Gender Stories

Abolition is a systemic & personal issue: a conversation with Deana Ayers and Meg-John Barker

September 21, 2020 Alex Iantaffi Season 3 Episode 42
Gender Stories
Abolition is a systemic & personal issue: a conversation with Deana Ayers and Meg-John Barker
Show Notes Transcript

In this joint episode of Gender Stories and the Meg-John & Justin podcast, Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker continue the conversation with Deana Ayers about abolition. They discuss how abolition needs to be addressed at the cultural, community, and interpersonal levels as well as in the inner work each one us needs to do to make this vision a reality.

Deana Ayers is 21 year old Black, nonbinary organizer. They graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of North Texas. As a college student they were involved with student government, reproductive justice organizing, and a push for transformative justice and police abolition. They are currently living in Minneapolis, MN with their girlfriend, where they work as a Political Education Coordinator at an abolitionist organization. You can check out their writing and organizing work at deanajayers.com and follow them on Twitter @deanajayers. 

Deana's call to action is to support ZACAH's efforts in providing emergency housing to the unsheltered residents of Minneapolis: https://www.zacah.org/minneapolis-sanctuary-emergency-res

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Hosted by Alex Iantaffi
Music by Maxwell von Raven
Logo by Lior Allen

Intro:

Everyone has a relationship with gender. What's your story? Hello and welcome to Gender Stories with your host, Dr. Alex Iantaffi.

Alex Iantaffi:

Hello, and welcome to a very special joint episode of Gender Stories and...

Meg-John Barker:

The Meg-John and Justin podcast.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yay, you know, we've done joint episode before, and I am thrilled that we are in conversation with Deana Ayers again, the episode Appalachian. I would love all my episodes, but it's one of my favorite episodes. I'm sorry, all that our guests. I just really love that episode. And Meg-John also loved the episode. And so we decided to do a follow up. So Meg-John do you want to take us away?

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm just really grateful to that episodes. And I guess what I really got from it was I came into the episode thinking, Oh, this isn't something I know that much about. And then, you know, you joined up Deana, like, so much of things I do know, about and care passionately about, with the bits that I didn't know so much about. And it was just sort of left me think feeling really kind of yeah, a bit empowered. And also really keen to kind of hear more from you about how how all the bits join up, I suppose. So, you know, it's kind of and I refer that anyone listening to this to the to the earlier episode, if they want to hear more about kind of the background of police abolition, right. So we won't go over some of that same ground. But I suppose what really struck me was how you joined up with, like, was something that Alex and I use a lot in our books, and Justin and I also use as well as this kind of model of how you can think about everything on like, these nested levels from like, the wider culture, the community, the interpersonal, and then the inner. And it seemed to me like this, this really big thing that you were saying on the podcast was, we can't just think about police and prison abolition at this level of the wider culture, like we really need to think of it that level. But we also need to join that up with how we think about our smaller communities, and how things work there. And also how our interpersonal relationships work, and also how we work in our relationship with ourselves. Does that like is that is that kind of what you were saying? Yeah, definitely.

Alex Iantaffi:

So I just Yeah, wonderful. Yeah. And, John, you thought that we might use that model, right. For this conversation? Maybe?

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah, I mean, I suppose it would be good for anyone who hasn't heard the previous podcast, like, which you'll be able to say, Deanna, a little bit about the work that you do, and a little bit of intro, just to kind of get us started. But then I wondered if we might take that model. And I don't know, either work from the inside out or outside in? Like, how did how did these pieces work on each level? And also, how can we join them up? You know?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah. So my name is Deanna Ayers. I use they/them pronouns. I'm a recent graduate from the University of North Texas, and I did abolition organizing on campus when I was in school. And now I'm working at an abolitionist org in Minneapolis. And kind of like abolition and political education are my passions. So anything that's like, helping people understand how they what they already know about abolition and applying that is like my niche, if that makes sense.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah and I think you do a really brilliant job of it. So I'm very glad that's your niche that we, we had this kind of fortuitous meeting on Twitter, really, because we didn't know each other. So I'm really grateful that you're here again. And so Meg-John, I'm with you. I really love those those layers that we talked about last time and I think last time we talked about in this very organic, but I like the idea Deana, if you're afraid of going from wider culture to community intrapersonal in our work, and you know, we can go inside out outside in. What are you feeling today in terms of where you'd like to start inner work or wider culture? Or maybe anywhere in between? Really?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah, I think starting with like the very big picture really help where people start when they think about abolition in the first place.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah, cuz that's what I came into the podcast thinking I was gonna hear about. Yeah, so yeah. Do you want it? Yeah. Do you want to give us a bit of like that big picture? What's, what's it all about at that level?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah. So like, at the end of the day, abolition is you know, getting rid of all systems of policing and prisons and like global society, right? And of course that trickles down to like our communities and like our relationships with like families and close friends and ourselves, but we want to not have those big institutions, you know, we don't want to say, okay, like, we all have these community resources. And we're, you know, we've learned how to apologize. But we still have prisons, but we still have the giant military industrial complex. So kind of everything is, all of the smaller parts, all of the nests are building up to that bigger not having police and prisons. And it's, it's both those like physical institutions. And also the larger like, there's a lot of work been put in and I highly recommend Abolition Democracy by Angela Davis. And it talks about policing is like a culture and like, all of the like, fear of like, the other is part of that, like, culture of like how policing works and how governments are like, oh, yeah, you know, there are these people, you need to be scared out there, like these people who need to be put away for committing the certain acts. And it's all focused on like, a culture of, you know, policing ourselves, policing the people around us and allowing the government to police us to survey us. And this like, really big act of convincing us that it's a good thing? Do you kind of you, you could we can use the individual to chip away at like, why do we, you know, why are they policing us? Why have we previously been okay with being policed. But at the end of the day, it is about those, like, larger institutions, and that's why we want to build that people power, you know, if we have a bunch of communities across the world who are like, ya no, like policing socks, you know, police in prison stuff, we don't want that, then that's where you get the power to tackle those big institutional problems. But we can't go, you know, I as an individual, I live in Minneapolis, I'm doing work in Minneapolis, and I'm from Texas, and that's where I do my work. But I'm not saying like, Oh, yeah, I am going to tear down every single prison, because that's, that's the group effort, like the big everyone effort. And then there's, you know, community work, or like interpersonal work and our inner work. And all of that is building up. But we like, we have to go like top down and bottom up to make it happen. But really, what is our big picture? Because abolition is about presence, and it's about like, you know, having these new systems. But what do we have to get rid of first?

Alex Iantaffi:

Only I love what you're saying about like, in some ways those things are happening at the same time. They're not separate, right, we're going inside, out and outside in if we're thinking about those circles inside each other. And I love what you said about kind of policing as a culture. One of the things that really struck me when I moved to the US back 12 years ago now was how much white people in the US rely on the police or think about policing as something that is inherently apart of their lives. And how much of that is about almost this gated community even when there are actually no gates even in the city of who who belongs and who doesn't belong, right? And so if someone doesn't belong, that's when there is this police intervention. And, and it is very, it is very specific, very storical very cultural, to the point that people cannot even imagine a world without police or don't even realize that there are there was a time before the police and it wasn't even that long ago and that especially in this country where I live now, police has a terrible history. It was really born out of settler colonialism and patrolling borders and also protective, protecting slave owners from and basically making sure the slaves didn't escape. Those are the roots of the police in this country. I believe I got it right. And people don't even know those historical facts. Those are not the facts that are taught in school. You know, there's all these images of like the friendly police and the cartoon, you know, that as a patrol patrol or something. Animals with the police, like the police is portrayed as this like friendly neighborhood watch, you know, even Oh, yes, I was watching spies in disguise. And even there there is like this, this image of the police as heroes to protect the community. And that image is so culturally embedded in the American psyche. And I don't know, MJ you can say maybe a little bit more how it is in Britain, but it feels like it's such a big challenge to white people's imaginations specifically.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah. I was think I was thinking about that. When I listened to the podcast of that sense of like, how, you know, I went out into crime drama, so many of us are detective drama. It's like, where do you want to go like Brooklyn nine nine, like Sherlock, like CSI, you know? Criminal Minds, you know, it's just so yeah, like we're so used to watch that kind of medius and it really made me think about how much that really reinforces like that this is the norm. And going back to what you were just saying, Alex, I think something that really struck me from what you were saying on the podcast before, Deana was that sense of it, of normativity, I suppose, of these kind of, you know, protecting the, like the nuclear family like that sense of like, the atomized kind of neoliberal family who's kind of who kind of need the police to protect them, because we're just going to stay in our home. And we see everybody who's other in any way as a kind of danger. So we need to have this rather than the sense of any kind of community that that we might belong to where we help each other out, or, yeah, like, can you say a bit more about that? Because it really, yeah, that's why I thought, Oh, my God, this is really joining up with all this stuff I do about, you know, questioning normative ways of doing relationships, and I hadn't seen that link before.

Deana Ayers:

Yeah, I think a lot of the time, especially in the US when we like, think about, like, if someone is like talking to you as your neighbor, like, we don't see that as like, a relationship and you know, someone that we want to get to know, it's like, why do you want to know my business? Why are you surveying me, whereas if you saw, like, a police van, in your neighborhood, it would be like, oh, you know, they're just doing their job of surveying me. But like, when your neighbor does it, someone who lives next to you that, you know, they could be getting your packages for you, or like checking your mail, when you're away, like all these relationship building things, we see that as like, dangerous and weird. You know, I lived on the same street my entire life and I talked to one of my neighbors and that was because she was literally right next door. And like, she had a medical, like thing that went on, so we had to, like, check your mail for and check on her. But other than that, like, we don't talk to our neighbors and like, that's seen as, like the bad thing and the surveillance, you know, and it's like, Oh, someone added me to an email list. Thats surveillance, like all of these things, like someone added me to like, a list on Twitter, like DMed, all of these things are seen as bad, but like, when the literal like police and US government and FBI and stuff are doing this, it's like, oh, like, that's just their function. Their job is to survey me so it's okay. We're seeing it as like, 'Oh, I'm not being surveyed', you know, it's those other people who need to be surveyed they're the ones needing all this attention.

Alex Iantaffi:

At the same time but that really speaks to our deeply embedded this idea of it's okay for the police to exist, it's in our psyche, right? It's that that idea of like, it's so normative, like deciding whether a culture that is not questioned at all, that is not seen as personal whereas, you know, if a neighbor is talking to you is seen as more personal where it's just seen, as this is just part of our life, this is how things are, you know, I get this impression, this is how things are, this is how things have always been, which is also not true. It's almost like a level of cultural gaslighting and then it feels especially gaslighting. I think, in terms of indigenous folks are black and brown folks who actually can not rely on the police who are trans and queer folks or disabled folks, like all folks with marginalized identities, who are actually targeted by the police and killed and murdered by the police. And so I don't know if I'm making sense by this idea of cultural gaslighting. And is the police good, but I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Oh, yeah. No, we lost your image but I'm not sure if you're still here, here. Okay, great.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah I just wanted to say on that. I think this is where it joins up to the kind of cultural and the community level is that it's all about isn't it, that the more we can take away from police by abolishing different you know, it's kind of like, not going to be just like a one off necessarily tomorrow, but like, gradually gradually abolishing, then that those resources can go into community instead. So there's this really different model it which is kind of putting all of that in the community and reading about kind of the UK situation. It's a lot about decriminalizing the things that people are pleased for that particularly target marginalized groups like black and brown people, queer people, sex workers, so things like decriminalizing sex work, drugs, migration, poverty, and protest. And then you can put all the huge amount of money that's put into it and resources and power that's put into all of those places and start putting that into things like youth work, you know. Justin would love this, you know, because he's background work and it's so underfunded, and putting it into like, you were both talking about, like actually training people up in communities so that they can be skilled in conflict management and in trauma work and that kind of thing. Is that sort of that's the general gist? Deanna right away from here and put it in here instead.

Deana Ayers:

Yeah so Movement For Black Lives has this really And what we were saying before, like, because then you've got good framework on their website, divest invest. And so like it lists out, you know, divesting from the police, but also from like fossil fuels and like the military industrial complex. And it lists out a lot of like, these are the things that people want, you know, we want healthcare to be funded for like, everybody trans, inclusive, like, what everyone needs, and like education and things like that, and like actual, like renewable energy. And so like that's the framework that I've really started to use in the past about month, because it's so helpful for people to understand, you know, when we're saying, Where's all this money gonna come from, it's not just like, Okay, we're like getting rid of the police. And so we'll have like, police salaries and like, their budget, but it's also like, you know, like, we're contracting out to get their guns made to get their uniforms made to get, like, all of these things that they have. And so like, that's a lot of money that gets freed up, which is why we talk about not just the police, but like the like, you know, military industrial complex, prison industrial complex, because there's a lot of money that the government floats around to all of these, like private businesses. And also, you know, like things like National Night Out, like the police department that's in their budget to like, do that to do propaganda work. And so when you start taking all of that money away from them, and scaling things down until we get to zero, there's so much money that's freed up and also just like, you know, attention and community resources, you know. Like we have, you know, national night out and that's just straight up police propaganda and saying, community policing is good. But there's also made out for safety and liberation from the Ella Baker, Baker Center. And it's like, okay, like, I'm working on that for Minneapolis. And it's like, imagine if we didn't have this, like, trying to, like make sure that every one of these individual communities had like the funding and the materials they needed because we just took the entire National Night Out budget for the Minneapolis Police Department, it was like... This is what we want our money to go toward, like, these conversations about, like safety and what that looks like. And it just when you start thinking about little things like that, where it's like, literally, like the cost of this specific thing, or event put somewhere else, like it really just bands, because I think it's hard to conceptualize, however many like billion dollars or million dollars that these like city governments are giving to police or like, state governments or giving to like patrols and stuff. And it's like, taking little events like that, or like specific parts and thinking, okay, like, what can I do with a billion dollars or a million dollars, really helps us start to imagine what that could look like. And then once you like, build that up, and it's like, Oh, what if we like, took this entire prison budget and put it into other things and put all of these like, people who are doing, you know, hospital work, and people who are doing like social work in these prisons, and put them into the communities with people. So it can be more like proactive than reactive, what could happen. And I think that's a really helpful framework for thinking about when we're saying like, Oh, yeah, like, divest from the police, you know, defund the police, like, what does that actually mean? And what are we actually asking for? this resource to then build community. So it's not like these atomized, you know, nuclear families, or, you know, people hiding behind their gates over their fences, but you're actually putting resources into let like, maybe a lot of that fear is because people don't have trauma skills, and they don't have conflict skills. And you know, if there's this, and they don't know how to even there's no framework for like building up a community and how do you do that? But you're thinking about, yeah, like putting the resource into communities, so that that's possible so that people can learn those skills? They can, you know, there is yeah, some resource to help them do community building, right? Yeah and it's also like, we have to it even, like, once we have the money, it's about goes back to like culture, because you know, even if I put a bunch of money, like took the entire, like, National Night Out budget for MPD, and put it into night out for safety and liberation, that wouldn't mean that people would go because they're, you know, we have the money, but we haven't changed the cultural part. And another thing with abolition is that like, just because, you know, we're putting on these events, just because we have these resources, you know, we have the money to do trauma training for everybody, like everybody pull up doesn't mean that people will because there's like, there's cultural work that has to be done. There's like, going into people's communities going door to door and being like, what the safety look like to you, you know, what does, what is your ideal community look like? And sometimes that's people being like, Oh, I wish I could, like knock on somebody's door and feel safe. And sometimes that's going to be like, really disgusting, bigoted things, because that's some people's beliefs is that like, their dream community is just other white people. And that's, that's the kind of thing that we have to like, really tackle and really, like figure out where do we need to go with every individual and where do we need to go with every community is trainings and things like that, and building those relationships are good, but it doesn't work as well as it could if we're not, you know, why are you homophobic? Why are you transphobic? Why do you have these bigoted beliefs? You know, that stuff...

Meg-John Barker:

Well, I guess even more people have been taught about how they're meant to relate like this is where I related to my work is like, you know, this kind of heteronormative mono normative framework of like, this is how, you know, the only person you can really trust is your one romantic partner, you know, and you need to hole up with them again, it's like me and you against the world, you know, maybe, maybe you trust other family members, but there's this real hierarchy. And this real sense of like, anyone outside of that is kind of dangerous. And you certainly wouldn't want to let them see you vulnerable, or, you know, there is I think there's a real mistrust of community and a fear of community. But again, this idea that it's just like this small, you know, find your small unit, the world's really scary hole up with them. In some ways, the pandemic has even increased that sense of like everyone kind of holding up with the people who are safe. So it's so but you say that there needs to be this cultural piece of like, what are the ways of relating other? Like, how do we relate with, with other people, with neighbors, with friends with how do we, how do we communicate, community build? What does that even look like? Right?

Alex Iantaffi:

Well and the cultural changes so hard and scary, because it does require to completely change people's imagination in some way, especially for white folks right here in the US. Because as I was very excited that this conversation was happening at a local and national level, and then when I was struck by is that a lot of white people are really often substituting one kind of policing for another right, there was a bit of time, like, and then social workers are going to be. So it's like, basically, we're imagining social workers doing the job of police, but in a more palatable way that makes you feel better about what's happening. But that is still policing. That is not abolition. And I think, I think it's because I think it's useful to have the diverse and vast model, I completely agree. And sometimes I wonder if it's more palatable, because people are so scared of the idea of abolishing an institution altogether, abolishing the police or abolishing borders have been waiting for that, you know, geopolitical board, been waiting for that to be a conversation that's not laughed at by people since I was like a teenager, and I'm getting old, so soon. But this idea of abolition seems to be so scary, partially, because what you're saying, MJ, this idea of scarcity, and this fear of the other, so serves capitalism is serves geopolitical borders and serves capitalism is serves, you know, the oppression of oppression in our community based on racialization, based on other, and based on gender, based on sexuality, all of those kinds of dimension that keeps us keeps us from being a community in some ways. I don't know, am I making sense.

Deana Ayers:

Yeah, you definitely are and what you said about how, like, we all have these things are the other, and, you know, we don't want to, we don't want to get rid of policing, because there are these other people. It's like, those are the communities that don't like police, you know, they don't rely on like, these institutions of policing, you know, we're like, Oh, my God, like, we have to like, criminalize all the sex workers because sex work is bad. And it's like, but these are like, the models for like, how do you handle things in your community without calling the police? Like, they've been doing this forever and so being like, oh, no, we're gonna criminalize you for existing. It's like that. Those are the people that we need to be turning to and be like, are you willing to help? And yeah, how do we? Yeah, and it's also a matter of like, especially for like people who consider themselves like radical leftists, like, addressing what do you have internally? Because like, a lot of people will be like, oh, yeah, like, abolish the police all of these things, and then be like, Oh, but sex workers are bad. Oh, but we should still have borders. And it's like, what are you? Do you want to abolish the police? Or do you want to abolish policing and I think that's, that's the distinction that a lot of people miss, especially with, like, you know, it's become, it's, it's getting, you know, hashtag it's getting turned into, like, hashtag defund the police hashtag abolish the police. And because these conversations are happening a lot on social media, it's hard to get into like the nitty gritty and the nuance, you know, that kind of stuff required, like conversations and like articles and like, you know, like 10 tweet threads and people you know, it seems like okay, I got it, you know, abolish the police. But like, that's where it kind of like the the political education part comes in, because there are people who are saying abolish the police and arrest or abolish the police and prosecute or a bomb the reimagine the police and, like, we're straying off course, from what abolition is, because too few people are willing to, like, sit other people down and be like, yeah, that's not what abolition means. Like, you're not you're missing the mark, because, you know, we don't want to lose people. We want people to be abolitionists. We want people to be you know, in the movement, you know, in the streets, doing all these things. But if we don't all want the same thing, and we're not all willing to like articulate what is our dream and what is their vision, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna have okay, like, we're gonna have a couple police departments defunded, and some people are going to be like, Yeah, all right. And now let's reinvest that in the community and keep on chopping, and other people are going to be like, Okay, now it's time to hire the social workers. Right? And, you know, we have to figure that out.

Meg-John Barker:

It's still policing and purpose and imprisonment and any form of punishment, it's still very similar, sort of after the fact focused, isn't it? It's like, the other piece of this is about getting to like preventing things in the first place. And it strikes me, you know, one thing a lot of people will come out with with police abolition is like, oh, but what about survivors? You know, and it's like, talking to my friends that their consent Collective, we were, like, have a lot of expertise around this. Like, I remember they were saying that, like, if you talk to a bunch of female lawyers, they will all say, we would never report it if we were raped, like, there's absolutely no way you want to go through the criminal justice system is going to retraumatize you and it doesn't work. You know, it's no, it wasn't set, it was never set up for that it was set up for protecting property. It just, it doesn't work for survivors.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, I, you know, any survivor, for myself, as a survivor, any survivor I've ever worked with or ever talked to, I don't think that the system of policing as ever prevented childhood sexual abuse, for example, domestic partner violence, you know, we, which particularly impacts, impacts folks in a specific way. And then when we look at gender, specifically, you know, policing, there is a gender dimension to policing ways, right? And so people make those arguments, often not having those identities, not always, but often. And I think one thing that's hard is, is for them to imagine community safety, without policing of any kind. And I wonder at the end, in your work, how do you help people make that leap in their imagination? If they're not there yet? To kind of start thinking about No, let's really think about what community safety looks like, without policing. And you know, what? And why do you imagine that? What do you imagine that to be?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah, I really get like, my go to first question when people are talking about like, oh, you know, I want to call the police. Because what will I do if I can't? It's like, what are the police? You know, what, what do you gain? Or what is what do you think that you'll get when you call the police? You know, is it that you think that someone you can rely on that is, you know, going to believe your side of the story is going to come help you? Is it that you think that something violent is going on and you want somebody to combat that violence? You know, what specifically are people looking for when they're calling the police? Because a lot of times they're not getting it, but when we start off with like, what about calling the police makes you feel safe, then you can kind of dig into like, I don't feel like I can call anybody in my neighborhood to help me out. Or, you know, even though the police have never helped me before, like I've been told that they would be helpful for so that's what I rely on. And, you know, that helps us figure out is it a strategy of like, talking to people and breaking down like the propaganda they've been brainwashed with? Is that a matter of like, we need to be building up these community relationships and like figuring out, you know, what does your community need, whether that's like, somebody's like, working with people to like, get these like community events up and running to teach people how to like, make, you know, neighborhood directories, like just oh, here's everybody in the neighborhood, like skills that they have, or like things they're willing to do? Little things like that are really hard without that support, because otherwise, you know, people are just like, oh, you know, who What else would I do? You know, what, what can what can community safety look like? It has to look like this, you know, and so like digging in and finding those threads of like, where where is your belief in the police coming from and what do you think you'll gain?

Meg-John Barker:

But it strikes me that there's like something that's built in, you know, that we need to kind of move away from again, on that cultural level of like, what's the aim here? And I think the aim, you know, in a lot of conflict, whether it's at that wider level, or the community or interpersonal relationship, it's like, assume that the aim is to figure out who's right and who's wrong, and punish the person who's wrong, right? That's embedded here. Like, you know, the policing is like, you know, look, find the wrongdoing, surveil until you see the wrongdoing, then blame the person who's wrong. And then the prison bet is to punish the person who's wrong. And that happens at every level, again, right down to the inner. And it's like that it strikes me that that needs shifting as well on that level, every single level, because we could have a really different set of aims, and a really different process. And that's, I guess, what's coming out of like more accountability process and transformative justice kind of movements. Yeah. So I just wondered if you could speak to that sense of like, that's embedded there. That idea that it's all about who's right and who's wrong and then promise punish the wrongdoer? What would a different set fames look like? You know?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah and that's where like, I love transformative justice because it's this idea that like, okay, like everybody's capable of harm, that doesn't mean that everyone abuses but everyone has harmed someone and everyone has been harmed and so like, looking at, like, Why does harm happen? You know? And how do we respond to it as a community? And how do we keep it from happening again, versus okay, you one individual person who did something bad, you are going to be punished. We don't want to understand why you did it. We don't want to support you before, during or after your punishment. Like, you deserve to suffer because you did something bad not because you hurt someone, you know, it may have just been like, I remember distinctly when I was in high school, my brother got in really big trouble because he burned he said, a cough drop on fire outside of school, and he got out everything is in school suspension for a week. And it just like, that's one of the things that sticks with me that it's like, why is that worth the punishment for somebody? Like, that's the thing where it's like, hey, like, why are you setting things on fire at school? Not like, I don't want to know why you did it. Like, you're just a bad kid, and you're being punished. And like, that travels up, because it's that protection of property. You know, it's not about keeping people safe when we're working within like, like, crime, you know, paradigm, it's about, like, I am protecting this property, and this itty bitty, distinct, like demographic, and that's it. And if you fall outside of that, or you hurt any property, it's all over. And like, yeah, and then you're wondering, you know, why does it like, you know, the criminal punishment system work, it's like, it's focused on punishment, it's not going to, you know, prevent anyone from like, doing something that hurts.

Meg-John Barker:

We know this. Yeah, that's, like, so much research to know, punishing people does not make them stop doing these things. Like, and you know that on an inner level as well. Because when you've been, you know, like, I just keep thinking about all the times that someone's come at me with attack and blame, it's just made me feel terrible, and crushed me, and maybe I haven't been able to respond at all, because I've been felt so full of shame. Or maybe I have, but it's been like really performative because, you know, like, I couldn't be in my, I couldn't be present to them, I couldn't be kind of, in my integrity under those circumstances. I guess what really brought this home to me was a couple of years back, a couple of people in my community had a moment where somebody violated someone else's consent. And I was really close friends to both of them. And they wanted to do something different. And we didn't know a whole lot about accountability or transformative justice, but we kind of muddle through it, I stayed friends with them both. Talk to them both a lot, I felt for them both. Like, I knew, I'd been on both sides of the kind of thing that had happened. And so I kind of like just held them both for a while. And then eventually, they were able to come and have a conversation. And it was such an incredible moment for me just watching them both get that chance to talk and be heard. And the person who done it to take responsibility. But them, you know, not being blamed or told or attacked or anything, but just them being able to come to it and say, you know, this is why I did it. And I'm really sorry, and you know, be accountable. And like, I remember sitting there watching them both and thinking, I deserve to be treated like this when I'm hurt, like how my friend who was the survivor in that situation was being treated, and I deserve to be treated like this when I've hurt someone, and I still can't quite, I still can't quite believe it in my body. Because I have never been when I've been a survivor, I've been gaslit. And when I have been the perpetrator of harm, I have been attacked and made to feel absolutely terrible. And, you know, to have that, yeah, it's like literally the one time that I can in my life where I've seen it go differently. And it felt amazing to see it. And I really, that's what I want for people, you know, because like you say, we all harm and we all are harmed like, and on both sides of that you just don't you don't get heard. And you don't get to say what you need, and you don't get to take responsibility, you just get shamed.

Alex Iantaffi:

But that's a huge cultural change, right? Because so, at least in the US so much is based on the idea of right or wrong, you know, victim or perpetrator, there's all this polarizing and to come to this place where people can be like any of us, can be responsive, any of us are capable of harm, any of us can do terrible thing most of us do not do terrible thing. Many of us make a lot of mistakes, because we live in a culture that does not honestly we do not live in a world culture. We do not live in a healthy culture that where you know consent tribes are where we know how to be in healthy relationships. And, and, you know, harm can also come from all that historical and social and cultural trauma too right. But to come to that place where we see each other as human, that is such a huge piece of community work. Yeah and I think I guess that's where, you know, that political community work comes in, like you said, where you kind of start to point out those contradictions of like, abolish the police, but prosecute and put in jail. Folks who heard tests and those two things cannot coexist if abolishing policing truly and I wonder, yeah, what's that been like? For you? What that what is that like for you everyday, this is the work you do. Right? It's like this interpersonal stuff is hard for people in my experience, right. And the other piece that in my mind that almost escaped me when we're talking about this, this is such value based work for our values are not about right or wrong, but if our values are truly about interdependence, and healthy relationship, and love, maybe I'm just a sappy peices, with cancer rising, but you know, it's like, love. And I have to say that, you know, black women's color, like Bell Hooks taught me everything I know about love. And that for me resonated because also resonated with the way I was brought up in my culture, where it was all about values. What kind of person do you want to be? How are you showing up with love? How are you being community? How are you helping this family? How are you serving the community, right? It's so essential value base work, I don't know, any, any of that makes sense or resonate?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah and like it is very much value based work and it like, and one of those values has to be like honesty and vulnerability, because a lot of the time these conversations, especially with like, some of the deepest ones I've had with like, close friends and family is like being honest about the fact that like, sometimes somebody does something and we want them to be punished. You know, I can call myself the best abolitionist in the world. But when I see certain things that happen in the world, my gut reaction, like, like fake news, where it's like, okay, I'm an abolitionist, but like, maybe you as an individual can, like, take a little time, you know, a little bit of incarceration. And it's like, obviously, we don't want people to be incarcerated. But we have to be honest about the fact that like, as the people who want to be like, leading this or like doing education around it, like, I am not perfect, and I think about, you know, the, the things that like I have, it's like, you know, I sometimes like, it's hard to admit that it's like, I am not perfect, and sometimes, you know, just this abolitionist this like transformative justice and accountability, it doesn't feel like it quite gets to it. Because we've been raised, if somebody does something bad, really, really bad, we have to punish them. And with abolition, it's not a punishment, there are certain consequences, you know, you might not be welcome in a certain space, you know, you might not have access to certain people or like positions, but there's no disposability. You know, there's, there's nowhere to put people who do something, you know, you can't just throw them away and say, like, 'No, you're awful get out of here'. Because with abolition, like, you know, we're just trying to build these strong, accountable communities and that means that we all have to be honest about, you know, the times that we've seen somebody be harmed and looked away, or the times that, like, we knew that somebody had done something, and we allowed them to share space with us and be in our organizing and movement work. Because, you know, oh, the work has to get done or like, oh, like, I know that they're not so bad. And we have to be vulnerable about what like the things that we want punishment for. And also the people that you know, oh, well, I don't want anything bad to happen to this person, because I'm close to them. And I don't want them to be punished. And so it's like, so you believe in the humanity of all people even when they are wrong. So you want transformative justice, so that this people are so you can stay in your community, while making up for the things that they've done. And that's, that's really hard, because then it's like, you know, you have people close to you who have hurt people, and then you have people you hate, that have hurt people. And it's like, how do I want the same thing for both of these people? Because, you know, I want I want us to have these like strong, accountable healthy communities. And that means that like, there are processes when people hurt each other that don't require disposability that don't let us throw anyone away. And digging into that, and explaining that to people can be really difficult. Because it brings up you know, of course, like, what about the rapists and murderers is like, when it's on this, like, you know, this intellectual level where it's like, well, but abolition says that, like, we're gonna have fewer rapists and murderers is like, but those things will still happen, you know, those like, heinous like harms will still occur. And so what will we do? And sometimes for me, the answer is, I don't know, especially if I'm not in your community, you know, you're halfway across the world. I don't know what your community will do. But you can set up the structure so that, you know, your, your community knows what an accountability process looks like, you know, yeah, I mean, whether that's like tears or just figuring out like, what start, you know, what happens? Who are the people that were like, yes, like, you know, what you're doing, you know how to be, you know, there and present, even when things are really hard, and you're part of this like a circle of accountability processes, and you're one of the people we'll go to, and that can be a start. But as abolitionists we can't say, oh, well, it'll never happen and we will figure it out when we get there. Like we have to, we have to figure out an in between to communicate to people and often that's, well, what would you want to happen within your community? You know, these are your people. These are the people that you live around and work with. And you know and what do you think should happen? Because we have to build it together.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah and I like your example, it's like we can we bet we all know those, right? It's like the people that you want to just blame and shun and get rid of from the community. And then there's the people who, you know, have done stuff, that's probably just as bad, you know, and it's not at that level of rape and murder, but it's at this kind of level of the sort of non consent and harm that happens. And because they are friends, you want to kind of brush it out. And it's like, sort of thinking about a different strategy in both those scenarios. Isn't that it's like, how do we Yeah, how do we name in, in both those cases that something's happening? That isn't okay, rather than just covering it over in the one case, or getting rid of people in the other case? And then how do we do that really complex work of yeah like of naming it of having a transparent process? In both cases, whether or not we like the person? Yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

Well, I think that big piece for this, the more I think about this, and the more for me, there is a big piece about building capacity for conflict. That's somehow capitalism and polarizing and the separation of community based on marginalized identities and gender, and all this other categories, as really often greatly reduce people's capacity to hold conflict in a constructive and healthy way in community. And if we can't hold without the capacity or conflict, there cannot be accountability, there cannot be transformative justice, right? If we, we turn away from conflict, then we're also turning away from harm, in a lot of ways, right? Until we cannot turn away anymore and then we want somebody else to come and deal with it. Too hard, right? Yeah.

Deana Ayers:

And like in our like, especially, like, marginalized communities, like for me, I'm non binary, and a lot of my friends are trans. And it's like that, you know, these are found families, these are the people that we're very close to, because we don't have a lot of other people who can relate until like, to have conflict with them is scary, because you know, what happens if you're wrong, or they say that you're wrong, and you're on your own? Or in relationships, you know, like, I don't, I don't want to fight with my girlfriend, like, you know, and I'm, I'm personally in a relationship that's like, yeah, like, conflict is good and healthy conflict exists. But it's also like, that's really scary of like, the idea of like, both admitting that I've done something wrong and trying to apologize for it, or like saying, you know, she's done something wrong and asking her to apologize. Like, if that's a muscle that we've built, and we've like, worked on it, like, that's, that's taken time, but for a lot of people like that happened because I'm really into transformative justice. And I'm, you know, reading all these books and listening all these podcasts and doing this work. But for a lot of people that that doesn't pop up, you know, that that that that interest in transformative justice is never available to them. And so it's like, where does conflict go in those relationships and those like, friend groups and those families, and it just doesn't happen. And then to turn around and be like, oh, yeah, like some conflict can be healthy. And we want to do all this abolitionists work. Like, that's just not a concept that a lot of people have been able to experience and so we really have to work on... And it goes back into that, like, the circles of like, abolition is really big idea. But like, in your interpersonal relationships, like, that's where we learn how to have conflict and how to have healthy conflict. But if you don't start there, then it's impossible to imagine, you know, a world where there are no police, no prisons, no systems of punishment, and people will just stop hurting each other or like, somebody will hurt another person, and they'll just be okay. You know, if you don't have that, like, foundational building block of like, conflict can be healthy, like apologies do happen, because their households where apologies don't happen. And so like, that's real things and like, yeah, like, conflict can look like this, like, conflict resolution can look like this, like, this is how you can like, be, you know, accountable for the things that you've done, or help somebody else be accountable when they've hurt you. That's, that's a whole big piece of the work that I'm really interested in. But it's very hard and very individualized. And it's a lot of it is like individual identities like, you know, black households, and like somebody who is queer and grew up in a household with only straight people and then like, you know, like queer friends circles, like it's all figuring it out, as we try to do all of this, like bigger picture work about like, you know, defunding the police and things like that, like, you know, we'll take down those institutions, but how are we going to have these healthy and safe relationships with each other?

Meg-John Barker:

We like we just it strikes me we just so needed on every single level, and this is where I guess we've worked our way down and it's like the inner level, because actually one of the I think one of the big reasons conflict is so scary is because most of us on that inner level have carried trauma. And most of us are really terrified about what somebody's actually going to see if we're about vulnerable and honest with them. And I've been like doing such a deep dive into trauma work myself during the lockdown time and that you know, what I really noticed inside is that I'm leasing myself and punishing myself all the time. You know, I'm hyper vigilance from trauma, looking around for like, have I done anything wrong all the time. And then the times that I have been attacked and told that I wasn't good enough for acceptable by other people, like I am punishing myself with those narratives constantly. Like, that's what that's the work I need to do. And that makes relating with other people feel really dangerous. And unless we have these established processes, which I am so lucky to have with some of my friends and some my community, but it's like you have to, you have to work on every level, because we need that cultural shift away from this neoliberal capitalist idea that everyone's lacking and flawed and needs to buy all these products in order to not be right. And we need to change our level of community so we've got systems and structures that support us to feel okay, and to be able to be vulnerable with other people. And then we need that interpersonal level of learning, like how to do conflict, but we also need the inner work, where we can like, visit our trauma histories, or look at our patterns, so that it's safe enough to have those conversations. So we're not just going to be totally crushed by those conversations, because of all the stuff we carry.

Deana Ayers:

Yeah, and the inner work can be, for me, that's like the hardest part, like doing the political education with other people and like talking to people in my community, like, I can do that. And I can like, talk to my friend, but like, the inner work of being like, oh, yeah, and like, also, like, every single person needs to be doing this, like, work on thinking about, you know, what is my relationship to policing myself and punishing myself and like, you know, for I think, for a lot of people, especially people who are like very anxious and have trauma, it's like, oh, everything everyone else does is okay, and can be forgiven and like, everyone else deserves accountability processes. But I'm awful and it's so hard to shake that. Really going to be believing and I think about it for myself. It's like, How can I really believe that like, all of these things that I say I believe about accountability and transformative justice and like imagining a world with like, such little harm such an entirely different world, when I can't forgive myself for spilling something in my apartment, you know, there's, there's that word, like, can you forgive yourself and be okay with yourself, whether it's something big or something small, and only then can you, you know, like, you can still do that work simultaneously, but you're not going to be completely grounded in and like, truly a believer in all of these different ideas, if you can't do that work for yourself. And that's, that's really hard for organizers who have been in this work basically, their entire lives. And it's hard for me as somebody who like, this is like, my full time job. Like, that's, that's really hard. And I feel like, people should know that that's also hard for us, for people who are doing work and like, say, like, yeah, we're all about it. Like, that's also really hard for us to like, be okay with ourselves. And like, do that, do those deep dives into ourselves and be like, can I forgive myself for like, things that I've done?

Meg-John Barker:

So yeah, and that's great. But the inner, you know, we talk about I think, Alex in the gender book that we did together. This, I think it was Laverne Cox, who said something about how we have to all be able to be with our inner survivor and our inner perpetrator or whatever word you want to use for it. Like, that's what that deep work requires is like, recognizing that we're as deserving, like you say, of forgiveness of not policing ourselves and not punishing ourselves, but also recognizing our capacity to harm others, and the fact we've been harmed so much, and that that impacts so much of our behavior.

Alex Iantaffi:

And that is so hard and intergenerational, because often, you know, especially for those of us who have experienced abuse in the home, like myself is like. Yeah, for me, and I think for a lot of other people, that's the biggest fear, right? That there's a part of you that is that what's hurt you.

Meg-John Barker:

Yes.

Alex Iantaffi:

Because what has hurt you is so close, you know, whether it's a parent, or community or often was hurt us is much closer than we feel comfortable admitting. And I know a lot of my own inner work has been this is the fear that deep down there's something deeply wrong with me. And all that is the fear of like so many of folks I've worked with, right? Yes, this goes for else, like you said, the enemy. I am really deep down inside, maybe there's something really toxic, maybe there's something really I'm capable. And what is going to happen when people see this. There's some more terrible, undeniable parts of me that cannot, human can cannot be loved. And that is hard. You know, I'm almost 50 and I've had a lot of therapy, and I do therapy every day as a therapist, or this work I've ever done and I am convinced I'm gonna keep doing that work every day till my last breath.

Meg-John Barker:

It's life long. Same here and t's like, I still and I have worked with so many people who have said that and yet I still think I really believe on some level, I'm different. And that was that moment when I saw my friends have that process and thought, God, maybe I deserve this too. And then the instance or it's like, no, but when you were a survivor, it didn't really count. It wasn't really that bad. And when you were the perpetrator, you really were horrific monster, you know? It can't be the case. But yeah, thank you, Alex, you're so right.

Alex Iantaffi:

And that that's, that's abolition work, too, because I think policing has been terribly unsuccessful in stopping people from hurting other people. Right? I think they even people are not abolitionist could agree on that policing has not really reduced or eliminated harm. But what policing has been successful in doing is really taking over our communities, our families and our inner spaces, right? If it's all about punishment, if it's all about shunning, if it's all about the other, than the part of us who we think it's other it's the part that scary, right? The answer is not just outside, then it's also inside. Right? And so that, yeah, and I don't know if I'm making sense, but like Deana, that inner work, that's, that's lifelong.

Deana Ayers:

Like you both said, and like, that is what transformative justice is. It's lifelong, you know, if we want to have these communities with, like, such limited harm, where we, you know, have these accountability processes, you know, we can't set up all of these things, and then say, 'Okay, we have an abolitionist society, like, this is all we need, like, this is gonna keep going forever'. Like, you know, just because we don't have the police doesn't mean that the work is done, you know, there will always be these like semblances of policing, whether it's in our relationships or with ourselves, and this like yearning for punishment, because that's just where we are right now. And that doesn't mean that humans are hardwired for it. But you know, all of like, the human history that like we like really think of and learn about in school is like, 'oh, yeah, and then this person was punished and then there were these wars and all of these things'. And so we're not going to just get rid of all of that programming in like, 10 years, but we can continuously, you know, work on it and work on, you know, that's the two parts of abolition is like, you know, tearing down all of these horrible things, you know, getting rid of policing, you know, making people understand that, like, all of this is propaganda and harmful, but also, what are we building and that that's what that's where the inner work is and the transformative justice work is like, what what do we want for ourselves? You know, that's, that's what we're moving toward, and then the institutions are moving for what we're moving away from. But that's, that's the importance of knowing, you know, what do we want, and for me, that's, I want to be, I want to know that even if I've made like, terrible mistakes, or I've hurt people that I care deeply about, that I am capable, as a human being of making up for those things, and I've, you know, spending most of my life doing things that I'm passionate about doing things that help people, and also knowing that I'll make mistakes as I go, you know, no matter how important this work is, no matter how, like, you know, a perfectionist I am, there's always going to be mistakes and harm. And like, I think it's very important for people who are interested in doing this abolition work to realize that like, even if there's nothing else that you feel sure about and strongly about, that you can, like, get involved in, like, the inner work of knowing how to forgive yourself and how to, like, make amends with people, as you've heard, like, that's, that is part of abolition that is part of the movement, and we need so much more of that because it gets buried underneath the big, flashy, you know, divest invest frameworks, and like all of these, all of these things that we talked about, and like the hashtags, and like, the speaking engagements, like this is the vulnerable work that everyone has to do within themselves. And that shouldn't be erased as part of, you know, the abolitionist vision of the world.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, absolutely. And as you were talking, it also struck me that there is another side to that coin there also some people and it's often says when men are brought up to believe that whatever they do can never be that wrong.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah.

Alex Iantaffi:

Also form of gaslighting because often when deep down inside they know some of the things that they're doing, or they've been allowed to do or wrong, but also been brought up to think that you can always be forgiven, that you can always get away with things that's homeless because I was I was thinking I was like, Oh, wow, yes, we do think all those things but I've also come across people who don't know how to apologize, don't know how to admit that they're wrong, and and that is so deeply ingrained that they, their defenses about I can never be wrong are so strong. And like I said, I don't want to generalize, but there is something about some folks really being socialized into, you know, it starts with this idea of like boys will be boys and getting away with kind of violence really, that happens which then traumatizes them, because actually, boys should be protected when they're doing really fucked shit or breaking an arm because they're jumping off tall buildings. And the grown ups should be like, What are you doing? Or why are you hitting somebody else? Right? And so there is this other piece where, you know, which I guess goes back, you know, this is the interplay between the inner work and the wider culture, right? There's sometimes the, you know, the inner work that we do is also so deeply linked to what that wider culture trickled down through family and schooling and community has told us we can or cannot get away with or be forgiven for, or allowed to do if that, I don't know, if I'm making sense by what's really striking me that sometimes it's not always about coming to terms kind of forgive myself, but even like, oh, wow, actually, I can do wrong.

Meg-John Barker:

Right I they come from the same place in a way that those are those of us who are convinced we're utterly terrible, and those of us who are convinced we are totally good guys, you know, it's like, it's this whole idea of that you have to be good, you have to be perfect, you know, the minute you show any vulnerability, you're gonna get, you know, completely smacked down. It's like, instead of this idea of, like, as you were saying, the vulnerable human who is vulnerable, who makes mistakes, you know, we should assume that we were going to make mistakes. And, you know, we, there's no way we can own them, though, if we're living in this world that says you must have must be good. And I guess, one group of, you know, more of the privileged people tend towards the more like, 'Oh, I'm, I'm super good and you have to kind of give me, you know, cookies for that all of the time and you mustn't, you mustn't ever tell me that I'm doing any of the bad, the bad white folk thing or the bad bloke thing'. And then, you know, other folks who may be one of the marginalized folks are more likely to go to that, like, I'm terrible, and that a lot of us oscillate between the two is like, either I'm perfect and good. And you have to all tell me, I'm perfect and good all the time. Or I'm so terrible. I'm just gonna withdraw from the world and never do another thing. You know, that that kind of like...

Deana Ayers:

Yeah like punishment systems that insist on punishment, and shame and guilt all the time, don't let us have the nuance, because, yeah, for a lot of things, if I admit out loud to people, especially someone who has more power than me, 'Oh, I did this thing, and it was bad' or especially it hurts someone else, you know, I'll be punished, you know, whether it's like socially, or like you no access to things. And that, like, those things can be consequences instead of punishments but once it's like you did this thing, and so you should, these things will happen to you so you'll feel bad. And so that you feel awful about yourself. And so you'll never do them again. Like that's where the punishment goes in. And that's what we're afraid of, you know, that's what we've been afraid of since day one, like, I remember, when I was in pre K, like, we have stickers every single day to show like, you're a good kid and like you follow all the rules. If something bad like it's engraved with you have to be perfectly good every single day. And like, even thinking about that, like we had this big board over the course of the day, like every single month, it changed. And you could see like, oh, yeah, you were bad on this day like you did something wrong on this day? And it's like, how do how do people think that that will not be ingrained in us that like, Oh, someone will remember what I did for like six months ago, because I think about it, and I feel bad about it, but I could still be punished for it even though six months ago. So we don't think about like, you know, that the idea of like apologizing, and you're trying to like make it right is terrifying. And I think a lot of people are like, Okay, I'm just gonna shove it all down and not everything about the things that I've done to hurt somebody because, yeah. What rules do we give people to even work on it if they realized like, especially like, cis, white men, and especially early 20s, like, as much as like, they do some really awful stuff. It's like, what? Like, that's where the Accountable Communities comes in. Like, what are we not necessarily like the most marginalized, but like people who have, like, parents, you know, school board, things like that, like, what are you doing to make sure that these things don't happen, that they aren't hurting people, you know, a slap on the wrist and just brushing it aside means that it isn't just their fault, because you're enabling it, you're allowing a responsibility over to suffer because it's hard. And therapy is like, you know, give people these resources, especially those who have like the power and the money at the top of these like institutions like schools and universities, and like cities and counties, like it's just an unwillingness to do anything and then we ended up like, it just becomes this like, 'oh, yeah, like white men suck' which like a lot of times they do, but it's like, what are we doing about it? You know, like, and not necessarily like, I'm not gonna say that that's my responsibility because those

Meg-John Barker:

But we have amazing it's like like my aren't my words but... suggested Hancock who is incredible youth worker who works with the young man but that is really under resourced. You know, nobody's paying anyone to do that work. You know, Justin wants to go and do youth work, teach guys about consent about having all the free dealings and as you know, he is not able to do that. And people like him are not able to do that it's yeah, it's incredibly frustrating. And again, like that question of like, cause or solution, you know that to come in and police those guys later. Except, you know, it's not them. Yeah, it's not that's not the answer right to come and police and punish later, it's about going in and preventing in the first place, teaching a different....

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah, exactly and it's systemic, right. It starts at that pre K level with the star system where the punishment is not going to be metered equally to everybody, right? Who's noticing what I was getting pointed out for what, who is protecting, right, even at that really systemic level, right? Where we know there are incredible racial disparities, we know that there's going to be gender disparities, we know, you know, the queer kids are, we know the way that trans and queer kids are treated in school, we know the way black and brown and Indigenous kids are treated in school. And so even at that level of the star, you know, the star system on the, on the board, that is not an inequitable system, where everybody where the rules are gonna be applied the same for everyone. And it really starts there. And so I guess I could talk about this for like days on end, obviously, but I think that's where the, you know, the inner work and wider culture keeps circling, you know, through and up and down and all the systems are interconnected, right? Yes, I could keep on and on and on about all of this, but I want to be respectful of your time Deana and, and is there anything we haven't talked about that you're like, 'Oh, I was hoping that we talked about this in the follow up conversation'.

Deana Ayers:

Nothing that I could think of, I think just being able to like to like this, this model of like, looking at it like top down and bottom up, and how like, everything, like all of our individual stuff, whether it's like my memories from pre K, or like, experiences that I had in college like those, those affect, like how I see abolition, and like how I do this work. And I think I think it's really important that we talked about this, and hopefully people will be able to like listen and see that within themselves and identify some things and be like, hey, maybe punishment isn't good and policing isn't good. And you know, we should be allowed to forgive ourselves and forgive other people.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yeah. That's, that's a beautiful note to end in Meg-John, do you have anything else that you want to ask or add? Or...

Meg-John Barker:

That's just fantastic vibe? Yeah, I guess really echoing what you just said and thinking that sense about honesty and vulnerability as an alternative for each level. Yeah, just thank you so much for your time, Deana, and

Deana Ayers:

Thank you. for such an inspiring previous podcast and for being up for doing this extra one as well.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely. Thank you so much. And I know I'll have in the episode description where people can find you and your work or any calls to action. But if you want to share them now, as well, for folks who don't go and read the description, that would be great, too. So where can people find you and follow your work and any call to action that you might have for today?

Deana Ayers:

Yeah so on social media, I'm at Deanna J. Ayers and then my website is the same that has all my writing and organizing work on it. But it is getting cold, especially in the United States, and especially in the Midwest. So my call to action would be like, whether it's an organization that I'll have linked or any, you know, GoFundMe that people are starting or just pay pal, Venmo, whatever, like. Please help people who are unhoused get warm clothes for the winter because if you're going out and buying yourself socks and long sleeve shirts, please think about the people who can't do that. And, you know, spread the funds around, everyone can stay warm.

Alex Iantaffi:

Absolutely, I love that. Let's share our resources so that we can truly be an interdependent community where everybody is taken care of and if we have more resources, let's share those. That's a beautiful call to action. Thank you. Thank you. I could I was like, I have a million things. I could talk to you forever. So thank you, thank you so much for agreeing to do this joint episode. Thank you, Meg-John, for doing this so that we could have like a three way conversation and bring this to a whole other audience for.

Meg-John Barker:

Yeah, I hope that maybe some of the listeners of Meg-John and Justin might go follow gender stories now and hear more of this absolute goal for Alex's coming up with in the interviews and other you've got now your your daughter is sometimes doing a takeover podcast about femininity and that's really great as well.

Alex Iantaffi:

Yes, my 16 year old there's a lot of feelings about gender and she decided she's going to take over she's made her own logo Generation Z really? Yeah. I'm so so excited. And yeah, so watch out for the Melissa takeover and also listen to Meg-John and Justin if you don't already because their podcast is awesome. And follow Deana Ayers because they're amazing and find their writing, work, and follow them on Twitter. And yeah, yeah, mutual appreciation society. Thank you, everybody and thank you for listening.