Dialogue alone does not create change. Power, strategy, and action are required. But words matter. Conversation matters. Rich conversation matters–the kind that frames reality in an honest way and is rich with evidence. This kind of conversation can expand our understanding of each other, the systems of opportunity we create, and can point us towards solutions not yet created.
OJPC’s blog is designed to curate a conversation on justice that matters, and we invite YOU to join us on our blog. Here are four guiding principles/interests we’d like to explore this year. Can you comment with us? Can you enrich our dialogue? Can you help open the space for connection and understanding that builds more power and stronger action?
“Intersectionality is a concept that enables us to recognize the fact that perceived group membership can make people vulnerable to various forms of bias, yet because we are si- multaneously members of many groups, our complex identities can shape the specific way we each experience that bias.” (‘A Primer on Intersectionality‘, African-American Policy Forum)
For the best exploration of intersectionality, please (and I do mean please) read Kimberle Crenshaw. In short, “intersectionality was a lived experience before it was a term.” As Crenshaw explains, “Originally articulated on behalf of black women, the term brought to light the invisibility of many constituents within groups that claim them as members, but often fail to represent them. Intersectional erasures are not exclusive to black women.”
If black liberation struggles do not uplift black women, or the black LGBT community, then can they really be called black liberation struggles? If the struggle for ‘justice for all’ excludes certain groups, then can it really be called the struggle for ‘justice for all’?
Intersectional thinking requires connecting the dots, expanding our vision of who we are and who we are working for, and being strong in our differences yet able to see the interconnectedness of our struggles. It also hooks up well with a time-tested, driving value for us at OJPC: we never write people off. We don’t want change that throws certain people under the bus.
Victim and Offender: Restoration and Accountability
Who’s a victim, and who’s an offender? How can we build a justice system that holds people accountable, yet restores and heals?
In the spirit of intersectionality, it is important to note that victim restoration and services have often excluded people who experience a great deal of crime and harm. The systems of healing and restoration often don’t recognize the suffering of black victims. As new organizing coalitions are boldly affirming, black wounds matter.
Public Health and Justice
We are increasingly exploring how the justice system either builds or hinders public health. You can see an example of our work here in the policing report, “Stress on the Streets (SOS): Race, Policing, Health and Increasing Trust Not Trauma.” How does this report, and thinking about the intersection of health, safety, and justice, change one’s view of the recent national story on the arrest of Mr. Harrell?
Beyond policing, building a system of justice that creates public health intersects with struggles for educational justice, environmental justice, economic justice, gender justice, and I am sure I am missing many more. That’s partly why we want to hear from you, those thinking about and working on interconnected campaigns for justice. We want to hear and share your expertise.
We are here to raise the voices of people traditional media do not cover (or only cover in certain ways). Do you have direct experience with the justice system–either yourself or through a family member or loved one? Join us in sharing the stories that matter in Ohio’s justice movement. Are you able to connect dots between your struggle and justice system change–no matter how disconnected they may first appear? Email me to join the conversation.