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Revolutionary Mothering and Queer Survival

Revolutionary Mothering and Queer Survival


[people chatting] Ok we’re live Gonna refresh my page [people talking] No try it again it might take a second [inaudible talking] [people laughing] [inaudible] [inaudible] Hello everyone [Audience] Hey is this working? [Audience] Yes Can everyone hear me? Great! Ok, So we’re gonna get started In case you don’t know why you are here This is revolutionary mothering: Love on the Front Lines [Audience claps] I’m Erika. I’ve been commissioned last minute to introduce everyone Ah so [Audience: Thank you] So i’m gonna introduce um Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, first and then I’m gonna also read all of the panelist’s bios all at once and then I’m gonna go away. So, Dr. Alexix Pauline Gumbs is a queer black troublemaker a black feminist, love evangelist and a community cherished writer and educator trying to figure out how exactly she is your cousin. [Audience murmurs] Alexis is a co-founder of ubuntu a survivor led coalition to end gender-based violence in Durham North Carolina the founder of the eternal summer of the black feminist mind multiversity and co-creator of the Mobile Homecoming experiential archive amplifying generations of queer black brilliance Alexis earned her PhD. in English, African studies and feminist studies from Duke University in 2010 and is widely published scholar in the areas of black feminism, mothering and Caribbean literature. She is an award winning poet and author and among other honors has been recently been featured in Best American Experimental Writing anthology. Alexis is the co-editor of the Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines and the author of Spill: Scenes of black feminist fugitivity And full disclosure, Alexis is the daughter of a former corporate lawyer who saw the light and became a poet instead. [Audience laughing and clapping] Ah, So next I’ll introduce Priya Rai [Audience cheering] [Priya]: That’s me! is a queer mixed race prison abolitionist who is dreaming wildly and fighting to win She is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law She is dedicated to building power in queer and immigrant communities by mobilizing against violence and through finding transformative community-based solutions to harm She believes in the inherent power of the people and our communities to create a world free of prisons and borders, where no one is disposable. Priya is currently the queer network program coordinator at API Chaya. And then, um unfortunately um Carma Corcoran couldn’t make it due to weather but I mentioned I’m gonna introduce them anyway Carma is the Indian law program coordinator at Lewis & Clark Law School the former board chair of the Red Lodge Transition Services and is completing her PhD. writing on the issue of Native American women and incarceration Next we have, Maru Mora Villapando um, do you want to wave or [Audience laughing] is a [people laugh]… is a mother, activist, undocumented immigrant community organizer, consultant and political analyst with more than 10 years of experience working on immigrant rights and racial justice issues. She is the founder of Latino Advocacy Inc. and a community organizer for Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance the #Not1More deportation campaign and SURGE Reproductive Justice Northwest [Audience claps] Next we have the Lucia Leandro Gimeno [Audience cheers] Um is an Afro-Latinx, trans masculine femme counselor/bruja/organizer a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work He is focused on clinical therapeutic practice within an anti-oppression framework Lucia Leandro lived in New York City for 15 years organizing with queer and trans communities of color He was a founding board member of FIERCE and is former staff of The Audre Lorde Project. Um, Lucia Leandro was part of Ping Chong + Company’s Secret Survivor, a play about adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Currently, the director of the queer and trans people of color Birthwerq Project, an organization dedicated to mending the disconnect between trans justice and reproductive justice, through doula trainings, capacity building and leadership development. Lucia Leandro is also an expert chilaquiles maker, fashion queen and movement builder. Some people say you can even hear his laugh from a mile away. [Audience Laugh] And then finally we have, Victoria Law who is freelance writer and editor she frequently writes and speaks about the intersections between mass incarceration, gender and resistance. Her writings have appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Rewire News, Truthout and Village Voice. She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, which won the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) award. and a co-editor of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities. Her forthcoming book entitled “Your home is your prison” critically examines the ways in which proposed “alternatives” to incarceration expand the carceral system and explores creative and far-reaching solutions to end mass incarceration. She is also the proud parent of a NYC high school student. [Audience applauds] Am now I’m gonna pass it on to Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs [Audience Applauds] Is this picking me up? Yeah, OK. So I’m really excited to be here I’m really excited that ya’ll were unstoppable about being here. I think it’s pretty amazing, I guess our event was clearly too revolutionary for the law school and the whole sky opened up so that it can take place in another context so, thank you. Sky! Um, also I wanna say that I crafted that bio because I was interested in your Dean having to read it out loud [Laughs] But you read it out loud, so, thank you. And I wanna thank IMAP and Outlaws at UW and especially Danny for inviting us to be here [Cheering Danny] I wanna say that the… when we announced the fundraiser for our Revolutionary Mothering tour, Danny you were the first message that we got. like, OK! Can we come do this? like that was the very first thing and that really meant a lot and it still means a lot So I’m glad that this day is finally here and this is happening. And I wanna say explicitly, that during this event and in our collective opinion in all events all the sounds that children make are very welcome in this space. We celebrate that there is at least one child in the room. Maybe other self-identified children that I’m not recognizing [Audience Laugh] And Yeah, I wanted to just start us out with some ancestral remembrance and to remember that we’re on Duwamish land right now and I want us to bring ourselves fully into the space So remembering that we are already in space that’s steeped in centuries of memory and stewardship. Also to bring ourselves in the space with the mantra that I use often and to bring a beloved queer ancestor into the space, Melvin Dixon. Melvin Dixon was a gay author and poet. Black gay author and poet. and this mantra comes from his last public speech that he gave before he died of AIDS in 1992. and throughout his final speech, which was called “I’ll be somewhere listening for my name” He talked about how almost every function of his body had started to fail. And throughout the speech he just said “breathe in, breathe out” And his final words in the speech were “You by the possibility of your good health and the broadness of your vision are charged to remember us” So, I wanted us to really remember that we’re in here because of generations of struggle, resilience, bravery and we’re bringing multitudes with our breathing into this space. So if y’all could just repeat with me these words [breathes in] we will say it about 9 times breathe in, breathe out, remember us [Audience joins] breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us breathe in, breathe out, remember us last time breathe in, breathe out, remember us thank you and one more thing, i wanted to ask you to do is to invite you to dedicate your participation in this space to somebody who is not of your generation and maybe possibly from a later generation than you. and if you could just tell somebody sitting near you maybe not the person that you came with maybe someone you haven’t talked to ever in your life tell them who you are bringing into the space who’s not physically in the space that you are dedicating your participation to you hope that your participation would benefit them So let’s just take a moment and just find somebody near you and let them know the name of somebody you are bringing into the space [Audience chats] Okay! has everyone had a chance to bring someone into the space yes wonderful! so I’m gonna actually share an excerpt from a short story that I wrote in this wonderful anthology activities brood [Audience cheers] Science fiction from social justice movements And the story…the story is called Evidence By reading past this point you agree that you are accountable to the council you affirm our collective agreement that in the time of accountability the time past law and order the story is the storehouse of justice You remember that justice is no longer punishment You affirm that the time of crime was an era of understanding and stunted revolution. We believe now in the experience of brilliance on the scale of intergalactic triumph. Today, the evidence we need is legacy. May the public record show and celebrate that Alandrix consciously exist in an ancestral context. May this living textual copy of her digital compilation and all its future amendments be a resource of Alandrix, her mentors, her loved ones and partners, her descendants and her detractors to use in the ongoing process of supporting her just intentions. We are grateful that you’re reading this. Thank you for remembering. With love and what our ancestors called, “faith” the intergenerational council of possible elders. Exhibit B B is for Brilliant Letter from Alandrix, age twelve, sent via skytablet during dream upload, third cycle of the facing moon, receipt unknown Ancestor Alexis, I’ve heard about you. I’ve even read some of your writing. Everyone says I have an old soul, and I’m really interested in what it was like back when you lived. It seems like people were afraid a lot. Maybe every day? It’s hard to imagine, but it seems that way from the writing. I have to remember that one knew things would get better and that even people who were working to make it happen Had to live with oppression everyday. I read your writing and the writing of your other comrades from that time and I feel grateful. It seems like maybe you knew about us. It feels like you loved us already. Thank you for being brave. I’m twelve and last year I did a project for our community about your time, the time of silence-breaking. I made a poster and everything and an interactive dance. A friend of mine did one one the second abbreviated ice age instigated by oil on fire, but I thought writing about the time of silence-breaking would be harder. The ice continents were in your imaginations, the limits of your memory melted, you spoke about the hard things and you could see your own voices. It must feel almost like a force of nature when you live. I’m 12 and you would have thought of me as part of your family, even though now we do family differently; We have chosen family now, so maybe we would just become comrades if you lived here in this generation. Who knows? But I think that if you met me, you would feel like we have some things in common. I’m a poet and I use interactive dance so maybe you would chose me as family. I know I would chose you. You could have been at my wow kapow ritual that happened recently. In our community, 12 is an important accountability age. We named this ritual for how it feels in our bodies around now. Wow kapow. I think you used to call it the pituitary gland. We are here five generations after you and a lot has happened. A lot of the things that used to exist when you were 12 and even when you were 28 don’t exist anymore People broke a lot things other than silence during your lifetime. And people learnt how to grow new things and in new ways. Now we are very good at growing. I am growing a lot right now and everyone is supportive of growing time, which includes daydreams, deep breaths and quiet walks. No one is impatient while anyone else is growing. It seems like people are going all the time in different ways. It was great to learn about you and a time when whole communities decided to grow past silence. It is hard to read about the fact that sexual abuse, what we would now call the deepest violation of someone else’s growing, used to happen all the time. It is hard to imagine what it felt like for people to walk around with all that hurt from harming and being harmed. But I can tell from the writing that people were afraid so much. History was so close. But the amazing thing is how people spoke and wrote and danced anyway. Imagine being afraid to speak. Anyway. I wanted to say thank you. Now in the 5th generation since the time of the silence breaking we are called hope holders and healers. There are still people doing a lot of healing but it seems like generation after generation people got less and less afraid. People took those writings and started to recite them and then another generation hummed them and then another generation clicked their rhythms and then another generation just walked them with their feet and now we just breathe it, what were you saying before about how love is the most powerful thing. About how everything and everyone is sacred. I read a really old story where the character believed that time travel was dangerous because if you change one thing in the past, the whole future changes and then you might never get born. But, I am still here writing this. so I think it’s okay to tell that everything works out. That it’s okay. That it’s not easy all the time, not even here, because so much has been broken, besides silence, but it is possible, it feels possible. Me and my friends feel possible all the time. Remember that you all were part of us all learning how to do it And most…take it for granted. Except poets like me. I remember you. I feel it. Wow. Kapow. love, alandrix. So I wanted to start there because you all brought folks who are from a different generation than you and we also are connected to people in generations that we won’t need and that we won’t see. But I wanted to really honor the fact that Maybe this is the time of the silence breaking and how is it that what we’re able to do this in this time how brave we’re able to be in this time how this time and actually every time is that we live in inter generational time what we do and what who we are matters and also what we think life is and how we understand it and what we say also matters intergenerationally. So, this is was gonna be happening in the law school and the most fortified protected and harmful intergenerational narrative we have about life is actually US law, itself. which is actually intergenerational story across time written by and for racist white men who in fact wrote racism and whiteness into the definition of what it is to legally be a person. And it’s a story that lawyers and legislators do interpretive work with but actually have not ever revised. It’s a story where it almost always seems like me and the people who I love are the villains in the story if not then the page itself that the law tramples over with its writing. But the law is not the only intergenerational narrative Part of why I shared part of a scifi short story is that I want to put the law in its place It is just a story. The fact that it is the favorite story of the people who it privileges and the fact that it’s the story enforced by the possibility of state violence every second of the day does not mean that it is true. And it also does not mean that it is the most powerful story that I have access to. There are other intergenerational stories. In fact there are infinite intergenerational stories and systems There are narratives that precede and as I imagine, in Evidence, narratives that will outlive the story of law and order. which is a story that creates chaos for so many of us and pretends that it does not. It is a speculative story that creates futures that will not be accountable to. It is a story always flexible enough to lie to itself. It’s the story that closes its eyes and has nightmares. We are actually those nightmares. Sometimes I like to think that poetry is the nightmare of the law and as was said earlier, I am a daughter of a lawyer who became a poet But by poetry I mean that unstoppable and beautiful set of repeating transforming attempts we make at being present with each other for real present with each other beyond the languages that we know and the systems that are supposed to do our relating for us so we don’t have to. And poetry is a nightmare for the law because the job of the law is to reproduce the state which is the state of genocide. which is why revolutionary mothering is poetic and is also why and in almost every instance revolutionary mothering is illegal. revolutionary mothering what we really mean by creating life for each other as each other as the people who are not supposed to exist and certainly not supposed to share a form of life that the law says we can only own is illegal and queer. It does not reproduce what was. Revolutionary mothering and queer survival are the poetic process that will always exceed the law until we destroy it because our love, rarely legible except in poems, persist no matter what the law says because our love based decisions are evidence that the law can neither fully recognize nor foreclose without the fear based decisions of another potential lover. And what if we are not afraid? what will the law eat? how will the state ever justify itself? I am of the opinion that all the people here and definitely these panelists are poets, especially in relationship to the people that we named in our dedications We want our lives to be written as love accessible across generations as fuel for more love and we write those poems with our daily decisions and you decided to be here. Look at that. Wow. Kapow. We are about to hear from and talk with some folks who have made serious poetic decisions to write love with their lives and I have so much admiration for each of you. I have so much faith in our love and with that the blessing that I could offer We can transition into the rest of our conversations. Thank You [Audience applauds] Oh am I also moderating? ok [People laugh] Here we are, I wish I could have changed my costume too, Um So, um, maybe the place that we could start I was really present when I was thinking about what to say. I was just really present to how inspiring it is that each of you have made decisions love-based decisions of how you related to life of what your organizing work is and maybe you could all talk a little bit about that what inspires you to do that why you are accountable to doing that I know people would be really inspired to hear about that and anyone can start. [People laugh] Well you’re in the middle, so here you go! [inaudible] campus here um So my name is Maru Mora Villapando That’s little Ines..hola um and I’m mentioning this because she’s a very cute baby [people laugh] every body needs to know that. [people laugh] Um…and…I also need to update my bio pic because I have been doing this for more than a few years [inaudible] Um Well I actually, um, as an undocumented immigrant in the united states, I…um… when I had my daughter almost 20 years ago I decided that I couldn’t be silent anymore I couldn’t be hiding in the shadows and although I had some history back in Mexico doing community organizing and political work um…it was very intentional that in order for me to provide what she needed It couldn’t come from the regular environment around me And when 9/11 happened I realized that, even though she was born in the US and she was a US citizen she was the daughter of undocumented Mexicans and therefore, it wasn’t a guarantee for her to to be treated as a US citizen Um…so that was really the push that made me do the work that I’m doing now um, so, yeah, when people ask me, you know why did you start doing this kind of work, was basically my daughter But if you look, as you start doing the work, the more you do it um, you realize that um, especially with people that are incarcerated and the detention center in Tacoma is the same as story, right. People care for each other, people make these decisions all the time…um…to be able to to provide and to fulfill the responsibilities that we know we have as members of our different families So that’s basically I think where it comes from. So who’s next? They all looked at me [People laugh] I think you don’t know this we all had dinner yesterday well, except Maru, Maru wasn’t there We all had dinner yesterday and talked about this and we didn’t go down this road but I feel like I’m gonna answer this very personally Um, so I think you know I work currently at the intersection of like domestic violence, sexual violence and criminalization, working with immigrants, marginalized folks and I think my drive for that really came from my father is an immigrant, he came here from India and I grew up in a really abusive household and I wish, unfortunately it’s like that’s not a unique story right? that’s true for a lot of people and I think as I have gotten older I’ve really been able to see how like the pain of migration and what it means, all the racism all the just horrible, I’m trying not to swear because there are kids here. I’m such a swearer [People laugh] [inaudible] i’ll do my best, ok I’m glad you said something because I’m such a swearer too [both laugh] We shouldn’t be up here together. We will try our best okay. So, yeah like just the pain and rage of lived migration and forced migration, essentially, right like that’s the world that we live in, that’s what capitalism means in this form, that’s what globalization means now. So many people are forced to leave their homes where his family has done the same work for generations and they couldn’t survive doing that anymore Uh, and so he came here and you know we were in a predominantly white town. You know I look pretty white. We would have people stop me when I was a little kid and be like, “are you ok? do you know this person?” I’d be like what? That’s my dad. like, you don’t get it when you’re 4, right you’d be like that’s my daddy, I don’t know what you mean Um, but i think just like the pain and rage of that time..um..was really reflected in the way he dealt with us interpersonally and his other interpersonal relationships [baby makes noise] She agrees…yeah…right I think that that’s not…that’s not at all unique um… And I didn’t really realize that relationships could be different or that they should be different or that they are different and I found myself replicating those kind of relationships in my romantic life too. Um…and I think what really got me to criminalization was, well I mean first I saw so many people in my community just disappeared Ah and also you know basically we deal with all social issues by criminalizing them right? Poverty, homelessness, mental health, issues of..yeah..domestic violence, sexual violence we just say, ok make them a crime and that’s exactly what the domestic violence movement also did ah…you know…40 years ago and there is some power in that, right? it named it as violence and it didn’t even used to be considered violence and it named as a violence But also what that meant is as we invested more and more in just saying call the police, call the police use the criminal system, call the police we lost all the ways that for generations we’ve known how to deal with harm, how to talk to each other and I’m not saying that we did great [inaudible] we didn’t. [audience laugh] it’s not like we were like phenomenal about dealing with it before we turned to the police in the criminal system but we had ways, right? we would keep up with each other we would talk about it as communities I think particularly in like the village that my dad was from or say indigenous communities here and I also, Alexis pointed out But yeah, shout out to the Duwamish and Coast Salish people whose stolen land that we are on right now. Ah…we have ways of dealing with it And it’s become so outsourced right? And now not just to the police, but also to the non-profits and other agencies that get funding from the government to do very specific things so it can control what our movement does and how we act as people and I think so much we’ve lost we don’t even know how to be accountable. [chuckles] I feel like that’s so hard like we really don’t have the skills we’re not taught the skills to be accountable to even know what it means I mean I feel like it wasn’t until I was 25 that even I could articulate what I thought a loving and equitable relationship should be and should look like Ah..and so I think just working at that and we also see by relying so much on the police which obviously doesn’t work right? it doesn’t work for anybody because decades of having that strategy, rates of violence have not gone down and what also it does is it individualizes issues, right? anyone familiar with the law I don’t know how many law people made it to this. We are not UW law anymore, Thank god! [People Laugh] ah…how many law people are here hopefully not that many ah but we except you in the front, ya’ll are great [people laugh] ah what it does right is it inherently individualizes these issues right? it’s about a specific instance like you experience physical violence in this moment this one time. And it divorces it from its entire context. and it takes it totally out of a community setting and it completely ignores state violence. right where we know that like the second most reported form of police violence is sexual violence. where we know how common this issue is I went through my entire time in law school in a super terrible abusive relationship and I never called the police and how privileged could I be right like Native speaker, native english speaker I have citizenship, in law school And I had, I felt like I had no way to deal with that issue I didn’t know where to go, what to do, who to turn to And so I think that’s kind of…that’s really where I got where I am now. So really thinking through how can we go turn back to our communities who have the knowledge that we need We have these generations. one of the things that I think was really beautiful yesterday that we were talking about as we talked a lot about intergenerational trauma which is so real and I don’t think that we do a good enough job talking about like the beauty and the power that we get from our generations before too like that knowledge that we have that how can we work to access it and you know come together and I really think that just being able to transform our friendships and how can we cultivate our relationships where in we can go to someone and be like man, I really think I messed up can we like talk through that? I think that’s like so incredibly transformative and maybe it sounds really simple but it’s hard I mean we’re not given the skills, we’re not taught the skills we need to interact with each other in loving ways I think that there’s so much power in that. oh my god, I talked for so long, I’m sorry But that’s like how I got to where I’m at. [Audience laughs] We [inaudible] those things Thank you. um… What was the question? I am already like present [narrator] your love-based decisions around the work that you’re doing My love-based decisions… [narrator] the beautiful work that you’re doing! um… I think I’m gonna answer that question in a couple of different ways. One, I think like I kind of became a birth worker um…I was gonna say by accident but not because it was something that I thought It was something that I was going to do like I’ve been dealing like um… and I balance work in New York city for a long time specifically in queer trans people of color communities and so both my parents are organizers So I grew up in that culture so the like the I totally hear you around like the lack of tools around how do you have like relationships, this is like I totally feel you um… but about uff like five years ago because I had like never gone to the doctors as like a trans person and I was having all sorts of like reproductive justice issues reproductive issues I like got diagnosed with Endometrial cancer and there was like not a space for me as like a trans person of color to talk about what does it mean that like all of a sudden now I have to immediately make all these like decisions about not being able to have a baby not like that my reproductive life was literally altered because when I was 13, my first encounter with a gynecologist was like horrible and fucked up. so I vowed to like never go again My Taurus stubborn ass decided that I was never gonna enjoy this like experience again and it wasn’t until I was in my first like queer relationship were things was happening and I was like…I think I have to go to the doctor So I like did the like informal trans like what’s the gynecologist that like is gonna see us because there wasn’t any like even in New York City it’s not like there’s like a plethora like people think that having lived in Atlanta where so many like trans women of color move from the south to New York city thinking it’s gonna be a haven I’m just like I don’t know ya’ll like it’s not any more or less safer than it’s down here so even when I was living in New York city trying to find a health care provider that was gonna be attuned to like my…my like specific needs I was lucky to find a dyke gyno who was like super dope, saved my life But the thing that saved my life was that I had this community of like queer and trans people who were like you’re gonna fucking live because LL is not gonna die and so, what happened in that moment was that like I lived, I’m fine. thank god for community But it was like the first time that I got to really experience like this is what it could look like if you have people who have your back who go to the doctors with you to make sure that you literally can access care like I had to encounter all sorts of transphobic things just to get treatment post surgery. that most people would not have been able to access because they didn’t…like when I walked when they wheeled me into the surgery room I literally had my entire family talking about we see him walking down the aisle like looking at the eyes of the surgeons and the nurses being like we’re watching you, we know we got your number and so for me that was like the first time that I got to experience like this world called like a doula life, a community of doulas to like not just support someone having a baby but having a reproductive experience that needed to be emotionally, spiritually and medically supported by a group of people and I think you know often as someone who is you know fundraising to bring specifically to train like trans people of color to be these like support people it’s like the only reason why my organization exists is because like so much of theres so much…there’s so many barriers to just people understanding how to relate to different bodies you know. I had my like dyke gynecologist not said to me hey like literally her first words to me was I’m not a trans health expert but I know that trans masculine people do not go to the doctors so I like don’t see new patients if you say that you’re trans, It was like the first time there was a secret handshake that I knew about as like a trans person [Audience laughs] where my trans guy friend was like whatever you do, when you call the receptionist they’ll say she’s not taking any clients say you’re trans and they’ll see you and literally I was like I need to see so and so and they were like she’s booked, I was like I’m trans they were like, one moment [Audience laughs] Next thing I know I had an appointment and I am here today so…for me it’s …it’s wasn’t even about, I had to move through so much grief and uttering the words of like how much we’re denied as trans people like reproductive like mothering fathering whatever parenting like life because they never, they never once was like oh, maybe we can figure out how to keep some kind of situation or what are you even thinking about your future. They were just like, cancer. You need to live. cut it out like you know just like woah! so for me I am here I choose the love because I want us to live and see that future generation the person that I brought to the space with me is all those like trans kids who I don’t know whether they are my kids in the future the people that I’m never gonna meet but who I know that if I don’t do the work that I’m gonna do that like I’m sure there will always be people who are gonna be doing this work with us this is my contribution for this life. yeah, yeah. wow. [People chuckle] So I came to this work in a different way with not life-threatening um, you know Panelist: good good! Um…[inaudible] [inaudible] Bios earlier…sorry my brain seems to have gone away um…said as I work a lot at the intersections of incarceration, gender, and resistance and I came to this work because when I was high school I went to school in New York city and there’s a system in New York city where at the time where you would go to your zone school. And what ended up happening was that my zone school was the school in which nobody wanted to go to. So if you knew about New York city schools and the kind of resources, you’d borrow an address of somebody to go to a better school you applied for a specialized High School You did anything you could to not go to the school that was over-crowded with black brown immigrant kids where every morning you’re greeted with with like going through a metal detectors, you know, bag through the like airport scanning thing There were a lot of security guards I think at that time at my high school there were like 4000 kids There were 400 kids in my grade only 40 of us graduated that year [People laugh] So it was the kind of school that was the perfect recruiting grounds for gangs, you know because you had kids that didn’t see a future in the educational system and the like you know like the sort of the American dream was not available to them. So if you think back to when you were 14, 15, 16, may be even 17 you know you’re just like Oh…sometimes my decisions weren’t that great you know like, could’ve maybe done something a little better but when you’re 14, 15, 16, 17 and you’re like Whatever, school is not really an option for me you know I see my parents struggling you know with like juggling multiple jobs, raising kids you know we never seem to be getting out of this hole and then somebody comes up to you and is like, you wanna make $200 a night and you’re just like really I can make $200 in a night you know what do I gotta do and it’s like well you know just take this gun and you go over there and you stick, you know, you stick up a restaurant. you take this, you know, you take this and you do that So a lot of my friends were in gangs dropped out of school because that was the way they were going to get out of this hole And then they all got arrested for gang-related activities nobody was like innocent, nobody was you know nobody didn’t do what they said they did everybody did what they got arrested for um, and that was my introduction to jail and prison issues was the fact that suddenly my friends were going to Rikers island for those of you who don’t really know New York city Rikers island is an entire island dedicated to pre-trial detention. So we don’t have money for good schools we have money to like lock people up you know for years you know while they go through the legal system and figure out whether or not they are gonna go to trial or take a plea or what they’re gonna do um… so how many of you have ever visited somebody in jail or prison if you could show of hands, right so when you go…alright! so when you go to visit somebody specially in jail, specially in an over-crowded jail system that has like ten to fifteen thousand people per day you spend a lot of time waiting you know, you get there you put your stuff in a locker you like go through you shake out your bra you like you know you open your mouth you know you shake out your hair you do all these other dehumanizing things and then you get stuck in a room and you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait and you wait. and I would wait 5 hours for my 1 hour visit now you’re not allowed to bring anything with you so can’t like bring a book or a magazine this was in the time I’m gonna date myself before cellphones [audience laughs] you would have loved that but you couldn’t bring it in even if you did so what do you do, you turn around to the person next to you and you are like, so who are you here to see and they are like oh, I’m here to see my husband or brother or my you know my boyfriend or my son and you get into conversations about like why they are there and what I was hearing again and again and again was people were there because they didn’t feel like they had opportunities or resources they were there because you know like they you know they robbed something or they stole something or they you know like they did something related to drugs But it was never like My man stole 5 bizillion dollars ala Bernie Maidoff you know my man chopped up all these people put them in a freezer you know like, I was not hearing that I was not seeing like worst of the worst of the worst it was all people were like, yup, you know like we were struggling, and this and the other and he did this you know now his dumb ass is in jail and here I am you know three times a week at the same time, I was like what is this thing in that’s in my you know suddenly in my life so I started reading about jails and prisons and every thing that I read about like you know like the systemic you know the systemic criminalization of black, brown and poor people were things that I was seeing first hand three times a week in the Rikers waiting rooms. So that kind of what peaked my interest in you know, got me interested in you know doing work around jails and prisons So kind of fast forward a few years later you know my friends have gone upstate to prison you know, um, once I turned 18 I was able to go visit some of them upstate if you try to go visit before you’re 18 you end up being told you can’t go in and we sit on the bus for 8 hours that sucks, don’t do that [people laugh] but, ah, so I went to college you know one of the like few people in my sort of like friends group that went to college and I decided I was going to do a paper on what organizing in prisons look like post 1970’s [baby cries in the background] what happens after all of the liberation movements have been decimated by the FBI and [inaudible] what happens when there isn’t that robust support for people who are organizing inside prisons and at the end of the semester everything I saw was about men I was like, hmm, that’s a little weird. Now there was like 98,000 women in prison in jails at the time All 98,000 of these women sitting on their hands and doing nothing it seemed a little peculiar, you know to say the least [Audience affirms] It didn’t seem like it was right. We talk about like silences and silence breaking So, you know I was hugely, preg… I was very pregnant at the time I was never quite hugely pregnant [people laugh] I never got a seat on the subway I was very very sad about this. I was like, I’m pregnant. [panelist]: what?! that’s fucked up. they would be like… But ah, so I was talking with my professor and she said well, you should do something on what women are doing. This is what we should do next semester And I was like, I’m about to have a baby, you know like I don’t think I can do this you know like this is gonna be a lot for me and she was like, look You’re gonna have a baby we will meet when it is convenient for you you will you know like, you can bring the baby if you don’t have child care, I will hold the baby the one thing you’re not allowed to slack on is the quality of work that you do but I will do everything else to make sure that you can do this. Like you don’t have to come to regular classes. You don’t have to strut all the way to campus, you know and you don’t have to find a baby sitter so, I did. And I started reaching out to women inside jails and prisons. and I was like, what do you, you know what are your concerns and what are, you know prioritize them like 1,2,3,4,5, you know what are you doing about them What help have you gotten, what help have you not gotten like what help do you need you know and sort of you know like started conversations with women and started realizing that if your main issues are having access to your children and maintaining custody of your children because you dont have some family member that’s taking care of your kids that’s a very different type of resistance in organizing than what the men are doing. you know that like can be it is more visible. And so you know like so I did that and I formed relationships and they were telling me stories and then the semester ended and I was like well, I’m not gonna just like discard these relationships So we just kept writing. It was like years of them telling me stories and me like you know trying to find resources for them So they’d be like, can you look up like these cases over here since you’re a college student You have access to LexisNexis maybe I shouldn’t say that on camera, um… [people laugh] anyhow, hypothetically could you look something up you know for me and send it to me you know um… you know, can you call my mother and see how she and my daughter are doing because they have a collect call block on their phone so I can’t call them directly you know like can you, you know like look up you know like a health resource for me So it’s things like that, like a back and forth thing and sort of like at the end of this it was like I had all this information about things that women were doing and seeing in like the larger world a silence about this it was like you know like if anybody was writing about men in prison or talking about or if anybody was talking about prisons it was about men or it was like the male default you know like and it wasn’t looking at what happens when we center women of color you know like as we talk about incarceration. what happens if we center trans women of color which nobody was talking about back in the 1990s or early 2000s you know like nobody acknowledged anything other than men in prison for the most part So it was sort of like, so that’s how it started it was kind of like starting with that question and then those relationships and then continuing to build on that and having them be like you are our trusted person you know whether you like this or not nobody else you know nobody else is doing this so here you go like here is more information here is more of this, here is more of that. like this is what we need. Well, I just have one more question before unless you’ll have questions before we open it up to y’alls questions that are for wider discussions because last night we did talk about some examples of narratives, intergenerational narratives that are not the law and that um that are part of our resistance in liberation legacy so I just wanted to give you all a chance to share some of those that you had brought up or that you or that you think about that are powerful in the work that you do we call it revolutionary mothering anything that helps keep us alive like that happens intergenerationally but if there’s anything like that you wanna share that you’ve seen in your work so people can have more insight that would be beautiful [inaudible] well one of the things I’ve seen is that in women’s prisons and maybe this happens in the men’s prisons but I don’t really focus on men in prisons so you know I can’t say for sure umm, is that women build community and families and so what might happen is people who are there for long time… you know for lengthy sentences you know, have been there a while, will take newer people under their wing and kind of like in.. if we are talking about revolutionary mothering as an idea kind of mother them not only in the like how you make your bed so you don’t get a ticket and everything else but like really like Hey angry 19 year old you know you are angry you know like you were kind of in this place too at one point you know like you’re angry you’re looking at a long sentence you know, you did something harmful and hurtful and stupid and you know like and that’s something you need to come to grips with. you can’t always just be this angry person who is in denial about what you did you know and kind of like you know like nurturing them and mothering them through you know like some of these not only the shock of being incarcerated but also like you know mothering them into Oh my godness you’re baby is so cute [Thank you] [Audience laughs] But ah but you know like but actually like you know like mothering them through you know like some of these changes that people hopefully experience. right like again if you think about what you did when you were 15 you’re just like oh Oh you know why did I do that you know like but being like you know you are not that person stuck in one of the worst possible actions or moments that you ever did and like lets talk about this and lets help you grow. So some of the women um so in New York city there’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility which is the maximum security prison for women So a lot of women there are serving lengthier life sentences and they would take under their wings other women who are coming in facing long sentences usually for really really harmful actions they’d taken so you know not sort of like “sympathetic nonviolent drug offenders” but like people who had really hurt other people and been like you are not the worst thing that you have ever done, you’re not your conviction but you also need to you know like grow as a person and let’s talk about what that looks like and how do we support each other in a system that’s designed to dehumanize and not allow people to support each other so like in um in all women prisons doing something like this I’m really sorry that you’re going through a hard time you know is you know is an act of resistance because in prisons you’re not allowed to do that you know such as sharing humanity but then taking that further to being like instead of being like Oh this kid is angry and I don’t wanna deal with her you know being like let’s work through this and let’s see what we can do. Ok, I’ll go. um. What um in the immigration prison in Tacoma it’s different as the fact that people are not there for specific time. The sentence is quite different because there’s not really. I mean the sentence is you’re gonna be um banished from the country and and so our difficulty is that we don’t know how long people will actually stay there. and so here in this specific detention center over almost maybe right now maybe more than 1600 people are detained about 2 to 300 women are housed there caged there. our main contact had been the mens section specially during the 2014 hunger strikes Um but we did find out later on that women had also started the hunger strikes the difference though is that it has always been more difficult for women to organize within the detention center because they ah GEO which is the corporation that owns and manages this place agents they’re really good at touching the more vulnerable fiber of the women’s section which is their children. and so as 4 of them started their hunger strike and they were sent to their hole. So hole is solitary confinement, they call it the hole inside. Um we find out through the fifth person that was in there because she called one of our members saying you know my court hearing was coming up I was really scared so because I didn’t know what to do and i didn’t have over 90% of the people in there will never have a legal representation or support ah she said I couldn’t eat I was just nervous and the officers took that as I was joining the hunger strike and I didn’t even know there was a hunger strike So as she didn’t eat she was taken and send in to the hole so she finds these 4 other women there and they ask her, oh are you here for the hunger strike? and she like what hunger strike? Everybody is talking about a hunger strike I don’t know what’s going on, so they tell her you know there were these people outside closing down the streets and shouting that we are not alone so we decided to do this and the men’s section is doing it too and they were all getting excited and she was getting excited about it and the officers come and say if you’re gonna continue with this you’re never gonna see your children again and so they stop and so they start eating right away. and the men’s section was a bit different. Because we have been in touch with them and we are able to get their stories out they were able to continue the hunger strike But we weren’t able to get into the women section So now we are actually in touch with the women section. and what we’ve noticed is that especially for people that come from the prison system right because anybody regardless of being a legal permanent resident regardless of the supposedly justice system that we have to you’re not supposed to be tried twice for the same crime. that doesn’t happen in the immigration system. So you’re put into second part of the trial against you. and so for people that come from the prison systems, they are really great organizers… they are..they are amazing. and we see this protection right they create this level of protection and we’ve see how both in the women and men section people take care of each other people mother each other right. We have right now ah…this guy his wife called me. and said my husband told me to give you a call. and the reason why he found out about us is because we just recently did an action outside the detention last sunday, this sunday I don’t even know what day it’s today. I work every single day. To me every day is Monday. [people laugh] Sunday will be a naturally when a lot of people show up um… We were on the local news and We were on the local news paper and so they get the tacoma news tribune So they read about it. And so we’re already in touch with several of them but others didn’t know, you know. But again over 1600 people in there we don’t get to talk to everybody So they saw what happened and they start calling the relatives saying call them, call them, there are people outside I don’t know who they are but just call them I start getting these emails and calls and so this woman tells me, Hey my husband’s name is so and so please talk to him. It’s not about him. it’s about a guy inside that he wants you to watch out for because he has this mental illness So it’s the same story all over again. Men taking care of other men Women taking care of other women. Sometimes men telling us we heard in the women section something really terrible. you know keep an eye on that. So it’s this how do we take care of each other At the same time that is happening within the detention center, it’s happening outside So as relatives show up then they start helping each other like you were saying you know, Why is this person here Oh you know I don’t have the money, I came all the way from Oregon. And they told me that I can’t see him because you know the visitation hours changed last month and nobody told us. So there’s this replication of support both on the inside, things happening outside um So for us it’s been it’s a constant of how do we maintain this spirit inside and how do we ensure that the people that are inside and they’re being told again and again You’re not important to anybody. Nobody cares about you. and they’re been constantly watched 24/7. Everything they do is being recorded and is being used against them when they are being sent to the hearings. So for us, it’s giving them the tools that they can use to protect themselves to survive inside but then they can also help others survive inside. So I think it doesn’t really matter the gender, the protection is happening It also happened with a trans person that we were able to get in touch with We didn’t know about her. It was really somebody else in the men’s section that told us. They talked to her because she was being housed in the men’s section um, and when she called us she didn’t know how to explain to us what was happening. ah, but it was again important to realize that although she was in the men’s section the men were taking care of her. she told us, they were very respectful because we were like you want to transfer to the women’s section? We are gonna do a whole campaign right now to get at least, while we’re getting you out, at least you’re in the women’s section She actually said, you what, I am ok because they are taking care of me they are respectful they call me by my name they call me Pati And so for us that was a really good sign that You know people are taking care of each other But it’s important to be outside, present so they can actually not only take care of each other inside but they are free. Period. oh. um… I think one of the things that I think a lot about in the context of this conversation sort of the laws of trans person like how that has translated sort of into like what trans justice like movement building like looks like and I think it is important to figure out like what are the legal fights we need to fight. But I think sometimes I often wonder is like what are the consequences is that like is trans very like very specific type of thing. where you fit within this particular kind of types of gender presentations or processes and what happens if you fall outside of that do you still have access to legal rights? whether you’re a parent or like anything…right? and then when I think about what it means to like this conversation around building relationships right because as trans people like we literally can’t do anything without other people. like doctors have to decide whether or not we are “crazy or not” to access anything medical or whatever whatever choice we wanna make to alter our bodies or whatever decision even and the legal system has to decide whether or not we are gonna change our genders and our names So some other…so these other outside institutions are dictating who we are as people so how does that translate into as trans people even if we have an organization that is dedicated to whatever we want how does that impact how we even like see ourselves and understand ourselves and how we build with people who are from all different kinds of who are different than us, who are maybe trans or not trans So about was it last, it was 2 years ago The Midwifery Association of North America like changed it’s language to be gender inclusive and there was a whole lotta things that happened. A lot of people were upset because a lot of you know transphobic things happened you know a lot of organizing happening to sort of to say hey this is a problem that it’s like a problem it’s like on both sides it’s like a problem that you’re up you know changing the language because you are erasing women and then other people are like it’s you know we need to expand how we think about parenthood, birth and all that kind of stuff. and so one of the most amazing things that came out of that moment umm was I got to meet this black mid wife in Miami Jamarah Amani and we would have these like private conversations because as like African descended people the white people we were working with were being like so incredibly racist and there were the trans people who were advocating like you know that we’re trying to say that you know that this language that is being updated is not like a bad thing but in the process of like trying to expand and this conversation we were just encountering like just like so much racism and so much like femmephobia and so much just like …just so much crap! and we’re just like and we’re all on the same side and so one of the things that was important in that moment is that like both Jamarah and I recognize in that moment that politically like this like cis black femme, queer black femme who had like come to a workshop of ours like may be like a couple of months prior like had we not had that who would come to our workshop to learn about trans birth and like how to be a supportive like practitioner and then we were in this like organizing space and she kept saying I don’t have a perfect language but like I’m mad as hell, and I’m just like I don’t care that you don’t have like 10 years of like perfect allyship under your belt. The fact that you’re the only person that like is like you know standing up to these like racist white people Who are supposed to We are all supposed to be on the same side and it was like it was like a real challenge and I think one of the things that at some point that the project wants to do is sort of how do we collect the stories to talk about like What are the ways in which that like we have to document like the stories of the folks that like may not fit within these like confines of like trans justice movement building or reproductive justice movement building but who are the people that really showed up and who really said Hey she risked so much of her reputation in her own organization She had like really hard conversations with other folks to be like this is important that as an organization that she was repping that like we need to do right by trans people and most people don’t even know that story because she had to battle so much racism as a black queer southern woman. So it’s, so I think for us in like there are so many opportunities that half of the people that are like the people that I feel like are doing some of the most like kick ass like trans related like birth justice work are not even trans people because we are so we are so not, we are still creating spaces for us to occupy But I think that sometimes because of the legal battles that we often prioritize we don’t think about how do we support like the people who actually fundamentally historically understand like birth and midwifery as a black queer southern tradition and my job is to honor that legacy. So it behooves me to to think about how do I expand these ideas of of what it means to even do the work in the ways that I wanna do it. because it means more than just like I don’t wanna just be just training trans people of color to be birth workers like yes but also it takes like as like a trans masculine femme like it’s taken a lot of amazing like cis and queer trans femme that support me and who I am that labour and that genius needs to be honored that legacy like I was on Facebook Ah the last week every day [People laugh] And there is this ah someone posted like a question about femme identity and these like two black queer femmes like went to town and like explicitly named that femme identity is a political identity and I think the way the folks were articulating that It was like duh of course! But it has been so, our history has been so erased for why? So that they don’t take it seriously that it isn’t just eyeliner it isn’t just the shawl it isn’t just you know jewelry you know it’s like it’s all these like these creativity..tools.. and that’s what we have to like remember So when I am thinking about like how we’re organizing, or like what we’re thinking about I think for us how do we articulate how do we talk about what are the creative ways that we’re doing that and I think a lot of that is around how do we push ourselves to really think outside of what we feel comfortable and what we understand and we know. and to really you know I think I swore for the first time in a grant, I was telling them last night I cursed. I would never do that like a year ago because I’ve been conditioned as a non-profit worker to like you don’t talk to your funders like that you don’t swear you know you don’t say Fuck You you know you know and it’s not like, I wasn’t saying fuck you to them I was saying like “we’re the fuck-you-strategy” We’re like c’mon! you know we gotta Let’s call it what it is you know and so it’s just so and maybe I won’t get the money but you know I’m gonna sleep at night. [people Laugh] Because I am always gonna be like I have to at least tell them Who we, Who I really am and what this work is really about because there was the law there’s like the question of um the question of like funders wanna know like what’s your intersectional perspective racial justice and I’m like yeah totally… how do I communicate that that is at the core of the work that we do and it’s like the questions of how do you know that you’ll make the impact that I’m like is it enough to say that I want us to live longer and be happy? like is that, is that enough? and then I’m thinking that’s fucked up if that’s, if I think that’s not enough to tell anyone that that it is what, that’s what we are fighting for that’s what we are up here, that’s what the love is to preserve it and to grow it for generations to come. And that’s not enough. And that’s why the law will never save us. um. that was a lot of brilliance. [inaudible] um. yeah I mean I think I’m thinking about a lot of things right. We exist in a world that basically tells us that like we are not, we’re not worth anything right and you’re not, you’re not worth anything marginalized communities, queer folks queerdos right. You shouldn’t exist and we can either make you a commodity and make money of of you or we don’t like right Ruthie Gilmore describes Racism as like the government I’m not doing a good job at describing this like the government leading to premature death right like literally wanting to kill people and I think that’s, that’s what we are talking about right that’s what LL was talking about like I don’t know is my outcome like that we’ll fucking live longer right just surviving is an act of like political warfare right and I think that that’s super real and so I think about the moments. I think about a lot about just how we interact with each other. I think it is so beautiful thinking about these women in prison who you just turned to someone and say like you matter and you are worthy, like you are a human and that’s important and your existence is important. and that is so revolutionary and I think that that’s maybe sad to sit with that right that that’s like a revolutionary thing to say but it is. And, so I think a lot about like my Dadi my grandma who back in India would spend like every Sunday cooking all day, all day, all day making so much food and she would go deliver it to the homes of these women and I didn’t understand why until I was older But it was places who like if they didn’t have food ready and on the table they were gonna experience a lot of violence in their home that night. and so she, that was how she knew right how to help out She’s was like I’m gonna cook cook cook cook and I will deliver this so there’s food on this table and I know at least for today like I have helped this family survive. and I have thought about this community here. and like, that’s really beautiful right? and she was experiencing a lot of violence in her home too but she did what she thought she could. Or I think about like the brilliance of queer and trans communities and how they keep each other safe because the system and the state and cultures have always just tried to kill them all um… and thinking about like safety teams thinking about even just like BDSM communities who are all about boundaries, consent, safe words I mean that’s brilliant like dang we need more of that in our relationships right. I think about like QTPOC disabled communities who so like really lean on interdependence and how we all need each other and sharing meds and sha… for the sake of your recording, I’ve never done that. [people giggle] sharing meds, sharing… like bringing food over to each other having people come and clean your house because that’s what you can’t do like my body aches too much that I can’t get up and I need someone to come and do my dishes and maybe that sounds really simple but like having somebody come over, like that’s so meaningful. or you know I was at the airport a couple of weeks ago when they were having the detainees there. you know and by the time midnight rolled around I probably had 10 people text me like ‘Are you Okay?’ ‘How are things going? Do you need anything?’ ‘Do you need a ride? People delivered pizza. People who couldn’t be there were like I’m gonna send food to try to sustain the folks that are there. and I think those moment are so powerful and yeah maybe they sound really simple but I think if we thought more about how we interact with each other if we looked out for each other more if we were able to spend more time building our skills around like what does it mean to have boundaries and to honor somebody else’s boundaries What does it mean to like really look at what my values are and are my actions matching my values. and I think that the most marginalized communities do that the best and that’s the only way they’ve been able to survive and even thrive right like thrive and have so much magic and like go out to amazing like QTPOC dance parties which are just basically like a big fuck you to society because like just existing is revolutionary like existing with our identities and being open about them, which there’s some privilege to that of course right, not everybody can do that but like being able to do that and doing that I think is so powerful and revolutionary. Beautiful, well I wanna open it up first I wanna say, I do not know what time it is and I have never known what time is I…I live in intergenerational time So I never know what time it is So I just need to request that somebody from Outlaws is keeping track of how much time that I talk how much time we have cuz if it’s up to me we will literally be here for 5 generations so [people laugh] We are interested in questions that you have comments that you have what I would ask is that you know thinking about the dedication you made and folks who came in after that part we thought about somebody who is not in our generation who we’re really dedicating our participation to, who we hope our participation benefits. really asking you all to come from that place with the questions that you ask in here if you would like to share who you brang in to the space who you dedicated to if you’re one of the people who asks the question or gives a comment that would be great we just want it to be really centered and grounded. This is just not random abstract stuff we are talking about to be argumentative or sound smart. We are understanding that this is what could save our lives in our communities and so we just want you to, you know that because you came here in the snow and everything but I still have to explicitly say that so that we can remember that’s why we are here. so yes who would like to share something or ask something of our brilliant panelists. I was like oh Martina [People laugh] should we just drop the mike and leave? [People giggle] [Alexis] What we said, everything was answered. there’s no other thoughts. I know it can be hard so why don’t we take a deep breath together Inhale in [inhales] Exhaling [exhales] [Audience member] Ok I will ask one [Alexis] Do you want to use a mic? [Audience member] No. [Alexis] Okay. [Audience member] Um, i was wondering Alexis if you could answer one of the questions that you asked too and I was with you this weekend when we went into the women’s prison and you did a really fantastic workshop [Alexis] Thank You. [Audience member] around mothering and some of the like like some really concrete skill building I was wondering if you could speak at all to some of the ways that you have witnessed um, folks mother each other and things that we could do going forward? okay. Well so, thanks y’all for making it possible for Vikki and I to be able to go and be part of, um be part of the parenting class in the women’s prison so what we, what we knew because of the on-going work that’s been happening there is that the folks who are there were really interested in how could they nurture, nourish, repair relationships with people outside. right and that’s one of the major violences of prison existing. it separates us from people who we love and it does horrible things to relationships and knowing the vast amount of people the vast amount of children who’s parents are in prison and the stories that those children have to make up to survive that absence and some of things that they’ve been told and everything that they, we see in the media being able to actually have communication and relationship is something that is um, can never be taken for granted. and so that is what we really did in the workshop it was like we did it here that thing of dedication right like who, who are you bringing into the space that’s not physically in this space of course who’s not physically in the space in this beautiful deli I’ve never seen a deli like this, in this beautiful deli um is different than who’s not with you because literally you are being kept away from them by the force of armed people who shoot you if you try to leave the space right. But but it was also important for that to be to be the first thing right. to understand who is with us even when they are not physically with us and we um… they had an opportunity to talk more about that with each other and they wrote blessing poems in honor of each others’ relationships so and we did it so Vikki wrote a poem in honor of the relationship that I’m trying to heal and nourish and nurture, and I wrote a poem for Vikki but everybody in there wrote that and that was also part of part of mothering each other, part of saying like there’s some one in here who knows something about my situation and who’s offering you blessings you know who’s like carefully choosing words those three lines, you know carefully choosing words to bless me and my relationships that I, I value and then the rest of the time was really about um letters and how in those letters to go deep into the work of who is this person to me. you know whether it’s my child who I don’t get to be with on a regular basis whether it’s my partner whether it’s the caretaker for my child whether, who is this person that should really say, this is who you are for me. and get to beyond all the drama beyond like we got cut off in the middle of our phone conversation you now beyond that this is who you are for me and then also this is who I am for you and this is who I am for you even though I don’t get to be there for you in the ways that I would want to be there and people were just like so brilliant. The words were beautiful but the um affirmation that love was still the most powerful thing even with all the ways that they had been cut off and taken away was profound and another thing that we did was um like short models like declarations I sometimes time people aren’t living in intergenerational time, like I am [people laugh] sometimes time is really scarce right so you just have this moment on the phone right, you just have this short visit that you waited the whole day just to have this short amount of time to be able to be in the visit and so they created I call it declarations or cheers or mottoes but this thing that you can say that presence is your relationship and even if it’s just like I will always try my best for you like that’s what they say to to be able to get back to that core of all the many many many words that I wrote about this is who you are for me and this is who I am for you that was another thing that they created and what folks created was amazing and beautiful and I think that like Priya was saying it’s not just in a situation of being caged that really having skills around how we repair our relationships and how we nourish our relationships is relevant. like this is relevant for every single person because we are all in relationship and all of our relationships have to be repaired because we are surviving oppression. so there’s all sorts of brokenness all over the place so thank you for asking that. yeah that was what we did in that space and I recommend it if you wanna tell someone who they are for you, it’s very moving for them it could be very moving for you. and feel free to always contact me with more stuff about that. Yes! [Audience member] Well, I just, I got here late but now that you, that I understand the frame [Alexis] Yeah yeah [Audience member] I would like to do a blessing [Alexis] Yes [Audience member] and do ah… so my name is Emma and my wife and I became a foster parents it’s gonna be 2 months for this beautiful boy from Honduras. There he came as a refugee and he’s been with us since December 9th um, I’ve seen pictures of his family But I have not talked to them and so I would like to send a blessing to his mom. um I don’t really know her name, I know I know the nickname and that is la Constancia it’s actually very cute. [inaudible] she lives in a San Pedro Sula in Honduras and um She is for me this amazing woman that even though I don’t know her was so brave to send this 12 year old boy away on his own to find opportunities and a better life And by doing that she’s giving this child an amazing opportunity in life and is giving my wife and I an amazing opportunity to um fulfill the dream that we have been having for many many years and the many struggles to become parents and so to me she’s an awesome person and I want to send her blessings. [Alexis] umhmm, thank you. thank you thank you. [sighs] [Alexis] that’s like the most beautiful thing that I could’ve possibly heard in that moment. um but this exactly why right why we have these default narratives we have the absence of stories we have the law really playing that default narrative of dividing people But what if we took the opportunity you know like what if we really took every opportunity to tell that story of greatness you know even across, across whatever we’re across you know across forms of difference across geographical space across bars and walls that that’s actually still possible in a random deli it’s still possible so thank you for modeling that that was beautiful. [Audience member] What we were saying about um like the like the [inaudible] of like our work in being like just us living happier, longer lives I really liked that earlier I thought that was beautiful. It really connects with a lot of work that I do um that I am trying to do more with trauma in queer and trans communities prioritizing um queer and trans people of color and I was wondering about like in terms of like disability justice and access and interdependence for those in the communities who experience um isolation and constant traumatization how to heed access healing and what thoughts within like interdependencies and um how in this community we can do together to make that happen more? I think anyone here can answer that question But I think Oh um I think that the thing that comes to mind I think one of the things that I always um say the most in Q & As is um is like questions that I don’t know how to answer because it seems really simple but I think for me like I was like I often think about like one of the first things that I aways think about access is that we have to ask the people in the room like who do you want to be present and those like we know like as a chronically ill person like I know what I need. Every person knows what they need or somewhere maybe they and maybe we all haven’t practiced how to articulate that like saying like I need this at this time and for this duration but we know somewhere in our bodies somewhere in our experience what we need right and so I think how do we, it’s like if we don’t actually build those relationships we are actually getting to know like how basically how we’re low key we all should like like be on like consensual like non-sexy like dating each other you know that’s how you basically know what you like and what you don’t like and what need and what you don’t need so it’s not that we need to have these like super arduous long processes maybe we do but it’s really about like how are you, how do you have like you would always find, it was always very funny I was telling them last night when I was in social work school like people, I would get caught up in like Am I being empathetic? like do I know what that looks like? And I’d ask. I had to be like am I doing it? am I getting it right? People were like, what is your problem? and I’m like, Oh right, I remember that I’m a person. try to connect to another person and when I figured this out I was like also supporting others being like remember how you’re a per…literally like once I figured that out I was like you know how you are a person like that’s how you need to like talk to this other person like you need to listen you know so I think a huge part as much as that’s funny I think it’s like we really need to remember and go back to like these very basic principles of like how do we have like basic conversations around like you know, how are you? how are you doing? are you okay? do you need anything? like what can I do to you know I didn’t ask like how many trainings did you do? and do you have my pronouns right? like that’s cute, but like do you actually do I even trust it when you say that like when people come up to me and is like, what’s your pronoun? what’s your… I’ve had to interrupt so many like facilitation gigs where someone’s like what’s your pronouns LL? I’m like um I’m in charge of this space like no, like ah-uh like what is this like what is what is your worry that I’m not gonna like respect you? We’re not gonna have a process around making sure that you can enter the space and be you that my job as a facilitator that I’m not gonna attempt to create safety for me and for you in this space, like c’mon! like your privilege is showing but like I think for me it’s like basic you know like who’s who are you trying to built with and have you asked like what what it is that you need. Do you know about their families, and who their gurus are what their triggers are and all that like you know do you know what their favorite like milkshake is are they allergic to diary? [Audience laughs] straight up like I’m, like when Trump won stole um… my first thought in my house because I just you know moved to Seattle I was like y’all I need, we need to start having safety planning meetings for our house because I wanna know like I don’t know what medications you’re on I need to know who your emergency contact is I wanna know like things that over time I would have figured out but now, now shits real so I don’t…I wanna make sure that I know who to call and who my neighbors are so that if shit goes south like, we’re good like we got the house like the house is all good you know so [Priya] Yeah [LL] Yeah [People laugh] [Priya] I’ll just add one thing, just a lot yes yes and if anyone is looking for a tool around that um The Icarus project which does lot of great stuff where you have these tools around wellness mapping [LL] Yes yes! totally! [Priya] It is exactly what you said [LL] totally totally totally [Priya] It’s just like a worksheet that you can do like when I’m feeling down like this is what helps this is not what help, like don’t ask me if I’m taking my meds because fuck you! or maybe I do want you to ask me if I’m taking my meds right like but just working that…sorry I swore…working it out beforehand like and so if you want that’s a tool you can look to [LL] totally! [Priya] And I really encourage you to do it in your house, with your community with your like close people who ever you feel like is the person that you wanna have access to that information, I think is really helpful [LL] And don’t you save it for the person you are like dating [Priya whispers] Oh god! [LL] Sorry I’m always like trying to be like How do we have not just our intimate sexual relationships as like the central because that is a part of like the legal narrative like that is how the law gets into your bed and you know want that! unless that’s a role play thing you tryin to do [People laugh]…and then that’s a whole other situation [Alexis] So we have time for one more question. yes. [Audience member] I would like to express my gratitude for y’all for coming out here tonight. So my question is for friend of a friend ah They tomorrow are seeing a judge trying to get their name changed for the second time and they were wondering if there’s any advice y’all have for anyone to best increase the chance of the judge would approve of the second name change in near Washington. That’s a really specific question. um so I would open that up to the whole room. if there’s…if there’s can we have some law students and maybe some lawyers out there [whispers] I was hoping, I do not know anything [Audience member] We can also talk about it because it’s [Alexis] I don’t know if y’all have like general sort of things to say I have like legal specific things but that’s very boring and I don’t wanna take anyone’s time [people giggle] So now you know who’s the person to follow up with…thank you [Audience member] I can add to that QLAW has a gender clinic every so often I would jump on that [Alexis] excellent excellent okay! so in fact one more question since we can handled so concisely and are gonna follow up is anybody else have a question they wanna ask any of the panelists or all of the panelists? [Audience member] I have like a general sort of you know since Trump was unfortunately mentioned um not because it’s your fault but because you know he exists in the world and that is already unfortunate um I guess I think for a lot of the folks that I’ve been talking with and even for myself um um him getting elected has sort of been this moment to sort of think about um you know it’s an action moment and also for a lot of us who have been organizing it’s also a moment of like what is my capacity? and what am I going to like focus my energy on? because that has to be like you know in order for movements to be sustainable I think we all have to have that conversation with ourselves so i’m wondering for y’all personally how you’re going about thinking about that? um yeah [LL] I’ve thought about this question a lot and I think the main thing that I’ve thinking about is that like if we are not prioritizing taking care of our like mental, spiritual like physical selves like every day like just literally making sure we have like a good night’s sleep like a good meal more than once a day like [People laugh] like seeing our friends like I think one of the one of the benefits of being a second generation like organizers that like I know the consequences of like running my body in the ground and like how that has impacted like my family and the elders before me and so I’m not trying to go out like that and so while I think it’s important that like those who can be in the streets like like obviously so much of like the wins that we are having right now is not possible without organizing but that also at the same time like we have to remember that like taking care of ourselves is just as powerful and is just as revolutionary and just as critical and necessary as it is in shutting down SeaTac and all the other like actions you know so it’s like for me like I literally cannot afford to be in the streets like I haven’t been to a march in 3 years and the first time I’ve been to a march was actually when I went to SeaTac and they wheeled me around and I cried the entire time because I thought as a chronically ill person that my decades of being in the streets was over because I literally couldn’t, I can’t like walk miles I can’t do that like my I just like that’s not possible but this other amazing, creative like dope thing where I said to my comrades I was like I wanna go but like I literally can’t be there for five hours and like I might get tired really quick so what are our group agreements And they’re like if one of us like can’t do it then we are all gonna leave And we stuck to it And we were in and out and we blocked the elevators like it was like the most intense like shut down like in two hours that I have ever been to and they wheeled me around and I didn’t get left behind and It was amazing And so That will always stay with me but then we were also like Word… it’s 11 o’clock It’s getting late we are going to go home, Like the rest of the people got it And so we all were like great We are going to pick up snacks We are all going to get dropped off We are all going to go to bed or do whatever it is we are going to do in our own homes But we were like we had this like really amazing, creative like Mix of just like, we really had to take care of ourselves Now the strategy isn’t go go go till you pass out Because that means like you’re going to win Or that like you’re the most activist, radical Because that’s a lie [People laugh] but How we’re going to be in the marathon and we have to remember And the only place that I learned that Is from parents and from disabled, chronically ill people because we know how to chill and we know how to party [people laugh] um um every time that I get asked to do a panel I actually think about it. because to me it’s a, it’s a privilege That I don’t really enjoy um Right now leaving Bellingham Tomas is here and Tomas and I work with farm workers. And I’m not a farmworker so that’s not my experience And so I support the work that he has been doing over there And we work also with the people and train relatives So I lived in Seattle for over 20 years and then I moved to Bellingham And I always say this and I don’t get tired of saying this Seattle is a bubble Seattle is a bubble People here have way too much privilege And I always ask people in Seattle to leave Seattle and go outside Seattle There is so much stuff happening outside Seattle And I have seen couple of you that have been in Tacoma so thank you for being there. Um… And the… I got also the privilege to be mentored by Rosalinda [inaudible] That’s a farmworker leader, that’s been doing amazing work decades and decades and one thing that happens again Is that a lot of people believe that they are organizers they think that being a community organizer Is going out there and protest yay! Actually that is not community organizing and that’s actually the easiest thing to do It doesn’t take a lot um except that you might have some disabilities um… And except that you know you cannot even leave your house Because you are so afraid that the immigration’s going to come and get you or you do not want to interact police um or you are not even allowed because You might be the victim of human trafficking or you are working three jobs and you don’t have the time to even watch the news So I think that when people talk about How to take care of themselves to me it sounds very capitalistic Because in the communities that I work with right now In the communities that I come from We take care of each other We are always taking care of each other, And we don’t see things as I we see things as we. And for us, when we get the privilege to go out there and talk to panels You know be part of panels, We always want to share that to say You need to go beyond the capitalistic way of yourself, Your individual, your individual needs um Because that’s why we are here, this is the reason we are here in the first place um So you know when we had the hunger strikes, I didn’t feel like eating because I was like shit I’m out here I’m eating and they were not eating But we have you know Angelica and everyone saying, No you actually have to eat [people laugh] So they even once hide my phone Because they were like No, you need to like take a break right And I did and so they were taking care of me They were making sure that I would have what I need so I could continue supporting the people inside. So I think that’s what you know I always tell in Seattle especially Please take a look beyond Seattle Take a look… Take a look beyond what do you think is your organizing um and come see there what’s actually happening out there And I would say this, oppression doesn’t take a break, Oppression is not 9-to-5 It doesn’t say it’s the weekend see you on Monday right. It doesn’t happen that way Therefore we need to realize that the oppression is part of our lives It’s created the life we have So community organizing is not a job it’s your life we are doing this because we want to be alive and we want our next generations to also be alive and have quality of life And that’s why we’re fighting to Shutdown the detention center To stop the new youth jail and every kind of prison that is out there So when we think of care let’s talk about the community care Like how we take care of each other versus just the individual care. I think one of the things that I would want to add To the space you know, Martina mentioned that Alexis, I, Martina, Danny and some other folks were in the women’s prison um at Purdy on Saturday And kind of bringing folks who are locked away behind these walls in is that they too often times, it’s not just about taking care of themselves It’s about taking care of each other In an environment in which you know the law Not your friends put you in this locked up environment you know after perhaps often times failing to protect you from other violence From interpersonal violence And then it adds it’s own form of violence And it continues to do so and even in This really repressive condition where people are like monitoring you They have keys to your cell, they can tell you when you got to get up, when you can eat, when you cannot eat, When you can go to the bathroom, when you can shower Et cetera Etc. etc. People find ways to not only take care of themselves but to take care of each other And save each other’s lives. So like you know like when we think about This like long road we have ahead of us We should also remember that Even in these really repressive conditions people are able to do that. [Alexis] yeah… I will just add All of that, all of that and what I learned from my grandparents was that when you’re in community you learn what your role is in community Like we all have a specific role in community When people are like but what’s my purpose and what can I do It’s because we are alienated and disconnected from community You know it becomes really obvious What you… What you do in community Because you do what you are able to do that other people need to do, That somebody else You know like that’s, that becomes very clear um That becomes very clear but we’re disconnected from each other So I agree with what everybody else is saying about It does have to do with those connections It does have to do with those group agreements right. And the drive to try to do everything and be everything Comes out of really being taught that we’re the only person in this world You know like even though all these people around It’s like an individual thing Where we are trying to make an individual difference and it’s never enough Why is it never enough? because it is never enough Like one person is not gonna be able to do Everything that needs to happen But we’re trying to prove We feel like so then we are deficient, right we are not enough we are not doing enough Because we’re not doing all the things that could possibly be done We are not… every single thing that happens you know we are um… We are actually projecting the suffering of the disconnection That oppression has given us onto our work ethic Because we live in a place where puritans have like messed with everybody’s mind Right like that’s what colonization did and does And it can be so simple When you are connected and you really are thinking Exactly like the worksheet says, exactly like LL was saying When you know what the people around you need and you know what you have, Audrey Lord says we can make something out of anything you know so you don’t have to have much, you don’t necessarily even have to have autonomy over when you go to the bathroom in order to look at how is it possible for you to support somebody else And then to understand that that is enough Because that’s all that’s all that’s the story of this species like we are just giving each other what we need we don’t know that we are learning more about what does everybody needs what is it that what is it that it’s possible for us to give and then what love is you know we actually learn the gifts that we have, the brilliance that we have that that would never show up if we were just sitting somewhere by ourselves they show up because there’s someone there we love and we grow to be able to make something possible for them it’s not because it’s the smart thing to do, it’s not because somebody on the news said it it’s not because the newest greatest activist book which just because you know Vikki is going to be writing the newest greatest activist book [people laugh] just because it’s like the newest greatest activist book says right it’s because it honors the actual love that you feel for the people who are around you and so thank you for this this has been a space really full of love I hope that you all stay connected to each other I also hope that you stay connected to me I, I am one of those who loves to receive emails from people so [People laugh] Alexis Pauline at gmail and on twitter and on Instagram Stay in touch with me um… But please do stay in touch with each other too I mean, everything depends on it and it is what makes everything possible and again we are so grateful that you chose to be here of all places. [Applause] [Audience member] thank you to scratch deli for staying open on a snow day. [Applause] [Priya] Thank you to the organizers and in particular Danny [Audience] Woo hoo [Applause]

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