I was glad to join Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Mujahid Farid for a discussion about abolition in September 2016. The conversation was sponsored by Critical Resistance and is now available on video.
I’m excited to share this abolitionist bystander intervention video today.
How can we defend each other? One way is to interrupt racist and transphobic attacks without calling the police (unless you are asked to). This new video has tips for how to respond, and talks about going beyond reacting to individual incidents, and getting involved with organizing for systemic change.
The video is narrated by Aaryn M. Lang, and was produced by friends at Barnard Center for Research on Women – BCRW and Project NIA, including Lewis Wallace. It’s part of a broader pre-inauguration collaboration with Mariame Kaba (me), the American Friends Service Committee, Showing up for Racial Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, Black Lives Matter and a bunch of individual teachers and librarians around the country to create and distribute cultural responses to white supremacy and rising racist violence.
Watch and most importantly share the video far and wide. It’s a great resource.
Also there is an accompanying arts-based curriculum that can be accessed here.
I don’t have time to blog anymore. I’m working all of the time and my life is in transition. I miss the daily practice of blogging. I hope to get back to it in a few weeks.
This Wednesday marked the 1 year anniversary of Marissa Alexander’s release from prison into a 2 year sentence of home confinement/probation. She has one more year to go before she can claim more freedom. For the occasion, Marissa recorded a message to her supporters to update us on how she’s been faring. Watch her message below.
Regular readers of this blog know that I spent many months working to help #FreeMarissa as part of the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (CAFMA), a group that I co-founded. As a way to honor Marissa and to lift up the organizing of CAFMA, my friend Tom Callahan and I produced a short film that we released on Wednesday afternoon. Watch it below.
I am so grateful that Marissa is out of prison. I look forward to next year when she is free from home confinement and probation. I am grateful to the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign and to everyone who came together to make sure that Marissa could be with her children and family. Thank you.
Students from the Village Leadership Academy in Chicago did some research on the use of tasers by police. They produced the following video that tasers are in fact lethal weapons. They suggest that Chicagoans call Mayor Rahm Emanuel to insist that he not invest millions of dollars to outfit CPD as a “reform” to oppressive policing.
I just came across this wonderful new song and video by Taina Asili called “Freedom.” Watch it, it’s beautiful and makes connections between oppressive policing and mass incarceration
I spent part of this year co-curating an exhibition titled “Blood at the Root: Unearthing Stories of State Violence Against Black Women & Girls.” The exhibition focuses our attention on the fact that all #BlackWomensLivesMatter and all #BlackGirlsLivesMatter. Relying on various artifacts, we narrate the experiences and resistance of Black women and girls (trans and non-trans) who have been brutalized, imprisoned and killed by the state and its agents.
Special thanks to my friend Gretchen Hasse for documenting Blood at the Root which closed at the end of October.
Video documentation of a 96 Acres Project event through a two-part projected animation loop. Two animations were projected onto the Cook County Jail Wall by artists examining the effects of incarceration. These humanizing and personal stories depict both sides of the wall—from the perspective of a family and those behind bars. “Letters Home” describes a story between a daughter and her incarcerated father, told through his letters over a ten year period and narrated by the daughter, Melissa Garcia. Artists Hector Duarte, Susan Mullen, Melissa Garcia, and Claudia Rangel collaborated to produce an animation that describes the tension and difficulties within a family experiencing a sense of loss. In collaboration with the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, we also projected “Freedom/Time” by artists Damon Locks, Rob Shaw, and eleven incarcerated men at Stateville Correctional Center. They explored the idea of time and notions of freedom through original hand-drawn animations. With intermissions of youth-generated text by by Yollocalli Arts Reach.
96 Acres is a series of community-engaged, site-responsive art projects that involve community stakeholders’ ideas about social and restorative justice issues, and that examine the impact of incarceration at the Cook County Jail on Chicago’s West Side. 96 Acres uses multi-disciplinary practices to explore the social and political implications of incarceration on communities of color. Through creative processes and coalition building, 96 Acres aims to generate alternative narratives reflecting on power and responsibility by presenting insightful and informed collective responses for the transformation of a space that occupies 96 acres, but has a much larger reaching outcome.
For more information: 96acres.org or contact Maria Gaspar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Documentation by Scrappers Film Group.
Below is a new animated video by Storycorps.
“Alex Landau, an African American man, was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn’t matter. But when Alex was pulled over by Denver police officers one night in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world—and nearly lost his life. Alex tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, what happened that night and how it affects him to this day.”
In this short film, Landau and his mother, Patsy, remember that night and how it changed them both forever. “For me it was the point of awakening to how the rest of the world is going to look at you,” Landau says. “I was just another black face in the streets.”
“The Equal Justice Initiative released Slavery to Mass Incarceration, an animated short film by acclaimed artist Molly Crabapple, with narration by Bryan Stevenson. The film illustrates facts about American slavery and the elaborate mythology of racial difference that was created to sustain it. Because that mythology persists today, slavery did not end in 1865, it evolved. Its legacy can be seen in the presumption of guilt and dangerousness assigned to African Americans, especially young men and boys, the racial profiling and mistreatment that presumption creates, and the racial dynamics of criminal justice practices and mass incarceration.”
“William Koger lives in Washington, D.C., with his mother, Sandra, and three boys: Isaiah, 11, Demetri, 10, and Deshawn, 8. But it is the absence of their mother, Sherrie Harris — who is serving a long-term sentence at Hazelton Penitentiary, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia — that looms over the household. William took on the unexpected role of primary caregiver to all three children, including one stepchild, but he has been in and out of jobs and in and out of prison himself. After being injured in a serious car accident, he is now unemployed and often in severe pain. The family is stretched financially and often unable to afford food or medicine. The children are emotionally scarred by their mother’s absence and sometimes withdraw into their shells or act out. Only when pressed do they express their intense yearning for their mother to come home, rejoin the family, and provide them with the maternal love they are missing. Sherrie Harris has been incarcerated since 2006 and is scheduled to be released in 2017.
This piece is part of a much larger multimedia project, titled Locked Apart, that includes multiple families in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge that family members of offenders are among those who are victimized when a crime occurs. Like the voices of crime victims and their families, the voices of offenders’ family members should be heard.”
Watch this video.