Resources for Accessible Classrooms

BCRW—a collection of students, researchers, professors, activists, and the intellectually curious—is dedicated to enacting the feminist philosophies that compel our research, publications, events, and activism in Barnard and Columbia classrooms. A key and invaluable aspect of engaging feminist pedagogies is striving for accessibility of the classroom and education spaces. In the hope of making Barnard and Columbia classrooms more accessible for queer and trans people, people with disabilities, first generation students, undocumented students, and all of our community members, we've rounded up a brief collection of resources for students and educators to utilize and share. Conference group shot. First off, our own Offices of Disability Services at Columbia and Barnard host a wealth of services and resources for students with disabilities seeking accessibility and accommodation. The Barnard ODS website, for instance, has information on how to register a disability with ODS, networks and services of peer support, information about the truly invaluable Project OWL: Options in Writing & Learning, a jointly developed and sponsored project by ODS and the Barnard Writing Fellows, necessary information for faculty members, and an extensive list of online external resources. Many U.S. colleges and universities put together practical guides and tip-sheets for faculty and classroom facilitators on how to make classrooms accessible. Here's a few of the best we found: Here's a few academic (but highly readable) essays and essay collections about disability, accessibility, and trans issues to inform and provoke. Columbia's First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) describes itself as a "student organization aimed at creating safe spaces for those who identify as first-generation and/or low-income." FLIP is working on a textbook library and bi-weekly dialogues. Reach FLIP at The Columbia Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) hosts a broad range of resources and programming for students of color on Columbia's campus, and for students looking to support an inclusive university environment. OMA provides and supports programming and services in such areas as critical intellectual inquiry, mentoring, advocacy, social justice, leadership development and training, diversity development and training, etc. Interested in continuing the broad conversation about accessibility at Columbia/Barnard? There are several peer-led education and discussion-based groups around campus.
  • AllSex (formerly know as CU FemSex) is a "peer-facilitated, semester-long discussion group dedicated to the empowerment and fulfillment of the sexual self." AllSex meets twice a week, for two hours each session.
  • ROOTEd (Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education) is "dedicated to facilitating respectful informed discussions about diversity in the United States with regards to power and privilege issues." ROOTEd creates and facilitates dialogues on race, class, gender, allyship, and more for all members of the Columbia/Barnard community. Find them on Facebook.
  • The Collective Advocacy Project, a subgroup of the Barnard Writing and Speaking Fellows, is launching a discussion series at Well-Woman this fall.  CAP’s series will be a space for peer-directed personal and political expression in the service of self-care and student well-being. 
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Do you have a resource you want to share with the Columbia/Barnard community? Add it in the comments!

Che Gossett: Blackness, Animality, and the Unsovereign

In “Blackness, Animality, and the Unsovereign,” a recent essay published to the VersoBooks Blog, BCRW’s very own Che Gossett explores the connection between “Blackness and animalization,” arguing that racialization is often enacted as animalization. Che, in engaging the writings of Toni Morrison, Frederick Douglass, Frantz Fanon, Mel Chen and more, proposes an expanded understanding of abolitionism that considers Blackness in its relation to animality:

Black radical imaginings of abolition as a relation provide a way to think about how the caging and mass killing of animal life, the caging and mass killing of Black life, and the racial capitalism that propels premature death are all connected in a deadlock.

Che also points out that animal studies often fail to configure an interrogation of Blackness in its project of animal liberation, a conspicuous absence considering that “Black people have historically been portrayed through scientific racism as animal-like, and [that] this anti-black discourse has overlapped with the ways that the animal has been depicted throughout the course of Western philosophy as the desolate ground upon and against which the human, as a colonial and racial construct, has been defined.” Radical visions of abolition, including those visions of animal liberationists, must confront the devaluation of Black life, racialization as animalization, and the prison industrial complex if abolition is to be “an ongoing aspiration for human-animal-life liberation.” Ultimately, abolition, Che insists, is an expansive and ever-expanding project; indeed, that it is the “unfinished project of ending anti-Black racism, racial capitalism, anti-trans, anti-queer, patriarchal policing, colonialism, animal killing and caging.”


Che GossettChe Gossett is a Black genderqueer archivist and activist who works to excavate queer of color AIDS activist and trans archives, and the Community Archivist and Student Coordinator at BCRW. They are the recipient of the 2014 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Award from the American Studies Association Women’s Committee, a Radcliffe research grant from Harvard University and the 2014 Sylvia Rivera Award in Transgender Studies from the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at the City University of New York. Che was a member of the 2013 Archivists and Librarians Delegation to Palestine and recently presented about legacies of black queer solidarity with Palestinian struggle at the Bodies in Public conference at the American University of Beirut. Che also was a presenter at the Black liberation workshop at the 2014 National Students for Justice in Palestine conference.

BCRW events on Caribbean writers and thinkers

Alongside powerful Black Lives Matter movement mobilizations, we are thrilled to be holding critical conversations focused on writers, thinkers, and political movements emerging from the Caribbean. On September 17, we will be holding a conversation between Edwidge Danticat and Victoria Brown. On September 24-26, we will be co-hosting a conference engaging Stuart Hall’s legacy in the current moment of police violence, racialized poverty, and mass incarceration.

For more, visit BCRW’s events page at

Stuart Hall
Stay tuned for photos and videos following the events!

Fall 2015 Newsletter

Tina Campt A Note From BCRW Director Tina Campt

I first set foot on the Barnard campus in 1982, at the tender age of 17, at a reception for admitted students. I entered Barnard Hall, gazing down that impressive hallway at the other young women assembled there. The next thing I remember was looking for a payphone, calling my godmother in Queens and asking her to come get me. I was convinced I wasn’t cool enough for Barnard. Fifteen years later, I returned to campus at the invitation of Janet Jakobsen, who asked me to give a seminar as part of BCRW’s Difficult Dialogues Project. The seminar was held in 101 Barnard Hall (where I’d turned on my heels and fled fifteen years prior) and the conversation and community in that room was a revelation. I was finally cool enough! After a year of learning, dreaming, and scheming with BCRW’s amazing staff and advisory board, I’m thrilled to embark on my inaugural year as Director.

The fall semester begins with events that explore transnational feminist knowledge and creative production in the Caribbean, starting off with the second iteration of Caribbean Feminisms on the Page. We welcome back Barnard alum Edwidge Danticat ‘90 in conversation with rising literary talent Victoria Brown. BCRW will also host Policing the Crises, a conference engaging the legacy of Caribbean cultural theorist Stuart Hall and his contributions to feminist and neoliberal critique. Finally, BCRW Associate Director Tami Navarro will offer a lecture on the effects of neoliberalism on young women in the US Virgin Islands.

October’s events tackle crucial concepts for feminist theory and activism. The Keywords/Key Questions Symposium launches a groundbreaking collection of essays on Disability Studies. Senior Activist Fellow Katherine Acey queries the possibilities for intergenerational activism at a BCRW lunchtime lecture. Denise Ferreira da Silva asks us to think past the limits of resistance as the ultimate goal of feminist theory and praxis. We end the semester with a series of lectures by feminist scholars who reflect on the history of women’s movements, the planet, and their respective futures. This year’s Helen Pond McIntyre lecturer, Anna Tsing, applies a feminist anthropology approach to the anthropocene. Nina Ansary ‘89 and Sally Benson offer unique insights into the women’s movement in Iran and renewable energy resources.

We look forward to seeing you at some or all of these thought provoking events!


Farewell, Anne & Nicci! Welcome, Avi!

We wish a warm and fond farewell to our exceptional Program Manager, Anne Jonas and our indispensable Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, Nicci Yin, who will each embark on new paths in graduate school. Though we will miss them tremendously, we are also delighted to extend a warm welcome to our new Program and Media Manager, Avi Cummings, who joins us from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, where he was Director of Grassroots Fundraising and Communications. Before SRLP, Avi organized for racial and economic justice, prison abolition, and queer and trans liberation.

The Scholar & Feminist Online Double Issues 12.3-13.1: The Worlds of Ntozake Shange

The latest issue of BCRW’s peer-reviewed, open-access journal Scholar and Feminist Online celebrates the work of Barnard alumna Ntozake Shange. This double issue, entitled “The Worlds of Ntozake Shange,” is edited by Kim F. Hall, Monica L. Miller, and Yvette Christiansë and features Shange’s body of work and its continuing impact within and outside the academy. From her creation of the choreopoem to her lasting linguistic innovations, Shange has long been a creative force, contributing much to both intellectual and artistic productions. Authors in this issue include Farah Griffin, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Soyica Diggs Colbert, Jennifer DeVere Brody, and many more. The issue also includes videos on teaching Shange, produced by Hope Dector. Available free online at

BCRW is hiring student research assistants for fall 2015! Read more here.


Caribbean Feminisms on the Page

danticatEdwidge Danticat and Victoria Brown
September 17, 2015 | 6:30pm
Diana Center Event Oval, Barnard College

MacArthur fellow Edwidge Danticat ‘90 and debut novelist Victoria Brown come together in this second event of the Caribbean Feminisms on the Page series, which places distinguished writers in conversation with emerging authors to discuss issues including feminism, diaspora, and method. Danticat is the author of several books, including the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory and her family memoir Brother, I’m Dying, which was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award. This year, she will publish a picture book, Mama’s Nightingale, and a young adult novel, Untwine. Victoria Brown is the author of Minding Ben, a novel about a teenager from Trinidad working as a nanny in New York City. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, NBC news, New York Magazine, The Sunday Salon Fiction Zine, and Babble. She teaches in the English Department at LaGuardia Community College, and is currently at work on her second novel.


Easy Money and Respectable Girls: Neoliberalism and Expectation in the US Virgin Islands


Tami Navarro
Wednesday, September 30 | 12pm
BCRW, Barnard Hall 101

In St. Croix, a disproportionate number of middle and upper-middle class young women are employed by the Economic Development Commission (EDC), an initiative that grants tax incentives to businesses based in the US Virgin Islands. In this lecture, BCRW Associate Director Tami Navarro examines questions of gender, racial inequality, and widening class divisions by looking at how neoliberal expectations of privatization clash with community demands for solidarity.


Policing the Crises: Stuart Hall and the Practice of Critique 

September 24-26, 2015
Columbia University
Co-sponsored by Columbia School of the Arts, the Heyman Center for the Humanities and Humanities Institute at SUNY Stonybrook

Using key works by preeminent post-colonial intellectual and cultural theorist Stuart Hall (1932-2014), the conference will examine how Hall’s theorizations of neoliberalism, race, ethnicity, feminism, nationality, and politics can help us think through some of the most urgent problems today: police violence, mass and racialized incarceration across the United States, as well as concerns around economic, environmental, social and religious justice across the world.


Keywords/Key Questions

October 1 | 6:15-8pm
October 2 | 9-5:30pm
James Room, 4th floor Barnard Hall

This symposium will mark the publication of Keywords for Disability Studies, a collection of 60 essays that identify and define key terms in the field. The event includes an artists’ panel on October 1 featuring Sunaura Taylor, Riva Lehrer, and Park McArthur, and speakers on October 2 discussing their terms and identifying key questions for the next stage of disability studies scholarship. This event will be fully accessible and all are welcome. 

Image credit: Just Seeds Artist Cooperative


What’s Age Got to Do With It?

Katherine Acey
October 13 | 12pm
BCRW, Barnard Hall 101

Drawing on more than four decades of working in multiple movements, BCRW Senior Activist Fellow Katherine Acey discusses what aging and activism looks like and the challenges and opportunities for intergenerational dialogue and work that advances social justice feminism. Acey is currently the Executive Director of GRIOT Circle.


Hacking the Subject: Black Feminism, Refusal, and the Limits of Critique

Denise Ferreira da Silva
Oct 22 | 6:30pm
James Room, 4th floor Barnard Hall

BCRW’s newest working group, Practicing Refusal: Thinking Beyond Resistance, kicks off with a public lecture by distinguished ethicist and feminist theorist, Denise Ferreira da Silva. Refusing gender as the only critical tool for describing females’ socio-historical trajectories, she extends Hortense Spillers’ reconfiguration of ‘woman’, the female and the feminine, in ways that dis/order the modern grammar of the patriarch. Ferreira da Silva is associate professor at the Institute for Research on Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice, University of British Columbia.


The Untold Story of Women in Iran: A Conversation with Nina Ansary

Nina Ansary
Thursday, November 5, 2015 | 6:30
Diana Center Event Oval, Barnard College

Author and Barnard alum Nina Ansary will be in conversation with Richard Bulliet, Columbia Professor of History and Middle East Studies, on Ansary’s widely anticipated book Jewels of Allah. Based on her doctoral thesis on the women’s movement in Iran, Jewels of Allah shatters stereotypical assumptions of women in Iran today and challenges the dominant narrative of the demise of women since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.


Helen Pond McIntyre Lecture
A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
November 10, 2015 | 6:30pm
James Room, 4th Floor Barnard Hall

Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster. Anna L Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.


Roslyn Silver ‘27 Science Lecture  |  An Energy Plan for the 21st Century

sallySally Benson
Nov 17, 2015 | 6:30pm
Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd floor Barnard Hall

Driven by ever growing global energy demand, concerns over affordable energy supplies, and environmental benefits, we have embarked on a transition to a low-carbon energy system that relies more heavily on renewable energy resources. Sally Benson, Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project and Professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford University, presents an energy plan based on the ground-breaking technology and policy research taking place today.


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BCRW Staff

Your donations sustain BCRW’s activist-academic collaborations and our commitment to feminist research, education, and action. Whether you can donate $100, $50, or $5, your support keeps us strong. Please consider making a contribution today!



Calling all Barnard students: Come work at BCRW!

Applications for the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s fall 2015 Research Assistant positions are OPEN! CLICK HERE TO APPLY!

BCRW Staff

About the Barnard Center for Research on Women:

Since our founding in 1971, BCRW has built collaborative feminist activist-academic projects, programs, and publications on subjects ranging from domestic worker organizing to prison abolition, trans feminism to the Black radical tradition, and analyses of anti-violence movement strategies to the non-profit industrial complex. We believe that the issues of our time require bold and rigorous feminist research and education coordinated with grounded action.

About the BCRW Research Assistant position: 

BCRW Research Assistants work 2-6 hours per week. Students work on projects in coordination with BCRW staff, including:

a) Digitizing BCRW’s archives.
b) Organizing and coordinating event logistics and outreach.
c) Promoting BCRW events and publications.
d) Amplifying BCRW on Facebook and Twitter by curating content.
e) Creating blog posts and podcasts about BCRW programming and social justice feminism broadly.
f) Assisting academic and activist fellows in their research.

About YOU: 

Want to be involved in planning exciting and engaging events like the Queer Survival Economies conference and Redefining Realness: A Salon in Honor of Janet Mock? Are you interested in using media (podcasts and blog posts and social media) to highlight social justice feminism? Are you interested in creating and digitizing feminist archives at BCRW as part of creating an infrastructure for feminist futures? Then join us!

This position is open to Barnard College students. Students of color, first-generation students, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans and gender nonconforming students are strongly encouraged to apply!

What We’re Reading at BCRW

Last week, BCRW Program Manager Avi asked me, resignedly and with despair, “Did you see the new #SayHerName? The news of another trans woman of color’s murder?” The body of Shade Schuler, 22-year-old trans woman, had just been found (August 12) in Dallas. In that moment last week, she was the 13th trans person murdered in 2015. That public number has since increased to 17 with the recent murders of Tamara Dominguez, Elisha Walker, Amber Monroe, and Kandis Capri. Chase Strangio, ACLU attorney representing Chelsea Manning, declared to Democracy Now a “state of emergency for the trans community.”

We have conversations like this a lot in the office, back and forth about the latest traumatic news: “Did you hear..?” “Did you see…?”  These are conversations that never really end—they’re just picked up with the next hashtag, the next name, the next murder, the next protest. Sometimes we have some new analysis to add to this revolving door of a conversation, but mostly we are just saying out loud our own renewed hurt.

It feels as if we are perpetually discussing recent news of another murder of a trans woman of color, or the renewed attention to protests in cities such as Ferguson, and just generally the anti-black and anti-trans violence that has had a seemingly persistent presence in media.  We, whose social media feeds are full of social activist voices, are bombarded with seemingly endless images and stories of violence, anger and despair. We are in trauma, in perpetuity.

This is perhaps stating the obvious, but here at BCRW, we—as individuals and as a Center—view study and learning as a critical part of movements and resistance work. We were struck by the support our daily BCRW conversations provided us, and wanted to extend that support beyond the walls of our offices.

So, here’s our idea: A semi-regular resource list, published on BCRW’s blog, that offers things to read, watch, and listen to. These can be resources that point people in the direction of how to be involved or act, or that provide us with information, perspectives, and frameworks for working through the issues, for wading through the daily trauma of reading the news. We hope to submit to conversations similar to our own, and to support the social media and activist momentum that has been generating in response to our current moment’s anti-black, anti-trans violence.


Avi, Program and Media Manager, is reading Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (thanks to Kim Hall for the recommendation!) and Lillith’s Brood by Octavia Butler.

Kim, Barnard English and Africana Professor and member of BCRW Advisory Board, says she’s been revisiting the work of her colleague Saidiya Hartmann.

Research Assistant Carly is watching What happened, Miss Simone, a 2015 documentary about the music and activism of Nina Simone currently streaming on Netflix, reading the short story and novella collection Counternarratives (2015) by John Keene and “How Black Reporter’s Report on Black Death”, an article that  makes visible a stunning post-Ferguson 2014 reality: black death has become a mainstream reporting beat, by NPR’s Gene Demby.

citizen an american lyricTina, BCRW Director, had this to say in response to my call for recommendations: “Oddly, I find myself with so little time to read, I often ask myself if I’m really a professor. So rather than sustained reading, I actually get an awful lot out of lingering on particularly striking passages that I find myself coming back to for inspiration. Right now, I’ve been returning again and again to Dispossession: The Performative in the Political by Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou. There’s an amazing exchange between them on ‘the refusal to be refused,’ which I’ve been thinking and writing about. It’s really helpful to me in thinking about recent events.”

Tami, Associate Director of the Center, is currently reading the book of poems Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine.


Anne recently “read a wonderful interview with Miss Major on Autostraddle” that she recommends.

Miss Major via

Miss Major via

Che, our Community Archivist and Student Coordinator, offered this contribution: “I’ve been thinking a lot, strangely, about racialization as animalization and how the devaluation of black life plays out anthropomorphically (“the Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, “— Frantz Fanon) , and how black radical thinkers from Frederick Douglass to Fanon to Angela Davis have challenged how blackness is figured outside the racial and colonial category of the human and placed close to the category of the animal (which is problematic in of itself)…  A book that I read that really made me think about race, animality and queerness is Mel Chen’s Animacies.” (Che is currently writing something for The New Inquiry about how blackness and abolition stages a crisis for the human/animal divide. Once it’s done, we’ll be sure to share it!)

As a group, we would like to acknowledge the bitter irony of our post as it relates to Chelsea Manning’s current situation, as she is found guilty for possessing expired toothpaste and LGBT reading material. From Kim: “Here we are celebrating reading and consuming culture as a way to expand our sense of the world—as we should be—and she is being threatened with torture, i.e. [indefinite] solitary confinement for reading.  Aaaaarrrgh.”

Che pointed out that Chelsea Manning is actually doing the introduction to the forthcoming 2nd edition of Captive Genders about the prison industrial complex (domestic and imperial) and gender self-determination. From Che: “The book highlights how torture and sexual violence of U.S. prisons is legal and how trans and gender non-conforming people are subject to solitary confinement for transgressing the gender binary (which the prison system reproduces).”

Carly Crane (’15) is a Research Assistant at BCRW. 

Getting Real About Allyship

Drawing labeled "Be A Better Ally in 3 Easy Steps" from SJWiki

Image from SJWiki, copyrighted but used with Fair Use rationale, see here for details.

Each spring, ROOTEd (Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education) holds a series of events about allyship in social justice, otherwise known as Allies Series. The programming usually consists of an allyship 101 teach-in, a discussion, and a panel featuring activists and community organizers. Having been a ROOTEd Peer Facilitator for the past three years, I think this is some of the most meaningful work the group does.

Most fundamentally, allyship means aligning yourself with a person, cause, or movement with whom/which you don’t identify. This might look like a non-black person supporting Black Lives Matter. On a more interpersonal level, it might be naming an oppressive comment a friend makes for what it is when neither of you experience that particular oppression. ROOTEd emphasizes ‘ally’ as a verb over ‘ally’ as a stable identity. Allyship is proven through continuous and active engagement, not through mere identification, which can lead to appropriation of struggle. Self-proclaimed allies who latch on to the identity but don’t actively challenge oppression, whether by redistributing resources or educating themselves and their communities, are a disservice to what allyship could and should look like.

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No Such Thing as Neutral

On November 8, 2014, members of the Flex and Lite Feet dance communities joined Ali Rosa-Salas ’13 for a lecture demonstration and discussion. NO SUCH THING AS NEUTRAL highlights movement-based artists who engage notions of subjectivity and materiality of the body in their work while utilizing the technical formalities of Abstraction. The project celebrates Flex and Lite Feet, looking at their evolution and the indelible impact they have had in the contemporary dance world. At the event, Rosa-Salas engaged Flex and Lite Feet dancers in a spirited discussion about their artistry, their techniques, and their personal experiences dancing a style considered “street” in a dance world that values formal training and classical technique.

NO SUCH THING AS NEUTRAL is the culmination of Rosa-Salas’s year-long work as a 2014 Barnard Alumni Fellow with BCRW. Much of Rosa-Salas’s research is interested in examining what she calls the false and problematic binary between “formal” dances and “street” or “vernacular” dances. The “formal” side of this binary houses ballet and modern techniques; “street” or “vernacular” styles like tap, jazz, hip-hop, voguing, Flex and Lite Feet make up the other half of the dance binary. While “formal” dance is privileged with forming the “bedrock of all contemporary dance,” with the highest levels of training necessary to perform these styles, “street” styles are thought to be “natural,” with very little formal training or technique necessary. Rosa-Salas also examines the ways in which “street” styles are appropriated by mainstream pop-culture and how race and class factor into the construction of hierarchies in dance. Her intersectional critique framed the lecture demonstration and discussion. “These false categories bare a hierarchy that trouble me,” Rosa-Salas said in her opening comments. “Because they relegate certain dance forms into this ‘otherizing’ realm.” NO SUCH THING AS NEUTRAL strives to make these categories visible and ultimately attempts to upend them.

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Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies: The Conference

Amber Hollibaugh’s project Queer Survival Economies took the form of a conference “Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” on January 23rd and 24th. Queer Survival Economies (QSE) is a project that aims to organize poor and working class people around economic justice and immigration issues, particularly problems that impact LGBTQ+ people. The project works with various organizational partners and includes conferences, training curriculum, network building, and the development of a story bank of LGBTQ+ poor and low-income people’s experiences. Through research, training, and education, QSE wants to expand local and national economic and immigration policies to include LGBTQ+ people.

I approached the conference not only as a BCRW research assistant, but as a queer Indian woman, unaware of what to expect. My past experience with the queer community has been frustratingly whitewashed and (cis) male, full of successful coming out stories that failed to transcend intersectional boundaries of race, culture, age, gender, polysexuality, religion, class, (dis)ability, and colonialism. I was hesitant to enter the conference room, unsure of who would occupy it, but found myself happily surprised at the amount of diversity in the room. As a young Desi queer, representations of myself in the media have been literally nonexistent, but to my delight, I spotted Alok from Darkmatter, the trans Desi slam poetry duo.

Gender, Sexuality, HIV and Reproductive Justice panel with Reina Gossett, Cara Page, and Terry Boggis. Photo by @MargotDWeiss via Twitter.

Gender, Sexuality, HIV and Reproductive Justice panel with Reina Gossett, Cara Page, and Terry Boggis. Photo by @MargotDWeiss via Twitter.

The focus of this conference was on how certain bodies, such as queer bodies and Black and brown bodies, are seen as dangerous and disruptive to the social order. Panelists at “Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies” discussed the impacts of the medical-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, and capitalism on the LGBTQ+ community. Higher rates of arrest and strip searches exist among LGBTQ+ people of color and queer disabled people, particularly those that are homeless. Because there are disproportionate amounts of homeless queer youth and adults, issues surrounding homelessness are queer issues.

The following are the two panels I attended at the conference.

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Transformative Justice Workshop Resources

On Friday, February 27th, BCRW Research Assistants and Ejeris Dixon (Founding Director of Vision Change Win Consulting) will facilitate “Transformative Justice Approaches to Sexual Violence on Campus and Beyond”, a workshop at the 40th Annual Scholar & Feminist Conference on education. We (BCRW Research Assistants) have compiled a resources guide to concepts that will be explored at the workshop with the hopes of extending knowledge and continuing conversations around these very important issues.

Scholar & Feminist XL Conference: Action on Education, featured image by Pete Railand,

Scholar & Feminist XL Conference: Action on Education, featured image by Pete Railand,

Alternative vs. Restorative vs. Transformative

I have become familiar with the terms “transformative justice”, “restorative justice”, and “alternative justice” since the beginning of my time at Barnard, in the sense that these terms are buzzwords on the current student social justice scene. However, these terms are frequently used interchangeably, and until recently I did not have a deeper understanding of their differences. Generally, alternative justice refers to justice practices that take place outside of the criminal justice system, and restorative justice seeks to repair harm through accountability practices rather than punishment. Transformative justice takes restorative justice one step further by aiming to not only respond to individual acts of violence, but also to transform communities so that structures that enable and perpetuate violence are eradicated. Transformative justice envisions communities in which responses to violence are not solely reactionary but also preventative. It is also important to acknowledge that transformative justice draws upon generations of work carried out by women of color and queer activists.

Carceral Feminism and Transformative Justice

Feminist activists and organizers initially theorized a framework of transformative justice in response to the state’s inability to stop sexual violence. White feminists have traditionally turned to the state to combat sexual violence and abuse through legislation to reform the criminal justice system (e.g. rape shield laws) and to increase police power (e.g. the Violence Against Women Act). This approach to sexual violence, labeled “carceral feminism”, does not recognize or criticize the role of the state in enacting violence and enforcing oppression. For instance, women of color who have turned to the police to escape domestic violence have in turn been brutalized by the same police officers that were supposed to help them. Clearly, we must look beyond the possibility of state justice in order to create communities in which all forms of violence would be unthinkable.

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