To Abolish Prisons and Militarism, We Need Anti-Imperialist Abolition FeminismNadine Naber and Clarissa Rojas
July 16, 2021
Truthout“In this society, safety and security will not be premised on violence or the threat of violence; it will be based on a collective commitment to guaranteeing the survival and care of all peoples.”
Abolition begins with dismantling the heterosexist, racial and imperial framework of the military and prison industries., INCITE! Community News via Facebook “In this society, safety and security will not be premised on violence or the threat of violence; it will be based on a collective commitment to guaranteeing the survival and care of all peoples.” — Critical Resistance/INCITE! Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial ComplexSince the turn of the 21st century, the prison- and military-industrial complexes have not only expanded, but they are revealing now more than ever how deeply intertwined they are. At this moment of multiple global crises and the spirit of prison abolition in the air, we must seek paths toward confronting militarism, imperialism and the prison-industrial complex at once.We write as former co-organizers of the feminist antiwar and anti-militarism task forces within the INCITE! movement of radical feminists of color organizing to end the interconnected realities of state violence and violence within our communities. Since its inception in 2000, INCITE! recognized that it is impossible to seriously address sexual/domestic violence within communities of color without addressing these larger structures of violence, such as militarism, prisons, attacks on immigrants’ rights and Indian treaty rights, economic neocolonialism, and the medical industry. INCITE! organizers understood the entrenched relationship between the military-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex. Our organizing against U.S.-led militarism and war during the decade following the attacks of September 11, 2001, emerged in tandem with INCITE!’s work toward abolishing prisons: a political vision insisting that prisons and policing do not keep people safe and that to build safe and healthy communities we must move away from relying on carceral strategies like punishment, containment and prisons.The INCITE! movement offered up what we call anti-imperialist abolitionist feminism: a vision insisting that in order to abolish the prison-industrial complex we are going to need to dismantle the colonial heterosexist, racial and imperial underpinnings of carcerality. We believe that this approach can expand anti-militarist and abolitionist struggles through a politics of joint struggle or coalition. As we reflect on this movement, we are reminded of the urgent need to continue to grow coalitional anti-militarist abolitionist movement approaches today.In order to move toward an anti-imperialist abolition feminist future, we must start by bearing witness to some of the many ways the prison- and military-industrial complexes are bound together. Here are just a few recent instances that make this connection plain:In Oakland, California, in January 2020, the Alameda County Sheriff’s department engaged in an act of war and reproductive violence when it used military-grade tanks and weapons to raid and evict Black mothers and babies from the home where they were staying.Local, state and federal governments have intensified the militarized criminalization of resistance, as evidenced by the trumped-up charges, protracted legal battles and the conflation of resistance to state violence with “terrorism.” We saw this in Ferguson, at Standing Rock, and throughout the abolitionist uprisings that emerged across the U.S. over the past year.The case of Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh exemplifies the collaboration between immigration control, U.S. prisons and the war of Incarcerated by the Israeli state in 1967 based on a confession achieved through sexualized torture, Odeh was displaced from her land to the U.S. In 2017, the U.S. targeted Odeh for deportation. Arrested for “immigration fraud” vis-à-vis a U.S. prosecutor who portrayed her as a “terrorist” to the jury using Israeli-produced and fabricated documents, Odeh was incarcerated in a U.S. women’s prison in Detroit before her deportation to Jordan. She continues to be denied access to her homeland, Palestine.The expansion of militarized immigration control steered by the Department of Homeland Security has escalated the killing, deportation and incarceration of migrants. Meanwhile, U.S. policy in the Americas is furthering these root causes of migration/displacement: the historic and ongoing imperialist invasion and interventions to privatize and militarize México, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and elsewhere.In order to abolish the prison-industrial complex we are going to need to dismantle the colonial heterosexist, racial and imperial underpinnings of carcerality.Like generations before us, we are facing the ongoing life of colonialism. The U.S. was founded on and grows its power through the tactic of genocide, including the colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands, slavery, exploitation of migrants, mass incarceration, increasing police violence and economic warfare, all of which rely upon sexualized violence, as INCITE!’s 2001 antiwar packet notes. This analysis views U.S. militarism and the prison-industrial complex as simultaneously essential to sustaining the power of the U.S. as an empire today. With a determined commitment to eschew its derivatives and mobilize the end of U.S. domination, INCITE!’s antiwar posters testified, “Genocide ≠ Justice: Only We Can Liberate Ourselves.”How might a coalitional anti-imperialist abolitionist feminism approach some of the most urgent issues today? A coalitional approach to abolition commits us to take up the struggles to decolonize and to dismantle racial capitalism, heteropatriarchy, militarism, war and border control. These examples of how coalitional approaches are addressing these struggles emanate from the collective theories and practices of coalitional feminist-of-color insurgencies, including INCITE! We can witness this approach today in political formations mobilizing at the coalitional nexus of many movements. As we strive to guarantee the present and future survival and care of all peoples today, we must grow coalitional and joint struggle strategies like anti-imperialist abolition feminism.Abolishing Prisons, Detention and Policing Requires DecolonizationForegrounding a critique of the U.S. nation-state reveals that the ongoing life of U.S. empire depends on the colonial strategy to capture and confine both lands and peoples, in part to extract their gifts. The prison-industrial complex combined with the U.S.-México border and war are functions of this colonial strategy.The potential for those same social conditions and practices that make prisons unfathomable also make war, empire and colonial occupation no longer relevant.Therefore, abolition requires decolonization and an end to imperialism. What do abolition, decolonization and an end to imperialism truly require?A return to Indigenous stewardship of the land. Movements like #LandBack call for the return of lands to decolonizing Indigenous stewardship. The violence of prisons, detention, policing and the environmentally catastrophic development of border walls all take place on unceded lands and waterways.Abolishing racial capitalism. Capitalist social organization requires the hierarchical ordering of life. It utilizes racial ideologies and violence to structure and legitimize settler-colonial claims of ownership and the accumulation of land and labor. Prisons, policing, war and borders produce and depend on the capitalist technologies of racism and white supremacy.Abolishing heteropatriarchy. Heteropatriarchy is a colonial racial strategy that produces gender and sexual binary hierarchies through violence. Policing, detention, prisons and war produce and depend on heteropatriarchal racial-sexual violence. Methods of sexualized torture and degradation are shared between prisons, the military, police and immigration control, reinforcing the heteropatriarchal “war culture” that permeates U.S. schools, hospitals and civil society.Abolishing the military. Militarism and policing are inseparable material forces enacting the colonial strategy to confiscate land and life. They produce genocide. They populate concentration camps like prisons and detention centers. They are the force behind the colonial and racial capitalist idea of land and people as property. As scholar-activist Sangeetha Ravichandran explained to us, “The U.S. empire’s surveillance, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency have been imported from the global war into policing practices domestically and have always had an import/export approach to their carceral strategies.”An end to imperialist war. As INCITE! organizer and abolitionist Andrea Richie contends: through imperialist wars, the U.S. operates as the global police. Consider, for example, how U.S.-led global policing has transferred the incarceration of prisoners to secret prisons (for instance, in Guantánamo, Somalia and Egypt), funded authoritarian regimes from the Philippines to Egypt and far beyond, which incarcerate activists resisting U.S.-led wars, and then remade secret prisons in the U.S. in places like Homan Square in Chicago. We believe that imperialist wars also strengthen the power of the U.S. domestically and globally, while expanding its settler-colonial project and exporting its practices of enslavement and elimination. U.S. imperial wars target countries directly (through bombing and invasion) or indirectly (through support of dictators, supplying military infrastructure, or economic warfare like sanctions and neoliberal restructuring). In Israel, the U.S supports settler colonialism to expand U.S. empire and Israeli soldiers train U.S. law enforcement on how to combat activists with military force, reinforcing racial and heteropatriarchal U.S. systems of policing and prisons.Abolishing ICE, the border patrol and colonial borders, including border walls, virtually surveilled borders, and racial/sexual/national citizenship hierarchies. Colonial borders and border wars and walls are sustained through sexual violence such as the rape and forced hysterectomies of detained migrants. Colonial borders and border wars and walls divide Indigenous lands and peoples. Returning the land to Indigenous stewardship requires bringing down colonial border walls. Demands for an end to colonial borders must be accountable to the Indigenous peoples living on those lands. Policing and militarism depend on the racial, sexual and nation-based colonial strategy of citizenship hierarchies. Citizenship hierarchies populate prisons and detention centers; they lead to the separation of children from caretakers, constitute fragmented kin structures and turn survivors of U.S. military invasions into unfree labor.Abolishing the very ideas of a crime and a criminal. Decolonization and the abolition of prisons, policing and detention requires abolishing the very ideas of a crime and a criminal. Criminalization is the racial and heteropatriarchal process whereby peoples’ ways of being in the world (including cultural practices and survival tactics) come to be seen as criminal. Definitions of crime and the bodies that come to be framed as criminal are functions of colonial racial and heteropatriarchal logics.Embracing, defending, growing and uplifting resistance movements. The U.S. state has a long history of repressing resistance through racial and sexual militarized policing, detention, the incarceration of political prisoners, and the conflation of activists with war criminals, terrorists or enemies of the nation. U.S.-backed global policing — as we saw when the U.S.-backed authoritarian regime in Egypt used “virginity testing” and denuding of women protesters in an attempt to shame women of the Arab Spring revolutions into silence — relies on sexualized violence to contain activists, journalists, lawyers, human rights advocates, and anyone challenging U.S. empire.Building collective consciousness and social organization, nurturing the capacity for empathy, care and intimacy. Colonialism, racial capitalism and heteropatriarchy rely on systems of policing, prisons and detention to debilitate and incapacitate the masses by separating and individualizing. They disrupt kin relations, collective social organization and intimacies.Our hope is that calls to end prisons and policing recognize that the entire scope of violence must be faced if we are to survive.Today, we can find these discussions in the praxis of building feminist abolitionist futures through transformative justice and community accountability practices, harm reduction and mutual aid. In an effort to further the integration of anti-imperialism and prison abolition, we are reminded of the urgent Black feminist abolitionist vision that potentiates a set of social conditions where prisons are unfathomable. And we posit that the potential for those same social conditions and practices that make prisons unfathomable also make war, empire and colonial occupation no longer relevant, or even imaginable.How do we do the work of undoing carcerality in the broadest sense? How do we undo the work that carcerality does to stitch together a social landscape productive of strengthening the U.S. nation-state and its global racist, capitalist, heteropatriarchal expansion, imaginaries and structures? How can movements advance abolition while mobilizing in ways that undo the colonial-imperial underpinnings of carcerality? How do we counter militaristic practice through our daily life, socialities and intimacies in ways that undo the inner workings of empire with its attendant divisions, extractivist accumulation, violence and torture? What socialities, relationalities and intimacies get animated at the convergence of the decolonial, counter-carceral and anti-imperialist ways of being in the world? What do the decolonial, anti-militarist and abolitionist commitments and sensibilities foster in our relations with each other, with the land, with ourselves? What other colonial institutions and techniques of violence grow in irrelevance as we invoke the decolonial and abolitionist imagination and corresponding practices?One of the most salient lessons in our years organizing with INCITE! was that fostering alternatives emerge in practice, working collectively and in coalitions. Against the capitalist approach that urges us to produce — Presto! you made an abolitionist society! — INCITE! taught us that movement work is constantly becoming, that we build on legacies and lessons learned through practice. The goal then, of a decolonial abolitionist feminism is not a liberated utopian world without police, prisons or war, but rather a process where over time we learn and remember the skills for living better, in better relation with one another and all life, on the path to ending violence.So, what can we do to build a world without policing or militarism? In addition to asserting that the police and prisons do not keep us safe or protect us, indeed the same can be said about the U.S. nation-state and its imperialist wars and policing of its borders. Perhaps we don’t need them anymore. When we defund the military, ICE and the police, we must also defund U.S. support for authoritarian dictators, puppet regimes and Israeli settler-colonialism, which sustain the global economic networks of U.S.-backed prisons, torture of activists, policing, border walls and control, and secret prisons/black sites. Our hope is that calls to end prisons and policing recognize that the entire scope of violence must be faced if we are to survive.And if we were to abolish courts and prisons and cops, border patrol and ICE and U.S.-led empire, with what would we be left? Everything.By affirming an anti-colonial and anti-imperialist feminist abolition, we are also affirming the core belief that if we want to abolish prisons, we are going to have to dismantle systems that cage and punish while also dismantling the structure of the U.S. nation-state and its local and global extractivist and expansionist systems of genocide and war, ethnic cleansing, displacement and dispossession.Coalitional feminist of color movements, as we witnessed with INCITE!’s organizing at the turn of the 21st century, coalesce the visionary impulses of generations of struggles against slavery, displacement, genocide, feminicide and military invasions which are produced by the conditions of colonial heteropatriarchy and racial capitalism. The convergence of shared struggles for liberation today can enliven the potentiating ancestor-inspired dreams and practices of nurturing feminist of color socialities of care and nurturing relations with the land and each other through the wielding of cultural wisdom practices and a commitment to practices of just and accountable self-determination. And if we were to abolish courts and prisons and cops, border patrol and ICE and U.S.-led empire, with what would we be left? Everything.
Bob Moses, civil rights leader, educational advocate and pioneer in grassroots community organizing whose efforts played a key role in helping Black Mississippians gain basic rights, died Sunday at the age of 86.The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project’s 60th Anniversary Conference posted on social media:”We honor his vision, tenacity, and fearlessness. His deep belief in people who find themselves in the socio/economic bottom made a fundamental difference for millions of his fellow Americans,” the SNCC Legacy Project said in a statement.
In the Wake of Jovenel Moise’s Assassination: Building Solidarity with Haiti’s Popular Movement
by Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee
Today, in Haiti, the violent rule of Jovenel Moise has come to a violent end. Moise himself had recently said he had “about a million enemies”, and that was undoubtedly true. In his effort to maintain power and exercise full dictatorial control, he not only sparked a powerful grassroots uprising, but angered other factions within Haiti’s elite.
It may take quite a while to fully decipher the internecine battles within ruling circles that led to his demise. In the midst of all the confusion and sensationalism surrounding what happened — Colombian hit squads, a Haitian American doctor and politician arrested as a conspirator, the supposed ignorance of the U.S. Embassy as armored SUVs rolled up on Moise’s house, DEA informants and other U.S. assets involved in the plot, the arrest of Moise’s head of palace security — we need to analyze the fundamental issues at stake in Haiti right now.
As we do this, it is important to identify and reject the racist tropes that have always dominated mainstream media discussion of Haiti and are once again at play. From the time of its revolution against the brutal French slave system, and its historic victory against that system, Haiti has been derided and demonized. In the wake of Moise’s assassination, we have been subjected to the usual racial code words: “dysfunction”, “chaos”, “gang warfare”, “failed state”. All of this hides the guiding hand of the United States and other imperial powers in creating the conditions that have brought about this disastrous period for Haitians. And it studiously ignores the steadfast fight for democracy, education, health care and dignity embodied by Haiti’s unshakeable popular movement.
An op-ed in The Washington Post stated, without a trace of irony: “There’s a hidden story here — one that is rarely discussed — when countries such as Haiti (my emphasis) – so often end up with toxic, destructive leaders.” An editorial in the same newspaper called for a stepped-up United Nations occupation, asking “Does Anyone Have A Better Idea?”, ignoring the fact that the current 17-year UN occupation brought a deadly cholera epidemic, rampant sexual exploitation, and violent repression of the popular movement. The “better idea”, of course, is for Haitians to determine their own destiny, free from the corrupt and dictatorial regimes imposed upon them by foreign forces.
Today’s crisis in Haiti has its roots in the 2004 U.S.-orchestrated coup against the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization. Lavalas means “flash flood” in Creole, signifying the gathering together of people’s power. The Lavalas movement emerged in the struggle to rid Haiti of the U.S.-backed Duvalier dictatorships in the 1980’s, and brought Aristide into office in 1991 and then again in 2001. Under Lavalas administrations, more schools were built than in Haiti’s entire history, funding was dramatically increased for public health and literacy projects, the minimum wage was doubled, and the brutal Haitian Armed Forces was abolished. This was all laid waste when the U.S. organized a coup d’etat against Aristide and then orchestrated a UN occupation to derail this process of progress and change.
Instead of the steps towards inclusion, economic and social reform under Aristide, which he characterized as moving “from misery to poverty with dignity”, for the last 17 years Haitians have had to deal with yet another foreign occupation, this time by the United Nations, and a series of reactionary regimes that have looted the state treasury, increased food insecurity and poverty, and organized terror campaigns against the opposition. The unraveling that Haiti is experiencing today flows directly from this assault on Haiti’s nascent democracy, and on its sovereignty.
Moise was a U.S.-backed tyrant, ruling by decree, handpicked by his mentor and predecessor, Michel Martelly of the right-wing PHTK party, whose own election in 2010 had been orchestrated by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2015, Moise’s sham election as president was denounced as an “electoral coup d’etat” by the grassroots movement in Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians took to the streets every day for over two months, forcing the election results to be annulled. The follow-up election was just as illegitimate — filled with fraud, voter suppression, and intimidation. Yet the U.S.,UN and the OAS immediately sanctioned its legitimacy, setting the stage for his Duvalier-like dictatorship.
From the day he was selected, Moise’s regime was a testament to corruption and terror. Implicated in a money laundering scheme during Martelly’s presidency, Moise was accused of having taken in $5 million for his role in the scheme. After he assumed office, he simply removed the head of the agency that had done the investigation. Throughout Haiti, Moise was known as the “indicted one”.
Soon after, the Petrocaribe scandal exploded. Venezuela had provided Haiti with oil for years at well below the market rate. With the profits from the oil sales, the Haitian government was supposed to fund schools, hospitals and other social programs. Instead, under both Martelly and Moise, the money disappeared, pocketed by government officials, to the tune of over $3 billion. “Where is the Petrocaribe money?” was the slogan as a full-scale uprising demanded Moise’s resignation.
As mass protests grew and his government teetered, Moise turned to full-scale terror, weaponizing criminal elements and turning them into death squads backed by sectors of his police force (financed and trained by the United States), and using them to attack opposition neighborhoods. The most horrific example was in Lasalin in November 2018, where hundreds were killed, women were gang raped, and people’s homes were burned to the ground, forcing a mass exodus out of the community. Operating with impunity, paramilitary forces tied to Moise’s government, including the so-called G-9 led by ex-police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, unleashed a wave of violence throughout the poorest communities of Port-au-Prince, making life in the country unlivable. Tens of thousands of Haitians have had to flee their homes, becoming internal refugees, in order to escape the death squads. Kidnappings have soared in Port-au-Prince, where even market vendors with little or no resources have been abducted.
This was the regime that the U.S. and the UN occupation supported with unwavering political backing and millions of dollars in aid. In the wake of the assassination, we are seeing more of the same, with hardly any disguise. For example, on July 18th, the U.S. and its colonial Core Group (a consortium composed of the U.S, France, Germany, Canada, Brazil, the OAS, the UN, Germany, Spain and the European Union) announced their support for Ariel Henri, who Moise had designated as Prime Minister two days before his death. Within a day, the interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, resigned. The Core Group then urged Henri to form a new government, which undoubtedly will follow in the footsteps of the Moise and Martelly regimes. These moves, and others that are sure to come, are designed to perpetuate elite control of Haiti, with new faces at the top, and to marginalize the role of the mass popular movement
We should be clear, in this regard, on the positions taken over the last months by the Biden Administration. When a new wave of large-scale protests erupted in Haiti this past February, demanding that Moise leave office, particularly since his term had officially expired on February 7th, the Biden State Department and the OAS announced its support for him to stay one more year and to organize a new set of elections in September. Their backing is what allowed Moise to retain power. The Biden Administration continues to insist that new presidential and Parliamentary elections should be held in September, under the aegis of the current Haitian government. This rush to a new set of phony elections is designed to keep elite and foreign control of Haiti. It has been opposed by the popular movement, which is demanding instead a transitional government of public safety (Sali Piblik), constructed by broad sectors of Haitian society, which could then establish a basis for free and fair elections.
In 2019, as popular mobilizations against the Moise regime surged, Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization stated:
It is imperative that we respect the people’s aspirations for progress and for a just society. It is paramount that we stand in solidarity with the people’s protests demanding a new form of state. The nation deserves a new system that is more in harmony with the dreams of our founders, a new vision of the republic rooted in justice, transparency and participation… No cosmetic solution will bring an effective and lasting solution to the crisis in which we are plunged. This system has run its course. It cannot be patched up. It must be changed.
As we build solidarity with Haiti over this next period, as we oppose continued foreign intervention, and as we challenge the U.S. government’s on-going sabotage of Haitian democracy, we should keep those words in mind.
We need to demand the following:
1. Cut off all US aid for the Haitian police once and for all.2. Stop the Biden Administration’s support for the PHTK regime regardless of what new figurehead becomes president.3. End US support for sham elections in Haiti4. Support the right of the Haitian people to form, through their own popular movement, their own transition government free from US interference. No more US/UN military intervention in Haiti.
Robert Roth is an educator and a co-founder of Haiti Action CommitteeQuestions and comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)— the largest slave revolt since Spartacus’ unsuccessful insurrection against the Romans in 72 BC—was one of the greatest revolutions in world history, and the only successful slave uprising leading to the establishment of a free state governed by non-whites and formerly captive workers. Led by Toussaint Louverture, formerly enslaved himself, the Haitian Revolution struck fear and rage among the slavers, white supremacists, and imperial masters, even as it heartened and inspired freedom-loving peoples everywhere. The counter revolution continues, and we are honored to be joined in a wide-ranging conversation by Walter Riley, a civil rights attorney in Oakland California, winner of the National Lawyers Guild’s Champion of Justice Award, and a founder of Haiti Emergency Relief.
Dear Tucker Carlson,
Hey Tuck, I just got done watching a segment of your show. You know, the one where you suggest that there should be a camera in every classroom in order to root out…let me get this accurate…”civilization ending poison.” https://twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/status/1412566208763895810
I’m going to zig where you thought most teachers would zag. I welcome your Orwellian cameras in my classroom. Frankly, I don’t know many teachers who would object to having people watch what we do. As a matter of fact, I hate to tell you this Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, but most of us spent the last year having video cameras in our classrooms.
See, I think you believe that your suggestion that people see what happens in our classrooms will somehow scare teachers. The truth of it is that we have been begging for years to have people, such as yourself, come into our classrooms. I somewhat famously asked Ms. DeVos to visit a public school before she became Secretary of Education (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/an-introduction-from-public-school-teachers-to-betsy_b_5845e2fbe4b0707e4c8171a3). It’s unclear whether she has yet to set foot in an actual public school classroom, but I digress. I sense that you think you’ll see all of us pinko teachers speaking endlessly about Critical Race Theory leading to…and again, let me get this right, “civilization ending poison.” I’ve been in a lot of classrooms (more than you I am willing to bet) and I think you’re going to be disappointed on that front.
What happens in America’s classrooms is teaching and learning. Your “spy cameras” will see teachers and students working together to be better every day. I’ll tell you what I saw on a tour of classrooms not that long ago. I saw a group of kindergartners trying to create bridges over running water with basic classroom supplies in a lesson about collaboration. I saw a high school literature class talking about the character development in The Glass Menagerie. I saw a middle school history class participating in group project where they had to solve problems in a fictional city, with specifics of how they would utilize resources and build public support for their projects. Anyone watching your cameras will see learning…all day every day.
For those who watch your “nanny cams” carefully, they’ll see a lot of other things as well. They will see teachers working with students who have vastly different life experiences. They will see students who are fluent in multiple languages working with teachers to become proficient in yet one more language. They will see students who are hungry get their one solid meal a day in the cafeteria. They will see students itching for more fine arts, industrial technology, or world languages to be offered in their school. In my classroom, if we’re being honest, they’ll probably hear some sketchy intonation from my saxophones, and I promise we’re working on it. But for sure, they will see learning…all day every day.
To be honest, I’m fascinated by the logistics of your proposal. In a world where school districts are struggling to recruit and maintain teachers, who is going to man your “citizen review boards” (setting aside the fact that public school teachers already answer to publicly elected school boards)? For instance, in my school district I sense you would need well over 500 cameras going every day. Who watches those 500 screens 10 hours a day (I want you watching my 7 am jazz band and my after school lessons)? What qualifications would these “experts” need to know what they were watching for? What happens when they catch a teacher teaching…let me get this right…”civilization ending poison?” Who do they report that to? I’m also curious who will pay for all of this incredible technology. Maybe I missed it, but can you point me to a K-12 institution where Critical Race Theory is being taught? Hell, can you define Critical Race Theory for all of us? I’m sure you’ve got answers to all of these questions.
Frankly, I’ve never been able to figure out, instead of dreaming up Orwellian plans to have Big Brother in all of our classrooms, why you don’t round up an army of bright young conservatives to actually step up and teach? Is it because teachers work hard, aren’t paid as much as those with similar educational backgrounds, don’t have support from our elected officials, constantly serve as punching bags for those who don’t understand public education, or is it just because it’s easier to throw rocks at a house than to build one?
Here’s the real deal Tuck, I grew up with my mom making me eat your family’s Salisbury Steaks once every couple of weeks (his family makes Swanson TV dinners) for many years. I struggle to take advice on teaching and learning from a guy who makes a steak that, on its best day, tastes like shoe leather that has been left out in a goat pasture for a few weeks. I get that Critical Race Theory is your latest attempt to scare your easily manipulated demographic, but let’s just admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
With all of that being said, count me on the cameras Tucky. Like many teachers, I’m in the early stages of understanding Critical Race Theory (most of us hadn’t heard about it until you and your people started crying about it), but if you find me teaching it, have one of the Tucker Youth watching your surveillance devices let me know. If Critical Race Theory involves talking honestly about American history, I’m probably doing that sometimes. I spent much of the last six years advocating for a way for teaching to become more transparent, and in the dumbest way possible, you are joining that crusade. Let’s make this happen TV Dinner Boy.
Patrick J. Kearney
In 2019, this community helped elect Chesa Boudin for his vision to transform the criminal legal system in San Francisco.
Overall crime has dropped by 30% in San Francisco. But police associations and conservative billionaires have raised over a million dollars in an attempt to undo the will of the people and turn back years of progress towards equality and real justice.
We can’t let them buy unchecked power. But it will take all of us standing with Chesa to stop it!
Every call makes a difference to protect progress. Please help us defeat the racist police unions and conservative billionaires opposing our movement. Sign up to make phone calls to stand with Chesa this weekend!
Phonebank for ChesaThis Saturday!Shifts available 1 – 4pm PDT
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Ever since Chesa took office as District Attorney, he’s been sending shockwaves through the political establishment and raising the bar for real justice. He was the first San Francisco D.A. to file murder charges against a police officer. He co-sponsored a bill that increases accountability for police officers involved in shootings and other misconduct. And he has advocated for protesters and victims of police brutality to help secure real community safety.
Meanwhile, police hoping to avoid accountability and bad actors with millions of dollars have mounted a recall effort that aims to overturn a free and fair election and distort the facts.
Right now police unions and racist groups are spending millions of dollars to turn back years of progress in San Francisco. We can’t let it happen. Sign up now to phone-bank to stop the recall and stand with Chesa!
We can’t let our elections be bought and sold. Lives, families affected by police violence, and the future of police accountability across the country depend on transformative DA’s like Chesa Boudin being in office.
It will take all of us stepping up to preserve justice. Please join us!
Stand with Chesa
On July 6, award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones announced that she has declined an offer of tenure from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). In her first extensive comments since the UNC Board of Trustees voted on her tenure, Ms. Hannah-Jones released the following statement:
“I have loved the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since I was a child watching Tar Heels basketball on television. Two decades ago, in 2001, I learned that not only had I been accepted into the master’s program at the journalism school at UNC, but that I had received a full-tuition Park Fellowship. I cried from joy. I could not believe how lucky I was to get the chance to learn journalism at a place I had so long revered.
“For the next two years, I practically lived in Carroll Hall, spending more time there than anywhere else, even my apartment. I passed hours and hours in that building, studying, working at the Park Library, soaking in the skills of journalism – as well as its ethics and mandates – from the many generous instructors, sitting in the offices of professors – such as Chuck Stone and Harry Amana – who enthralled me with their stories and guided my steps. I met one of my best friends in the master’s program, and she became my daughter’s godmother.
“UNC took a woman with ambition but no practical journalism training and provided the foundation for all that I would become. And through the years, Carolina has been so good to me; inviting me to give the journalism school’s commencement address in 2017; honoring me with the Young Alumni Award that same year and the Distinguished Alumna Award in 2019; and last year, inducting me into the N.C. Media Hall of Fame.
“I have tried to repay the university by mentoring and supporting students through the organization I co-founded – the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting – and by regularly visiting the campus to give talks and meet with students. And so, a few years ago when Dean Susan King first raised the possibility of my coming to teach at the university, I was deeply honored. As a full-time journalist at The New York Times who had no intention of leaving the profession, I told her I could not consider it. But those who know Dean King, know this woman is relentlessly persuasive and never takes her eyes off the long game. Last year, she came to me with the idea of the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Reporting. Our country was undergoing a racial reckoning, and she talked about the moment we are in and how important it was for the upcoming generation of journalists to have the knowledge, training, historical understanding, and depth of reporting to cover the changing country and its challenges. She told me that Carolina was undergoing a racial reckoning of its own, that its leadership was committed to real change, and that she felt I could play an important role in this effort.
“I knew it would be a heavy load to continue my work as an investigative reporter and take on teaching, but I could not dismiss the security and academic freedom of tenure that accompanied the Knight Chair at Carolina and the opportunity to return to serve my alma mater. After giving her offer a lot of thought, the possibility of coming back to Carolina and formalizing the mentoring and teaching I have been doing for years proved too powerful for me to deny. I said yes, and then, like every other person who has been named a Knight Chair at Carolina, I began the rigorous tenure process.
“As part of the months-long tenure process, I had to write a teaching statement, a creative statement and a service statement. I had to teach a class while being observed by faculty. Dean King solicited letters to assess my portfolio of work and professional accomplishments from several academic experts in the field of journalism whom I did not personally know. I presented to the journalism faculty. Following these steps, my tenure was put to vote by all the full professors of the journalism school, who were overwhelmingly in support.
“My tenure package was then submitted to the university’s Promotion and Tenure committee, which also overwhelmingly approved my application for tenure. My tenure package was then to be presented for a vote by the Board of Trustees in November so that I could start teaching at the university in January 2021. The day of the Trustees meeting, we waited for word, but heard nothing. The next day, we learned that my tenure application had been pulled but received no explanation as to why. The same thing happened again in January. Both the university’s Chancellor and its Provost refused to fully explain why my tenure package had failed twice to come to a vote or exactly what transpired. The rest of this story has been well documented in the press.
“Being asked to return to teach at Carolina had felt like a homecoming; it felt like another way to give back to the institution that had given so much to me. And now I was being told that the Board of Trustees would not vote on my tenure and that the only way for me to come teach in the fall would be for me to sign a five-year contract under which I could be considered for tenure at a later, unspecified date. By that time, I had invested months in the process. I had secured an apartment in North Carolina so that I would be ready to teach that January. My editors at The New York Times had already supplied quotes for the press release of the big announcement. I did not want to face the humiliation of letting everyone know that I would be the first Knight Chair at the university to be denied tenure. I did not want to wage a fight with my alma mater or bring to the school and to my future colleagues the political firestorm that has dogged me since The 1619 Project published. So, crushed, I signed the five-year contract in February, and I did not say a word about it publicly.
“But some of those who had lobbied against me were not satisfied to simply ensure I did not receive tenure. When the announcement of my hire as the Knight Chair came out at the end of April, writers from a North Carolina conservative think tank called the James G. Martin Center railed against the university for subverting the board’s tenure denial and hiring me anyway. The think tank had formerly been named after Art Pope, an influential conservative activist who now serves on the UNC Board of Governors, who had helped birth the center. The article questioned how I had been hired without the Board of Trustees approval, and its writer argued that, because the university hired me anyway after the board stymied my tenure, the Board of Governors “should amend system policies to require every faculty hire to be vetted by each school’s board of trustees.” And yet, when that article was published, it had not been made public that I had been hired without the board approving my tenure or my hire. Even faculty at the journalism school were not aware that I had not been considered for tenure and would not learn this until some days later.
“Nine days after the James G. Martin Center published this piece, reporter Joe Killian at N.C. Policy Watch broke the story that, because of political interference and pressure by conservatives, I had been denied consideration for tenure and instead offered a five-year contract. The story about the denial of consideration went viral, and I was dragged into the very thing that I had tried to avoid as the actions of the Board of Trustees became a national scandal.
“These last few weeks have been very dark. To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful.
“The only bright light has been all of the people who spoke up and fought back against the dangerous attack on academic freedom that sought to punish me for the nature of my work, attacks that Black and marginalized faculty face all across the country.
- Dean Susan King who, in a vacuum of leadership, has exhibited courage, integrity, honesty, and a refusal to be bullied even if it cost her. This is why I wanted to come work under her leadership.
- My colleagues across the country who spoke up with vigor and outrage and to whom I am so very grateful.
- The faculty at the School of Journalism and Media and across campus who spoke truth to power and stood up not just for me, but for the academic integrity of North Carolina’s flagship university.
- The Carolina alumni who sent letters, made calls, and applied public pressure to the Board of Trustees to maintain the integrity of the process and the university.
- The advocates, including members of the state legislature and the local NAACP branches.
- All the universities that reached out to offer me a home, where, as one dean of journalism put it, I would be given “tenure and respect.”
- My amazing legal team: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Levy Ratner PC and Ferguson, Chambers and Sumpter, P.A., for your guidance and for providing me with the best representation in the country.
- The New York Times, where I will continue to work as a magazine staff writer.
- And most of all, the students at Carolina, who protested and fought to hold the Board of Trustees accountable, even as you were treated with disrespect by the institution charged with serving you.
“I cannot adequately express my gratitude to you all. But I will not be joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a professor.
“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans. Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it. How could I believe I’d be able to exert academic freedom with the school’s largest donor so willing to disparage me publicly and attempt to pull the strings behind the scenes? Why would I want to teach at a university whose top leadership chose to remain silent, to refuse transparency, to fail to publicly advocate that I be treated like every other Knight Chair before me? Or for a university overseen by a board that would so callously put politics over what is best for the university that we all love? These times demand courage, and those who have held the most power in this situation have exhibited the least of it.
“The Board of Trustees wanted to send a message to me and others like me, and it did. I always tell college students and journalists who are worried that they will face discrimination, who fear that they will be judged not by their work but for who they are or what they choose to write about, that they can only worry about that which is in their own control: their own excellence. I tell them all they can do is work as hard as possible to make themselves undeniable. And yet, we have all seen that you can do everything to make yourself undeniable, and those in power can change the rules and attempt to deny you anyway.
“Since the second grade when I began being bused into white schools, I have been fighting against people who did not think a Black girl like me belonged, people who tried to control what I did, how I spoke, how I looked, the work I produced.
“I have never asked for special treatment. I did not seek it here. All I asked was to be judged by my credentials and treated fairly and equally.
“I do not come from a wealthy and connected family. I did not arrive at Carolina with the understanding that no matter how I performed, I would have a job and prominent position guaranteed. My dad drove a bus and my mom was a probation officer. I got into Carolina on my own merits. I scraped to secure internships at small papers like High Point Enterprise. I got my first job covering schools for the Chapel Hill News. At age 27, when a certain wealthy donor was inheriting the publishing gig from his family paper, I was interning at the News & Observer while working a second job as a mattress salesperson to make ends meet.
“I worked my way up from newspaper to newspaper, and have worked as a journalist for 20 years, traveling from North Carolina to Oregon to New York City before landing at The New York Times. In 2016, I co-founded a journalist organization to help others succeed in the field of investigative reporting. That organization, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, is housed at the University of North Carolina. I did not have $25 million to give, but I brought what resources I had, not to force my beliefs about journalism on anyone, but to help train eager journalists in the tools of investigative reporting and the skills necessary to cover a deeply divided and unequal multiracial democracy.
“Every Knight Chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since the 1980s has entered that position as a full professor with tenure. And yet, the vote on my tenure had to be forced by weeks of protests, scathing letters of reprimand, the threat of legal action and my refusal to start July 1 without it. Even then, the Board of Trustees had to be led to this vote by its youngest member, Lamar Richards, the student body president who publicly demanded the special meeting. The board then chose to wait to vote until the last possible day at the last possible moment.
“If I had any doubts about whether I should come to UNC or not, watching the proceedings affirmed my decision.
“I watched as student protestors, who for weeks had been expressing their pain and hurt, were forced to wait for more than 20 minutes before they were let into the meeting room. I watched as not a single official in the room bothered to explain that the meeting they had advertised as a special meeting that would be livestreamed would in fact be held in closed session because that is the rule. I watched as their response to the shock, hurt, and outrage of students, who thought they’d come to a public hearing, was to remain silent when any adult in the room could have calmly explained what was happening. I watched as the Chancellor and other officials looked down and did nothing as law enforcement shoved, pushed, and pummeled the students they are supposed to serve. I watched as student protestors were forced outside in the heat to wait for nearly two hours as the board argued over my tenure. And then I watched as one of the trustees came out and falsely claimed that June 28 had been the first time the board had ever had the opportunity to review my application, and that it was the board that had been treated unfairly in this situation.
“To this day, no one has ever explained to me why my vote did not occur in November or January, and no one has requested the additional information that a member of the Board of Trustees claimed he was seeking when they refused to take up my tenure. The university’s leadership continues to be dishonest about what happened and patently refuses to acknowledge the truth, to offer any explanation, to own what they did and what they tried to do. Once again, when leadership had the opportunity to stand up, it did not.
“At some point when you have proven yourself and fought your way into institutions that were not built for you, when you’ve proven you can compete and excel at the highest level, you have to decide that you are done forcing yourself in.
“I fought this battle because I know that all across this country Black faculty, and faculty from other marginalized groups, are having their opportunities stifled, and that if political appointees could successfully stop my tenure, then they would only be emboldened to do it to others who do not have my platform. I had to stand up. And, I won the battle for tenure.
“But I also get to decide what battles I continue to fight. And I have decided that instead of fighting to prove I belong at an institution that until 1955 prohibited Black Americans from attending, I am instead going to work in the legacy of a university not built by the enslaved but for those who once were. For too long, Black Americans have been taught that success is defined by gaining entry to and succeeding in historically white institutions. I have done that, and now I am honored and grateful to join the long legacy of Black Americans who have defined success by working to build up their own.
“I will be taking a position as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard University, founded in 1867 to serve the formerly enslaved and their descendants. There, I will be creating a new initiative aimed at training aspiring journalists to cover the crisis of our democracy and bolstering journalism programs at historically Black colleges and universities across the country. I have already helped secure $15 million for this effort, called the Center for Journalism and Democracy, with the generous grants from the Ford, Knight, and MacArthur foundations, and have set a goal of raising $25 million. In the storied tradition of the Black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the perilous challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor, and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.
“Historically Black colleges and universities have long punched above their weight, producing a disproportionate number of Black professionals while working with disproportionately low resources. It is my great honor to help usher to this storied institution these significant resources that will help support the illustrious, hardworking, and innovative faculty at the Cathy Hughes School of Communications and the brilliant students it draws. Thank you, President Wayne Frederick and Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders, for always treating me with dignity and respect, and for offering me a home where I can do my work unimpeded.
“Many people, all with the best of intentions, have said that if I walk away from UNC, I will have let those who opposed me win. But I do not want to win someone else’s game. It is not my job to heal this university, to force the reforms necessary to ensure the Board of Trustees reflects the actual population of the school and the state, or to ensure that the university leadership lives up to the promises it made to reckon with its legacy of racism and injustice.
“For too long, powerful people have expected the people they have mistreated and marginalized to sacrifice themselves to make things whole. The burden of working for racial justice is laid on the very people bearing the brunt of the injustice, and not the powerful people who maintain it. I say to you: I refuse.
“In the case of my tenure, the university has, begrudgingly, done the absolute minimum. In a split vote, it did what it was supposed to have done 7 months ago and, in doing so, many believe the university has resolved the issue. It has not.
“If the leaders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sincerely wish to redeem themselves, to live up to the university’s status as the people’s university, I would humbly suggest they do the following, at a minimum:
- Apologize publicly and privately to the student protestors treated so disrespectfully at the Board of Trustees meeting last week, and then dedicate themselves to addressing the demands issued by the Black Student Movement.
- Agree to address the demands issued by the Carolina Black Caucus more than two years ago. To be effective, these efforts must include an actual commitment, with targets, for recruiting, supporting, and retaining Black faculty. While I provided an easy case for many to rally around, had I come, I would have been just the second tenured Black woman professor in the 70-year history of the UNC journalism school, and I would have been its first and only Black woman full professor. Black women account for just 1.9 percent of tenured faculty at UNC, and Black professors together account for just 5 percent in a state that is 22 percent Black and at a university where the student body is 11 percent Black. These issues predated my tenure and cannot be laid at the foot of a politically appointed board, since the tenure hopes of most Black professors are quashed before they even reach the Board of Trustees.
- Advocate to change the role that the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors have over faculty governance and commit to respecting faculty governance and academic freedom at this institution. This requires a change to the way the boards are appointed so that they actually reflect the demographics of the state and the student body, rather than the whims of political power.
- Provide transparency around the tenure debacle that led us here. To date, neither myself, Dean King, my legal counsel, nor the public, have ever been told directly by the university why my tenure was not voted on in November, in January, or at any time before the forced vote in June. Public records requests by both journalists and residents have gone unfulfilled. This is unacceptable for a public university. University officials cannot rebuild trust without first providing truth and transparency in a public accounting of what went wrong and why.
“To Dean King, you are a champion for women journalists, a trailblazer in your own right. We did not ask for this fight, but we were determined to see it to victory. It would have been an honor to work for you.
“To the UNC faculty, especially the consummate professionals in the journalism school, I so looked forward to being your colleague and to learning from you and working with you. You welcomed me from the start. Our students are lucky to learn from you each day, and the university is lucky to have you.
“To the students, I am deeply sorry that I will not have the privilege of teaching you and learning from you. You are brave and full of grace, and I am so very proud of you all. My commitment to you has not wavered, I just will continue to do it as I have in the past, as an alum of the school and not faculty. I hope that you will consider Howard or another HBCU if you ever seek a new educational home, but whatever you do, I know you will continue to fight for justice.
“I will always be a Tar Heel. I remain grateful for all the university has given me and am committed to a lifetime of paying it forward. And I am so excited to now call myself a Bison as well and join the Howard family of which I have long desired to belong.”