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Transcript: Season 1, Episode 5, Gender Equity

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Ra 0:00 Today we’re talking about feminism, and patriarchy, and all the different ways that  gender impacts the abolitionist movement and incarceration. We have a special guest, and Charlene who is the founder of the BYP 100 project, as well as the author of “Unapologetic: a Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements” is going to help guide us in that conversation. 

Taina 0:28 Good morning Charlene, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re very excited to have you on as, as a guest for this this podcast. I know that myself and many members of our team have been inspired by your work and the book that you wrote, so we’re very grateful for the opportunity to, to hear from you and for our listeners to also be able to benefit from your wisdom. So, thank you. As you know, this podcast is about abolition, just like overall as a broader topic, and we try to break down different segments of it and you know, what pieces are important to abolition and why. So the subjects of feminism and of justice for queer folks are very important to me and personally, I think very important to our staff and members and people who engage with our work and you know, very important to the overall abolition work. So I was wondering, Charlene, if you would be down to talk to us a little bit about why feminism, why, why black feminism in particular, why queer liberation in our social justice movements, and specifically in the movement to abolish prisons? 

Charlene 1:41 For sure. Well, I’m first I’m glad to be here, and to be able to join you all in conversation. The work that you do is extremely important and groundbreaking, and I believe it sets a tone or a possibility example, a possibility model for what’s possible in our lifetimes, and the work of abolishing the prison industrial complex. And when I think about what not only what’s possible, but also what’s necessary, even in the name initiate, like you’re y’all y’all are starting some shit. And I don’t know if we can use profanity, b

Taina 2:16 Please do. 

Charlene 2:18 You know, some people say, don’t start, none won’t be none. Well, y’all done started it, and you’re continuing. And when I think about black feminism, and black liberation, and collective liberation at large, it is a lineage of people who initiate. People who start something, and people who continue something that has already happened before, whether they know it or not. And it’s less about you know, there’s nothing new under the sun, and it’s more about how I understand our work as being a part of the longer black radical tradition. And when I talk about the black radical tradition, I’m talking about struggles that were initiated within or combating colonial slavery through settler colonialism and just the broader Atlantic Slave Trade and how black folks on both sides of the Atlantic use all sorts of means in order to secure freedoms and advance towards liberation for themselves. And so I understand black feminism or black feminisms because there’s no single one, as being a part of the black radical tradition and that means people who engage in what today we call organizing, people who engage in cultural work, intellectual work, people who engage in arms struggled through flavor revolts, and revolutions, and rebellions, people who engage a marinara. All sorts of ways that people, even people who use legal means who went through the courts, people who use all sorts of ways to say, actually, I’m going to demand not only the freedom of myself, but also the freedom of my children. And black feminism is, to me, it is about both the intellectual and the movement work that people have engaged in that centers ending all sorts of forms of exploitation and oppression, while centering the role of gender or the the function of gender in facilitating exploitation and oppression. And to me, that necessarily means people of all gender experiences and understanding wes, gender, as many of us experience it, is in the aftermath of colonial constructs and that, you know, colonization didn’t like colonists didn’t invent the idea of gender, but we are living in the aftermath experiencing the consequences of that. And so black feminism introduced me to the idea of going after the big story, the big things that people were experiencing and not leaving anyone behind. And in order to do that, I have to, and I’m a part again of an entire legacy or lineage that does this. We have to look at the people, even within our own communities, who are the most marginalized, because when we take up, folks, and not even just individuals, but we take up issues that are impacting people who are on the margins of the margins, then we can actually do the work as the Combahee River Collective teaches us to free everyone.

Ra 5:30 Which actually reminded me in your your book, you talk a little bit about the black radical tradition, something that really struck me is about how you talked about how it exemplifies the struggle to break down the fictions. And storytelling is such a critical part of what we do at Initiate Justice, because the stories of people inside and people impacted by loving someone who is inside are so significant, and so under heard, and we focus so much on telling the stories, but I thought it was a fascinating take that we also have to break down a lot of fictions andd that, you know, people believe to be the truest story, just because they haven’t necessarily heard the margin the margins, as you just said, which brings us I think, a little bit to gender and mass incarceration or incarceration in general, and what that really looks like, or why that’s a focus that we need to have, particularly for the incarceration lens. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Charlene 6:24 Yeah, for sure. So, can’t decide where to begin, because this is a long story, like how we get to this moment in the United States, where we incarcerate more people per capita than any other country or any nation state in the world, how we get to this point is at least a 400 year old story. And in service of not like being too overwhelming, I think it we should necessarily understand all carceral systems as systems that sort people. That put people into categories, whether they identify that with them or not. And so, just on a base level, men’s prisons, women’s prisons, and they’re they’re called different things, depending on where you are, but in Cook County, we have a juvenile detention center here, and so they have all the children there, and then they sort them based on boys and girls, or males and females. And, to me, it’s super evident. And I’m not just I’m not the only person to figure this out, that it serves the institution itself, to be able to sort people into particular categories, and it allows them to be better able to control people. To control everything from who they are in relationship with, who they have friendships with, who they are in conflict with, who they are vulnerable to, and who they can potentially dominate themselves, and who and who they cannot have sexual relationships with as well. That entire system is a mechanism of control. Gender, in addition to it happening, as you mentioned, to the folks who are on the inside who are incarcerated, people who go visit their loved ones are also sorted and treated based on their gender. I remember a couple of visits that I’ve made to visit folks on the inside and back in the day, when I used to wear a bra, I don’t wear a bra anymore, you know, you could only wear certain kinds of bras.

Taina 8:28 Yeah.

Charlene 8:28 They would check under your bra. Or you can only wear certain types of jeans or pants. And depending on the style of clothes you’re at, and for many people who present and or identify as black women, our bodies, like we can wear the same pair of jeans as someone else, and they just looks completely different in our bodies, they are sexualized, and treat it in a different way. So how carceral systems approach gender and how gender functions is up and down in the DNA of the entire system. And I think that for sure, we should talk about how trans folks are placed inside of the facility that the state recognizes them as being but you know as CeCe McDonald said, prisons aren’t safe for anybody. And she understood as a black trans woman who was incarcerated, that whether she was in a women’s prison, or a men’s prison, she wasn’t going to be safe. And so I think it’s really important in our analysis of understanding how these systems function, is that we don’t just simply want people to like, have better abilities to have gender identification, or or have their gender simply have their gender recognized. What we yes, we want people to have access to healthcare gender affirming health care, it means hormones, like simply put it means that that’s a part of healthcare. We should understand that as a part of healthcare. We should not understand that just because you are in another facility that you are now safer. Or you are automatically safe. You might be safer, but you’re not automatically saved if nothing is guaranteed because they are not safe for anybody.

Taina 10:07 Right.

Charlene 10:08 So black feminism teaches me that, like be it Ella Baker or Angela Davis is that we have to get to the root of the problem and the root of the problem isn’t that we need simply the nicer prisons, while people inside deserve good food, like until they no longer exist, they deserve to be cared for. And we don’t want them at all, because they not only reinforce gender oppression, they create even new forms of gender oppression. So it’s all of that and that’s that’s what I learned from black feminism, both through black feminist thought and black feminists action.

Taina 10:45 Right. Charlene you just said so much that that resonates deeply with me and things that are just like at the forefront of my mind, like everyday doing this work. But I really want to touch on what you said about addressing the root of this problem, I would argue that the patriarchy is at the root of prisons and police, you know, you talked about the concepts of of dominance, because that is an inherent tenant of patriarchy is dominance. That, in particular, men have the ability and the right to dominate, to rule, and to exclude women and people of other genders. So, you know, when I think about the prison system, I think, like, okay, we have, you know, people who, you know, commit some kind of harm, and instead of like addressing the root causes of the harm, instead of figuring out like, what society can be doing better, we respond with this like patriarchal concept of punishment, of dominance, of violence, and we think we can somehow dominate people into submission, and behaving better. And you know, then patriarchy is present, like throughout the entire prison system, even like amongst incarcerated people, and like prison politics, and who is more dominant over who, but the correctional officers are more dominant over everybody. And somehow in the system, like we expect, folks to come home, and somehow, like, be better, like more, more healed. So I just want to talk about that a little bit. And also, you know, something that we talk about a lot in Initiate Justice is the concept of intersectionality and how folks who are impacted by incarceration, like all share the common thread of being harmed by the system, but our identities determine like how the system impacts us. So if you are a black man who’s incarcerated, your experience is different than a white man who’s incarcerated. Or if you are a black, or you know, brown woman, or if you are a trans person, or a queer person in prison, like your experience is different. And, you know, I just wanted to reflect on what you said about visiting, because that’s my experience as well. But I spent pretty much every weekend for seven years in a visiting room, watching how black women and black women’s bodies were policed differently, then, of course, the the male visitors and even the women visitors who were, you know, not black. We were always told everything we wore is too tight, you know, our, our bodies are just shaped differently. And, like the over sexualization, the, you know, I would argue rape culture, in the prison visiting room, I have been told by multiple correctional officers that the reason that they are policing my body and my clothes is for my safety, so that someone in prison won’t look at me or I don’t know, commit a violent act against me, as if somehow like my clothes, or my behavior would be the cause of that inappropriate behavior. So yeah, it’s just, yeah, I’m really glad that we’re having this conversation like on why it’s important to talk about abolition through a feminist lens. We can’t abolish prisons, without stating the fact that like, the system of prisons, is a patriarchal system. We have to do this organizing work through a lens that respects people who are not men.

Charlene 14:06 One thing that I’m someone who I’ve learned a lot from, when it comes to the prison industrial complex when it comes to intimate partner violence or domestic violence is Dr. Beth E. Ritchie and her book Arrested Justice. And within that book, she has this table and it basically lays out the site where people put this particular chart that she made was about black women. And in it, she talks about the various places that black women experience violence in community, in our households, and in various institutions, and the sorts of violence that black women experience and in getting to the root of it is not just one location where this this is happening. We know that, I don’t know the exact numbers, but my understanding is there’s a high number of people who are incarcerated in women’s prisons who have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. And that that suggests to me, that we can’t even just we cannot understand because then prison industrial complex means that is not just about the physical walls of the prison. And it suggests to me very clearly that if we’re going to tackle this thing, we have to also tackle patriarchal violence. And you’ve named patriarchy over and over again and one thing that I say is that it is not possible to abolish the prison industrial complex without also abolishing systems, social norms, and institutions that uphold and reproduce patriarchal violence. And so that is the brick and mortar prison, it is the the the immigrant detention center, it is the the public aid office that you go into, the way people talk to you, the way you’re treated, it is what happens when you are seeking health care and how you’re treated in the examination room, or the treatment room. When you are allowed to parent without being criminalized and being threatened with violence and or your child being taken away. And so it is happening in all those places where patriarchal violence and violence of domination is happening and it’s called the the matrix that I’m talking about is built up and I think it’s inspired by the matrix of Dr. Beth Ritchie’s it’s called the Violence Matrix. And so, when we look at this thing, in a way that is much more holistic, we can get to much more holistic solutions. How I like to think of this, you know, in a plainer way is that incomplete stories lead to incomplete solutions. And so if we work to tell more complete stories, we can develop more complete solutions. There are so many stories, and we must ask ourselves, who does it benefit to tell single stories or small stories about what’s happening via our movements? When people try to tell narrow stories about our movements and say, like, name one or two organizations, or one or two people when our movements, we know that our movements are so much bigger? And who does it serve, to tell a narrow narrative of who is incarcerated and who was impacted by incarceration? Who does that serve? It serves the people who profit and the people who maintain positions of power, because, yes, it’s about money. And not everybody who gains power from the prison industrial complex is wealthy. So it’s not just about money. It is also about the power and the ability to have decision making power over other people that fuels these carceral systems. 

Ra 17:50 That’s so funny, we were talking about the violence matrix, right, right, before you came in. A great basis for what we’re trying to do with this podcast, you know, taking a wider scope and moving more and more inward towards the interpersonal, which are hugely important things or even from like large, large scopes from like prison institution to smaller instances of what you guys were just describing, like, you know, black children are also more criminalized by dress codes and things it starts so, so young, and it’s, again, a product of sexualization and patriarchy, and of course, racism, and all that stuff just blends together into starting the criminalization process so young in someone’s life, that it just continues. And as we know, when you criminalize a child, that criminalizes a family, and that makes, to your point, it difficult to be a parent. To navigate all these things, you create even more obstacles and something that’s already inherently hard and I don’t even know exactly what I’m going to go with this. I’ve just like, yes, all these things are tied together. Just excited about it, I think, and sad about it, but at least there’s a direction. You did mention not having numbers for things. And I think in the last just to California prisons, did a study in the last five years and 92% of women incarcerated, said that they had been battered and abused in their lifetime, which is, I would say, a more heightened version of of any of those expressions. And yeah, it’s it’s shocking. It’s also, you know, I was inside and one of the things that surprised me is that, like 50% of women, and that’s not really that rough of a number, I think it’s like 26% are in for drugs and like 24 in for property theft, which is generally stealing stuff for your families, and your communities and to know that 50% of women are in there for these reasons when those numbers are rapidly decreasing on the men’s side. And as far as specific numbers, I’ve seen different things in terms of women’s prison growth nationwide, but it’s something either 700% or 800%, in the last, like in my lifespan, and I’m pushing 40, but I’m not that old. So I feel like, it’s a lot of change, when the behaviors of women have probably not become drastically different. So we’ve just find found more and more things to criminalize, and more and more ways to find them in different areas. And again, it goes back to why it’s so important to constantly keep that lens in mind because while we might be making progress on one front, bringing men home for drug abuse and addiction, we’re kind of doing the exact opposite on the woman’s front. You know, if we aren’t really focused on it, if we, you know, it’s so easy to let it slip between the cracks, because I think I think another thing I read in your book about how it’s almost impossible to live in this country and not be racist, misogynistic, all these things are so built into the framework of how we live and the schools, we go to the books, we read the school, the TV shows, we watch, if you’re not actively against these things, then you fall into the category of them very simply.

Charlene 20:58 That’s right, it’s in it’s hard to escape it and rape culture, Taina, you mentioned a rape culture earlier and it’s pervasive is, culture is not something that, you know, you can put up a forcefield against. It’s a part of behaviors, attitudes, practices, ritual, routine, all those things. And it’s like, if this is something that you have been steeped in, you grew up around, you know, I think all kinds of people say things about DaBaby, and his remarks related to people living with HIV and AIDS and gay men in particular, and his one sidedness his remarks, which I won’t repeat, or even say more about those. But he, he was, and he just needs to learn, or we need to take time to educate him and even in his statement he talked about, he didn’t realize what he needed to learn how he need to be educated. And I think that in today’s world, the level of access that we have to information might make us believe that people will willingly, willingly take up the information and engage it to develop knowledge. So information alone does not create knowledge. And information alone does not facilitate education. And so folks have to make a choice. And unfortunately, all too often, that choice comes as a result of people being forced to do so and it shouldn’t be that way. You shouldn’t have to be told 20 times that what you’re saying is not okay before you actually do differently. And it’s, particularly today, when there’s so many resources, so much access to things that I think that we can hold each other to some sort of level of expectation when we’re in relationship with each other. Like it’s hard, like, I don’t know, DaBaby, I don’t know, the average person on the internet who’s saying terrible things about other people, what am I doing with the people who I am in proximity to? Who I am in relationship with? I think it that really, really matters and it’s hard. I think oftentimes it’s it can be more difficult, or more challenging for us to take up the muck that happens with people who we are in relationship with. And so, I won’t pretend that it’s an easy task, I do think that it is it is for sure necessary, is how we are all experiencing the world both personally, and what we feel ourselves and how the world perceives us as when it relates to our gender. It is it is yes, a personal matter and what is happening to me is not just because of me. The experience I’m having is not just because of how I identify. And another thing that I talk about in the book is that my identity alone doesn’t tell you anything about my politics. Didn’t tell you anything about what I believe in, my values, or who I am or how I am. And so, it is important to me that we don’t just rest and our individual selves, our individual identities, and we say, well, this is how this particular way that I identify or this group that I belong to, or this group that people perceive me as belonging to, informs the way I am in the world, the way I am with myself, the way I treat myself the way I treat other people, how I’m in relationship with other people. I was in a conversation with Barbara Smith, who’s one of the authors of the Combahee River Collective Statement, she was a member of the Combahee River Collective and there was this black feminist statement in 1977 that is a central black feminist text. And we were talking, we were just talking and we were asking her a question about the statement because I  had had a discussion with someone in class and we didn’t agree with a particular point in the statement. And I was like, you know, maybe we’re just read this differently. And at the same time, I had a sense about what what they meant about it. And so, I was just asking her about what what their intentions with the statement, where they wanted it to go, all those things, and a few things that she said, I think they’re important to this conversation. One, their statement was tied to organizing, it was about a organizing vision. It was yes, about thought and history and it was also about what actions they would take and other people could take. Two, is a Socialist statement. Oftentimes, people don’t mark the Combahee River Collective statement as a Socialist statement, because somehow, people can’t reconcile that Socialism and black feminism limit can live in the same space, and then serve, the thing she said was that it’s as if they ran with the identity and left the politics. And I’m not one, I’m not quite convinced that we need, we need to discard identity as a project. There are many people who would argue that. I’m not i’m not convinced of that quite yet. And at the same time, I’m super clear that if we’re going to do the work of understanding the role of gender in prisons, and the prison industrial complex, broadly, we have to understand it on the system’s level, while also taking into account how it impacts various individuals in different ways. And not just for this, in addition to for the sake for caring for people, it is also again, to tell a more complete story about what is happening, so we can actually tackle it. So we can actually address it. And our ways of addressing it should be informed by people’s experiences, and knowing that the individual is a part of a whole. And you know, that is it may seem a little too complex, but this is complex shit. It didn’t happen overnight. Patriarchy has been going on for more than 400 years before settler colonialism. Like, patriarchy has been around for a long time, it was around before capitalism. It was around before racial capitalism, anti black man’s, patriarchy has been around. So it’s a big thing. And it’s not going to be tackled through, you know, simple measures alone.

Taina 27:26 Right. And I, that is so true. And I think it can feel like such a daunting task, like, you know, how do we address this system that has existed for millennia? Patriarchy has been around before Jesus, you know, so something that you were talking about earlier, I think was like, linked to like accountability, right? Like you were talking about DaBaby as an exampl, but we all have men in our life who say out of pocket things, and not just men, you know, we also have like, women or like, non-binary folks who also like, ascribe to patriarchal ideal, right? So something that is always like a big picture question in my head is like, how do we hold individuals accountable? I think sometimes people feel like abolition is like an absence of accountability, which is not true. We are just not interested in punishment. We don’t want to punish someone for having like harmful beliefs or carrying out harmful actions, we want to prevent it, we want to correct it, we want to make sure that people feel safe. And I know that this is something that I mean, like all of us are dealing with this, you know, we exist in a patriarchal society. So if you are not a man doing this work, you are encountering toxic masculinity period. And what I mean by toxic masculinity is traits that might be like associated with being masculine, like, you know, dominant or whatever, but using that in ways that like, harms other people. So I was wondering, Charlene like, if you would be down to talk about what your thoughts are on like holding individuals in our community, like in our movement accountable, so that we can organize in ways that are abolitionists that are not based on punishment, but to hold people accountable so that everybody can feel safe in in these spaces.

Charlene 29:14 Yeah, it’s this is one of the hardest things for me to talk about and sort through myself. I’ve been involved in experiences in but like that require me and others to really consider and not just consider, but take up the values that we say we believe in and put them into action and that’s some of the most difficult work that I’ve ever done. And it of course, happens, the people who have an act of sexual violence against other people. Those are some of the most prominent examples or most talked about examples. It’s interesting that it is also one of the first questions that comes up when people are trying to counter abolition as as a political project. So we have people who who say, you know, I’m no longer starting this conversation, if you want to start it with what do we do with the murderers and the rapists? Because it’s not a productive place from which to start is are you really curious about how the PIC abolitionist movement is actually working? And what the goals, the visions, and all those things are? And so how are we thinking about even safety in movement spaces, on every single level, how we think about every single level, because oftentimes, while someone is violating people, sexually, there are a lot of other things going on at the same time, too, that are promoting a culture that are not supporting a culture of consent.

Taina 30:52 Right.

Charlene 30:52 That are not supporting a culture of mutual accountability. That are not supporting a culture of holistic communication, or a culture of respect all of those things. And so how can we have holistic conversations, even about safety within our own movements spaces? It is not enough to just like have a great response when you receive a report of sexual violence. Like that’s actually not enough. 

Taina 31:20 Right.

Charlene 31:21 Also, it’s also not enough to just have consent based trainings in an organization. Those two things alone are not enough. So what is the thing? What are the things? What are the other things that we need in order to create the kinds of culture that are one preventative, two also respond without punishment? So that’s something that I’m still trying to think through. And I don’t feel like I have answers to it. And it’s super difficult, particularly when, you know, in my experience, we went through an entire process with someone, an entire transformative justice process, only to receive more reports after that with the same person. So whereas this experience with these two individuals was seemingly productive, a generative process, what about all the other people who have also been harmed by this person? 

Taina 32:15 Right.

Charlene 32:15 We’ve done the individual work that I think is important, for sure and necessary. And unfortunately, it’s not enough. 

Taina 32:23 Mm hmm.

Charlene 32:24 I think that’s what we have to get to, and what can we do to apply the knowledge and the understanding, the strategies that think that people have thought through for PIC abolition, to abolishing patriarchal violence? 

Taina 32:39 Right.

Charlene 32:40 As a whole?

Taina 32:41 No. And I think that you’re like really hitting the nail on the head in terms of like, what the the challenges that we’re in? Because, you know, abolitionists will say,well, clearly prisons are not doing anything to prevent sexual violence and then people who are opposed to abolition will say, well, clearly your  transformative justice process didn’t do enough to prevent sexual violence. And I think the truth is, is something in the middle, and that is bigger than one individual. And that is bigger than just like one process of accountability, it really is around like addressing that, that whole entire culture. And it’s so much bigger than one person, one organization, one strategy, but I do think that it starts with incredible works, um, like your book, like the conversations that we continue to have here, and just really, like do everything that we can, like, in our power to shift the culture. But you know, like, like we said, patriarchy has been around for a long, long time. So, we, we have a lot of work to do, but you know, if we can maybe just move a pebble every day. 

Charlene 33:48 That’s right. 

Taina 33:49 We’ll get to a point where we can tear down this mountain.

Ra 33:51 Yeah, I think that a lot of it the work is that of imagination, as well, because, you know, we we try to solve these problems with the tools that we have in the world that we have and it’s sometimes really difficult to imagine something that we can’t imagine yet, like you said, with a pebble moving and it’s like, we just have to go far enough to see how far we can go, you know? And tiny, tiny little baby steps. My dad used to say like, he used to make us pick up trash when we were walking, which is not that big of a deal, but feels really tragic when your father your dad just wants you to pick up trash on the city streets. But I would say this piece of trash isn’t gonna save the world  and he’d say, you’re just trying to save it long enough for and then whatever baby was in the back, you’d like for her to save it, you know, just buy us enough time to become part of this lineage is all we’re trying to do right now. Yeah, I’m really grateful for all the references that you’ve made to the lineage of your work. I think that’s super powerful. And it reminds us that our journey is not as solitary as it sometimes feels. 

Charlene 34:51 That’s right. That’s right.

Taina 34:53 Yeah and I’m wondering Charlene like if you have any. I think all of us are just like out here in the world struggling and trying to figure out like the best way, you know the best way to organize and also just like the best ways to like live our live our own lives in alignment with our values. So I’m wondering if you have any like thoughts or like recommendations or maybe like best practices for you, that you would share with our listeners in terms of like, what has worked in terms of like uplifting and like living our values around feminism and queer liberation.

Charlene 35:27 The biggest thing for me is that the first come, there are at least two things that come to mind. One is being in a practice community, like other people, who are trying to figure out similar things, and who are using similar tools to figure out and how to both do healing work for themselves, awareness work, transformation,work for themselves, self work themselves, and who are part of doing movement work as well. And so one of the practice communities I’m in, is Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, BOLD, and we do politicize cymatics work, where a lot of the practices we learn, are about being aware of what’s happening in our body and the relationship to what’s happening in our bodies, to how we are out in the rest of the world. And so how we might embody transformative leadership, through everyday practices, or lifetime practices, that there are a few things I do every day, outside of taking a shower, brushing my teeth, and eating, I don’t know what else I do. So we have these various practices. And there’s so many things that some people like read, some people run, some people meditate, some people cook, farm, like all sorts of things that people do, to engage in practices to be aware of themselves and to come in to, to the commitment to the thing that they care about most. The things that they value the most. And so there’s no one way to do that, but being in a community with other people who have similar questions, similar visions and goals for the world, so that they can help you sharpen yourself, particularly people who are abolitionists, feminists, all all within that realm. I think that that’s super important being in good  practice community with other people. Another, the second thing that I’ll name is study. Study is really important and study happens in so many different ways. Study happens, in having conversations with folks, particularly folks who’ve done a thing that you’re interested in, or done anything that you’re trying to do. So that could be an elder, or it could be a younger person who has experience in a particular realm that you don’t have experience in. Study can be if you’re interested in visual culture, or you’re interested in media, how many films have you watched, you know, how many recordings have you listened to? How many pieces of visual art magazines, posters, have you actually spent time with, and considered and learn more about? And of course, I’m not going to escape the importance of reading. Reading is important. And I do reading through audio books, too, like I’m a, I’m not an elitist when it comes to how one reads, and I don’t think you have to just read books, there’s  articles, there’s pamphlets, there’s zines, all sorts of things. I think that engaging in reading, if you are able to is extremely important, because literacy, and there’s all sorts of literacy. Literacy allows you to move to the world, in better ways on your own terms. Like more deeply on your own terms. Reading, I’ll say that, again, like literacy and reading allows you to better move through the world on your own terms. And I say this to children in a little in a different way. I’m like, you know, it’s one thing for me to tell you what time it is. Imagine if you’re able to tell the time yourself? So you don’t have to filter what you know, or what you want to know through me. Literacy allows your curiosity to not have to be filtered through someone else. So that applies to political study. Don’t wait on your own neighborhood Marxist to tell you about a class and labor and all that other stuff. You get that for yourself too. And it doesn’t have to be just a solo activity, group study. Right? And so those two things, practice community, and study and study in all the ways and then some that I’ve just learned. And um, and you know, the third thing is you got to do it, you actually have to do it. And Dr. Rober Ransby, she’s a historian and organizer, and black feminist says, like the three things that we have to do, that we can all commit to the three things we can all do is study, struggle, and serve, or study, serve, struggle. I’m not sure what order she does it, it says all the time, but we can all do those three things in some sort of way. And so if you’re not actually engaged in the work, and you’re just thinking about it, then it will only go so far. And if you are just engaged in the work, but you’re not thinking about it, and where’s the reflection, where’s the learning? The last thing I’ll say, here, is that what I learned in organizing, and I did organizing work, pretty dedicated for, oh, well over 15 years. And now I’m in school, and doing other cultural work. And one thing that I consistently learn is that like, the most valuable reflection and learning happens in the debrief. It is after the thing has happened, you said, both for yourself and with other people to talk about, what did we set out to do? How well did we do it? What would we like to do differently next time? What do we learn from this, all that good stuff, it is a way that we can reflect back so that we can show up in even stronger ways he next time? I said this a bit earlier, that we are a part of a long lineage of people doing this work. And then we are not, not only are we not the first people to do it, we are not going to be the last people to do it. What we can at least aspire to is to change the terrain in which people have to actually struggle within. And the terrain is different today for us than it was you know, in the 1800s. It’s different. It’s different for us today than it was in the 1960s and the 1970s. It’s just it’s different. I’m not saying it’s better, it’s different. Well, surely better than the 1800s I can say that. I don’t know what it was like in the 1800s and you know, I don’t think anything compares that period of time. While things can be terrible and horrible for sure. What are we doing today what pebble are we moving so that the folks who move pebbles after us, they’re not, it’s the same ones. They can fight, they can fight on some different terrain.