written by Rowen White
I spent the weekend in quiet reflection, listening and reading, in journaling and talking with my family about the ways we can really do the work that is being asked of us in this time. This morning as I was weeding ( one of the best ways I comb out the tangles of my thoughts!) I was thinking more into these conversations around Transformative Justice, and the Black and Brown voices that are leading that edge of the movement. The threads of learning that I am most committed to in the current moment is immersing myself in the practice of Transformative Justice.
What does justice look like without revenge? Without the continuation of endless cycles of violence, harm and trauma? The goals of Transformative Justice are:
Ensure Safety, healing, and agency for survivors,
Accountability and transformation for people who harm,
Community action, healing, and accountability,
Transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence – systems of oppression and exploitation, domination, and state violence
Transformative Justice is grounded in inquiry such as:
How do we build our personal and collective capacity to respond to trauma and support accountability in a transformative way?
How do we shift power towards collective liberation?
How do we build effective and sustainable movements that are grounded in resilience and life-affirming power?
Transformative justice is a way of addressing an individual act of harm that relies on community members instead of the police, the law, or the government (also known as the state). It is a response to the racism and gender-based oppression that shape life for many people of color. Though models differ, all reject the involvement of the criminal-justice system, choosing instead to rely on community support networks and mediators.
As a daughter of parents who pledged their life’s work to indigenous sovereignty work through the US judicial system, I see that there are fundamental flaws in trying to reform a system that is fundamentally designed to oppress and harm Black and Indigenous people.
We need radical changes and defunding police helps us to reckon with the failures of the punitive justice system and the roots of that oppressive system. But for the real change to happen, we must look more holistically at the roots of where the harm begins and build a practice towards reparations and reconciliation and community healing. This is transformative justice. This is a long game approach, but from my vantage point, the only way we will be able to really address the syndrome and not just the symptoms of an unjust society.
As Audre Lord said: “ “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
How do we reclaim our stolen tools? Our forgotten tools? How to we uplift and center a new ancient future where ancestral, indigenous and culturally aligned ways of community health and wellbeing, safety and accountability are blended with the new ideas of this coming generation of BIPOC leaders who know there is a world where transformation is possible. What are the ways we can disrupt harm and violence and also cultivate new frameworks for community wellbeing and accountability?
Transformative justice ripples out into beyond the first stages of healing and accountability. Its being in a practice of ensuring a vibrant quality of life for all, so that when basic and foundational needs are met and joy and pleasure is possible, then we see that reflected in society and community wellbeing. Growing food to end food apartheid and scarcity, engaging in initiatives that ensure culturally appropriate regenerative economic opportunities are available, ensuring the education that is offered in communities is culturally relative and support the growth and wellbeing of all community members in their quest for a good life. These are all foundational contributions to the overall community practice of transformative justice.
Tag them below so we can support their efforts. Yes, we must dismantle and disrupt the current corrupt system, but we also must sow seeds of what the healing, revitalization and new future will sprout from. Thank you to all of the ones tending the seeds of possibility for transformation and community wellbeing for Black and Brown folks. We see you, support you, and act in solidarity with you. #transformativejustice #blacklivesmatter