Often, we find a vision of a better world when we’re most in crisis. I was a young, queer woman in an abusive relationship with a partner who was marginalized in different ways than me. I needed help, but none of the institutions supposedly built for survivors—police, anti-harassment committees, even mainstream anti-violence orgs—spoke to my experience, or to those of my queer women and trans friends. As we attempted to build healthy relationships at the intersections of multiple identities, we longed for accountability and care, but conventional systems promised only retribution.
So we turned to each other, and to the writings of women- and queer-of-color-led collectives. These visionary organizers argue that marginalized people cannot have healthy relationships until we have healthy communities, free of economic exploitation and institutional racism, sexism, and homophobia. They advocate for the abolition of police and prisons, for investment in marginalized people’s well-being, and for the idea that communities, not repressive power structures, keep us safe.
The recent Black-led uprisings against systemic anti-Black racism and police violence have thrust this vision into the spotlight. As protesters fill the streets with demands to defund and abolish the police, we are all challenged to create more just and egalitarian relationships and communities. For those of us with racial privilege, this means reflecting on the ways we have used our privileges to cause harm, and committing to actively anti-racist ways of living and loving.