My Gender is Marronage: Prison Solidarity

[ID: The background is three columns, black, hot pink, and cyan blue from right to left. The black column has a gas planet with ominous dark pink clouds and a moon at the top of the column. Below, there is a hot pink rock planet. In the middle hot pink column, there is a dark hue pink rock planet. The text to the right: “My Gender is Marronage, Prison Solidarity Kickback. Sunday August 23rd @ 8 pm est” in dark blue and black text. To the left in the middle: “Anarkata Freedom School” in white bold text. Below, “Black August Kritical Kickback Series” in black rectangles.]

For prison solidarity actions happening this week and beyond, click the following:

“The Anarkata Kickbacks are a chill, conversation-based learning space. There should be no transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia, ableism, misogynoir, colorism, classism, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or any other harmful behavior in the virtual space. Likewise, our conversational norms prioritize the voices of the most marginal among us in the virtual space. That means that we pass the mic to our marginalized fam when they have something to say and refrain from cutting them off. We also pass the mic when others want to speak who aren’t normally as vocal. While I might be one person involved in facilitating the space, know that anyone can take the initiative to facilitate if they feel moved to do so and do not violate our conversational norms.” People are also free to not engage or even leave as they please.”

8/24 notes on #Prison Solidarity 

  • While waiting for folks to shuffle in, people shared their personal journeys of radicalization
  • “For me, moving from non-profits was a point of radicalization. There were so many restraints on the organization’s capability of meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth. This was extended to me as I went up through the orgs positions. Some of it, I was able to use my discretion to move accordingly and out of the org, but regardless the restraints became too burdensome leading me to leaving and finding new spaces to organize.”
  • “My radicalization came through universities at first as a critical Black studies student. I was given material that helped me bring language to my experience and access to the Black Radical Tradition and archives in a freeing way. But then this turned so much on its head within less of a year where I was craving for me. Professors only support theoretically and not investing in the community and being ableist, showcasing deep contradictions.  I saw no support in the community for transformative work to face blatant patriarchal violence. That be praxis, Black transfeminism, and disablism. In leaving, that has led to my maroon journey which has been augmented through the Anarkata frequency.”
  • Host explains Black August.
  • “Black August originates in the California prison system with George Jackson and Jonathan Jackson among other comrades like W.L. Nolen. This is month of revolutionary activity like the beginning of the underground railroad, Nat Turner’s rebellion, the Haitian Revolution, the bombing on MOVE, the birthing of the New Republic of Africa, and filled with many revolutionary born days like Mutulu Shakur, and Russell Maroon Shoatz birthday today. Amongst these revolutionary figures that need to to be center and celebrated specifically tomorrow are Marsha P Johnson and Safiya Bukhari.”
  • “Let’s first explain marronage. It is found everywhere. It is enslaved Afrikans finding freedom in the wild. The wild is often looked at out of fear and a place that needs to be controlled and overcome by the huMan. It is not something that needs to be controlled but rather a place of communing and that was marooning is. In communing, nature, plants, and animals share nonhuman ancestral wisdom, guidance, and means for living and building.
  • [Read piece by profound, ‘Gender as Marronage’]
  • “This is in relation to pieces like Spillers, Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe. Spillers discusses the gendering and ungendering of the Black body. It has been the canvas of our incarceration while simultaneously being denied as the reality.”
  • “This needs to be understood to create a distinction between abolitionist and reformist reforms.”
  • “For both of these along with the abolitionist movement, the common thread is that it centers around a cishet version of how violence is inflicted. It’s not saying cishet men don’t experience violence. It’s erasing the extensions of how the prison incites violence on particular people specifically marginalized genders (mages). Like what folks do we know that are trans abolitionists in the movement?”
  • “I think trans abolition is a product of the last 15 years. I don’t believe in the last 45 years, it was something that was discussed and at the forefront of folks politics. That be in anarchism or the prison movement. Lot’s of the abolitionist movement even know that insinuates a queer trans dynamic does tend to be bicoastal as a political phenomenon and in terms of visibility.”
  • “An important understanding is how the enclosure is a necessity for capitalism. This enclosure is seen not just in the brick and mortar sense but the social relations and how folks get relegated to the margins.”
  • “In centering the most marginal, it is understanding our different capacities. Just like letter writing not being in my capacity because of the triggering of past experience. In a lot of left spaces, the litmus test is used. They say if you are not doing letter writing then you are not a leftist, prison abolitionist, or fill in the blank. There is not any trauma-informed organizing. To be consistent, we need to look at our strengths and weakness.And letter writing is not for me.”
  • “Critical resistance is doing good work but it is coastal. Having more accessible means in the midwest is key. Organizations like toxic prisons, the free alabama movement and the disaffiliated oakland chapter of IWW.“
  • “Another abolitionist group in the south is SONG, southerners on new ground that center Black queer/trans liberation.”
  • The Combahee River Collective is an important touchstone into making a roadmap to the most marginal of us. In the ace kickback, it was said succinctly: ”Queerness is not just about identity. If we follow Combahee River Collective, a group of Black lesbian revolutionaries, an identity politic should be about making your radical politics attuned to the history and struggle a particular community is facing. Combahee kept facing isolation from cishet men in the Black Power movement and white people in anti-capitalist movements and feminist movements; so really giving name to identity politics was always about figuring out how to center the most marginal in your anti-colonial, feminist, and anti-capitalist politic. What identity politics is not about is representation in media, books, etc.”
  • “We have to see how enclosure and other methods of isolation need to be dismantled in the prison movement. It’s seeing sights of violence not only in the hospital, schooling, but community and the body. It’s not only a local point but a focal point. Incarceration can be associated beyond the brick and mortar space.”
  • “Often defunding the police is just a transfer of incarceration from a paramilitary structure to a quasi-citizenship social structure. 
  • “I think it is essential to highlight that originally that wasn’t what defunding the police was called for. Its been co opted to be passive Abolitionists were saying taking everything away. All of it. It’s saying people have an idea of defunding the schools and planned parenthood, but when it comes to police it because somehow different and much more unattainable in the liberalism’s imagination.” 
  • [Read piece on spillers in anarkata statement]
  • “Anarkatas maintain that Black people are assigned gender differently from the “Human,” due to the historical process of enslavement and thingification that marked us as inhuman. Taking cues from Hortense Spillers, Anarkatas understands that when gender is assigned to Black people, it is not in the “Human” sense and is akin to when a “thing” (object or piece of property) is assigned a gender. The colonizing process wipes clean any other ontology or way of being, including our gender/sexual diversity, particularity, and autonomy that Afrikan people historically had before Western invasion. They did this in order to racialize—and thus dehumanize—us. In this process of redefinition and racialization, Black people’s bodies are “ungendered”—rendered as an abnormal canvas for the white patriarch to deposit a gender assignment onto us. Therefore, Black people experience the process of gender assignment as an anti-Black process grounded in histories of capture and extreme forms of anti-Black violence. For this reason, Anarkata understands gender as always being racialized, and racialization as always gendered.“
  • “Part of this thingification is talking about hypersexuality and tropes on black women and black femmes. It shuffles them to the PIC.”
  • “I think it essential to center Trans and GNC folks in spillers analysis. There is particular violence inflicted on us with the crux on Black trans women. I feel like a lot of this moment is conflating cis Black women’s experience to Black trans womens and Black trans femmes. Like much of the masculine and hypersexual tropes used against Black women have been originally used against trancestors like Frances Thompson. These tropes speak to the delegitimized methods of Black trans women’s survival. She was extremely violated and these tropes added on to strip away her autonomy. It was a talking point to why Black folks should stay subjugated. On the topics of femmes, femme isn’t necessarily being femme presenting. I think first off, the word ‘fem’ is a term strictly for Black lesbians. The term ‘femme’ is a self-determined coinage by and for trans and GNC folks and needs to be gatekeeped away from cis folks, especially cishet folks. For me, being femme speaks to my antagonistic tension to that very identity and presentation, tethering itself in/to fugitivity. I do not see, find, or explore my gender journey and femininity through womanhood. Often, I am not allowed in those spaces in my truest and fullest forms because cisness definition of womanhood has not been able to hold this in my experience. Part of this is because I also detach masculinity from manhood and femininity away from womanhood. This is part of decolonizing our language and moving in maroon maneuvers. This is where we look at the patriarchal violence while decentering cisness and the term ‘marginalized genders’(MaGes) speaks to this.”
  • “Yes absolutely, this is important to see in movement leaders and other community spaces that insight violence and do not expand our vocabulary to include the most marginal of us. It is also missing the history of during the transatlantic slave trade us being randomly assigned gender. It took away the autonomy to explore gender.”
  • “Using the vantage point of Afro-pessimism, we are ontologically dead and so then, we are limitless and possibilities. It is also important to see how it has hierarchical social death which needs to [dis]organize around disability justice.”
  • “Afropessimism lacks of analysis on gender/sexuality which allows black cis men to recreate social death in an attempt to move from social death. People really invest in whiteness and lose their culture.”
  • “The Afro blue note by Greg Thomas brings in an analysis on how Afro Pessimism has a selective archive and only brings certain books to the forefront like Black Skin, White Masks, but doesn’t interrogate books like “A Dying Colonialism” and “Toward the African Revolution”. Greg Thomas also does an interview with Sylvia Wynter called ‘Proud Flesh Inter/Views: Sylvia Wynter’ which was a helpful entry point into Wynter’s work on the huMan. Additionally, Beyond humanism, but not without humanism by K.D. Wilson has been another foundational piece. These pieces all speak to the importance of sociogeny to break ontological/social relations.“
  • “For me, this was seen in relation to cis folks and the need to expand beyond cis ness relations to gender. I can say whatever I want about my identity, but it passes right over people who use me as an accessory to showcase their acceptance and radicality, but always in exchange for the silencing of me. This is also seen with other cis LGBQ folks who let me say my gender expression, but still nonconsensual place me into their cis-gendered role play fantasies of me being a bottom or what have. Rather than waiting and not assuming one’s gender identity and/or waiting for the consensual exchange of intimate information, it is violently placed onto TGNC folks to feed their own egos and desires. Or even when one’s gender is shared, it is still commodified for one’s own [sexual] desires and needs. Decentering cisness and allosexuality will continue the work of obliterating these expectations and, further, better the relations and treatment. It would call for decentering one’s own allosexual desires and attractions when interacting with folks. This is a principle of centering ace folks and relationship anarchy in action. This is moving detached [in marronage] from ties to gender, sexuality, sex and romance simultaneously into more expasive, abundant movement/relations.” 
  • Check-in and break
  • [Conversation around lurkers]
  • “It is more important to center than some folks coming into this space for the first time, and part of our principles is that you do not have to ‘contribute’ in the confines of ableist terms which includes providing discursive work. Part of the work is also listening. We don’t know where everyone is. There is a lot going on right now, their conversation can be overstimulating for folks due to the isolation happening in this moment. Folks are coming from every which way and want this to be space of openness to allow different form of interaction and make sure we do not produce ableist notions of how we “must” contribute.”

For prison solidarity actions happening this week and beyond, click the following: 

For Further Reading:

Diluting Radical History: Blood in the Water and the Politics of Erasure: 

#FightToxicPrisons Organization: 

Free Alabama Movement: 

Anarkata Statment:

Trancestor Frances Thompson: 

Afro Blue Notes: The Death of Afro-Pessimism 2.0 by Greg Thomas 

Frantz Fanon’s Toward the African Revolution

Greg Thomas Inter/View with Sylvia Wynter 

Beyond Humanism, (but Not Without It?) by Prof.Ound 

Be Ace, Do Anarchy, Blackness, Asexuality, and the Ungoverned Kickback


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