Challenging Convictions: Indigenous and Black Race-Radical Feminists Theorizing the Carceral State and Abolitionist Praxis in the United States and Canada
- Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 15, Number 1, 2016
- pp. 137-165
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This essay, with accompanying lesson plan, explores how race-radical women of color feminist activists—in particular, Black and Indigenous feminists—identify, conceptualize, theorize, and resist the carceral state violence of white settler societies in both Canada and the United States. This critical ethnic studies intervention focuses on the theoretical interventions driven by Indigenous and Black race-radical feminists and how this has placed these activists at the forefront of anti-violence movement-building. Such an intervention specifically upholds the tensions within and refuses to collapse the radical and revolutionary political traditions and approaches of Indigenous movements for sovereignty and Black race-radical liberatory traditions. This transnational, comparative focus helps us to not only identify and understand but to create multiple strategies that dismantle the carceral state and the racialized gendered violence that it mobilizes and sustains. This essay asks the following questions which move beyond introspection or interrogation of texts about violence into compelling conversations that highlight the interlocking nature of interpersonal, sexual, and carceral state violence: How have Indigenous and race-radical feminists identified and theorized the legitimized violence of the carceral state? What questions have those diverse identifications and theoretical understandings led activist scholars currently theorizing the carceral state to ask? And what insights have those critiques generated in the activist scholarship on social movements dedicated to anti-racist, feminist anti-violence, Indigenous decolonial, and anti-prison abolitionist praxis? Proceeding from the argument that both prison abolitionist praxis and race-radical feminist praxis are inherently and primarily pedagogical, the accompanying lesson plan attempts to explore the multiple ways Indigenous and race-radical women of color feminists learn, teach, and organize about carceral logics and prison abolition inside and outside the classroom in a manner that teaches against the grain of carceral common sense.