Rad Reading: "Queering Antiprison Work: African American Lesbians in the Juvenile Justice System"

by Abaki Beck

Text: Queering Antiprison Work: African American Lesbians in the Juvenile Justice System

Author: Beth Richie

Quote to Highlight: “Queering the antiprison project requires that we remember that in the most general sense, antiprison work has been a project attempting to look critically at how deviance and, by extension, criminalization have been socially constructed to serve people in power...simply put, because prisons require prisoners, criminals must be produced.”

Quick Summary: Richie argues that in order for the lives of black lesbian youth to be truly included and understood in antiprison work, a “queer” analysis must be added. Because of their race, gender, and sexual identity, Richie argues that these girls are often excluded in antiprison activism, and invisible in their own communities, though they are some of the most victimized members.  Unlike their white counterparts, black girls are more likely to face harsher sentences, more likely to be victims of sexual harassment, and less likely to receive treatment for substance abuse, among other issues resulting from systemic violences like racism and poverty. This essay describes a theoretical shift that Richie would like to see as both an academic and an activist. She argues that "queering" antiprison work could deeply impact social policy and practice.

File it under: Antiprison activism, Black Lives Matter, queer politics, youth of color

Type of text:  Academic essay with some jargon; she includes many first person quotes from incarcerated black female youth


POC Online Classroom strives to make readings and resources that celebrate the intellectual tradition and knowledge production of marginalized communities more accessible. Rad Reading is a new series that highlight texts to read and writers to support! We will post every Tuesday and Thursday.

Abaki BeckRad Reading