Black & Pink NYC is a chapter of a national group of currently and formerly incarcerated LGBTQI and gender nonconforming people, as well as the community members who support them. Like the rest of New York City’s queer and trans community, we are appalled and heartbroken by the recent spate of homophobic and transphobic attacks in Bushwick, especially since we have members who live in this area. As long-time trans feminist activist Brooke Cerda stated at the amazing impromptu emergency rally last night to combat LGBTQ attacks, these bashings are an effort not just to hurt us, but to erase us from public existence by making us afraid to walk down the street, afraid to come out to our friends and family, and afraid to pursue changes such as taking hormones that could make us targets. And as Black and Pink NYC member Emma Caterine stated at last night’s rally, this violence in part originates from the police and the prison system, whose actions, instead of bringing justice, only serve to promote increasing cycles of violence that fall disproportionately on LGBTQI people, and especially LGBTQI people of color.
It is tempting, because we are so socially conditioned in this way, to project our anger and resistance onto an individual attacker. We can think that a person who commits such heinous acts must be punished by incarceration or even death, but we know that in the long run that will only create more damaged families and social division. The police, whom we normally live in fear of, suddenly seem like the only option for us to achieve any sort of justice. But this facade of justice, even when achieved, is simply violence created by the state and no amount or kind of violence will help our communities heal. We also believe that relying on and becoming parts of law enforcement’s surveillance network only serves to create more mistrust and more criminalization. Fostering a culture of calling 911 to solve our community’s problems will inevitably come back to hurt us with every person who calls the cops on us for criminalized behavior like self defense, prostitution, or disorderly conduct. Mass incarceration is one of the greatest factors eroding communities around the nation, especially communities of color, as whole generations are locked away while their loved ones have to shoulder more responsibilities in their absence. And, as we have seen in communities like Chelsea and Williamsburg, it abets the recent gentrifiers’ abilities to uproot communities by locking up those they cannot price out of the neighborhood.
Black & Pink NYC firmly believes in principles such as radical harm reduction, restorative and economic justice, and community engagement as sustainable methods of promoting change in our communities. Unfortunately as long as a violent “justice” system that incarcerates and kills us continues to be upheld, we won’t see a complete cessation of violence against us. However, there are alternatives for us to seek justice in struggles within the community as practiced by groups in New York City like Audre Lorde Project, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Streetwise & Safe, and FIERCE. These organizations promote models of both healing for survivors and education and accountability for the communities that have failed them by facilitating or allowing the homophobic and transphobic violence, whether from neighborhood residents or the police state. We hope in this time of great fear and righteous fury, that we can hold these emotions close to our hearts but not let them sway us into collaboration with the prison system that is one of the foremost perpetrators of violence against us.