Editors’ Introduction

Community Accountability: Emerging Movements to Transform Violence*
- Editors

and know we are not safe…
we’ve learned to fear
for our lives…
Can I stir her back to life
with so much death surrounding us?
Cherríe Moraga

the irony of power,
those who are vulnerable
are a source of strength
—Sista II Sista collective

We have always known.  Race women, Two-Spirit and Indigenous women, US third world feminisms, women of color and trans people of color activisms, and sister outsiders have long understood and exposed the connection between intimate violence and the violence committed by social and state institutions.[1]  Activists have continuously identified and organized around key moments that demonstrate how the state produces and sanctions gendering violence while leveraging criminality and prisons, for example, as violent tools of racialized population control.[2]  At the turn of the 20th century, Ida B. Wells publicly critiqued how the issue of rape was exploited to justify ongoing lynchings of black people, stressing that the lynchings themselves were organized acts of police-sanctioned sexual violence and torture.  During the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, Puerto Rican drag queen, Sylvia Rivera, and others defined by the state as gender and sexual criminals, joined a collective street resistance against violent police assault and repression. The 1974 grassroots movement to free Joan Little—a black woman convicted of murdering a prison guard who attempted to rape her during her incarceration—sparked dynamic coalitions that helped define how prisons facilitated an on-going legacy of institutionalized sexual violence against black women. According to Antonia Castañeda (2005: 87), colonization has historically constructed the bodies of indigenous women and women of color “to effect territorial and political conquest, [while] women constructed and used their bodies, both symbolically and materially, as instruments of opposition, resistance, and subversion.”

The insights of these activists and movements reverberated throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, which witnessed the pervasive expansion of unchecked policing and imprisonment. The prison system expanded through an onslaught of regressive policies, such as privatization; “law and order” policies popularized by leveraging white panic; anti-immigrant policies such as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which increased criminalization of migrants and imposed mandatory detention; the unyielding War on Drugs; and the 1994 Crime Bill and its Violence Against Women Act.

The prison project landed in communities as a pernicious force of violence, with over two million people caged. It also relentlessly inhabited imaginations, creating an epistemic occupation within feminist responses to domestic and sexual violence (or “anti-violence” activism) which shaped political priorities and marginalized dissent.  As anti-violence organizing became “officiated,” activists found that interventions echoing earlier syntheses of intimate and state violence were increasingly disappeared in “official” anti-violence work, which rapidly became less oppositional and more fundamentally integrated with prison and police imperatives. Although some of us have called this transformation a “depoliticization” of the anti-violence movement, the politics of anti-violence work were not rendered neutral. Rather, they were dislocated and repositioned into the repressive state’s powerful, and largely successful, conservative agenda. In this repoliticization, violence against women did not diminish. The prison project invigorated the colonial agenda of racial, classed, gendered, and sexual violence against indigenous peoples and communities of color, while attempting to stymie and redirect consciousness and social movements.

The Color of Violence Conference, which took place on April 28 and 29, 2000, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, brought together over 1,200 people, mostly women of color, who were enlivened by a promise of something different. Since this gathering focused on indigenous women and women of color, their histories and knowledge of violence led to calls for building a social movement that focused on the sources of that violence, including state institutions. We discussed the foundational role of sexual violence from the U.S. colonial project through its contemporary manifestations, as well as the correlative geographies of violence in our intimate lives. “Color of Violence” spoke to our complex and multilayered legacies and experiences of violence, demanding a more nuanced and expanded understanding of the category of “violence against women” that integrated the violence of medical and reproductive control, criminality, poverty, colonization, imperialism, and war.  Many activists of color present at the conference — particularly those within the anti-violence movement — had been engaged in small insurrections at the edges of established institutions of social change and within our families, friendship networks, neighborhoods, and organizing spaces. However, this gathering served as a specific and important intervention for the U.S. anti-violence movement, which had largely abandoned our histories and the political analyses grounded in the stories of our lives.  For two days in late April, even the most cynical among us became excited by the convergence of diverse historical legacies, cultural complexities, spoken and gestured languages, points of critical analysis, and visions of possibility that connected us and examined the violence that we, our mothers, and grandmothers have experienced.

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, an organized surge of multiple collectives and grassroots projects, was created at this historic conference and opened a portal for critique, analysis, and new visions for change, while contributing energy and resources to building on-the-ground alternative responses to violence.[3]  In its first year, INCITE! took this conversation on the road. Through a series of activist institutes across the country, mostly women of color gathered in large and small groups to talk about how we deal with violence in our lives and communities and how we create safety. INCITE! set out to spark imagination and memory, analytically and practically, and to support community agency in healing and transforming violence.  In October 2001, INCITE! convened an activist institute with Sista II Sista—a collective of young and adult working-class Latinas, Afro-Latinas, and black women in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

The institute began with large-group presentations and discussions and then formed smaller groups for brainstorming and strategizing.  Among the issues raised were the specific concerns about a post-September 11 intensification of state violence against communities of color, particularly through surveillance and detention.  The activist institutes created a space where many could recount their histories of violence via deportation, incarceration, family separation, and abuse. It became clear that the anti-violence industry exacerbated violence in and against communities of color by dismissing the complex interplay between state and gendered violence.[4]

The break-out sessions revealed the many ways the anti-violence industry weakened a community’s ability to intervene in all forms of violence by featuring an interdependent set of organized responses that included criminalization, medicalization and nonprofitization. (Rojas, 2006, 2007).  These “official” responses displaced the community’s power to intervene and transform violence, making it an uncomfortable stretch to assume responsibility to dream of ways to autonomously act and intervene in violence. Criminalization replaced the survivor/community through a legal process that positioned the state as plaintiff. Non-profitization’s emphasis on counseling services replaced the possibility of community interventions, and activists were channeled into hyper-specialized roles that narrowly focused on state and funding-imposed reporting schemes. Consistent with a history of colonial and racial politics that subordinate by breaking down a community’s sense of itself as a community, these responses also weakened a community’s ability to imagine violence as a collective injury. It became clear that one of the hurdles to overcome was to re-imagine and re-build ourselves as communities.

A momentous innovation emerged at the New York Activist Institute. During a discussion of alternatives to the violence of criminality and potential organizing strategies, a 12-year-old sista stood with her hand in the air and exclaimed, “Why don’t we make Bushwick a liberation zone for women?” The room became quiet, but the deep, meditative pause was then interrupted by an enlivening set of questions: How would we do that? What would that look like? Where would we start? What would need to be in place? No one doubted its possibility. This young sista’s phrase swiftly illuminated minds that had been clouded by years of state maneuvers to disempower communities. After this moment, members of the group addressed one another differently. We spoke as if we could attain that goal, as a collective ‘we.’ That question sparked our imaginations to think as a community and to imagine solutions and responses not offered by the mainstream anti-violence movement. Sista II Sista then began its campaign to make Bushwick a liberated zone, and INCITE! took steps to deepen its work concerning community accountability.

In 2002, INCITE! joined with Critical Resistance, the prison abolitionist organization that formed in 1999 at the historic conference at U.C. Berkeley, to draft a Joint Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex.[5]  The statement mapped the underlying concepts, principles, and practices that bridged the anti-violence and prison abolitionist movements. Various alternatives to violence emerged within this newly charted space, both informal and institutionalized, which were consistent with the document’s principles and mandates.[6]

New social movement formations arising alongside and within these newly mapped spaces energized community discussions, activist institutes, study groups, cultural work projects, and informal and formal organizational and institutional arenas. These community formations developed concepts and practices that forefront the connection between intimate and community-level harms and those of the state and collaborating institutions. Most importantly, struggles to articulate a radical political agenda and to guide practices on the ground resulted in a new period of innovation, collaboration, and a shared visions across divides. We examined the links between our multiple communities and confronted harms that could not always be attributed to the “other.” The resulting critiques and strategies addressed the material, social, cultural, political, and economic structures and conditions that contribute to the proliferation of violence in our lives.

 Bringing Community Back

Often what seemed like new strategies were reflections of existing community-based responses to violence that had historically been used to call out, contest, and challenge violence. Feminist social movements constructed under the logic and constraints of capitalist commodification, binary entrapments of gender, victim/perpetrator dichotomies, institutionalization and professionalization, and law-and-order cooptation of demands for justice delegitimized and invalidated non-state and non-institutional responses. Following colonial narratives, communities were dismissed as romanticized remnants of a pastoral past or as backward purveyors of harm. Communities also became appendages to policing initiatives or passive participants in the construction of social capital and the upholding of social norms geared toward reproducing capitalism.

Despite their inconsistent and at times ineffective responses to domestic and sexual violence, communities have left a meaningful legacy. Such responses have persevered and are far more common than criminal responses are. Community accountability practices are revealed in family oral histories and in intimate kitchen-table and backroom storytelling. They are present in literary texts such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982), where Sophia challenges Celie to account for her participation—however complicated—in the violence Sophia endured from her husband, Harpo. They are visible in the intuitions of those who have experienced profound violence. People have responded to gendered violence within conditions of specific, sustained, and violent alienation from police, such as the slavery-based construction of black criminality to justify the existence of police and prisons, the systematic confinements of Native Americans, the criminalization of migration, the racial profiling of Arab, South/West Asian, and Muslim communities, the criminalization of sex work and same-sex acts, and the punishment of gender nonconformity (see NNIRR, 2010; Ritchie, 2012; Amaney and Naber, 2007). It would not occur to many of them to entrust the state with problems of family or community violence. That community work remains unnamed, unwritten, and outside the boundaries of political institutions.  As Theryn Kigvamasud’Vashti puts it in an interview entitled “Catalyzing Possibility” in this volume, community accountability efforts have often been imagined simply as “handlin’ your business.”

The last decade of intentional collective thinking and organizing has been a process of recovering the legacy of this work and assessing what can be done within a more sustained, broad-based movement. Generative practices such as imagining, brainstorming, storytelling, inventing, planning, testing, critiquing, archiving, and circulating have reinvigorated processes formerly deemed impractical and ineffectual due to the cultural and epistemological domination of prisons.

Community accountability and community-based approaches challenge us to seriously address violence and intimate harms without reproducing the technologies of individualization, pathology, penality, protection under the authority of heteropatriarchy and white supremacy, and criminalization, all of which continually deny and subvert our notions of safety and justice. We are asked to consider, recover, and build the potential of community while recognizing and disengaging from strategies that undermine the possibility of community formation. Communities must acknowledge the devastating impact of gender and other forms of intimate and community violence and take responsibility for creating new social agreements and everyday forms of political practice.

According to The Revolution Starts at Home Collective, community accountability is “any strategy to address violence, abuse, or harm that creates safety, justice, reparations, and healing without relying on police, prisons, childhood protection services, or any other state systems” (Ching-In et al., 2011). Extending newly articulated principles of liberatory community engagement from our most intimate relationships to broader political action requires the development of many strategies, models, and imaginaries.

Community Accountability: Pitfalls, Portals, and Possibilities

In this issue of Social Justice, community refers to a conceptual and material space, a systematically rationalized and defended location of unchecked violence and a deep well of resources and cultural references that can sustain body, mind, and spirit for individuals and collective formations devoted to disrupting that violence. The writings reflect the dynamic tension that arises when resisting idealized, protectionist notions of community that purport to lessen intra-community violence, among other concerns, and reclaiming the transformative power of community as a critical locus of anti-violence resistance.[7]

This issue provides a sampling of projects that are engaged in community accountability and transformative justice. It reflects critically on some internal aspects and offers comparisons across projects, communities, nations, types of violence, strategies, and political frameworks. It encapsulates a decade of local and national initiatives led by or inspired by allied social movements. Moreover, it illustrates the complexities of integrating the theory and practice of community accountability. One challenge is to shed internalized criminalization without colluding with violence or succumbing to retributive versions of community justice or vigilantism. Another challenge is the dominant liberal rights discourse that demands laws and legislation championing individual benefits or protections while affirming violent state structures without necessarily undoing intracommunity violence.

The issues examined in the following articles have unique sociopolitical contexts and distinct sets of resources, opportunities, and constraints, as well as historical legacies and lineages. Authors call for an integration of critical engagement, knowledge production, and radical political practice arising from struggle and collective organizing. Each reveals the imperfections and brilliance of radical responses to multiple forms of violence that will surely elicit disappointment, accolades, and new sets of questions and challenges.

In the first article, “Moving Beyond Critique: Creative Interventions and Reconstructions of Community Accountability,” Mimi Kim of Creative Interventions reflects on a community accountability project that emerged from the critical juncture of INCITE! and Critical Resistance. Kim shares the motivations and outcomes of two projects that promote knowledge production by documenting and constructing community accountability models based explicitly on non-state and non-social-service violence intervention within informal social and community networks.

In contrast, Andrea Smith’s “Decolonizing Anti-Rape Law and Strategizing Accountability in Native American Tribal Communities” analyzes lawmaking and the contestation of gender-based violence, specifically rape and colonization, in the context of tribal legal practice. Her exploration of Sara Deer’s legal projects suggests that expanding the capacity of tribal lawmaking can challenge gender-based violence against Native women and build the tribal infrastructure necessary for Native sovereignty.

Esteban Lance Kelly follows with a political history of Philly Stands Up, a collective within the punk-anarchist community of West Philadelphia that emerged in response to a series of sexual assaults within that community. Kelly explains how the community attempted to resolve the contradictions of the initial radical-feminist, gender-bifurcated response through an evolving constitution, principles, and internal political practices.

Alisa Bierria’s interview of community organizer Theryn Kigvamasud’Vashti and Aishah Shahidah Simmons, who directed the documentary entitled No!, addresses how this form of media can serve as a technology of community accountability. The discussion reveals the complex dynamics of addressing gender violence in the black community through documentary film and community organizing. Simmons and Kigvamasud’Vashti describe how organizing possibilities opened up and expanded once No! became available, revealing a dynamic relationship between community media and anti-violence mobilization.

Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo and Katherine Ojeda Stewart’s article, “In Our Hands: Community Accountability as Pedagogical Strategy,” shows how the classroom can be a site for the development of community accountability practices. It documents how students and faculty set out to create a community space to assess, witness, and contest the complex linkages of the many forms of violence experienced by Chican@s/Latin@s. The authors reveal intimate lessons about a community’s accountability process and the classroom as a possible space to enact and transform violence.

In her article, “‘Where Them Bloggers At?’ Online Reflections of Rihanna, Accountability, and Subjectivity,” Alisa Bierria considers the role of online media in generating discourse related to accountability in the context of violence against black women.  Exploring internet-based discussions about Rihanna and domestic violence, Bierria examines survivor subjectivity and the investments of others within racialized projects of discerning choice, blame, and consequence.

The concluding piece, “Death and Rebirth of a Movement: Queering Critical Ethnic Studies,” by Cathy Cohen, challenges the often dominant liberal, rights-based identity politics that characterize the outcry over queer youth suicides provoked by homophobic violence. By emphasizing the intersection rather than distinction between violence targeting queer and black, the critiques of several queer social justice organizations resonate with those made against the conventional anti-rape and domestic violence movements. Violence against queer youth is part of a broader context of violence perpetrated against youth of color through a project of pathologizing and criminalizing youth across race, gender, and sexuality.

This issue concludes with reviews of a powerful collection of new books on state violence, social movements, and community-based anti-violence activism.  These texts share a political universe with the strategies, critiques, and political formations discussed in this issue and emerge from common roots. The political sensibilities demonstrated in these examinations, frameworks, and visions are informed by overlapping historical trajectories of state and community violence within left, queer, trans, Arab and Arab-American communities, and other communities of color, and liberatory practices grounded in radical and accountable social movements.

Emerging Social Movements: Connecting Across Communities

This issue would not have been possible without the inspiration and camaraderie of people and institutions working together within and across communities to forge collective resistance to violence in all of its forms. We approach these topics in conversation and diálogo with the many spirits, minds, bodies, and formations. We speak their names to invoke and join in their wisdom, contributions, and energía as we actively engage in the ongoing work related to community accountability and transformative justice. They include: Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center (Seattle); Audre Lorde Project (New York); Casa Atabex Aché (Bronx); Casa Che of La Clinica de la Raza (Oakland); Challenging Male Supremacy (New York); Chrysalis Collective (San Diego); Colorado Anti-Violence Program (Denver); Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) (Seattle); Community United Against Violence (CUAV) (San Francisco); Conciencia Femenil (CSU Long Beach); Creative Interventions (Oakland); Critical Resistance (Oakland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, national); DataCenter (Oakland); Dulwich Centre (Adelaide, Australia); Females United for Action (FUFA) (Chicago); FIERCE (New York); Free Battered Women (San Francisco); Freedom, Inc. (Madison); Gender JUST (Chicago); Generative Somatics (national); generationFIVE (national); Harm Free Zone (Durham, New York); local chapters and affiliates of INCITE! (national); Institute for Family Services (Somerset, NJ); Justice Now (Oakland); Ke Ala Lokahi (Hilo); Kindred (Atlanta); MEChA de San Pancho (SFSU); MALCS (National); The Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse (Seattle); Philly Stands Up (Philadelphia); Project Nia (Chicago); Queer People of Color Addressing Intimate Partner Violence (New York); Queers for Economic Justice (New York); Revolution Starts at Home Collective (national); Rose City Copwatch (Portland); San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) (San Francisco); Shimtuh: Korean Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program (Oakland); Sista II Sista (Brooklyn); Southern California Library (Los Angeles); SpiritHouse (Durham, NC); StoryTelling and Organizing Project (STOP) (national); Support New York (New York); Sylvia Rivera Law Project (New York); Ubuntu (Durham, NC); Third Path (Honolulu); Transforming Silence into Action (TSIA) of Asian Women’s Shelter (San Francisco); Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIP) (San Francisco); Women and Girl’s Collective Action Network (Chicago); Women’s Health and Justice Initiative (WHJI) (New Orleans); Young Women United (Albuquerque); Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP) (Chicago).

This issue of Social Justice is one effort to document and amplify the community accountability work taking place nationally and internationally, particularly over the last decade. Although it focuses on projects and efforts within the United States, these examples also illustrate the generative work across communities and borders — critically so, as the US war on terror and neoliberalism continue to export ideologies and technologies of criminalization as a package of “modernization” and social improvement. Ten years after this historic convergence of the feminist of color anti-violence movement and the prison abolition movement, we are witnessing a powerful collective re-imagination and reconstruction of community and liberatory community-engaged practice with an explicit mandate to interrupt and transform intimate, community, and state violence. This writing emerges within and for the purposes of social movement work. We intend to incite and inspire imaginations, and we ask you to join us in continuing the diálogo and the work to build free and just communities.

The remarkable work done by the collectives and organizations listed above, as well as by many others, has broken crucial and fertile ground. Yet we also challenge ourselves and our political communities to be conscious of the ways in which social movements become institutionalized and inadvertently reproduce patterns of isolation, stifle radical possibility and growth, and lead to forms of commodification that often typify nonprofit and academic culture.

We also urge caution concerning the danger of state cooptation of this work, recognizing the ease with which radical community projects have been appropriated and their oppositional power deactivated. Examples of “alternative responses” and “restorative justice” are already embedded within the prison project, creating the paradox that “alternatives to prison” fundamentally rely on a prison mandate.  As Smith notes in her article in this volume, alternative responses that lack a critique of the state can easily transform community into a supplemental resource, repositioning it to legitimize state intervention rather than to serve as the central agent.

We envision community accountability work that maintains a robust critique of colonial logics; fluidly weaves through innumerable movements, groups, and individuals; exceeds and transgresses the boundaries of institutions; adapts to continuing critique and insights; enjoys a collective, abundant, and sustainable level of resources; is consistent with feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial commitments; and transforms and empowers communities everywhere that violence persists.

REFERENCES

Castañeda, Antonia
2005 “Malinche, Calafia y Toypurina: Of Myths, Monsters, and Embodied Histories.” Rolando Romero and Amanda Nolacea Harris (eds.), Feminism, Nation and Myth: La Malinche. Houston: Arte Público Press: 87.

Chen, Ching-In, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (eds.)
2011 The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities. New York: South End Press: xxiii.

Critical Resistance and INCITE!
2003 “Critical Resistance-INCITE! Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison-Industrial Complex in the United States.” Social Justice 30, 3: 141–150.

Davis, Angela
1975 “Forum: Joanne Little: The Dialectics of Rape” (June). Ms. 3, no 12. pp 74-77.

Davis, Angela
1997 “Interview.” Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd (eds.), The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

Davis, Angela
2000 “The Color of Violence Against Women.” Colorlines 3, 3.

Driskell, Qwo Li, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen (eds.)
2011 Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, & Literature. Tucson, The University of Arizona Press.

Guy-Sheftall, Beverly (ed.)
1995 Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought. New York, The New Press.

INCITE!
2004 “Ad-Hoc Community Accountability Working Group Meeting Report.” At http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=94.

2003 “Community Accountability: Principles, Concerns, Strategies, Models to Collect Lessons from the Activist Institutes and Other Gatherings and to Spark Continued Dialogue and Imagination for Alternative Responses to Violence.” At http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=93.

Jamal, Amaney and Nadine Naber (eds.)
2007 Race and Arab Americans before and after 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects. Syracuse: Syracuse Press.

Lorde, Audre
1984 Sister Outsider. Freedom, The Crossing Press Inc.

Moraga, Cherríe and Gloria Anzaldúa (eds.)
1981 This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Berkeley, Third Woman Press.

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)
2010 “Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime” (December). At http://www.nnirr.org.

Ritchie, Andrea
2012 Violence Every Day: Police Brutality and Racial Profiling Against Women, Girls, and Trans People of Color. New York: South End Press.

Rivera, Sylvia
1998 “‘I’m glad I was in the Stonewall riot’ (Leslie Feinberg Interviews Sylvia Rivera).” New York: Workers World Service.

Rojas, Clarissa
2006 “The Medicalization of Domestic Violence.” Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (ed.), Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology. New York: South End Press.

Rojas, Clarissa
2007 “‘we were never meant to survive:’ Fighting Violence Against Women and the Fourth World War.” Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (ed.), The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. New York: South End Press.

Ross, Loretta
2011 “The Origin of the phrase ‘Women of Color’” (February). At http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82vl34mi4Iw. Video uploaded by westernstatescenter.

Sandoval, Chela
1982 “Feminism and Racism: A Report on the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference.” Gloria Anzaldúa (ed.), Making Face, Making Soul/Hacienda Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, 1990. San Francisco, Aunt Lute Books.

Sandoval, Chela
1991 “US Third World Feminism: the Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World.” Genders 10.

Smith, Andrea
2005 Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide. Cambridge: South End Press.

Stanley, Eric A. and Nat Smith (eds.)
2011 Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland: AK Press.

Sudbury, Julia (ed.)
2005 Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison Industrial Complex. New York: Routledge.

Third World Women’s Alliance
1968 “Statement.” Rosalyn Baxandall and Linda Gordon (eds.), Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement, 2000. New York: Basic Books.

Walker, Alice
1982 The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

NOTES


[1] This list is a small sampling of political identities and collective knowledges constructed through particular historical trajectories of U.S.-based social movements that analyzed and resisted violence designed to control (through) the junctures of race, gender, land, nation, sexuality, and class.   “Race women” was a term widely used by black women organizing within the sexual politics of sustained racial violence against black people in the late 19th to mid-20th century (Guy-Sheftall, 1995). “Two-Spirit” came into use in Canadian and U.S. indigenous social movements in the late 1990′s. The term subverts colonial attempts to decimate queer indigenous gender and sexual subjectivities (Driskell, Finley, Gilley, & Morgensen, 2011).  “Indigenous women” forefronts indigeneity as a critical element of identity given the centrality of gendered violence in the genocidal project of land theft and occupation (Smith, 2005). “US third world feminism” highlights social movements led by women in the US who were, as Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa write, “vulnerable to the many-headed demon of oppression,” and who developed radical anti-imperialist and transnational feminist identities, epistemologies, and politics through the mid to late 20th century (Moraga & Anzaldúa, 1981; Sandoval, 1982; Third World Women’s Alliance, 1968).  “Women of color” as a political formation has been traced back to numerous coalitional efforts such as in the 1977 National Women’s Conference (Ross, 2011), feminist interventions such as the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference (Sandoval, 1982), and political work that had already begun from different contexts, such as organizing initiated by black women (Ross, 2011) and by “lesbians of color,” a term which some have noted began to circulate prior to “women of color” (Davis, 1997). “Trans people of color” is a term adopted more recently to map transgender people whose identities and experiences occupy the policed terrain of racialized gender non-conformity (Stanley & Smith, 2011; Ritchie, 2012).   “Sister outsider” is a reference from Audre Lorde’s collection of writings, Sister Outsider, which identified difference as a key prism through which to understand the manifestation of oppression and violence (Lorde, 1984). These ideas, activisms, and political identities are dynamic in timeline and form, and they continue to shift, grow, and transform the collective imaginary of radical anti-violence work.  They can be tracked through to more recent work such as Kimberle Crenshaw’s application of “intersectionality” (Crenshaw, 1991) or Chela Sandoval’s description of “oppositional consciousness” (Sandoval, 1991) as radical methodologies.  Considering these  trajectories together, while recognizing their sometimes distinct, sometimes overlapping historical and political contexts, suggests rich projects for re-imagining the historiography of anti-violence praxis in the US.

[2] We refer variously to gender, gendered and gendering violence to reflect the unstable, flexible and changing nature of these referent forms of violence. In particular, we introduce “gendering” violence to denote the ways some forms of violence are not only based upon or shaped by gender processes but also actively shape, constrain and control constructions of gender. The term “gendering violence” helps us understand violence as a tactic in gender-making processes. By shifting the noun/adjective gender/gendered to a verb form, we also highlight the gender-making process as constantly in flux, in process, in the midst of being re-made. The noun/adjective forms of gender/gendered can reference and reproduce a fixed gender binary.  These terms simultaneously reference a reductive and isolationist tendency to understanding the complexities of violence as not neatly reducible and divisible to solely gender, a referent that can obfuscate the politics of colonial, racial, and sexual violence.

[3] INCITE! began in 2000 as a movement explicitly consisting of people who identify as women of color.   Members have since been engaged in deepening a politic that recognizes the central role of colonization and white supremacy in gender construction and policing in the US, and developing its political space such that people of color who identify as trans and/or gender non-conforming are integral.

[4] The massive twenty-first century reordering of the U.S. government under the guise of concerns over terrorism continues to expand and intensify policing, detention, and incarceration of people of color and migrants. The prison-industrial complex expanded with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Control Enforcement Agency and with the many regressive policies and military invasions and occupations initiated during the war on terror. Though framed in the language of security, anti-terrorism, and anti-violence, the state unleashed terrorizing violence against communities of color in the United States and throughout the world. However, such framing made the anti-violence against women movement, and its many federally funded agencies and projects, complicit with these countless forms of state violence.

[5] See Critical Resistance and INCITE! (2003).

[6] See INCITE! (2003, 2004). In 2003, INCITE! drafted its community accountability principles. In 2004, it joined Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA), a Seattle-based community organization led by survivors of violence who placed anti-rape work at the center of their organizing for social justice. Together, they convened an Ad-Hoc Community Accountability Working Group Meeting to discuss community accountability in progressive, radical, and revolutionary movements consisting of people of color. See INCITE! (2004) for a report on the gathering, including a call to action and preliminary recommendations.

[7] We reference community as a fluid, flexible concept, with porous and multiplicitous forms.

*The text above is the correct version of the introduction to this collection.  An earlier draft is printed erroneously in the hard copy of the Social Justice journal.

4 responses to “Editors’ Introduction

  1. Pingback: Community Accountability: Creating a Knowledge Base | Community Accountability

  2. Pingback: A Theory of Violence: In memory of Kasandra, CeCe, Victoria, Savita and Anonymous « The Crunk Feminist Collective

  3. Pingback: A Theory of Violence: In Honor of Kasandra, CeCe, Victoria, Savita and Anonymous « The Crunk Feminist Collective

  4. Pingback: Sexual Violence against Native Women | WMS 189: Sexuality in the Americas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s