Jessica Hoffmann

Violence Against African Lesbians, Now

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | July 16, 2007 8:31 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Living, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: African lesbians, hate crimes legislation, international queer solidarity, transformative justice

Go now: Read the discussions on violence against African lesbians and international queer solidarity in the wake of the murders of two South African lesbians last weekend at Black Looks and Women of Color Blog.

Why are the international LGBT community especially those of colour not knocking on the doors of African LGBT organisations and activists to ask how they can support their sisters and brothers in their struggles?

In light of all the recent postings on this site in support of hate-crimes legislation, I'd like to extend an invitation to you, Bilerico readers: Let's brainstorm in the Comments beyond racist, classist hate-crimes legislation. What might a transformative-justice approach to international queer solidarity look like?

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A. J. Lopp | July 16, 2007 2:52 PM

Several points:

(1) Don't know how the timestamp on Jessica's post got changed, but I saw this post no later than 12:30 AM (i.e., 30 mintues after mid-night) ... the point being I've waited almost 15 hours and I am still the first to post a comment. (Although Nick mentioned this un-commented post on Jessica's next thread.)

(2) Maybe no one is commenting because they are in the same boat I'm in. Jessica, I'm clueless: what is a "transformative justice" approach? I read both links supplied above, and there was a lot of abstract verbiage that I couldn't wrap my mind around very well. But not one example of a conflict situation where a traditional response is contrasted with a "transformative justice" response. Maybe the TBP readers need to be educated before we can supply the dialogue you are requesting.

(3) In what way is the current approach to hate-crime legislation "racist" and "classist"? This remark is odd, because I thought racism and other prejudices were exactly the problematic social attitudes we are trying to address.

I am quite concerned about the plights of GLBT brothers and sisters in other countries, although admittedly I hardly have much in the way of activism credentials in this area. So this comment is not a challenge, Jessica ... sorry to admit it to the world, but I really am this stupid.

AJ --

Not stupid at all! I really appreciate your asking these questions.

To my mind, hate-crimes legislation props up a racist and classist prison system -- one that disproportionately targets people of color and low-income people, one that privileges private profit over people's lives and communities' well-being. (If you're interested, some people, texts and organizations that have strongly informed my thinking on this are: Angela Davis's "Are Prisons Obsolete?", INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Kristian Williams' "Our Enemies in Blue", Critical Resistance, Justice Now, and the TGI Justice Project (among many others).

I think the prison system, and the U.S. criminal-legal systems, are violent ones. I don't think we will see queer liberation, or justice, through them.

Transformative justice is an alternative concept being discussed by a lot of the organizations I mentioned above, as well as a beautiful group called Generation Five that is working to end childhood sexual abuse within five generations -- understanding that immediate "punishment" of offenders is not ending the violence, and brainstorming other ways that might.

One of the keys to transformative justice is that there is no one-size-fits-all model. It needs to be developed with very particular attention to a given situation's cultural, local, and other contexts. (Gen 5 puts out a few booklets that outline their ideas, some models that have worked, and some ideas for brainstorming in different communities' very specific contexts.)

I realize it's hard to think outside the discipline-and-punish framework because it's the one many of us (especially those of us who are white and/or class-privileged) have been socialized is necessary and will protect us. I don't have the solution, but I am trying to take up the call of Angela Davis, Justice Now, and others to *imagine* what a world without prisons would look like, and what it would take to get us there. And I'd love to see Bilerico readers brainstorm together about what that might look like in particular around responses to violence against queer people.

Thanks again for writing.