Skip to content

Transcript: Season 2, Episode 2, Abolition Addresses State Violence

  • by

Crystal  0:00  

[intro music begins] Abolition is for Everybody is a podcast that tackles the sometimes difficult conversations around prison abolition. I’m Crystal.

Ra  0:22  

I’m Ra.

Adam  0:23  

And I’m Adam. 

Ra  0:24  

In this season of Abolition is for Everybody, we talk about harm.

Adam  0:27  

What creates it, what recycles it, and how we could find our way to meaningful means of repair.

Ra  0:35  

Just a reminder friends, in this episode, and every episode, we dive into very sensitive issues. This season is frameworked around violence, and though the title of this episode may give you some warning, remember that harm itself tends to create situations of alternate harms. There will probably be other painful topics brought up too. Take care of you. [intro music ends]

Crystal  1:08  

So, for this specific episode, and before we get into violence that is caused by individuals, we want to discuss the violence that the, the state causes against us every single day. And, we are defining state violence, as violence that is approved or funded by the government, most often targeting marginalized groups. For example, food deserts, anti homelessness structure, that we see being built in almost every city. Taking away the right to vote for folks, or folks who have felonies, uhm-is another example of state violence-uhm. So yeah, I just wanted to open up the conversation on what kind of state violence we have witnessed or experienced in our lives.

Ra  1:58  

Yeah, Crystal I was listening to you read that definition, and thinking about how when we first talked about this episode, we made a list of, like 120, different types of state violences. And obviously, everything we talked about in this podcast is a framework around our lives and our lives now, which take place in California. And the organization that we all work at Initiate Justice, which also takes place in California. So, there are certain things that, certain state violences I think that we see more of, just based on where we live, you know? But yeah, it was just interesting to think that list could just keep going and going. And the violence that we just kind of deal with every single day is so abundant, just rotten lack of state care, you know? Where they could step in, or even actively chose malicious-malicious acts where they actively told-chose, nope. Actively chose malicious violence. I’m not even reading from anything, I just can’t say words today.

Crystal  2:55  

Uhm, for me, uh, one of the first instances where I realized, that myself and my community was experiencing state violence, was when I attended college, and I was an undergrad at UCLA. And, uhm- I took a lot of health care courses, because before my loved one was incarcerated, I was on a path towards becoming a pedia-pediatric nurse. That was my dream. So, I took a lot of, a lot of health care courses. And, there is where I realized the differences between my community of the valley, and then, where I was living in Westwood by UCLA. And one of the things that my professor pointed out was the constant like, in every block, you can see fast food restaurants, you can see advertisements for cigarettes, and how you don’t see that in Westwood. You don’t see that in Beverly Hills. And another thing that really struck me, uh, while I was student, was the quality of life that we experienced. So, for me, learning that Latinos usually have a longer life expectancy than, you know, their white counterparts in the US, but that quality of life is signif-significantly decreases. And I immediately thought of my parents, who have all sorts of, you know, health care issues, and not really having the means to really, you know, to receive the-the health care that they need so that their quality of life improves. And that was the very first time that I started, it started clicking for me. That I grew up, I don’t know if I want to say, victim, that I grew up experiencing a state violence, just because of the zip code and the area code that uhm, that I lived in.

Ra  4:56  

Yeah, I’m, you know, very disabled, and so, so are-were my parents. So, I’m definitely familiar with the things the state could have done that didn’t, that they didn’t do, or-uhm barriers that they put in place that cause so much havoc. And aren’t culturally sound. I mean, even personally, just a couple years ago, I had a series of mini strokes. And, I was taken to the hospital by a loved one. And, because my strokes didn’t seem like standard strokes, I was sent home. And just kind of to double-check, went to my own doctor, who immediately realized what was happening, and luckily had me seated when I had another stroke right in front of him. And, all of those things would have been avoided if I was, you know, a white man, because that’s like the basis of our medical science. Even my mom had a heart attack, when I was younger, and similar things, all of our, all the things you learn about what a heart attack looks like, from, even from TV, which isn’t state violence, that’s us, repeating the retorque of state violence, much like propaganda, but even those things are all based on how a white man experiences a heart attack, because that’s what we studied. And that’s what we focused on. Like most women don’t get the arm pain. Most women get a feeling of like, almost gas, you know? So, it’s an entirely different symptomology, but we’re not really trained to recognize it, which means, you know, we die at higher numbers for something that’s super preventable.

Adam  6:32  

Right. And I like that you say that, because I’m just sitting here, just kind of going over a list and looking at different types of-of state violence, specifically, politically, right? When you said propaganda, which is like really, really big in our urban communities, right, the communities that we come from, which is predominantly people of color. So, knowing that we have police brutality, which we are seeing on an everyday basis, right? And so, growing up, that state violence seemed like it was a norm, right? Watching old clips from the 1960s, 1970s, looking at the Civil Rights Movements, or even before then, and you seeing how-how people of color is being treated, right? So, this has been something that’s been going on for a long time. And, to the point where, as I start to grow up, I become numb to it, but then, I-I come to this point of realization and understanding how all these different influences kind of promote state violence. Things like you was just speaking of Ra, you know, going to the hospital and getting a different type of treatment, right? That’s, uhm, I believe they call it what, institutional racism? Right?- 

Ra: 7:39

Right.

Adam 7:49

And so, all that adds up to, to state violence. And it really, really hurts to-to see how we all are affected by state violence and may not realize it, right? Because we are so numb to it. Or, because we’re not aware what state violence is. Even when me been incarcerated, seeing and seeing, you know, already being incarcerated, which is capital punishment, but then on it, I enter into this system that promotes state violence on a whole nother level and promotes literally institutional racism amongst each other. Where it’s like, you know, I’m not supposed to be cool, with whites. I’m not supposed to be cool, with Mexicans. I’m not supposed to be cool with Asians, but we are, we are the ones that’s actually you know, coming from the urban communities where we have the same struggles, but then we get into a system and now, they even try to break us down and separate us more to kind of keep the state violence perpetuating, right? And that’s where the propaganda comes in.

Ra  8:41  

No, definitely. I think people forget a lot, how racially segregated prisons are- 

Adam  8:46  

Right.

Ra  8:47  

Again, probably because of media. So often, everybody’s just sitting in a room together. Like, that’s not, that’s not really how it goes. Women’s prisons are a lot more flexible. Uh, in terms of those things, but our governance is still based on ethnicity and state assigned ethnicity at that. For instance, I am an other, not half Chicana, half Desi. So, I think also, to your point about prison, it started with so many different types of state violence, you know? You have solitary confinement, which is torture. We have a food desert, that we create inside of prisons by limiting the commissary, increasing the funds for it, and making it inaccessible to a majority of people. Oftentimes, we think of technology as like a blessing, but so often it’s used as a catalyst for these state violences. Recently, we’ve seen an uptick of surveillance, which doesn’t serve us. And uh, the technology that is being implemented in a lot of prisons, very often actually feeds the problem of underserved communities not being able to, to access those things. You know? It’s one thing if your mom can just walk into the jail and bring money, but if she has to learn, or access a computer, get an account, figure those things out, those can be real barriers to people receiving help in these areas that we’ve forsaken.

Crystal  11:05  

Another thing that comes to mind, as I’m hearing both of you speak, is once when my brother was at the county jail, he called me and he, he told me how he’d been in, he’d been in pain for a couple of weeks, because he had a toothache. So, he had to wait a really, really long time, I think it was at least like a month or so, uhm, to see the dentist. And once he saw the dentist there, and this is during COVID time as well. So, you know, add, add that on top of everything. Uhm, so he went to see the dentist at the county jail, and he told him, “you have a root canal, or you need a root canal.” And they told him,”You have three options. One, you pay $1,000, so that it gets removed, like your family has to pay $1,000. They bring in a dentist, that can, you know, fix you up. Or we yank it out.” And coming from a very low income, you know, family, guess which of the three my brother chose. So by the time he called him, I told him, you know, don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. You know, “you’re-you’re hurting.” He wasn’t eating, he was losing weight. So we’re like, “we’ll figure it out, we’ll figure something out. We’ll put our money together, and we’ll get that $1,000.” I don’t even know if-if that’s true. But, that’s what the dentist said. But by the time he called me, he didn’t even want to give us the option of stressing over it. He said, “Well, I’m calling you, uhm to tell you what happened, and to let you know, that my tooth is out. Like, they already, they already took it out. Like, that’s what I decided. I wasn’t gonna have y’all stress about, you know, where are you going to get this money from?” He’s like, “it’s just a tooth. And considering everything that’s happening, it’s just a tooth that I’m losing.” And that really, that really stayed with me. Because to him, it’s, it’s just a tooth. And to me, I thought that was horrible, that he had to make that decision and be in pain and be losing weight, and not want us to, not want us to stress out. And that is just one, one tiny example of-of the violence that my brother and my family have experienced, uhm, with him being, being incarcerated.

Ra  12:25  

Yeah, and part of those things are, I mean, that the structure of that I think is so, it’s part of the reason we forget the violences we see, you know? You get into these situations where uhm, like, I grew up near a reservation, and it was luckily, in a farm land area. So food was plentiful, period. Uhm, it just grew from the ground. Uhm, we used to joke that if you like dropped a seed on the ground, you’d have like a watermelon in a month, you know? Like, it’s just like, it was really, it was farmland. But for a lot of the reservations around this country, the food prices are ridiculous. You know, it’s five dollars for carrots, things like that. And so, people eat what they can, because ultimately, it’s not that serious. It’s not that serious to have to have an avocado. It’s not worth mortgaging your house to have a salad every day. So people just make alternate choices. And of course that affects the health of a community. Not that vegetables are the end all of healthy eating. But having access to a variety of food is important. It’s important for a lot of different reasons. And there is a uhm large, there’s a community of people who are like expats. So, they lived in other countries and came here, or vice versa, they lived here and then went to another country. And, if you like Google that or look on social media, you’re hear, you’ll heal, you will hear all these stories about, like the joke is, “When did you learn that the US traumatized you?” You know? Uhm, and it’s things that like, you know, they’re in Germany, buying something from a vending machine and the cop waves at them and runs across the street in their direction and they get on the floor, or they put their hands above their head. And the cop is just like, “No, dude, you need to calm down. This is not how this works here.” Or, you know, they get diagnosed with cancer. And after uhm weeks of trying to decide what to do, they finally go in and say, “Okay, I, I will figure out a way to take care of myself.” And the doctor says, “Okay, it’s gonna be seven dollars,” you know, insane! Instead of the ridiculous amount of money, I mean, we spend more than seven dollars on birth control, in this country. So, there isn’t uhm, I-I don’t know. The extent of things just become so normal, and you get so used to making these very difficult choices for yourself, that shouldn’t be on you, that shouldn’t be the burden, that shouldn’t be on the individual. And uhm, it makes you kind of numb, to the violences you see.

Adam  14:48  

Right. Right. And, and I agree, like, and I use an example. So, and it’s specifically talking about psychologically how-how police brutality and other things uhm, coming from officials, how-how they can use power to continue to impose, right, state violence on us. And, so one day I was-I was, I was driving, and I was very, very hungry, right, and I needed something to eat. It was late night, I had just gotten done meeting up with some of my friends. And, so I say, “You know what, I’m gonna go to Jack in the Box and get the egg rolls is-is, is pretty clean, (inaudible), I like egg rolls.”-

Ra  15:23  

Mhm.

Adam  15:24  

And, so I ate them real quick. And I, when I pulled into a parking space, I turned off my headlights, because my headlights was super bright, shining off of the glass. And, so I got done eating my egg rolls. And, so I continue on, and I forgot to turn on my headlights. And, so as I’m driving, I see the cops get behind me. And when the cops get behind me, automatically my mind goes into fear mode, right? I’m like, “Oh, I’m-I’m scared,” right? I know that I’m off parole, I’m clean, I’m not doing no dirt. Everything is registered. But just a simple fact that I seen the lights behind me scare me and really put me into, to like, “I’m really, really scared,” right? And so when I pulled over, you know, I made sure, these is things that I’m taught as a African American, right? I’m taught to keep my hands on the wheel. I’m taught to look straight. I’m taught not to make any subtle moves, because of all the violences that we have witnessed over the years. One of the first that I had seen on TV, was Rodney King beating. And so, you know, a lot of these thoughts is coming to my mind. So, the officer comes to the window and he says, “Hey, how you doing? How’s your evening going?” I said, “I’m doing pretty good.” He said, “You know why I pulled you over?” I said, “I have no clue.” He said, “Your headlights off.” I said, “Oh, man, I forgot to turn them back on.” He said, “Well, what was you doing?” I said, “Oh, I was just eating a Jack in the Box, man. And I just forgot to turn my headlights on, when I pulled into a parking spot.” And I explained to him. But the most fearful thing wasn’t me talking to him. Because he was having a conversation with me, I didn’t feel threatened and none of that. But what did threaten me, was the simple fact that the officer was positioned himself on a right hand of the car, angled a certain way just in case I made any sudden movement, he can be able to, I’m not going to assume that he would have shot me, right? But if it would have went there, I know for sure, something bad would have happened based on his position. An-and so I started, you know, I started thinking about that and-nd, and later on as, as we got done talking, he was like, “Oh, man, you have a good night. Everything clean, man you check out, you know, be safe.” I said, “Thank you.” He said, “Turn your headlights on for me,” and I-I drove off. And I was very, very, like, I was scared, but I was calm. But I couldn’t stop thinking about looking to my right, and seeing him positioned in a certain way, and that was very, very scary. And, and then I started thinking about the psychological state violence that officials and people are, that are in authority continue to place on us. They’re trying to make us human, right? Because, let’s just say, had it been in another situation, or had I been another race. I’m not going to just say maybe white, or any, or-or point out any race, but let’s just say it would have been a different situation with that other officer being more acceptible, acceptable to speaking to me, or kind of making me feel human, then kind of position himself, because he see young, dark African male driving late at night with no lights on. And so it-it was just frightening. Or had I been in another car, would that have been a problem? Right? If I was driving in, you know, let’s say I’m driving in a Tesla, and I get pulled over, would that have been a problem? Or would the problem been escalated because of the simple fact, I’m, I’m young, driving in a nice car, and he may feel some type of way? So there’s so many different things that, you know, we have to battle coming from our urban communities that, you know, we say enough is enough. But being able to have a podcast, be on a podcast like this, and to speak about what state violence is and the harm that it causes not only just to us, but to some of our loved ones coming under us, and that have paved the way before us, is very, very concerning. And it’s-it’s, it’s terrible that we still living in times where we have to be so feared by state officials.

Crystal  19:00  

And the way that the cops uphold that state violence. Uhm, and you said that you didn’t want to, you know, assume that he would have shot you. But growing up Black, brown, and indigenous in America, that is constantly on our minds. And, I remember growing up there was multiple times where my older brother and older sister, especially my brother, would come in uhm, sweating, and shaking, because a cop had him in the alley for about an hour. Just teasing him, and taunting him, and provoking him and asking him questions, for no reason. And, it starts at such a young age. Uhm, I-I’ve been in the same neighborhood. Uhm, same San Fernando Valley neighborhood, since I moved here from Mexico, back when I was like, nine. And, sometimes I see the little, the little brown boys in my neighborhood playing. And if a cop car is slowly driving by, they whisper, and they get lower. And I remember one time I was at home working, and I heard them whispering, and they said, “Oh, maybe they’re passing because we’re being too loud.” And my eight year old nephew sometimes is playing and he comes in nervous. And when he gets nervous, he plays with his shirts. He just sits in the living room playing, like fiddling with his shirt. And he’s like, “Oh, a cop was passing by, so I’m waiting for him to, to leave, and then I’ll go back outside and play.” And the way it’s just in us, like, we grow up to be fearful. Uh, I had a friend, Ra, like what you said with your story, who spent many years uhm, out of, out of the country. And we’ll go study at Starbucks, and a cop comes in, just for some coffee, and immediately I’m tense. Immediately, I’m sweating. When I pull up to the prison to visit my brother; put down the music, put my hands on the wheel, I have my ID ready, and I’m sweating. And its just, has become an immediate, physiological response that we have, because we just grow up so fearful of all of the power that they hold. And we know that immediately, we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose that battle, or immediately, there are many things that they can do with that power against us.

Ra  21:27  

Yeah, absolutely, all that power, and very little accountability. And when we do get accountability, it looks like the same parcel reduction. Uhm, and that doesn’t solve anything long term. It doesn’t protect us. And, it doesn’t reduce the emotional dissonance. There was recently a large uhm, data project done by social archive, uhm the social archive, talking about the emotional disparity. Uhm, the way like, white people see the police versus Black people, and that’s what the study focused on. And I just, you know, reading the study was kind of just heartbreaking, because it-it showed what kind of divide we’re working on when we talk about the state, state violences. Uhm, the majority of, of the Black people surveyed in this fairly large study would rather just like have a TV blur-burglarized than call a cop and deal with that whole situation, having them in the house and around their kids. And uhm, I noticed how, in-in commentary about that study, a lot of comments came up about kids and I think about, I think about them a lot when it comes to state violence because they’re kind of on the frontlines. Uhm they’re, that’s where they play is the front lawn, you know,-

Adam  22:43  

Right. 

Ra  22:44  

They need-

Adam  23:44  

The parks.

Ra  22:48  

Yeah, the parks that are special. 

Adam  23:47  

Mhmm. School grounds.

Ra  22:48  

Mm hmm. And you have a little miss Flint who’s been fighting for clean water in her city, since she was a baby. And now she’s a teenager on a skateboard. And every time I see a grown up picture of her, I just think, you’re growing up so fast, and you still have to drink water, bottled water in the United States of America, to not be poisoned by your government. Like, this is a problem. And, and these are problems that we’ve so normalized, that we’ve celebritied her, instead of fixing her water.

Adam  23:16  

Right.

Crystal  23:17  

And the way, uhm, she’s become a little celebrity and the problem is still not fixed. And going back to what you were talking about, you know, like if you are diagnosed with cancer, you know, like, if you are poor, you know that the state won’t help you, the government won’t help you. And we have made it such a feel good uhm event, where people host like GoFundMe ‘s. And all the money that was raised to help this mother of three, who was diagnosed with cancer, and it being cute-

Adam  23:52  

Mhmm.

Crystal  23:52  

And uhm,  I understand and, you know, the community coming together. You know, as abolitionists, that’s what we say a lot of the time. The community, we’re here for one another, the collective. But we have found a way to, to sensationalize these stories. You know the story of the little boy who raised $900, to pay off the-the lunch debt, of all, you know, all the kids in his school. And it’s cute, but that shouldn’t be happening to begin with. Uhm so, definitely when you hear those stories, uhm, pay attention to, pay attention to how we could have prevented those children from having a-a a lunch debt to begin with.

Ra  24:36  

Also, what happens to someone who grows up, what happened to us, you know? To really think about, you know, in the, the last episode we talked about naming these violences that we experienced, and how different that makes things for being able to solve, or conceptualize them. And, then I think like, all this stuff is happening to us every day, from the second we’re born. And, we don’t necessarily think about it. We, were six years old, and we know what a lunch debt is, as if we have to, in the place that we are forced to go, at the threat of police violence, which is school. If we cannot afford to feed ourselves, we have to build up a debt precedence. Like uh, it just goes over and over again, where by a very young age, we are taught to be afraid. And we are taught that we don’t have any sort of protection from the state. And that we have to kind of, carve our own way. And, and then that sort of deconstructs too, and then that leads to, you know, I think Adam said in the last episode, how, how often, you know, harm creates harm. And, so, you’re in these situations where nothing feels possible. And, it-it makes sense that you would try something, to like, push those boundaries, particularly when you’re young and your brain is developing. Uhm, it creates a situation where you’re just like, “This world isn’t working. What can I-What can I do? What kind of crazy thing can I do, to shake things up?” It’s like when you’re in a video game, and you’re stuck on a level, so you just start like knocking stuff over, you know, trying to figure out what the out is for the next level up.

Adam  26:10 

Right, right. And-and and, you know, going back, going back to a childhood, because as we speaking, right, memories is coming about different things that I encountered, right? So, automatically, I go back to some of my first encounters with police, right? Some of my encounters with school officials, right? And I share a story, I remember being in junior high school, and it used to be a game that was, I don’t know why, you know, boys, I don’t know why this game was played back in the day. And I won’t say it because, today’s times, it’s just, it’s just unacceptable. However, I will share a little bit. I remember getting dressed in a locker room and I’m coming outside, and I’m getting ready to go to, to, you know, get ready to-to meet up with the class, right? We had to meet around the track area. So, one of my friends comes to me and he’s like, he pantsed me, right. But I’m-I’ve got, you know, I’m holding my pants because I-I-I felt, I felt something was happening. So, you know, this was a, this was a game. But the craziest thing, right, was I got suspended for getting pantsed and I didn’t understand it. I said, “Why am I getting suspended? I didn’t do anything,” you know? And I, and I shared, I said, “Hey, you know, it’s a game.” And they know everybody played, but the school officials went hard on me. I don’t know why. But as I look back, I was like, yo, that to me, I took that as like, some type of racial stuff going on. Because this teacher, right? No, no, no disrespect to all my loved ones that are Caucasian, but this teacher was. And that really made me feel some type of way, because I couldn’t understand why I got in trouble, right? Or even, taking it to another story, where I would be chillin with some of my friends and we’d be hanging out, being young, right? And, we-we just chillin at the park talking, trying to have a little barbecue, and next thing you know, police cars just pulls up on us and sits us all on the curve. Handcuffs us. Asked us our names, and different things like that. And then it’s like, “Yo, we really not doing nothing.” “Well, y’all known gang members, and this-,” “and that give y’all a right to just come and just- we sitting here having a barbecue, literally talking, clowning, we’re not messing with nobody, nobody is fighting.” And, and I understand why they will come, because usually if you see a gathering of-of-of you know, quote, unquote, gang members, something is usually about to happen. But in this case, it was like no, you know? And even then that shouldn’t be the norm, where just because a group of people was hanging out. And so as, as, you know as I grew up, you know, that’s what, that’s what made me not want to go to miss Musante’s class. I still remember her name. That makes me not want to go to her class, right? So, now I don’t even want to go to school.-

Ra  28:47  

Yeah, make sense. 

Adam  28:48

Right? And then, something, let’s say something happened with my brother, which it did, where my brother is, you know, uhm-uhm, not doing too well and we need some help and some assistance. We don’t even feel right calling the paramedics or calling people because it’s like, are we really going to get the help? And-and-and that, I still see how that still has an effect on me. My mother just had heart surgery, right? And before she had heart surgery, I felt like they wasn’t going to give her the best care. And mind you, she’s in, she was at one of the world’s best top Kaiser Permanentes in the world, right? In Hollywood. This is like, top of the line, like they have good service. But, even just me thinking about institutional racism, right? And think about like, “Oh, wow, this has happened before. I don’t want my mother. I don’t want that happening to my mom.” And so, I would speak to the nurses, not with like a tone of demanding, but I would speak to them has like, “Please, you know, let’s be serious. Um, you know, if there’s anything that, that needs to be done, can y’all call me and let me know? On what I can do? You know, any way that, anything, just please call, because this is my mom’s life.” And, you know, my mom had to tell me, she said, “Son,” she said, “it’s gonna be okay.” She said, “It’s gonna be okay, I understand you worried and you have your reasons to be worried, but she said, “it’s gonna be okay.” But all, all my reactions and all my responses derived from what I have witnessed growing up. So, if I didn’t witness growing up, police brutality, right? If I didn’t grow up, grow up witnessing getting in trouble at school, like the example I used, for no reason. And it was times where I did things, where I deserved to got suspended, but in that case, I didn’t do nothing. But that situation made me be like, “I-I’m cool in her class,” like I don’t- and it was PE, right? So it-it’s just, it’s just, it’s still, it’s still, like, I’m still trying to break down and still trying to change my mindset when it comes to how I see school officials, right? How I see uhm, state officials. How I see, police. An-an-and especially all the experiences that I have dealt with, inside, have kind of even added to that, right? All the different institutional racism, all the bias that comes along, in trying to get college and different things like that. It still, it still haunts me, but now I’m able to say, “Hey, you know, what I can be the change that I want to see. And I can be able to be that voice.”

Crystal  31:05  

And the fears and concerns, that you had with your mom’s health, don’t come from nowhere. We, you know, as, as we know, there are higher rates of you know, black women dying from breast cancer, dying at childbirth, because health care, and the institution, and the way it is set up, its-its not meant to take care of black people, indigenous people, or people of color. So, it didn’t, it didn’t come from anywhere. Uhm, we-we know this, even, even if we don’t explicitly know this, and we don’t know the stats, and we never took a class on it, growing up Black, brown and indigenous in America, we know that we do not get the same care as white folks in America. So it, you know, that fear, you know, there’s, there’s truth behind that, unfortunately.

Adam  31:56  

Right, and even using even using an analogy to tie in with that, right? Looking at Harvard and looking at Howard, right? Two different, two different schools and it’s a reason behind that, right? Black people wasn’t accepted at Harvard. So it’s like, okay, well, we’re gonna go ahead and create our own. Right, which is now you got Howard, and even having black doctors, black scientists. Right? And, and I’m speaking specifically, you know, back then, and how that was created because it wasn’t fair for our urban communities. It just wasn’t right. We was was impoverished. And so now it’s like, well, we’re going to create, we’re going to create our own lane. And I feel like that’s what’s getting, that’s what’s starting to take place a little bit more, except, in this case, everybody is coming together. I witnessed something yesterday and and it really, really, it really made me feel so connected not just to my peoples but to our peoples. As we know, yesterday was the funeral of the little girl that got shot, and I believe her name was Valen-Valentin. I’m not too sure how to pronounce her name.

Crystal  33:03  

Valentina.

Adam  33:04  

Thank you. And so they had it at City of Refuge, which is a well known, established mega church, if you will, in Los Angeles County, right in Carson, specifically speaking. And the mother said she wanted to have gospel music. So the media, different people dropping comments like well, hey, why is this why is why are we having, you know, gospel music at a Mexican girl funeral. And it just it just it I could not understand why people would feel like that even though they have a right to feel like that. But more importantly, for me, it was making a statement of we all get hurt just how Black people get hurt qnd we all are in this together. And to me that feels so good to be able to say hey, we’re not going to just cry and mourn but we’re going to celebrate that the little the little girl had a good life even though she was taken early duo to police brutality, which happened to be a Black officer, correct me if I’m wrong, right? We still want to celebrate life. But the thing that really, really hurt me was to see that we are still living in times where they want to keep keep keep our communities separated, when in reality, we try to heal, and we try to mend. And, and that’s just so that’s just so, so it’s just so terrible to see that we still live in that. But looking back to yesterday, I was like, wow, you know, that feel good because we can be there to support each other, you know, we can be there support each other. And we can be able to say, hey, we’re going to stand up against state violence, right? We don’t necessarily have to do a rebellion, even though some may feel like it does take that. But in reality, we still can be able to come together and address some of these things that’s taking place, right from our state officials, which is why we started to have more politicians that are coming from our urban communities that no, because they’re going to be the ones to say that, let’s put it into it, like AOC, right, she Puerto Rican, and she’s going in, she’s not playing, Isaac Bryan. I mean, these are people that’s actually making noise, but for the right cause, and I feel like that’s going to be one of the solutions to de escalate and to break down the state violence system that leads to capital punishment that leads to being terrorized in our neighborhoods, etc, etc.

Ra  35:27  

Yeah, I think you know, one thing, because right now, we’re obviously going through a pandemic. No, I want to say that right now, we’re currently going through a pandemic, because, I very much hope one day someone’s listening to this and thinks, a pandemic? I don’t see that coming anytime soon, but just let me have this y’all. Uhm, I think that uhm, the disability community keeps reminding people that now is the time to make big demands. Because, when we talk about state violence, we aren’t just talking about violence accidentally perpetrated by the state. We’re talking about violence that at any time, they could stop, they could stop all of this. And uhm, they could stop having police fleets kill us, you know? There was only 15 days last year, where a police officer didn’t kill someone. And, that’s just an alarming, that’s an alarming number, no matter really, the reason it, you know, it’s, it’s an alarming number for any group of people. And, I think in this time of COVID, you know, we’ve talked about kids, we’ve talked about the medical care, all of that is stuff that they could just stop, you know? Listening to the kids testimonials, about whether or not they would prefer remote learning, to being in class yet, and risking COVID. One thing that just kind of broke my heart was how, many kids mentioned that at least at home, they didn’t have to do the gun violence training. They didn’t have to hide under chairs, and, that’s so horrific, like that’s so avoidable. There are so many different policies and structures in place, around the world, that could prevent these things. We know they exist, and we’re constantly told that our asks are too big. And, I just constantly think that our asks are not big enough. You know, we aren’t asking for enough, given how much we pour into the system, we are essentially bankrolling the state violence that is inflicted upon us. And that’s kind of, not kind of that is, is terrible.

Crystal  37:27  

I’m glad you brought up the purposeful aspect of this. Uhm, I-I know one thing you mentioned Adam was uhm, you know, Black and brown people coming together. And I fully believe that the separation is on purpose, because they know if we come together, you know, instead, I start advocating for ourselves a lot louder, and making demands with things that, you know, Ra’s right, like we’re demanding things that should be the bare minimum. So, I-I personally believe that is definitely a purposeful thing. So, going off of what you said, Ra, you know, and-and to end this with a little bit of hope, because we just spent the last hour talking about all the violences, by the state, that we experienced, and, you know, the list of 100 that we can think- 

Adam  38:21  

Right. Right. 

Crystal  38:21  

we can narrow down to, what is one thing that we can do now, that contributes to an abolitionist future? Because an abolitionist future is a future without state violence.

Ra  38:34  

I’m going to say, learning to imagine, bigger, you know? Like I said, the things we are even asking for just aren’t big enough. No matter how dramatic they seem to us at the time, I just don’t think they’re big enough. You know, we need to ask for the biggest possible thing, that takes care of the most amount of people, as fast as possible. And, and we need to start doing it now. Because you know, we’re in a, we’re in a current climate crisis, water crisis, prison crisis, police brutality crisis-

Adam  39:05  

Right, right.

Ra  39:05  

All of these things are like at their, at their, hopefully, peak, you know? Hopefully it doesn’t get too much worse from here. But there’s definitely a, a point where we can’t sustain anymore. And we need to be asking for these things and organizing, like to Adam’s and your point Crystal’s, together, you know? Stop letting the distraction of racism and separation, uhm, you know, we need to, to get in solidarity here. And I think, I think we are. I think, yes, I-I think it’s just asking for bigger things is my, my vote.

Adam  39:38  

Yeah. I will say, I will say, like Ra said, “imagine it,” right? But knowing that we all have the ability to create that better world, right? Being aware.

Crystal  39:52  

You know, a-a simple thing that I want to leave, leave the listeners with is, next time you see that GoFundMe or next time you see, you know, you see state violence happening, ask yourselves, how it could have been prevented? You-you know, like, how could we have prevented that lunch debt from, for being so high that a nine year old had to fundraise money for it? And you know, pay attention to why we might not be receiving that simple ask, of you know, warm lunch food for- for our children and, and pay attention to what-what groups it’s happening to. [outro music begins] I think that’s a really, really important piece, uh, to all of this, who this state violence is-is happening to.

Ra  40:41  

This isn’t the full story of the full humans involved in these experiences, or every complete community or person who has gone through experiences that parallel. We have walked this gently, so as not to diminish the story, but to highlight and amplify the hearts involved. 

Crystal  41:04  

You’ve been listening to Abolition is for Everybody, be sure to follow us at abolitionis_ on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for regular updates.

Adam  41:13

To support, please rate and comment wherever you listen to your podcasts. Those 5-star ratings help our people find their way to us. So, thank you. 

[outro music continues]