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Here you will find all archived articles and posts under the selected category. Thank you for visiting and supporting the movement.

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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CI: Imagination, at the Intersections

January 01, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, 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.

Imagination, at the Intersections
by nancy a heitzeg (h/t Kay Whitlock and Angela Y. Davis)

“This is what we need most in America — truly the entire world — today. Imagination. Religious scholar Walter Brueggemann has called it “Prophetic Imagination.” We need individuals who will not only occupy our streets, but also occupy our future. Brave soldiers of love who are crazy enough to dream of a world with no more war, no more violence, no more oppression based on the way people look, where they are from, or the way they were born.”

~ Charles Howard, Angela Davis: Power to the Imagination

It is 2014. Criminal InJustice is approaching the start of its fourth year of weekly publishing. Much remains unchanged. The US remains the world’s leader in incarceration. Racial disparities in school suspensions/expulsions, stop/frisk, arrest and imprisonment remain. Privatization and profiteering continues apace, with new alliances between old enemies and expansion opportunities in the field of “community corrections” growing. The courts failed us yet again with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, just two examples among many. Perhaps the best overview is just here in the aptly titled 15 Things That We Re-Learned About the Prison Industrial Complex in 2013.

While the past year has brought some slim signs of progress in dismantling the prison industrial complex and its’ feeder – the school to prison pipeline, they are both small and slow. And not enough. Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Marc Mauer, of The Sentencing Project ask this question:

“Can We Wait 88 Years to End Mass Incarceration?”

“We hear less ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric and budget-conscious conservatives are embracing sentencing reforms. The Attorney General has criticized aspects of the criminal justice system and directed federal prosecutors to seek reduced sanctions against lower-level offenders.

In light of this, one would think we should celebrate the new figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing a decline in the U.S. prison population for the third consecutive year. This follows rising prisoner counts for every year between 1973 and 2010. BJS reports that 28 states reduced their prison populations in 2012, contributing to a national reduction of 29,000.Beset by budget constraints and a growing concern for effective approaches to public safety, state policymakers have begun downsizing unsustainable institutional populations. The break in the prison population’s unremitting growth offers an overdue reprieve and a cause for hope for sustained reversal of the nearly four-decade growth pattern.

But the population in federal prisons has yet to decline. And even among the states, the trend is not uniformly or unreservedly positive. Most states that trimmed their prison populations in 2012 did so by small amounts — eight registered declines of less than 1 percent. Further, over half of the 2012 prison count reduction comes from the 10 percent decline in California’s prison population, required by a Supreme Court mandate.

Given recent policy changes, why has there been such a small reduction in the number of people held in prisons? First, many sentencing reforms have understandably focused on low-level offenders.But most significantly, policymakers have neglected the bulk of those who are in state prisons: an aging population convicted of violent crimes or repeat offenses.

Certainly the changing climate, new policies, and recent prisoner counts offer reason for encouragement. But unless we want to wait 88 years to achieve a sensible prison population, we need to accelerate the scale of reform.”

We don’t have time to wait. Throughout our existence, we at CI have tried to illuminate the issue with data, statistics, the cold facts, and yes stories too, to  illustrate, increase the awareness needed as a foundation for change. This is no longer enough either. We know what the issues are. As co-editor Kay Whitlock has long argued, what we need to do is to imagine – dream a bolder vision.

And so we will. At the intersections.

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CI: Victim Blaming, Backlash, and Distractions

October 23, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, Military Industrial Complex, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex

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.

Victim Blaming, Backlash, and Distractions
by nancy a heitzeg

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, first observed in 1987. The month will remind us of many horrific statistics ( high-lighted throughout), call us to Stop the Violence!, offer a few words of advice, and create some short-lived solidarity.

dv2Then we move on – to the next Steubenville, the next Maryville, the next Marissa Alexander.

Frankly, I am tired of “months” that come and go decade after decade, with little sustained attention to real change. I am tired of “solutions” that focus on the criminalization of individual perpetrators and merely cosmetic law enforcement efforts that ultimately make matters worse. I am tired of the denial of the toxic structural and cultural forces that shape and sustain violence, including that perpetrated by the state. I am tired of the sensationalistic media focus on select cases, almost always with some eventual blaming and shaming of the victims themselves, as if they were responsible for their own assault and abuse.

What is required is this: an acknowledgement that we swim in a violent structural and cultural milieu which harms us all — women, men children.  What is required is this: Transforming A Rape Culture .

As Lisa Factora-Borchers  notes:

Rape culture is like smoke.  Insidious, it hangs in the air, getting into everything, staining and deteriorating whatever it touches.  It’s highly adaptive, cunning; clever in its ability to morph into whatever context it is placed.   Rape culture prices and prioritizes human dignity, as if it’s something to earn and not inherent.  Rape culture sets behavioral prescriptions and if one does not adhere to them, they deserve violence or, at the very least, are somehow responsible for it…

Rape culture .. is a deeply engrained and believable operating system in our collective conscience, whispering its influence into every aspect of life, at every stage of personal formation and development.  Rape culture is not a separate culture from the one you and I are living in.  They are one and the same.

And rape culture is more than just sexual violence against women; it is part and parcel of a system of oppression that metes out violence, both interpersonal and structural, across multiple lines of race class and gender difference. It is, at root, about power and raw domination.

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CI: National Week of Action Against School Pushout

October 02, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, 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.

National Week of Action Against School Pushout
by nancy a heitzeg

The school to prison to prison pipeline is the direct result of educational policies and practices that have transformed our schools from sites of opportunity and inclusion into centers of criminalization and exclusion. Over the past two decades, the proliferation of “zero tolerance” policies and an increased police presence at schools have combined to shape the school to prison pipeline via the “criminalization of school discipline.”

dscSchools increasingly criminalize minor disciplinary infractions via zero tolerance policies, have a police and/or security officers (School Resource Officer or SRO) presence for enforcement, and rely on suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor infractions. While these policies were motivated, in part, by the perceived need to increase “safety” and “security”, zero tolerance policies and police in schools have instead increased the risks of criminalization for segments of the student body, particularly students of color who represent the vast majority of students “pushed out” of school. Under-funded public schools, over-extended teachers, and increased pressure from high stakes testing escalate the “pushout’ rate.

But youth and advocates are pushing back. This week marks the 4th Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout organized by Dignity in Schools.

Here is the week so far — we will update :

Follow the links here for additional action options and background materials. Visit Suspension Stories and the Advancement Project for more amazing resources. And, please, Do Whatever you can.

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Revelations: Prophet

September 29, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Intersectionality, LGBTQ, What People are Doing to Change the World