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Over time, Backwater Bay will explore many issues, questions, and directions related to transformative justice, so visit us periodically to see what’s new.
Coming to Backwater Bay: ecological/environmental justice and more!
Backwater Bay encourages you to imagine justice as shared well-being.
And to imagine the work of creating justice as the active pursuit of individual, interpersonal, and collective well-being within a dynamic framework of interdependence.
Imagine that justice comes into being or is shattered in the context of relationships. Racial/ethnic, gendered, economic, cultural, and ecological/environmental relationships. Relationships – often overlapping and mutually reinforcing – that exist at the intersections of all of these factors plus age, reproductive politics, disability, tribal affiliations and sovereignties, national borders, and more. And, yes, across species as well.
Imagine justice practices that interrupt and confront harms inflicted not by public and private institutions, not only by individuals. Justice practices that strengthen the idea of accountabilities as a means of addressing and repairing/redressing harms. That supports healing for all who have been harmed.
Imagine that society’s sense of justice and how to pursue it no longer exists within a bleak framework of fear, retribution, policing, surveillance, and punishment. Imagine a justice that no longer elevates the status of property over all other factors, including lives and entire ecologies. Imagine a justice that doesn’t promise an illusory “safety,” secured by guns, riot gear, extrajudicial killings, and armored machines. Imagine safety as a function of accountable, just, and life-gving relationships – interpersonal, community based, and institutional.
Transformation involves simultaneous processes of deconstructing what is harmful and unjust while actively working to till the civic ground so that new, more life-affirming practices can take root. That process takes time. It never happens all at once.
We begin by offering a few resources this area. More will follow, over time.
Uprooting Structural Violence & Its Legacies
Never imagine that the historic US emphases on policing, surveillance, prisons/punishment, and systems of coercion, control, and caging are inevitable, permanent, or liberatory.
Are Prisons Obsolete, by Angela Y. Davis (Seven Stories Press, 2005)
This concise argument for the abolition of prisons as a civic institution and for transformation of society as a whole is a Backwater Bay staple. We recommend it to everyone, all the time.
Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (University of California Press, 2007)
Gilmore never goes for simplistic answers. Her analysis of the actors that have driven the rise of mass incarceration and political reliance on systems of control to address social and economic ills, both urban and rural, is complex, disturbing, and accurate. A clarion call for transformative change.
“Prison Abolition Syllabus,” Black Perspectives, African American Intellectual History Society, November 2016
You’ll find listings and links here to so many relevant topics, from the colonial settler/chattel slavery past to the queer and gendered (well…almost) present.
Breaking Down the Prison Industrial Complex Video Project, Critical Resistance
Want to know what the (ever-evolving) prison industrial complex is and how it functions? And how people are organizing to dismantle it and reduce (with the intention of ultimately eliminating) its massive harms? Check out this series of short videos featuring people who have been working for transformative change for a long time. Be sure to check out other resources linked to on the site page.
The vision of Critical Resistance “is the creation of genuinely healthy, stable communities that respond to harm without relying on imprisonment and punishment. We call our vision abolition, drawing, in part from the legacy of the abolition of slavery in the 1800s. As PIC abolitionists we understand that the prison industrial complex is not a broken system to be fixed…Our goal is not to improve the system even further, but to shrink the system into non-existence. We work to build healthy, self-determined communities and promote alternatives to the current system.”
Community Accountability & Transformative/Healing Justice
“Resources for Addressing Harm, Accountability and Healing,” compiled by Critical Resistance.
How does accountability differ from retributive justice? Why is it a more promising approach to addressing harms and the legacies of harm? Many different groups and organizers have been doing just that.
TransformHarm.org is a resource hub about ending violence. It offers an introduction to transformative justice. Created by Mariame Kaba and designed by Joseph Lublink, the site includes selected articles, audio-visual resources, curricula, and more. Subject areas include transformative justice, healing justice, restorative justice, abolition, community accountability, and carceral feminisms.
Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power, by Ann Russo (NYU Press, 2018)
This important book explores accountability as a framework for building movements to transform systemic oppression and violence without reproducing those same systems. Asking readers to consider the ways that our own behavior might contribute to interlocking systems of oppression, the author links analysis of anti-racist work with community accountability and transformative justice.
The Practices We Need: #metoo and Transformative Justice, Part 2, How to Survive the End of the World Podcast
Hosts Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown talk with transformative justice practitioner Mariame Kaba and get their “minds blown with frameworks and breakthroughs on how to really address harm and grow beyond it.” Just one of many series podcasts that delve into the question of survival and the community practices needed “to move through endings and to come out whole on the other side, whatever that might be.”
Domestic, Intimate Partner, Sexual & Other Interpersonal Violence
Survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence and their supporters seek to address that violence in ways that don’t rely on policing, imprisonment, and the legal criminal punishment system. Why? Because, for many reasons, that system is incapable of producing justice. Most often, it punishes many of the same women – especially women of color – who also bear the brunt of raced – and classed – state violence.
These groups and resources challenge us to expand our justice imaginations and practices in ways that promote social justice, liberation, and transformation – transformation for individuals, families, communities, societies.
Survived and Punished is a national organizing initiative formed by a coalition of feminist anti-prison advocates and defense campaigns to build a larger movement to end the criminalization of survivors of domestic and sexual violence, to support criminalized survivors, and to abolish gender violence, policing, prisons, and deportations. Check out the collective organizing efforts, resources, and cultural links on the site.
This volunteer-led and run grassroots organization operates within an abolitionist framework to support people who identify as women and gender non-conforming persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence. Their right to self-defense is supported, even as members work, through love, towards healing and transformation with these individuals and their families.
Ending Child Sexual Abuse: A Transformative Justice Handbook, by generationFIVE, 2017
In relationship and conversation across movements, generationFIVE published an approach to respond to and prevent child sexual abuse and other forms of violence that puts transformation and liberation at the heart of the change. It is an approach the looks at the individual and community experiences as well as the social conditions. It seeks to integrate both personal and social transformation.
Dedicated to ending child sexual abuse and adult rape within a framework of transformative justice and healing, this initiative asserts that “accountability is a radical form of love.” It examines ways in which the silence around child sexual abuse in the familial institution plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions– religious, academic, activist, political and professional. Created by child sexual abuse (CSA) and adult rape survivor, award-winning filmmaker/cultural worker, and international lecturer Aishah Shahidah Simmons.
Creative Interventions works to create community-based options for interventions to interpersonal violence by providing collective, creative, and flexible resources and tools which take into account the realities and resources of different situations and communities. With an emphasis on bringing knowledge and power back to those closest to and most impacted by violence, Creative Interventions works to break isolation and clear the path toward holistic, viable, and sustainable systems of violence intervention and community health. While Creative Intervention is open to all, priority communities are communities of color, including its immigrant and LGBT/queer communities.
Don’t forget to download the final version of their signature publication – either the entire document (608 pages!) or by section: Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence. A book version is planned but not yet available.
The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) is an Oakland, CA-based community collective of individuals working to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse. The Collective promotes meeting of immediate needs (stopping violence as it occurs, securing safety, and taking accountability for harm) as well as preventing future violence and harm by actively cultivating healing, accountability, and resiliency for all – survivors, bystanders, and those who have abused others. BATJC publishes an outstanding list of useful resources.
Immigration and the US-Mexico Border
Backwater Bay believes that no human being is illegal. And we declare for open borders. We actively resist efforts to criminalize immigrants; to detain and deport them; to separate children from their parents; to permit indefinite detention of children with their parents. Today, even as so many here and across the US – indeed, around the world – fight against authoritarian, racist, gendered, ethnocentric, and xenophobic violence directed toward immigrants – individuals and families – we also work toward a new vision of a just society devoid of white nationalism, other supremacist ideologies, and oppressive border policies and practices.
In reality, these borders do not provide “safety” for anyone. Rather, they constitute the violent psychic boundaries of a longstanding white supremacist/white nationalist fever dream.
Here are a few resources to start; more will be added as time goes on, and in time, Backwater Bay will add a more expansive section on the broader subject of Migration.
We Fell in Love in a Hopeless Place: A Grassroots History from #Not1More to Abolish ICE, by Tania Unzueta, Maru Mora Villalpando, and Angélica Cházaro. June 29. 2018
Backwater Bay fell in love with this account of how “a motley crew of undocumented people, women of color, queers, and grassroots organizers first pushed forward the demand for ‘not one more deportation,’ prefiguring the current moment.”
Seeing Dystopia and Dreaming Abolition at the US-Mexico Border , by Gabriel Solis. July 6, 2018
The author says: “We are brought to this work because we firmly believe the world we seek is one free from the dystopia of racial capitalism, garrison states and internment camps. And a world free from prisons, borders and the fascist pendejadas of la polimigra (i.e. the fascist nonsense of ICE, the police and the Border Patrol) is ultimately the one we all deserve.”
This leading Latinx racial justice organization images a movement that is “not just Pro-Latinx…but pro-Black, pro-Woman, pro-queer, pro-poor because our community is all that and more.” Action resources. Download a copy of Free Our Future: An Immigration Policy Platform for Beyond the Trump Era. https://mijente.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Mijente-Immigration-Policy-Platform_0628.pdf
RAICES – Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
RAICES provides on the ground services and advocacy for immigrants and refugees throughout Texas. Has helped play a leading role in working to unite parents and families separated by Trump administration policies.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. According to their vision statement, “The abolition of immigration detention is part and parcel of struggles against racism, xenophobia, discriminatory policing, and mass incarceration and our aims coincide with these broader struggles against racialized oppression.”
We need to uproot not only the violence of prisons, but all forms of systemic violence, coercion, and control. There are many ways of imprisoning human beings. These resources carry us into the heart of the countless ways in which reproductive politics influence just about everything. Here’s some serious grist for transformative justice imaginations.
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, by Dorothy Roberts (Vintage, 1998)
This is a groundbreaking examination of the systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies from slavery to coercive public sterilization programs – a subject often missing from larger justice discussions.
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction, by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger (University of California Press, 2017).
Part of a UC Press series on Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century, this book places women of color at the center of an analysis that brings race, class, gender, and disability into the analysis and visions for transformative change.
How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump, by Laura Briggs (University of California Press, 2018)
Ever think about ways in which racist images and narratives about reproduction are deployed to push broad neoliberal policies that harm most households, gut social safety nets and public services, and stoke anti-immigrant fervor? Briggs has.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is a broad-based, national, interfaith movement that brings the moral force of religion to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice through education, prophetic witness, pastoral presence and advocacy. Its forerunner, the Clergy Consultation Service, was working to help women before Roe v. Wade.
Art & Cultural Resources
Art & Graphics for Climate Change Activism
These resources are made available or linked via 350.org. This organization uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries.
Graphics & Visuals (Style Guide, Logos, and Resources)
Social Justice Art
Micah Bazant is a trans visual artist who works with social justice movements to reimagine the world. They create art inspired by struggles to decolonize ourselves from white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and the gender binary.
Alternatives to Policing Posters/Flyers
Luna Syenite, the creator says: “These posters require us to imagine a better world, one in which the resources people need in order to address the root causes of violence and harm (oppression, exploitation) are collectively provided: free housing, free healthcare, and the preservation of our planet; and white supremacy is eliminated…Any of the solutions named in the graphics could be enacted in oppressive ways. In order for these solutions to be implemented in the way they were imagined, the people implementing them must do so with an anti-oppressive (empowering) lens, outside of the systems and institutions currently oppressing people. I highly recommend anyone considering replacing policing, study Transformative Justice and its principles, study the work of anti-oppressive community.”
(NOTE: As envisioned here, the emergency number is imaginal. It is not connected in reality to these services.)
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