Angela Davis - “Feminism and Abolition: Theories and Practices for the 21st Century”
Angela Davis speaks on Assata Shakur, prison industrial complex, black trans women and TWoC, feminism, and abolitionist organizing.
"Their [TGI Justice Project and Miss Major] work is deeply feminist because they work at the intersection of race, class, sexuality, and gender; and because they move from addressing the individual predicaments of the members of their community—who constitute the individuals who are most harassed by law enforcement, most arrested and incarcerated, and of course they end up primarily in male prisons, especially if they have not undergone gender reassignment surgery, and many of them don’t want to undergo that surgery, and sometimes even if they have undergone that surgery they end up being placed in men’s prisons. And after they are in prison, they often receive more violent treatment by the guards than anyone else, and on top of that they are marked by the institution as targets of male violence. And this is so much the case, that cops so easily joke about their sexual fate in the male prisons where they are usually sent. Male prisons are represented as violent places, but we see, especially by looking at the predicament of trans women, that this violence is often encouraged by the institutions themselves… But on top of this violence, trans women are often denied their hormonal treatments, even if they have valid prescriptions. The point that I’m trying to make is that we learn a great deal about the reach of the prison system, about the nature of the prison industrial complex, about the reach of abolition by examining the particular struggles of trans prisoners, and especially trans women. But perhaps most important of all, and this is so central to the development of feminist abolitionist theories and practices: we have to learn how to think and act and struggle against that which is ideologically constituted as ‘normal.’
"TGIJP shows us that these objects can become something entirely different as a result of our work… It shows us that, the process of trying to assimilate into an existing category in many ways runs counter to the whole effort to produce something radical or revolutionary. And it shows us that we should not try to assimilate trans women into a category that remains the same, but the category itself has to change so it does not simply reflect normative ideas of who counts as women and who doesn’t. But by extension, there’s another lesson, by extension the lesson is ‘don’t even become too attached to the concept of gender.’
As I prepare for a fellowship application, I find myself deeply re-reading “Migrant Imaginaries” by Alicia Schmidt Camacho (LALS 100B circa 2011). It’s incredible how while coming across this literary and theoretical treasure via an on-line search for my lit review, I remember having seen the “luminous Santa Niña de Mochis” as an image that graces the cover of a book already buried in my bookshelf. Years since graduating, years since first leaving to Mexico City, and an entire life living within the borderlands, it is a literal and intellectual unearthing. A wiping away of collected dust of the passage of time, the dimming of college-aged epiphanies, and a re-encuentro with the remnants of the intellectual parlance among compxs. Only that now, post-everything that I’ve lived seen felt and experienced since that time of intellectual incubation, everything is suddenly more illuminated, más tangible, más fuerte. Supongo que de eso se trata la construcción. Como las palabras sirven para articular las experiencias que tejen las teorías, que en alguna vez pudieron articular nuestrxs silencios y ausencias. Y que con la persistencia del tiempo y del viaje podemos borrar hasta las fronteras entre teoría y practica, y fomentar y compartir los aprendizajes del proceso cíclico que se experimenta como andantes de fronteras:
She inhabits the borderlands. She stays, awakens the dead, and tries to “make whole what has been smashed at this unnatural boundary.” Santa Niña de Mochis, “she is the maker of worlds.”
If you see him, please let Cynthia or myself know.
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