Tweets by Stephanie Younger
By Stephanie Younger •
During a movement in defense of Black life calling for the abolition of the police state and the carceral state, it seemed that liberals who were saying “listen to Black women,” were solely speaking in reference to Black women who do the labor of “saving our Democracy.” Recently, liberals who “thank Black women for saving our Democracy” have made it alarmingly clear that the only Black women that matter to them are the ones who maintain policing, incarceration, deportations, and imperialism. Deciding on behalf of Black women as a whole that the victory of a Black woman who is an exploiter and oppressor of other Black women is somehow a “win” for us is not intersectional feminism. Specifically, silencing Black women who are abolitionist feminists to put a Black woman who is an incarcerator of other Black women on a pedestal, in the name of “intersectional feminism” is a victory for the existence of a police state and a carceral state. In October of 2020, I wrote an article about the ways liberals have silenced Black feminists, specifically those who are abolitionists, for critiquing Kamala Harris’ complicity in enforcing the prison industrial complex.
“More recently, white liberal feminists have been bullying young Black feminists into conveniently glossing over Biden’s actions, and they even expect us to do so when they tokenize Black women who are maintaining what we’re fighting. I see it as a type of feminism that idolizes politicians like Kamala Harris, who has bragged about sending Black youth through the school-to-prison pipeline and locking up their parents, and who has degraded people who advocate for schools, not prisons. I see it as type of feminism that silences the critiques of Black people affected by Kamala Harris’ actions and who are fighting for the abolition of what she maintains, which is the prison industrial complex.”“Black People Can’t Wait Every Four Years For Our Liberation,” by Stephanie Younger
Recently, those who have been silencing the critiques of Black abolitionist feminists were demanding that we “just let people rest and enjoy things,” after toppling one white supremacist only to replace him with another white supremacist. It is not an act of revolution to ‘rest’ and ‘enjoy things’ at the expense of Black lives. Demanding that Black women let people ‘rest’ and celebrate those who advocate for state violence, while robbing us of our agency to rest and grieve Black folks who have been murdered by the police is an act of violence. In June of 2020, I did not have a lot of time to rest and grieve when my inbox was filled with messages demanding that I do the emotional labor of ‘educating’ those who believe that I exist for their consumption. I also did not get to rest when the best ‘solidarity’ white liberals extended to the fight for Black lives was a black square on Instagram, let alone going to one protest for a photo opportunity.
Seeing the black squares, and the performative ‘protest pics’ on Instagram was a wake-up call for me to realize that so many people see Black trauma as a trend, and that it is co-opted to maintain capitalism. This was followed by TikTok users who made memes about Black women who have been murdered by the police, and then Instagram accounts who watered down the radical language of Black liberationists for their pastel-colored infographics. Some have used murdered Black people’s names, the language of Black liberationists and weaponized them against Black people, to shame us into seeking freedom from the electoral system. In doing so, liberals embody the conservatives who weaponize the language of Black liberationists to tone police protests.
The co-optation of Black grief and Black radicalism continued into November of 2020, when people used a Black revolutionary space to celebrate the victory of an architect of the prison industrial complex and an enforcer of it; doing a great disservice to the Black folks being honored in that space. On November 7, I saw people (on social media and in person) using the Marcus-David Peters Circle in Richmond, Virginia as a venue to celebrate the victory of Biden and Harris. In the same space where many of us protested state violence throughout the summer of 2020, People were taking pictures of themselves holding “Biden [and] Harris 2020” signs; ignoring that the state violence throughout the summer of 2020 was orchestrated by our Black Democratic Mayor who was re-elected that week. People popped bottles of champagne and poured it on the memorial that honors Black people who have been murdered by the police. Many who occupied the Marcus-David Peters Circle that day were certain that we somehow no longer have a white supremacist as a president, and equated justice to the victory of a white man who co-authored a piece of legislation that maintained mass incarceration, and a Black woman whose complicity has a negative impact on Black families, specifically Black women and children.
More recently, many people have expressed their certainty that the recent capitol riots somehow no longer represent what America was built on, basing it on the fact that Biden and Harris were soon-to-be inaugurated at the time. Many of the same people who quoted MLK’s warning of the white moderate last Monday have spent the past two weeks embodying the white moderate and silencing the critiques of Black abolitionist feminists by advising us to “let them enjoy things.” In doing so, they are setting the timetable for Black liberation. Some of the same people who claimed to have cared about Black lives, and supported protestors throughout the summer are now idolizing the militarized police, despite their continuous attacks, surveillance, arrests and imprisonments of Black people.
Given the that many liberals spent the remainder of 2020 telling Black abolitionist feminists in our own spaces that the “stakes are too high right now” to not appease the white moderate, I was unsurprised to find that they were not actually going to “hold them accountable.” In April of 2020, I wrote that a Biden presidency would be my biggest fear, in the sense that many liberals would become complacent with the idea of not showing up for Black lives, as long as the attack on Black life is orchestrated by those who share their political affiliation. Liberals who only “listen to Black women” who are exploiters and incarcerators of other Black women will continue to silence Black women who are abolitionist feminists. Liberals who spent the past four years claiming to have cared about Black lives will continue to disrupt our agency to grieve Black people who have been murdered by the state, by suggesting that “things could be worse.” Black women deserve so much better, and much more, especially the agency to root ourselves in keeping us and each other safe, beyond seeking freedom from the electoral system, or the prison industrial complex.
Stephanie Younger is an 18-year-old student who created Black Feminist Collective in 2017, and fights for a world abolished of prisons, police and systems of policing, and is passionate about its intersections with womanism.