What I’m reading today, june 14, 2020

The ‘Say Her Name’ Movement Started for a Reason: We Forget Black Women Killed by Police/ Precious Fondren

Since Floyd’s death, there have been uprisings around the country. There’s also been an influx of people using hashtags like #SayHisName and #SayTheirNames to remember the names of other male victims of police violence. While everyone deserves to be honored and remembered, especially when they are being murdered at the hands of those sworn to protect us, it should be noted that such hashtags muddle the very reasoning behind the creation of the #SayHerName.

Conceived in 2014 by the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, the #SayHerName hashtag was meant to amplify the names and narratives of Black women and girls who have also been the victims of police killings; people simply couldn’t name them the way they can name Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, or Freddie Gray.

#SayHerName is not just a catchy hashtag. It’s a literal demand. To be frank, there’s no equivalent need for a #SayHisName or #SayTheirNames. We know them. It’s time we put just a fraction of our energy into commemorating the lives of Black women — even if it’s simply noting who they were.

Links to More Sources

The Case for Abolition: Ruth Wilson Gilmore

What I’m Listening to Today, June 10, 2020

The Intercept podcast, interview with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, part 1: Ruth Wilson Gilmore Makes the Case for Abolition

Gilmore is one of the world’s preeminent scholars on prisons and the machinery of carceral punishment and policing. In this discussion, she offers a sweeping and detailed analysis of the relentless expansion and funding of police and prisons, and how locking people in cages has become central to the American project. Gilmore offers a comprehensive road map for understanding how we have arrived at the present political moment of brutality and rebellion, and she lays out the need for prison abolition and defunding police forces.

Gilmore’s definition of racism

The state sanctioned and/or extra legal production and exploitation of group differentiated vulnerability to premature death.

abolition must be green and red and international

Abolition has to be green. It has to take seriously the problems of environmental harm, of environmental racism, environmental degradation. To be green it has to be red. It has to figure out ways to generalize the resources needed for well-being for the most vulnerable people in our community which then will extend to all people. And to do that, to be green and red, it has to be international.

An Economy of Care Not Punishment

What I’m Reading Today, June 9, 2020

What We Want is Black Life Affirmed / Patrisse Cullors

shift priorities–defund police, invest in public care systems

Communities from across the globe are demanding the immediate defunding of police and a reallocation of those dollars to building out an adequate public health care system. As Black folks are dying from COVID-19, city, county, state and federal budgets have prioritized the over-funding of law enforcement while defunding or underfunding critical social services.

people over profits

We need to invest in an infrastructure that values people over profits. 

we should be investing in housing that is accessible across the board. There is growing need for an infrastructure that addresses the needs of people with mental health issues—let’s invest in an infrastructure that doesn’t incarcerate but actually treats people with mental illness with dignity and respect. Let’s invest in infrastructures that are sustainable and don’t plunder the earth or exploit the living organisms in it.

defund = de-prioritize = decenter

We have to defund the police because law enforcement should not be our first responders to everything.

redefine safety as a collective action

Abolition inspires us to redefine safety as a collective action. The prison reform scholar Ruthie Gilmore argues that abolition is about presence not absence—about building life-affirming institutions.

black life affirmed means

Black life affirmed means the investment in our well-being—our mental health, physical health, spiritual health. It means we get to see our parents grow old alongside us. Black life affirmed means that we are given the resources we need to heal generational trauma and addiction. Black life affirmed means we get to work in jobs that offer a livable wage, live in equitable homes, and eat healthy foods that prolong our lives. Black life affirmed means that our people and our culture are not simply an accessory but are valued as an integral asset to this country. 

Minneapolis and George Floyd

What I’m reading today, June 8, 2020:

Letter from Minneapolis: Why the Rebellion Had to Begin Here/Su Hwang

First and foremost, we occupy stolen Dakota and Ojibwe land, and the largest mass execution in US history occurred in 1862 when 38 Dakota men were publicly hanged. Since then, government officials and shady developers have sanctioned the destruction of predominantly ethnic neighborhoods for white capitalistic agendas, reinforcing a passive-aggressive culture of exclusion and double standards. Fast forward to the present: Minnesota ranks second in the nation for worst median income and homeownership gaps between white and black residents, and is 45th out of 51 states when it comes to racial integration––making it one of the most segregated states in the entire country. The MPD continues to kill Black Minnesotans at an alarming rate and with total impunity because of unapologetic racists at the top like Bob Kroll, president of the police union, and Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman. Don’t even get me started on incarceration rates for people of color in Minnesota. And as of last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were at least twelve known hate groups operating within state lines. 

Let’s be very clear: Minneapolis and St. Paul, so-called bastions of white liberalism, are under attack. We are in the crosshairs of boogaloos and other rogue white nationalist maniacs looking to fan hate and fear, but what they don’t realize is that legions of lovers and fighters have been laying the groundwork toward resistance and true equity for generations. From the outside looking in, the depth and breadth of these sweeping changes may seem radical in their swiftness, but they are the result of decades of community-based activism by BIPOC individuals, collectives, and organizations working tirelessly to dismantle white supremacy in Minnesota for a very long, long, long time. Also, youth movements including nonprofit media collectives like Unicorn Riot have been instrumental in disseminating the truth. So, as much as we ache for the destruction of cultural landmarks and essential businesses in our backyards––the traumatic toll yet to be fully processed––groups of visionary artists, civil servants, activists, healers, and builders are already on the scene. They’ve been here all along.

Notes on George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis/Danez Smith

Already, the people out of whom capitalism would make an unmemorable meal are flocking to defend the brands. These people find their rage in the disruption of their comfort. “Won’t someone please think of the Arby’s?” seems like a very weird place to put your concern. What America are you mourning? Target wasn’t in the fields, cotton-bloodied hands. Walmart never hung from a tree.

Decades of tensions between Minneapolis police and Black communities have led to this moment/Kandace Montgomery and Miski Noor

Racism in the Minneapolis Police Department is far from hidden. A 2007 racial discrimination lawsuit brought by Black police officers (including current Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, before he became the branch’s leader) stated that the head of the police union openly wore a white power patch on his motorcycle jacket.

The lawsuit was one of many attempts aimed at curtailing racial discrimination against Black cops and, presumably, angling for a better relationship with the Black community. Other changes have included the appointment of Janee Harteau, an openly gay woman, as police chief in 2012 and a review from President Obama’s Department of Justice. There was also the settlement that led to trainings to prevent police from holding detained people in prone positions — the very tactic that Derek Chauvin used that appears to have killed George Floyd. In 2018, under pressure from community groups Black Visions and Reclaim the Block, Minneapolis City Council shifted $1.1 million from MPD and reallocated it toward community-based public safety initiatives.

But even with all the work that has gone into fighting to end the culture of racism in the MPD, police are still killing Black people — and the city has reinvested in their service. In December of 2019, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and our city’s leadership used our tax dollars to add $8.2 million to the police department’s budget, making it a total of $193 million pulled from our pockets for 2020. 

Our city’s choice to invest in a police department drenched in racism instead of the well-being of Black communities has been a death sentence for our family members, friends, and neighbors. We are left to grapple with where to go from here. How do we find safety in our city and in our homes? How do we find a future for our children? We’ve tried reform. Now we need a radical shift.

an economy of care instead of punishment

However, removing public resources and power from the MPD is only one side of the equation. As Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter Global Network co-founder and artist, said, “We must defund law enforcement and reimagine a world that relies on an economy of care versus an economy of punishment.”

against empathy

Just read a great thread about the dangers of empathy. Some important ideas to add to the complicated conversation about how to resist.

Stop cultivating empathy. Start cultivating belief:

Cultivate believing victims, who you have been enculturated to believe “probably deserved it”.

Believe Black men–who are not super predators, but humans who are more likely than not to be victims.
Believe Native women–who are not costumes or the past, but both most likely to be harmed by any man, and still here, working for justice for EVERYONE.

Believe Black women–actually believe them, don’t just use them as a hashtag.
Believe Native men, who are probably the most likely to be killed by police.

Believe trans people. Believe queer people. Believe ace people when they tell you they are queer.

Believe disabled people, who are whole entire humans, no matter what we have been socialized to think.
Believe children.

Believe victims.

Stop believing the police. Stop believing men over women, whites over everyone, straight people over queer people, abled people above all.