of the growing demand to defund police and prisons across regions and geographies, as that demand is also being met with extreme violence.
Lastly, we want to show so much love to the fearless youth who fought all summer long for #PoliceFreeSchools here in Chicago. The (unelected) School Board voted again in late August to keep paying CPD millions to patrol public school hallways, despite the demands of youth, the testimony of experts, and the strong data to demonstrate the inherent violence of forcing contact between police and young people of color. Youth threw down for months, and their work will not be in vain. In the midst of horrific white supremacist violence, more eyes are opening to the unbreakable bonds between white nationalism and the police system in its entirety.
We will win #CopsOutCPS and #DefundThePolice.
After a delay due to the pandemic, we’re excited to finally be able to share Crossroads Fund’s episode of the Queering Left podcast, featuring ourselves alongside the revolutionary Eisha Love. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, we discussed prison abolition, Black trans liberation, sex work, and much more. Check it out!
After our two workshops with Project NIA’s Abolitionist Youth Organizing Institute last month, illustrator Laura Chow Reeve generated these incredible graphics based on the discussions we had collectively, as part of her Radical Roadmaps series. We love them so much we posted them here on our website, and added them to much of our social media.
We’re closing out the summer with a virtual workshop for Race Forward, a bilingual session for Cicero Community Collaborative, and are returning for the 6th summer in a row to facilitate for Chicago Desi Youth Rising’s summer retreat. We’ll also be a guest lecturing for the closing session of the Liberation Collective, a program of Phillips Academy Andover. Students in this series have been exploring Charlene Carruthers’ five core questions for organizing. We’ll be joining them to discuss the final question: Are we ready to win? We can think of no more exciting nor opportune moment to make space for the many responses to this prompt.
We have some exciting developments brewing for the fall (as well as events that have been postponed from the spring due to COVID-19). Stay tuned!
A quick June round up:
We had our first essay in Autostraddle for their Principles of Pride series, thanks to Xoài Pham! Our piece explored police and prison abolition as a demand of our queer ancestors, and a necessity for a liberated queer future. We were also featured in Elite Daily alongside other abolitionists we respect, probing the significance of defunding police on Juneteenth, and listed in Block Club as one of 10 Black Women and Queer Activists Working to Change Chicago. We closed out the month with an Abolition 101 workshop for A Just Chi, and our poem in honor of Layleen Polanco was featured on the podcast When We Fight We Win!
As always, summer is our busiest time. Though COVID-19 has changed some of our usual plans, it has also allowed us to connect with our old loves in some new ways. Over the course of July we’ll lead virtual workshops and discussions on abolition and defunding police for local groups including Pilsen Alliance, Chicago Freedom School, STOP Chicago, Engage Chicago, and more. We’ll also be connecting with youth organizers in Boston through St. Steven’s Youth Programs, and in New York through the Abolitionist Youth Organizing Institute with Project NIA.
Finally, on July 7th we’ll be back at The Hoodoisie podcast for a virtual roundtable calling out current Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot. The first Black, lesbian mayor of the city who ran as a “progressive,” she is fighting even at this moment to up spending on policing while continuing her predecessors’ legacy of closing schools, poisoning immigrant neighborhoods, and cutting social programs. Together we will talk about the weaponizing of Black, queer identities to silence Black, queer communities, and insist that progressivism is a political commitment, not an identity. Join us if you can.
On that note, we are proud to have signed on to a statement from trans and queer community members denouncing a recent forum with Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown, and demanding the immediate defunding of CPD. Pride Month is over, but the battle for our liberation never is. Read the full statement and the over 100 signatures of local leaders, organizers, and community members here.