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.
We’re back from our time off, and making the transition to virtual facilitation. As summer arrives, we’re reevaluating how to keep supporting ourselves under drastic new conditions, but have had some amazing encouragement from our friends and community. We led some great remote sessions last month for youth at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, and faith leaders under Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism, and are using these to propel ourselves into new teaching challenges under COVID-19. Continue to hit us up for facilitation, and we can work together to figure out how to gather virtually.
In poetry news, the beautiful bilingual anthology which accompanies the Elements of Vogue exhibit, and which is the first time the script of our performance Dancer As Insurgent has ever been published, is finally out. It will be available in print soon, but for now the PDF is available for free at CA2M’s website. We’re also excited to share that this coming Tuesday, June 9th we will be a featured performer at Young Chicago Author’s (virtual) WordPlay open mic! We’re ecstatic about this opportunity to share some of our in-progress work with younger poets, and discuss police and prison abolition through creative writing during Pride month.
In other positive news, Francisco is free! Francisco Morales Torres whom we profiled a few months ago in Truthout has been released from ICE custody and is home with his family. Support immigrant communities in the Chicago area during COVID-19 by donating to Organized Communities Against Deportations and these other fundraisers.
Lastly, we cannot talk business without also talking about the rebellions sweeping the nation currently. As always, we side with Black lives, the right of oppressed people to protest however they see fit, and the ultimate abolition of police and prisons. As such, we ask you uplift the demand of Black organizers to #DefundPolice at this time. We’ll have some new writing addressing this in the near future, but for now, here are some resources to support the learning of yourself and those around you. Please share widely!
You Are Already an Abolitionist by yours truly
The Pandemic is the Right Time to Defund the Police by Melissa Gira Grant
The answer to police violence is not ‘reform.’ It’s defunding. Here’s why by Alex S. Vitale
The George Floyd Killing in Minneapolis Exposes the Failures of Police Reform by Alice Speri, Alleen Brown, and Mara Hvistendahl
Police abolitionists find fuel in the protests by Maya Dukmasova
In love, solidarity, and rebellion,
Happy May Day! Don’t forget to support striking workers and don’t shop at all today if you can help it, but especially not with Amazon, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Instacart.
Our interview with WNYC’s The United States of Anxiety about our poem 45 Questions to Ask While Waiting and its relevance to life in quarantine is now up, and can be listened to here. Our friends at Museo del Chopo also translated the poem into Spanish, which can be read here.
We have an essay in Out of Print, the brainchild of one of our idols, Chicago emcee Noname. Noname’s Book Club is introducing this new publication, featuring art and writing from members of the club’s various chapters across the country. Our essay, In A Pandemic, Prison Abolition Is Necessary And More Possible Than Ever, delves into what COVID-19 means for the fight to end incarceration, and how the chaos of the moment has also helped prove that grassroots movements’ most radical demands aren’t merely feasible, but practical, and necessary for our collective survival. Look for it in print and online.
In this time of growing fascism, it’s crucial we maintain our practice of hope. One way of doing so is remembering that so many of the authoritarian measures being implemented are in direct response to the radical gains and new possibilities for the revolutionary redistribution of resources that have also been made possible by COVID-19. When it feels like we’re losing, we may just be on the verge of winning.
As Mariame Kaba famously says, hope is a discipline. We hope, wherever you are in this pandemic, you are both making room for your feelings, and finding ways to anchor them in a longterm vision for what this moment is teaching us, the potential for liberation it is also opening up.