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CI: Captive Genders ~ Embodying Resistance and Envisioning Safety

September 03, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

 

Captive Genders: Embodying Resistance and Envisioning Safety
by Jed Walsh*

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex has burning cop cars on the cover and incendiary content on every one of its 365 pages to match. Edited by Nat Smith and Eric Stanley, the immensely wide-ranging anthology begins with an introduction by Stanley titled “Fugitive Flesh: Gender Self-Determination, Queer Abolition, and Trans Resistance” and ends with tools and resources for prison abolitionists to use in their organizing. In the acknowledgments, Stanley and Smith say that “writing must always be produced within the context of action. Similarly, action devoid of analysis often makes for shaky ground upon which to build.” This is one of the central tenets of the book, and each contribution to the anthology is very clearly produced from lived experience. Captive Genders urges those who read it to take action as part of movements for queer and trans prison abolition now!

cgCENTERING PRISON ABOLITION IN QUEER AND TRANS MOVEMENTS

One of the most invaluable things to me about Captive Genders is the clarity with which the contributors reject the mainstream LGBT agenda and the entirety of the gay rights movement’s attendant violence and exclusion. In my coming of age years, I’ve watched gay marriage legalized in my home state and increasingly across the country, and I have experienced gay marriage take hold of popular imagination as “the” single LGBT issue. How did it get to be this way? When I was 17 and first getting politicized around opposing the Iraq war, I know that my dreams of social justice were bigger, more colorful, and far more wide-reaching than a single cause like gay marriage. Now as a queer and transgender person and someone working to end prisons, it’s heart-breaking to me to see how far away from my deepest values the gay rights movement has traveled. Luckily, there are increasingly visible examples of queer/trans activists and organizations that are working to oppose all forms of oppression, to reject the prison-industrial complex and the military-industrial complex, and to create livable, healthy communities for all.

The very first piece in Captive Genders succinctly lays out the fundamental differences between mainstream LGBT politics and radical queer/trans justice struggles. In “Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement With Everything We’ve Got,” Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee, and Dean Spade present a chart outlining the current LGBT political landscape that I think is absolutely essential in understanding the limitations of mainstream gay politics (see the chart here: h). The chart has three sections: “big problems” faced by queer/trans people, “official solutions” to those problems from a gay rights standpoint; and “transformative approaches” being used by radical queer/trans organizations.

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Revelations: Stonewall, Legacy

June 29, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

Ten Posts for Sylvia Rivera’s Ten Year Memorial by SRLP’s Reina Gossett
A Woman for Her Time by Riki Wilchins
Leslie Feinberg Interviews Sylvia Rivera

Happy Birthday Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson, by Reina Gossett

No One is Disposable: Everyday Practices of Prison Abolition, Reina Gossett and Dean Spade, Barnard Center for Research on Women and Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Reina Gossett is an artist and activist who works as Membership Director of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Dean Spade is the founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of the Law, and an associate professor at Seattle University School of Law. He is currently a fellow in the Engaging Tradition Project at Columbia Law School.

slice

CI: Justice As Theft

June 11, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Housing, Immigration, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Voting Rights, Workers' Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Justice As Theft: Into the Twilight Zone
by Kay Whitlock

In 2011, Tonya McDowell, a homeless woman from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was charged with first degree (felony) larceny  and conspiracy to commit larceny for enrolling her 6-year-old son in Brookside Elementary School in the community of Norwalk.  Because McDowell and her son did not legally reside in Norwalk, the rationale for the charges was theft of $15,686 in educational costs from the Norwalk public school system. She faced a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. Moreover, McDowell’s babysitter was evicted from public housing because she apparently assisted by providing  false documents necessary for enrolling the young boy.

McDowell and her son are black; the Norwalk public school system is predominantly white – and therefore better funded than the Bridgeport system, in which people of color predominate. Essentially, she was charged with “stealing” a good public education for her son, who is entitled to public education, but not, presumably, a good one.

This prosecution was outrageous, right?  Yes – by any reasonable standard of human decency, anyway. But we live in a societal Twilight Zone in which the often-subterranean currents of the dominant U.S. public imagination respond to virtually all claims to social and economic justice as some form of theft, with all of the dissonance, danger, anxiety, emotional vulnerability, defensiveness, and fury associated with its evocation.

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Revelations: The Mayor of Castro Street

June 01, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, What People are Doing to Change the World

harveymilk

Harvey Milk Stamps ~ Forever 49 cents

n 1977, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, making him one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. His career was tragically cut short nearly a year after he took office, when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated.

The stamp art centers on a photo of Milk taken in front of his camera store in San Francisco. The colors of the gay pride flag appear in a vertical strip in the top left corner.

A commitment to serving a broad constituency, not just gay people, helped make Milk an effective and popular leader. He was an eloquent speaker with a winning sense of humor and was able to build coalitions between diverse groups. His achievements gave hope and confidence to gay people at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility.

Milk believed that government should represent all citizens, insuring equality and providing needed services. In the years since his death, there have been hundreds of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public officials in America. In 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Milk the Medal of Freedom.

Photographer Daniel Nicoletta took the photograph used in the stamp art, which was designed by art director Antonio Alcalá.

The Harvey Milk stamp is being issued as a Forever® stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.

Made in the USA.

Issue Date: May 22, 2014

The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts

CI: For CeCe McDonald – “You Survived”

March 06, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

cece jpgFor CeCe McDonald – “You Survived”
Editors note from nancy a heitzeg

CeCe McDonald is free now. Questions remain as to whether she should have been imprisoned at all, questions which again lead us to ask who legally has a self to defend or ground to stand.  And what are the consequences for those who survive?

Today, I’ll let the artists answer.

Letter to a Minnesota Prison (unplugged)

by Aj McKenna @AnathemaJane
Apples + Snakes & Paul Hamlyn Foundation, commissioned it for @rageandradiate


Democracy Now!
: Black Trans Bodies are Under Attack

“After serving 19 months in prison, the African-American transgender activist CeCe McDonald is free. She was arrested after using deadly force to protect herself from a group of people who attacked her on the streets of Minneapolis. Her case helped turn a national spotlight on the violence and discrimination faced by transgender women of color. In 2011, McDonald and two friends were walking past a Minneapolis bar when they were reportedly accosted with homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs. McDonald was hit with a bar glass that cut open her face, requiring 11 stitches. A brawl ensued, and one of the people who had confronted McDonald and her friends, 47-year-old Dean Schmitz, was killed. Facing up to 80 years in prison for his death, McDonald took a plea deal that sentenced her to 41 months. In the eyes of her supporters, McDonald was jailed for defending herself against the bigotry and violence that transgender people so often face and that is so rarely punished. At the time of the attack, the murder rate for gay and transgender people in this country was at an all-time high. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented 30 hate-related murders of LGBT people in 2011; 40 percent of the victims were transgender women of color. Transgender teens have higher rates of homelessness and nearly half of all African-American transgender people — 47 percent — have been incarcerated at some point.

McDonald joins us on her first trip to New York City. We are also joined by one of her supporters, Laverne Cox, a transgender actress, producer and activist who stars in the popular Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black.” She plays Sophia Burset, a transgender woman in prison for using credit card fraud to finance her transition. She is producing a documentary about McDonald called “Free CeCe.” We also speak to Alisha Williams, staff attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.”

Promotional Trailer for FREE CeCe documentary

This video was created to raise funding for the documentary FREE CeCe please donate to make this film a reality here http://igg.me/at/freececedoc/x/3898742

See: Anti-Transgender Violence: How Hate-Crime Laws Have Failed by Victoria Law
Reconsidering Hate: A Forum on the “Hate” Frame in Policy, Politics and Organizing By Kay Whitlock
Remembering Transgender Victims of Structural Violence by nancy a heitzeg

The Massive Progressive Protest You Didn’t Hear About This Weekend

February 10, 2014 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Fourth Estate, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Tax Policy, Voting Rights, What People are Doing to Change the World, Workers' Rights


Credit: Planned Parenthood

From ThinkProgress:

Somewhere between 80 to 100,000 people from 32 states turned out to protest four years of drastic state Republican initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

The “Moral March on Raleigh,” organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), marched from Shaw University to the state capitol to push back against the “immoral and unconstitutional policies” of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory during the 2013 NC General Assembly session. Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010, legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 95 percent, repealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression efforts, blocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits, and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits.

Activists have gathered at weekly protests, called ‘Moral Mondays,’ in North Carolina since 2013 as a way to give voice to individuals whose rights were under attack by the Republican-controlled legislature. While there were no reported arrests in Saturday’s protest, hundreds of nonviolent protesters were arrested during last year’s Moral Monday events.


More Federal Privileges to Extend to Same-Sex Couples

February 09, 2014 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, LGBTQ

From NYT:

The federal government will soon treat married same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples when they file for bankruptcy, testify in court or visit family in prison.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was preparing to issue policies aimed at eliminating the distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples in the federal criminal justice system, according to a speech given at a Saturday event organized by a prominent gay-rights group.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder’s said.

The changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that Mr. Holder supported.

CI: A World Without Cages ~Thoughts on Vegan, Trans, and Prison Abolitionist Practices

February 05, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Eco-Justice, Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

A World Without Cages: Thoughts on Vegan, Trans, and Prison Abolitionist Practices
by Jed Walsh*

INTRODUCTION

The first time I viscerally felt a connection between prison abolition and the treatment of animals was while listening to the song “The Tigers Have Spoken” by Neko Case. Case sang the words, “They shot the tiger on his chain, in the field behind the cages. He walked in circles ‘til he was crazy, and he lived that way forever.” I started bawling. Earlier that week, I had attended a production of “In the Belly” by RedBird Prison Abolition, a play which had depicted experiences of long-term solitary confinement in US prisons. What I remember most from that extremely powerful and haunting play was a scene of an incarcerated person pacing continually in their cell: muttering, pacing, cursing,  pacing, lashing out at the walls and objects around them, and pacing again. I was shaken by the endlessness, desperation, and madness of the pacing. And when I heard the Neko Case song a few days later, I thought, of course. Of course tigers and incarcerated people experience confinement, isolation, and deprivation in similar ways. How is it that we have refused to acknowledge their common suffering for so long? This essay is for the tigers, for the incarcerated people that I’ve met, and for everyone in cages.

LINKING VEGANISM, TRANS IDENTITY, AND PRISON ABOLITION

Three of my identities are vegan, transgender, and prison abolitionist. I am also white, queer, able-bodied, and raised middle-class. In my life, I’ve found that my veganism, my gender identity, and my abolitionism are linked in how I experience them. But I rarely find political writing or frameworks that explicitly spell out connections between veganism and prison abolition, let alone both of those struggles with transgender liberation. So I’m writing this essay as an intervention and a foray into the kinds of conversations that I want to have all the time.
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