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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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2001: Impossible Situation #1 (1 in 3)

2001: A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance; and a White boy a 1 in 17 chance. A Black girl born in 2001 has a 1 in 17 chance of going to prison in her lifetime; a Latino girl a 1 in 45 chance; and a White girl a 1 in 111 chance.*

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 2002: Young Women's Empowerment Project (Chicago) uses transformative justice and harm-reduction frameworks to offer safe, respectful, free-of-judgment spaces for girls and young women in the sex trade and street economies to recognize their goals, dreams and desires. YWEP is member-based and led by and for young people of color who have current or former experience in the sex trade and street economies. 
  • 2005: INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence launched a national project on law enforcement violence against women of color and transgender people of color, to "collectively resist violence by law enforcement agents through base-building and direct action."
  • 2011: Sustained organizing by the Stop the Injunctions Coalition in Oakland holds the gang injunctions to one (down from the proposed three) and builds a community safety network that combines food security, education, housing and employment with an understanding of the impact of incarceration.
  • Late 1990s-2012: Groups and organizations started by formerly incarcerated people aim to interrupt violence (Chicago), unite communities (Bay Area) and restore the neighbor back in the hood (Detroit).

Discussion Questions:

  • Imagine your classroom/group/organization is a majority Black, Latino or White (unfortunately these statistics do not include other racial or ethnic breakdowns). Randomly remove the number of people who would be incarcerated based on the above studies. List on the board all of the resources the entire community loses because of this.
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