Incite!’s Color of Violence 4 Conference, Beyond the State: Inciting Transformative Possibilities was a beautiful, engaging, overwhelming (in a good way!) and fulfilling experience. I loved being surrounded by all those beautiful, intelligent and radical women and trans people of color.
The first day, on Thursday, I attended the evening panel discussions, which were full of radical wisdom from women of color I have admired for a long time. The first panel, Ending Gender Violence Beyond Carceral Feminisms, included activists and visionaries Andrea Ritchie, Andy Smith, Rasmea Odeh, Reina Gossett, Nada Elia, Shira Hasaan, Soniya Munshi, and Ashley Yates. Everything everyone said was amazing, but I want to highlight an idea that was put forth that really embedded itself in my brain. It was from Reina Gossett, Activist Fellow at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women: “Visibility often operates within the rubric of respectability. Those deemed least respectable are seen as disposable. “The least “respectable” ways of being alive are most powerful ways of resisting the state.”
The second panel was….I can’t even think of words to do it justice. Marissa Alexander (through Skype), her mom Helen Jenkins, CeCe McDonald, Yvonne Swan and Renata Hill elaborated on their experiences and what kept them going despite the levels upon levels of violence they experienced. Marissa and her mother talked a lot about having faith in a higher power and the power of prayer. For both Marissa and CeCe, they were also inspired by the life and words of Angela Davis; and CeCe had a poster of Marissa on the walls of prison cell she was in. The organizers of this conference are bad-ass! Angela Davis, Marissa and CeCe were all together in one room; amazing! CeCe also said something that I think is very important to how we frame our fight against oppression: “I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be loved from the soul.”
I learned so much from all of the workshops/panels I attended on Friday and Saturday. Choosing among workshops was such an agonizing choice; I wanted to attend all of them! Probably the most fulfilling workshop for me was Dreaming Change: Collective Sci Fi/Visionary Storytelling, led by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha. I have been following Adrienne’s blog and Twitter for a few years now, and I absolutely love her writing and ideas; and I’ve recently started reading Walidah’s writing in Yes! Magazine and Bitch Magazine on using what she terms visionary fiction to work through ideas of transformative justice and a world without prisons and police. They led a great workshop on visionary fiction and the different ways we can envision a world without prisons and police. A really cool strategy that was mentioned included taking the most marginalized characters in a mainstream sci fi show, and creating a separate story around them, using visionary fiction principles. Adrienne and Walidah really helped me think more creatively and now I have different story ideas in my head!
This Color of Violence conference was a fantastic ending to Women’s History Month and my birthday week! I look forward to continuing learning, thinking through and strategizing around transformative justice, accountability, and reproductive justice.