Prison Industrial Complex abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.
When I arose to the year of 2016, I wasn’t expecting to be confronted with the fuckery of Bill Cosby or the triggering statuses of friends and colleagues across facebook, twitter and even instagram. To be clear, I fault no one for their disgust with the admitted behavior of Cosby. As survivor of more than one bout of sexual assault, I get it. However, other survivors know what I’m talking about when violent memories of bodily invasions are conjured to your mind with your warning or consent. To those of us that have lived this, this awareness raising, social-media activism. Instead, it is a reminder that folks who haven’t lived it may never get it and those of us who have, may never be able to get past it. We made to relive each moment of violation, of shame and sensational fuckery with each post of violation, shame and sensational fuckery.
In any case, what has struck me most about the response to Cosby is the untenable dichotomy being produced in Queer of Color, especially Black and BlaQueer, spaces. There seems to be some mythical false choice between either being pro-sexual assault or anti-black.
The logic goes, that if you do not support rape or sexual assault or the erasure of, and violence against, black women than you must be for throwing Cosby’s rapey ass in jail. On the other hand, the argument goes, that if you support any type of corrective action for Cosby and those who he has violated, than you are anti-black and participating in a high-tech lynching, as Clarence would say. We’ve seen this before in the 90’s and we fucked up then too. In confronting sexual violence experienced by a black woman, professor Anita Hill, and produced by a black man Clarence Thomas; we fell for the okie-doke thought we had to choose racial solidarity over gender violence (hint: we discarded Anita because she was a black woman, somehow unworthy of racial solidarity). We must confront our patriarchal constructions of black unity and gendered notions of violence. Violence against black women is constructed as normal if done by black men, if spoken about at all (see, violence against trans* peoples), while violence against black, cishetero men is a strike at the core of the black community.
You can be a true prison abolitionist, engaged in Critical Resistance— against all prisons, all jails and anti-blackness–and still be against rape (I’d argue that if you are not, there might be something missing in your racial, class or gender analysis of violence). I posit that there are few things more anti-black than rape when we look into the annals of history and the experiences of black enslaved women AND men (we don’t talk about this in history or present; something about a communal investment in omnipotent maleness), as well as the sexual violences we allow to occur in the present–yes, you touching my hair, commenting on her curves, touching our asses (we see you white gays) is sexual violence. You can believe in your soul of souls that Cosby’s ass is guilty as fuck and still not buy into prisons as the proper solution–because something about state control over any black body is just.tew. much. And ya know what, you ain’t gotta have all the answers either. Black folks, we’re diverse, we think different thoughts and that is oh–fucking–kay…but it is important for to stand strong in my beliefs and disallow the use of my survival of rape, my trauma and my proximity to violence as authenticator of state-sponsored violence and ownership of black, brown and queer bodies.
In any case, I’ve provided a video for folks to think our communal construction, creation and maintenance of violence while also thinking about alternatives to the carceral state.