by Abaki Beck
Hello all! This Sunday, I’ve compiled a list of resources and reading suggestions connected to contemporary political and social happenings. Because really, what better to do on a winter Sunday (for readers in the Northern hemisphere) than to read, think, create, agitate.
The Texas trooper who violently arrested Sandra Bland on a traffic stop, a young black woman who later died in her cell by hanging, has been charged with perjury. This means that the grand jury determined that he had been lying under oath, by saying that his treatment of Sandra Bland was “routine,” though, according to his own dash cam, it was in fact very violent and threatening. Since the United States was founded - ahem, colonized - black people have been criminalized and demonized, and this violence intersects with gendered based violence for black women. These structures deeply impact contemporary black communities; black people are arrested and charged at much higher rates than white people, and are disproportionately killed by police officers. This over-criminalization impacts all communities of color, not just black communities, though much of the current news is focused on black communities (in part because of how vocal and powerful the Black Lives Matter movement has become). However, Native Americans are the race most likely to be killed by police. In fact, both Sandra Lee Circle Bar, a young Lakota woman, and Rexdale Henry a Chocktaw activist, both died in jail after being arrested for minor violations in the last year as well. Unfortunately, their tragic deaths received little media coverage.
To learn more about the prison industrial complex and the criminalization of people of color in the United States, I suggest you read:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The New Press (January 16, 2012) Pdf of introduction available here.
“Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex” by Angela Y. Davis
If you would like to support prisoners, consider donating a book to the Prison Book Project. Additionally, here is an introduction to prison advocacy, via Black and Pink (an organization focused on prison abolition, specifically centered around supporting LGBTQ prisoners). If you would like to combat police brutality in your own community, consider donating to Black Lives Matter group or attending one of their events, or researching other organizations doing this work in your area. There are more resources on our Transformative Justice page, check them out!
Also this week, the Turkish police seized more than one thousand poorly created “life jackets” that were meant for migrant usage. In 2015, more than one million migrants came to Europe, many via Turkey and Greece, from the Middle East region. The majority of these migrants and refugees have been from Syria, displaced from the ongoing Syrian war (check out this video by Vox to learn more). However, many are from Afghanistan and Eritrea as well. For these migrants crossing the Mediterranean, life jackets may cost up to $150, though some cheaply made ones cost as low as about $10. The life jackets seized this week by Turkish officials were apparently made in a way that they are easily filled with water, causing them to sink instead of float. According to the UN, more than 3,771 people were reported missing or dead this year - some of whom may have drowned.
The resources I pulled together for this news story are focused on Islamophobia, which categorizes much of the rhetoric towards these refugees in the US (though not all the refugees are Muslim), as well as creative and radical responses to it.
Orientalism, Edward Said. Vintage Books, 1979. PDF of introduction here.
Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, Deepa Kumar. Haymarket Books, 2012.
How Does it Feel to be a Problem: Being Young and Muslim in America, Moustafa Bayoumi. Penguin Books, 2009. Excerpt of book here.
Young Radical Muslims Speaking Out:
In lighter news, Amandla Stenberg, one of our Feminist Heroes, came out (publicly) as bisexual on Snapchat! The Social Media Queen continues to reign and all is good in the world. Coming out as gay or lesbian is “newsworthy” enough as a celebrity, because of the continued discrimination and violence against queer people, but coming out as bisexual is perhaps more radical because so many pervasive stereotypes still exist - held by straight people and even others in the queer community (for example, the thought that bisexual people don’t exist. For 13 more myths about bisexuality debunked, check out this article from Everyday Feminism). Want to read more about woman of color feminisms and queer politics? Check out our resources below:
Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman. Seal Press; Live Girls edition (July 29, 2002)
Select Pieces from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings from Radical Women of Color edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua
Sex, Power, and Consent: Youth Culture and the Unwritten Rules by Anatasia Powell
Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and History by Michael Warner
“The Radical Politics of Self-Love and Self-Care” by Soojin Pate
Thanks for reading (both in the past and future) and have a happy and empowering Sunday! Please email email@example.com if have any resource or reading suggestions!