Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Judicial System
Ejeris Dixon (Editor); Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Editor)
Released January 21, 2020
by AK Press
Afraid to call 911, but not sure what to do instead? Here are strategies for accountability beyond the criminal justice system.
Transformative justice seeks to solve the problem of violence at the grassroots level, without relying on punishment, incarceration, or policing. Community-based approaches to preventing crime and repairing its damage have existed for centuries. However, in the putative atmosphere of contemporary criminal justice systems, they are often marginalized and operate under the radar. Beyond Survival puts these strategies front and center as real alternatives to today’s failed models of confinement and “correction.”
In this collection, a diverse group of authors focuses on concrete and practical forms of redress and accountability, assessing existing practices and marking paths forward. They use a variety of forms—from toolkits to personal essays—to delve deeply into the “how to” of transformative justice, providing alternatives to calling the police, ways to support people having mental health crises, stories of community-based murder investigations, and much more. At the same time, they document the history of this radical movement, creating space for long-time organizers to reflect on victories, struggles, mistakes, and transformations.
Featuring writing, tools and interviews by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Kai Cheng Thom, Amita Swadhin, Audrey Huntley, Amanda Aguilar Shank, Janae E Bonsu of BYP100, Philly Stands Up (Esteban Kelly, Jenna Peters-Golden, Qui Dorian, Bench Ansfield and Beth Blum), Creative Interventions, Trans Lifeline, Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, Oakland Power Projects, SOS Collective/Audre Lorde Project, Icarus Project/ Fireweed Collective, Raquel Lavina, Chris Lymbertos, RJ Maccani, Nathan Shara, Staci Haines, Georgia Latino Alliance For Human Rights, MIJENTE, Monica Sehovic Bowen Forrester, Elene Lam, Chanelle Gallant, Elisabeth Marie Long, adrienne maree brown, Adrian Cole, Yalini Dream, Shira Hassan, Mariame Kaba and Mimi Kim.
Ejeris Dixon is an organizer, consultant, and political strategist with twenty years of experience organizing within racial justice, LGBTQ, transformative justice, anti-violence, and economic justice movements. She is the Founding Director of Vision Change Win Consulting where she partners with organizations to build their capacity and deepen the impact of their organizing strategies. Her essay, "Building Community Safety: Practical Steps Toward Liberatory Transformation," is featured in the anthology Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the Lambda Award winning author of Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, Bodymap, Love Cake, Consensual Genocide and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities. A lead artist with the disability justice collective Sins Invalid, she is a longtime cultural worker, educator and organizer within disability and transformative justice communities.
Praise For Beyond Survival:
“Beyond Survival is a book for anyone yearning for transformation within themselves and across communities. If I had this book when I first began organizing, I would not have felt so alone and lost when seeking ways to confront conflict, harm and violence without policing and punishment. As our movements evolve, so must what we consider as essential reading — Beyond Survival is clearly essential reading.” —Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
“Somewhere between a call to action, a love letter, and a prayer, Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the TJ Moment is a gift to those of us working for justice. The voices in this collection are strong and compassionate, and their reflections are honest and open-hearted. Readers will feel challenged, inspired and held by this critically important book. It will surely inspire change.” —Beth Richie, author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation
“I’ve been waiting for this book for so many years. Gritty, unsentimental, blunt, compassionate, and visionary, the wildly varied voices, insights, and experiences collected in this exceptional - and essential – anthology help chart new pathways through the harms of violence in its interrelated interpersonal, vigilante, and structural forms. Appearing at precisely the moment we need them most, these visions, questions, and practices will stir your imagination, fuel your own radical dreams, and open your heart to the possibility of transformed futures for us all.” —Kay Whitlock, author of Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics
“Beyond Survival arrives just on time. Through the combined brilliance of Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha we are offered a beautiful invitation: away from any quick and easy solutions that don't ever do what they purport and towards a fundamental rethinking of what safety is, and a lifetime practice learning, relearning and creating it through community with all the messiness it entails. This book is truly making the road by dreaming and I'm so grateful for it.” Tourmaline, filmmaker, Happy Birthday, Marsha and Atlantic Is a Sea of Bones
“Beyond Survival is full of grounded, practical wisdom based in brave, thoughtful, collaborative efforts. It will be immensely useful to people trying to respond to the real crises our communities are facing with creative solutions that actually build healing and safety. This is the collection that so many of us have been waiting for, capturing the knowledge generated by grassroots experiments undertaken by bold, imaginative activists working to respond to and prevent violence. We will be using this as a reference book for building community responses to harm and violence for decades to come.” —Dean Spade, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law
“If you’re serious about toppling the pillars of white supremacy in the United States, start by reading Beyond Survival ... Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha have provided a blueprint, featuring some of the brightest minds making transformative justice a reality. While many articles and essays have highlighted the “why” of transformative justice, the question of “how” persists. Now, Beyond Survival boldly answers. Ejeris and Leah, along with the featured writers, have propelled transformative justice into today’s stagnant policy discourse ... With interviews, stories of success, and unadulterated realness, Beyond Survival shows us how to keep going, how to keep pressing forward, how to survive until we are beyond the injustices of today.” —Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center and Civil Rights Strategist