Truthout has an interview published from Yes! Magazine, “Science Fiction and the Post-Ferguson World: There as many ways to exist as we can imagine.” Mary Hansen interviews writer and activist Walidah Imarisha about police violence and how science fiction, or what she calls visionary fiction, can guide us in imagining a society free of violence and oppression. Everything Walidah discusses is great, but I want to zero in on two sections of the interview that really resonated with me. The first is when Walidah explains how we need to shift our thinking away from the state keeping us safe and imagining strategies to address harm in our communities that are non-punitive and focused on healing and wholeness. The second is when she talks about how the violence of poverty, gentrification, and economic displacement are not considered crimes by the state; they’re the system functioning as usual. These are ideas that are relatively new to me, so I’m still processing them and working out what I think a society without violence looks like. Similar to most people, I had been ingrained with the idea that racism, poverty, and other oppressions will always exist, and while we can work to decrease their occurrence, they will never completely disappear. Organizing with Project Nia/Girl Talk and CAFMA, which exposed me to the work of Beth Richie, Incite Women of Color Against Violence, Dorothy Roberts, and others, I was smacked in the face with these radical (they shouldn’t be considered radical, but the norm) ideas.
In Using Science Fiction to Re-invision Justice, Walidah writes about how visionary fiction can offer us a way to reimagine a future without prisons, police, and capitalist heteropatriarchy. In Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, an anthology she edited along with Adrienne Maree Brown, organizers create visionary fiction worlds that grapple with how we can address harm without punitive systems. Walidah says, “We started the anthology with the belief that all organizing is science fiction. When we talk about a world without prisons; a world without police violence; a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education; a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism; we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist. But collectively dreaming up one that does means we can begin building it into existence.”
I am so excited about reading this anthology and letting it guide me to more imaginative thinking about the world I want to live in, not only a world without police and prisons, but a world where everyone lives in decent housing, has enough healthy food to eat, and access to health care. Just reading this piece has really inspired to write my visionary ideas down about what a world without prisons and police looks like. I started writing a short story about a group of people who escaped violence and oppression on Earth by traveling to another planet. They have built communities that utilize transformative justice to address harm and conflict. Through this story I am thinking through how various restorative and transformative justice practices can work currently and in the better world we are trying to build.