while that may be a huge component of how criminalization functions, and how violence is enacted on us, we also need to come to terms with the fact that we actually do commit harm. That we do things considered “illegal” not just by the basis of our sexual and gender identities, but that we rob, we kill, we steal, we swindle. We participate in informal and criminal economies. The idea that prisoners who are imprisoned simply by being profiled are the only ones worthy of our sympathy is part of the logic of the carceral system. It is the reason that we pass hate crimes legislation and the reason we are willing to concede power to the state and to the privatized prison systems. Because we believe so strongly in this dichotomy of the good and the bad, we justify the state’s use of violence against us.
lowendtheory made this point explicit with his post about Trayvon Martin’s death:
It is no disrespect to Trayvon Martin’s memory to point out that our ability to make him into a slogan is based less on who he was as a person than on our desire to fit him into a mold that will allow others to see him as worthy and deserving of justice. That mold is called the Innocent Victim, and its shape can be seen in the details that we choose to highlight and repeat ad nauseam about the case: He was unarmed, he was holding Skittles and Arizona Ice Tea, he was on foot, he had no criminal record, he was a “good kid.” Add whichever narrative that you’d like to hang on him here. It’s rather perverse, really, our collective love and desire for the innocent victim, the victim who “did nothing,” the victim who, we convince ourselves, must have been so pure that we immediately scoff at George Zimmerman’s alibi that he was acting in self-defense. What if Trayvon Martin had come at this white man who held a gun? Would his killing have been justified?
The state’s ability to police queer and trans folks, especially of color relies on our buy-in to this narrative. What we need to be working towards is an analysis of what sorts of conditions produced by the State shortens our “life chances” (to quote dean spade) and drives us into committing harm on others? Once we understand the root causes of how violence is produced, and come to terms with the fact that our relationships with each other will always inevitably have some component of harm and violence to them, then the issue is no longer who the “bad” and the “innocent” are, but rather, what sorts of community structures must we build to support each other when harm occurs outside of for-profit state control?
turns everyone around you into a doctor/nutritionist overnight