Happy New Year! Life on our planet in this current iteration is difficult, and we hope this year brings deep resistance, new bonds of solidarity, and a brave commitment to imagining better for ourselves and those we love.
In addition to all the other exciting things that happened at the close of 2019, we squeezed in one more panel with the Chicago Architecture Biennial …And Other Such Stories at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Titled Making Lineages Visible, we joined Kelly Hayes and Byul Yoon in a conversation moderated by Monica Trinidad on the ways women, trans, and queer people regularly spearhead activist efforts in Chicago and elsewhere, yet often see their labor erased in mainstream analysis. It was an honor to problematize credit, ego, historicity, and feminism in radical organizing alongside some of our longtime co-strugglers.
We’re kicking off the New Year facilitating for the all-new national group Dissenters, a student-driven organization devoted to building resistance to the U.S. war machine. We’ve been supporting Dissenters in crafting an anti-war narrative that is accessible, intersectional, and international in scope. On January 3rd, we’ll be co-facilitating a session breaking down this narrative for the organization’s inaugural training here in Chicago.
At the close of the month we’re joining members of People’s Law Office, Law for Black Lives, and other legal advocacy groups in Atlanta, Georgia for a convening on how law can support reparations for the racist War on Drugs. We will be facilitating a Pod Mapping & Transformative Justice workshop, as well as a second session on the differences between healthy conflict and harm. We hope these offerings can help lay a strong foundation of healing and trust for this network of organizations as they move forward with some truly visionary work.
We have some exciting developments emerging in the late winter. Stay posted here for more updates soon!
We’ve been doing a lot of writing! Our piece in Them Magazine celebrating Women & Children First bookstore is now up. Our collaborative poem for Trans Day of Resilience in honor of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco is also live, as is an accompanying essay annotating the poem and envisioning trans liberation through an abolitionist lens, published by Poetry Foundation.
To close out the year, we’ll be partnering with Embarc Chicago on the 11th to teach an intro to Chicago organizing to students from several high schools from across the city. In addition to highlighting some historic wins and recent campaigns, we’ll lead a Power & Privilege workshop, and guide students through imagining a world without prisons with Prison Abolition 101. On the 18th, we’ll link back up with our friends at STOP Chicago to facilitate an interactive discussion with young people on #PoliceFreeSchools, mapping out concrete visions of learning environments divorced from the prison industrial complex.
Finally, on the 12th we’ll appear on a panel at the Chicago Cultural Center along with other contributors to the anthology The Funambulist by its Readers: Political Geographies from Chicago and Elsewhere, commissioned for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Staff from The Funambulist, a Paris-based magazine of art and architecture, will guide us through a discussion around radical anticapitalist struggles for space and autonomy in our city, and how architecture can more actively contribute to our movements.
Wishing you love and power into the new year,
We participated in a panel at the close of October with Organized Communities Against Deportations to draw public attention to the case of one of their members, Francisco Silva. It’s an honor to support OCAD’s efforts, and to remind non-immigrant communities it is our duty to #AbolishICE, divesting from incarceration and investing in support systems for undocumented and immigrant communities.
We also have a new feature in Them coming out shortly, highlighting the story of another OCAD member, Francisco Morales Torres, who has been in ICE detention for over a year, despite being granted asylum by a federal judge in March of 2019. His story highlights the indistinguishability of ICE and local police forces, how mental illness and lack of healthcare lead to the targeting of immigrant communities, and how trans and queer asylum seekers are in particular danger of violence while in detention. We hope you will share his story, and donate to his cause.
We are honored to be interviewed on the Crossroads Fund’s podcast Queering Left, celebrating radical queer organizing in Chicago in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. We will be recording an episode alongside the legendary Eisha Love later this month, discussing trans- and queer-led prison abolition organizing. Stay tuned!
On November 14th we will be participating for our second year in Forward Together’s Trans Day of Resilience, dropping a poem titled “Layleen’s Bill (With Revisions)” in honor of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco Xtravaganza, who was found dead in her jail cell at Rikers Island prison this past June. This poem will accompany a remarkable painting by visual artist Glori Tuitt.
This collaboration is of particular importance to us in light of New York City Council’s recent awarding of a contract for the construction of four new jails to AECOM, the same conglomerate that won the contract to build a multi-million-dollar police academy here in Chicago. We mourn and celebrate Layleen this month, insisting that the only way toward gender liberation is through prison abolition—which means #NoNewJails!
Look out for our collaboration, as well as those of the other TGNC writers and artists participating in #TDOR2019!