In Mythic Reality X: There is no Police; There is Abolition; There is Solidarity
It’s not a coincidence that the first year I started teaching Abolition that two of my students, both Chinese, had experienced encounters/altercations/violent meetings/whatever else one would call it in the media, in the paper, in gossip, online, with the. . .
Police (University, State, Nation, ICE, Church, School-Prison-Pipeline, Prison, School, System,)
The Police System
Myth #1: There are Good Police. Not all Police are “Bad.”
In the Fall when I found out my student had fallen off the 8th building of his residence hall I wasn’t sure what to think. I was upset. The students were upset. Telling me that the window he fell out of should have had a screen. Telling me that their parents warned them that even when their dorms get so stuffy they should never open their windows because they could fall out. It’s unsafe. A student telling me that she asked maintenance on campus to fix her window with a screen, but he said he couldn’t even when dorms on the first floor had screens.
A week after his death I met with the directors of the program and told them that campus security had been involved. Campus security had been called to address a “noise complaint” and had gone up to my student in the bathroom where he fell out. Some people still think it was a suicide; the University framed it that way. We were teaching a course topic on Abolition. I thought they’d understand that maybe, maybe, my student had fallen out of the window because he had been afraid
Of the Police (University, State, Nation, ICE, Church, School-Prison-Pipeline, Prison, System, getting in trouble, he was (he still is) a good student, Asian, Asian American, Model Minority, Anti-Asian Violence, he didn’t deserve to die)
The director (no longer my director, never again), saying “Oh, campus security are trained to work with students. They are Good Police.”
Reality #1: There are no good or bad cops when the POLICE SYSTEM IS CORRUPT
The police on campus wait outside graduate housing ready to catcall women that walk outside
The police on campus get deployed to “escort” (assert, contain, stop) graduate student protestors from demanding a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment, our RIGHT to a living wage) by then arresting them in full riot gear
The police on campus stop students on scooters, students jaywalking, students parking “illegally” (why isn’t parking free for your students who pay over $15,000 a year to attend your fucking university???) with fines
The police handcuff students who tell their CAPS counselors they want to kill themselves, and the same police “escort” (the parade of shame) them to the hospital while they’re handcuffed
Handcuffs are for “criminals” a psychologist told me once.
Handcuffs are just another weapon of the police who are weapons of the POLICE SYSTEM.
Myth #2: We need the Police to protect us from the “Bad Guys”
I had to seek counseling (off campus, never again with CAPS) over what happened to my student. Not just because he died but because the lack of support and the ways in which the directors of that program continued allegiance to the University system “broke” me as an instructor. How could you spout “anti-racist” material yet still remain loyal to the racist system?
It’s easy. It’s because the Police “protects” us from the “Bad Guys” (Black, Indigenous, Queer, Trans*, people who aren’t YOU: White, cis but sometimes trans*, straight but also sometimes queer, men but also women, able-bodied but sometimes not).
Good Guys = White, the elite, the privileged, the Harvard Elite, The Colonists, The Settler Colonial Order
Bad Guys = Everyone and Everything Else That Threatens the Above ^
My graduate student accused of “almost murdering” a police officer. The details are murky.
They say he was intoxicated in some fashion that he argued with the officer that he tried to take his gun that he shot the officer that he had to be restrained that he was simultaneously
“AGGRESSIVE but also submissive”
Describing a Chinese international student with the same language used against Asian men, Asian people.
Remember Vincent Chin.
A story talks about the “good Samaritan” that helped the “wounded” police officer with a tourniquet. “The police officer was doing his duty to protect our community.”
From my student. Who was “AGGRESSIVE but also submissive.”
My student who was passionate about teaching Physics, who wanted to talk more about the construction of race and Affirmative Action, who participated in class all the time, who supported his students all the time, who supported me even during zoom sessions where there was silence.
Why would my student be “intoxicated?” Why would he be “AGGRESSIVE but also submissive.” Why would the officer let his gun get taken? Why was it taken? What really happened?
He wouldn’t have shot the police officer. Maybe he was suffering because this University doesn’t pay its graduate TAs INSTRUCTORS enough. This University doesn’t care about my students. This University, This Community, will celebrate the police officers and take their side each time because it was clearly my student who perpetuated a
SHOOTING; They call it a SHOOTING even though it isn’t even clear if my student shot the officer intentionally. He didn’t even carry a gun.
“It was my student’s fault he fell because they weren’t supposed to have a PARTY because they weren’t supposed to be INTOXICATED”
What are the Police “protecting” my students from? Nothing. They maintain the same racist stereotypes that Asian men are “AGGRESSIVE but also submissive,” that unless Asian students are always studying/always getting an “A” and the second they slip up and do drugs or try to “party” to cope with COVID-19 and the world burning they are now and have been (anti-Asian hate and anti-immigration in U.S. history) “the Bad guys”
Reality #2: The Police are weapons of the STATE designed to maintain “by any means necessary” the ongoing settler colonial order
I spoke with my current supervisor who was hesitating to tell me about my student about how it’s blowing up in the news how no one knows the truth or the details. I think about all the Black men and women and queer and trans* Black people who been racially profiled and killed not just over the past two years but since the founding of the fucking United States of America and even before that.
Indigenous Land Dispossession and Genocide.
Indentured Labor and Servitude of Asian People.
Deportation of “illegal aliens.”
Land theft from Indigenous People and then from Mexico and then from Spain.
Myth #3: Without the Police There Would Be No Order, There Would Be Chaos; Without Prisons “Bad Guys” and “Crime” Would Go Up
The settler colonial order that enables crime and chaos to even happen would fail (it shouldn’t even exist) if the Police didn’t support it.
Reality #3: Futurity without the Police
If prisons were abolished, if the police were abolished, if a system that criminalizes and punishes Black, Brown, Queer, and Indigenous People was abolished, if capital was abolished, if guns were abolished, if surveillance was abolished, if cisheterosexism, racism, ableism, xenophobia were abolished
Prisons are abolished. Queer Black and Trans* artists can share their comix with their friends, families and communities.
Police are abolished and replaced with counselors, with community members to hold each other accountable that prioritize physical and mental health, where there are no “altercations” because situations where people who are intoxicated or “upset” due to mental health get deescalated and no one is hurt because no one has a weapon.
Capital is abolished. No more exploitation of labor in sweatshops. No more overworking staff and graduate TAs INSTRUCTORS and telling them that “grad school is a time to balance one’s budget and learn how to live off one can of tuna.” Since prisons and police are abolished all that money can go to graduate students and staff. Education at the University could even be FREE for undergrads and everyone in the community. You can park legally on campus now.
Land is not only returned it is honored. No more homelessness. We can be guests on Kumeyaay and other Indigenous land. Or we can leave. We should leave if asked.
All isms are abolished. Difference is instead celebrated. We learn to love each other and laugh.
In Mythic Realities 1 and 2: I See You Again; You Aren’t Incarcerated
In Mythic Reality 1: You’re still alive. We’re celebrating your learning. There are no grades. You’re helping your classmates. You’re helping me rethink how to teach writing. We’re together again. You’re smiling.
In Mythic Reality 2: You weren’t arrested by the police. No one was hurt. Your students love you because you’re an excellent graduate instructor who loves Physics. People celebrate you as a “good instructor” and a “good person” but more importantly you aren’t labeled a bad, aggressive, submissive, or anything else but a person. You’re a valued community member. You’re also smiling and laughing.
In Mythic Reality X: I ask myself, what is my commitment to Abolition, to anti-racist pedagogy, to anti-work, to anti-University, to anti-Academia?
What is my commitment to social justice?
My commitment has always been to you all, my students. It is the greatest honor to be an instructor, to teach but to also learn. It is the greatest honor to truly serve my community. Not by giving “good grades,” not by “maintaining order through strict attendance policies,” not by “failing the students who I knew wouldn’t pass anyway,” but by truly and honestly serving ALL students.
That commitment has and will never change in Mythic Reality X.
You. We. I. Have Always Deserved Better. Abolition Now.