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.
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!