Righting Carceral Feminism’s Wrongs in a #MeToo Era (NYC)

Tuesday, March 6th, 6 pm
Open Societies Foundation, 224 West 57th street, corner of Broadway, NYC
Note: For security reasons, people need to RSVP to get into the building (your names will be at the front desk already) so please go to this link and enter your information.
Carceral feminism sees law enforcement as the primary solution to gender-based violence. When the United States passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, it was seen as a landmark bill to finally address domestic violence. The bill provided billions of dollars to fund more police officers and prisons, and introduced punitive sentencing to curb domestic violence.

More than two decades later, it has left many women in less affluent and marginalized communities even more vulnerable to violence. Since many communities of color are already overpoliced, victims are often reluctant to call the police for fear of being met with trauma and criminalization.

The Open Society Foundations have a history of supporting transformative systems of justice. Transformative justice is a community-based process where individuals are able to address and repair the harm on their own terms, and to define what justice looks like to them. In many ways, the #MeToo movement is beginning to address the wrongs of carceral feminism through a more democratized process of addressing injustice. Join us during the week of International Women’s Day for a discussion with activists and authors to identify potential opportunities and pitfalls in the search for justice for victims in a #MeToo era.


·         asha bandele is a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance and an award-winning journalist and author of five books, including The Prisoner’s Wife and When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, about and written collaboratively with Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Khan Cullors.

·         Victoria Law is a freelance journalist focusing on women’s criminalization and incarceration, and the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women.

·         Mariame Kaba is the founder and director of Project NIA, and a cofounder of numerous organizations including the Chicago Freedom School, Love and Protect, and most recently Survived & Punished.

·         Erin Cloud is a supervising attorney and team leader at the Bronx Defenders.

·         Denise Tomasini-Joshi (moderator) is acting co-director of Open Society Women’s Rights Program, and division director of the Open Society Public Health Program.


Feminist Zine Fest Reading (NYC)

Saturday, March 17, 6 to 8 pm

I’m thrilled to participate in the POC zine reading & panel the weekend before the Feminist Zine Fest at Barnard (where I’ll also be tabling). And FYI: Cafe con Libros is a wonderful, Black-owned feminist bookstore and coffee shop in Crown Heights that opened in December 2017.


Follow me on twitter for the latest updates. Contact me here if you’d like to invite me to speak at your school, community group or event.

Audio and video clips from previous events:

Keynote Panel: Women, Incarceration and Carceral Feminism

Missed the amazing panel about women, incarceration and carceral feminism? You can watch here.

While the vast majority of incarcerated people in the US are men, the rate of growth for women’s imprisonment has outpaced men by more than 50 percent between 1980 and 2014 and trans women have one of the highest rates of incarceration of any group. As a result, there are 8 times as many women–many of whom are mothers–incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails as there were in 1980.

Moreover, women of color, especially black women, are disproportionately incarcerated–at even greater disproportion than among men. Women, and in particular trans women and all women of color, continue to be subjected to high rates of violence, whether intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or transphobic violence, which can also lead to their incarceration.

This panel of local and national activists and scholars will discuss what this increasing rate of incarceration means for women, children, and families, including how to address violence against women in the age of mass incarceration.

Undocumented Architecture: Prisons, Migrant Justice & Counter-Narratives of Resistance

Missed the U.S. launch of Tings Chak’s Undocumented and the discussion about prison abolition and migrant justice and counter-narratives of resistance? You can now watch the video here
Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention explores the growing industry of immigration detention and questions the role of architectural design in such spaces. Using the conventional architectural tools of representation, Undocumented situates, spatializes, and confronts the voices of those who are detained and the anonymous individuals who design spaces of confinement. An architecturally-trained artist based in Toronto, Tings Chaks draws inspiration from anti-colonial, migrant justice, and spatial justice struggles. Undocumented grew out of the collective organizing work led by immigration detainees in the maximum-security Central East Correctional Centre and through the End Immigration Detention Network.

The discussion will be facilitated by a member of AMPLIFY(HER), the first-ever zine (self-published magazine) project by and for undocumented women from the Asian diaspora. AMPLIFY(HER) is a counter-narrative project that aims to empower and encourage women-led storytelling that is crucial to our identities and survival. AMPLIFY(HER) is a collaboration between RAISE and DRUM.

The event is free.
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
110-112 W 27th Street, Suite 600, New York, New York 10001

Watch me on Democracy Now! talking about historic release of 6,000 federal drug war prisoners–and the impending deportation facing one-third:

Race & the Criminal Justice System: Political Prisoners, Resistance & Mass Incarceration

If you missed the discussion between Dan Berger (author of Captive Nation), Bryan Stevenson (founder and director of Equal Justice Initiative) and me about race, the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and resistance as part of the Black Freedom Studies at the NYPL’s Schomburg Center, you can see it here:

Why Are Women in Prison? The Politics of Risk
In discussions about prison reform and decarceration, how does the concept of “risk” influence who goes to prison and for how long? Popular logic deems some prisoners to be “safety risks,” and therefore consigned to long periods of incarceration, while others – including a very large percentage of women – are labeled “low-risk” or less “dangerous.” This panel will delve into the politics and frameworks by which risk is evaluated in the criminal justice system. Who is deemed “dangerous” and why? How is race entrenched in evaluations of risk at every level? What makes women as a whole a less risky population, and why are so many “low-risk” women sent to prison? What very real risks to society are never included in the rhetoric of risk (to the environment, economy, or families and communities of the incarcerated, for example)? How does risk assessment intersect with gender in ways that harm women and gender-nonconforming people?A conversation with Glenn E. Martin (JustLeadershipUSA) and Leslie Thatcher and Maya Schenwar (Truthout) that probes our assumptions around danger, safety, gender, and the measures used to maintain “security” in a society pervaded by prisons.
Stories Untold: Race, Representation and Politics in YA Fiction
The worlds we create in books, whether historical, contemporary or fantasy, inform our notions of ourselves and our possibilities. Yet fewer than 10% of the books published for children and young adults in recent years featured main characters of color. Fewer still were written by authors of color.
How are characters of color written about in children’s fiction today? Which books represent communities of color accurately, and which do not? How does a skewed understanding of history undermine our ability to navigate our futures? And what can we do to ensure that our children read stories that reflect their lives? A panel discussion with Matt de la Pena, Charlene Allen, Dr. Sharon Cadizis, Stacy Whitman (founder and editor of Tu Books) and me.
3rd Annual Law & Disorder conference, Portland 2012
Part 2 (which moves into present-day mass incarceration) is at:
Prisoners and Formerly Incarcerated Persons v the USA
How can those of us outside support the struggle of those of us inside? From Troy Davis to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Bradley Manning, from the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers to the Georgia Prison Strike and the Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs), anti-capitalist leadership has come from inside the Prisonhouse of nations, and from the families campaigning outside. Many rebellious young people and movement points of reference are locked up in what are in effect concentration camps. We want them back! We need them back!
Panelists: Eric Gjertsen, Frances Goldin, Theresa Shoatz, Rev. Edward Pinkney and Victoria Law
Moderated by Selma James
At the 2012 Left Forum which, once again, refused to address childcare issues.
Community and Resistance: Katrina, Jena Six and Prisoner Justice Chancellor Day Hall, Montreal 5 October 2010
Community and Resistance tour in Durham, NC, with Manju Rajendran, Jordan Flaherty, Justin Flores, Kosta Harlan, Monserrat Alvarez, and Ray Eurquhart:
Community and Resistance tour at the Hive, Greensboro, NC:
The Hidden 1970s talk at Freebird Books, Brooklyn: