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Mutual Aid Justice: Beyond Survival

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From Smirking Chimp

What does mutual aid look like in the Justice sphere? If you don't want to call the cops, what else can you do? Many people turn to transformative justice for help. In the nation that incarcerates more people than any other on earth, there are many reasons why a person might not want to call 911. Undocumented, sick, over-policed, dependent on or in love with an abuser? In this episode, Laura talks with the editors of the just-released book Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement.

Transformative justice applies the principles of mutual aid to justice. It seeks to resolve violence for the long term at the peer-to-peer, grassroots level by looking for resolution, not punishment, and relying on community, not the system. Recorded on the eve of New York City's "stay at home" order, this far-ranging conversation with renowned poet Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and anti-violence trainer Ejeris Dixon resonates in the time of Covid-19 as families sheltering at home face a spike in domestic violence.

In This Episode
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, poet, educator and activist
Ejeris Dixon, anti-violence trainer and organizer

Want To Learn More About Mutual Aid and Transformative Justice?
Watch or listen to New Justice: A World Beyond Prisons


Laura Flanders: How do we keep one another safe without relying on police? What if prison and punishment aren't the best or even the most effective response to violence, harm and hurt? Today's guests say, "We can't hurt or heal alone. We can only hurt or heal in relationship.... Conveniently, they have pulled together a toolkit on how to do that. In fact, in their new book, Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement, they've gathered insights from people who are doing that work every day on front lines. The tools and experiences they share don't just relate to addressing violence, but also preventing it and they might just inspire you to get involved with yourself. Co-editors Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha joining me with a how to on transformative justice next. This is The Laura Flanders Show, the place where the people who say it can't be done take a backseat to the people who are doing it. Welcome.

Laura Flanders: So first, Ejeris and Leah joining us from Seattle. Thank you for being here.

Ejeris Dixon: Thank you.

Leah Lakshmi: Thank you [crosstalk 00:01:24].

Laura Flanders: And while we're going to be talking about trauma and violence and fear and surviving and getting beyond it and making health, I don't know about you, but I'm feeling incredibly stressed. Oh, TV is the least of it. We're dealing with a pandemic. We're dealing with an out of control government. We're dealing with lack of transparency, sometimes feels like lack of community and now social distancing is supposed to be good for us. What's your top-line advice to somebody like me who's like, I don't even know if I want to have this conversation in the midst of everything else?

Ejeris Dixon: I think there's both always a right time and it's always difficult. So the truth that I would see around so many of the communities that are represented in Beyond Survival, so many of us come from places where, whether it's pandemic, whether it's Trump's kind of neofascist America, we've been under threat most of our lives. So what that also means is that what we're doing in this book is that we're documenting resilience and we're documenting this skillset of survival and that genius. So I would say that we're social distancing. We're taking the time. This is actually a great time to skill build. This is a great time to do relationship building with the people nearest to you. People are talking about going to talk to your neighbors and just reminding them that you're still there.

Ejeris Dixon: I live alone. I have a friend who lives alone and who started to feel sick yesterday and I said to him, "I need you to tell me how you're doing every day. I need us to write a plan together." I learned that both out of life, but I learned that also because I come from a community of queer and trans people of color where we have been figuring out how to keep ourselves safe most of our lives.

Laura Flanders: Leah, is there anything you would add to that beautiful response for Ejeris?

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Laura Flanders is the host of "GRIT TV" the new, news and culture discussion program aired daily on Free Speech TV (Dish Network ch. 9415) and online at the popular blog site Flanders also hosts RadioNation, on Air America (more...)

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