Freedom from Violence, Gender Justice

Juneteenth

by Melissa Moore on Jun 17, 2022

Happy Juneteenth to all our Black siblings! May your lives be filled with safety, care, love, celebration, liberation, joy, and reflection. 

The last enslaved people of African descent in the U.S. were freed on June 19, 1865, a full two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Yet, certain conditions of slavery are still legal in the U.S through our criminal legal system and still unfairly impact people of African descent. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment to our nation’s constitution states that, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Black people account for 12.4% of the US population, yet they make up 38.4% of incarcerated people in U.S. prisons. That is not because Black people commit crimes at a higher rate than white people or other racialized communities, it is because they are disproportionately subjected to surveillance and profiling in a criminal legal system that was born out of slave patrols that emerged right here in South Carolina in the 1700s. 

 The work of emancipation never ended because slavery never ended, it just shape-shifted. June is a month of celebration and queer liberation, and Juneteenth is a day to celebrate Black liberation. We would not even have a Pride month without Black trans women, who are incarcerated at alarmingly high rates. Nearly one in six transgender Americans—and one in two Black transgender people—has been incarcerated. 

We can honor both Pride and Juneteenth by putting our resources into funds that liberate Black people and queer folx! Every bail fund in South Carolina is led by a woman, and the majority are led by queer, Black women:

 Emancipation is not possible until all people are free, especially Black women. The work of liberation is incomplete as long as the conditions that create harm are allowed to exist. There are community-based funds and organizations working collectively to transform the conditions that perpetuate trauma through investments in mental health support, healthcare, housing, education, mutual aid, and all the things humans need to thrive. Here are some organizations and funds that are either led by or serve Black trans people in some capacity:

Communities thrive when their needs are met and they are free from harm. Transformative justice is a framework for responding to violence and harm that does not create more violence and harm. Organizations like the Lowcountry Action Committee in Charleston, a Black-led grassroots organization dedicated to Black liberation through service, political education, and collective action in the Lowcountry, are practicing transformative justice through everyday community service. Organizations like Midlands Mediation Center and the SC Restorative Justice Initiative promote justice through non-carceral approaches to responding to violence and harm. 

While this is not by any means an extensive list of organizations leading transformative work in South Carolina, they are liberating dollars and Black communities on a daily basis. We encourage non-Black readers to do their own research and find individuals and Black-led organizations to support throughout the year. 

We hope for a safe and beautiful celebration of Black freedom this Juneteenth season and EVERYDAY!

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