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Artist and activist Reina Gossett talks CeCe McDonald, trans liberation, and prison abolition / by Chris Lee

It was 11:30 pm when CeCe McDonald, a fashion design student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, was on her way to the grocery store. The errand should have been simple, but for trans women of color, that is rarely the case. On their way, CeCe and her friends were attacked outside of a bar by a group of people shouting racist and transphobic slurs. A fight ensued, and one of the attackers was fatally stabbed, a crime for which CeCe eventually spent 19 months in a men’s prison. In the months that followed, the Transgender Youth Support Network launched a "Free CeCe" campaign, gaining international support from young activists and defenders of trans rights. Globally, the "Free CeCe" campaign spurred conversations about transphobia, racism, police brutality, and systems of injustice in general.

"One of the lessons of CeCe’s story is that when our lives are

criminalized, even our self-defense is criminalized," says Reina Gossett, a Brooklyn-based trans artist and activist. Reina serves as membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), a collectively-run organization that seeks to address poverty and over-incarceration in trans communities of color. “In CeCe’s instance,” she continues, “when we’re attacked in a very particular way, as she was by white supremacists, she can be charged for saying, 'No, you won’t kill me.’ "

Reina is also the 2014-2015 Activist-In-Residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women. In conjunction with Barnard, this Monday she and SRLP founder Dean Spade will lead a public conversation with CeCe McDonald, "I Use My Love to Guide Me: Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Impossible Situations." The conversation takes place at 7:30

pm at the New School Auditorium in Manhattan and is part of an ongoing conversation series on trans activism and prison abolition, entitled "No One Is Disposable." (Many videos from the series, as well as some conversations with CeCe, are already available to watch online here.)

In advance of Monday's event, we spoke with Reina about her work with the SRLP, the idea of disposability relating to incarceration, connecting with love and humor, and more.

Chris Lee: The event on Monday is part of the series, “No One is Disposable: Everyday Practices of Prison Abolition.” Could you start by speaking to this idea of disposability and how it ties into the politics of incarceration or exile?

Reina: I think ‘No One is Disposable’ speaks particularly to me because we’re in this . . .

It spews major label garbage into independent retail stores / by Joe Steinhardt

“Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package! Re-evaluate the songs. Double-pack with a photograph, Extra Track (and a tacky badge).”

Tomorrow is Record Store Day and I could not be less excited. Before you participate in Record Store Day, consider the following:

While Record Store Day’s mission statement emphasizes the day’s intention to support independent retail, I’d like to suggest that we consider the event’s very DE-pendent nature, and its major label sponsorship. A quick look at Record Store Day’s website will reveal familiar logos from Warner Brothers, Sony, and Universal, as well as their distributors (ADA, WEA, and RED), not to mention Red Bull. Why would any of these corporations care about independent retail, unless it’s going to make them more money?

It’s also worth considering a bit of history here: this particular group of labels worked with big box stores and large chain retailers in the 1980s and 1990s with the active intent to price out independent music retail where majors had less control. Major labels should have no part in the so-called celebration of independent record stores, and yet, the absurd truth is that they sponsor and control this entire event. Are you interested in releasing a small run of 7” or 12”s on Record Store Day? Better check with the boss. These labels and their funding ultimately decide which projects are ‘approved’ or ‘not approved’ as Record Store Day releases. This isn’t some kind of participatory, inclusive event for just anyone who wants it. All RSD releases must be approved and for some reason, November’s event saw plenty of U2 and Soundgarden limited-run picture discs while plenty of DIY and independent labels and bands were informed that their releases simply . . .


Venus in Pisces
Hold on to your hats, luvbirds.

by Caroline Goldfarb

by Emily Hopkins
I don't feel #BostonStrong.

by Ethan Long
Palberta live in Allston, Mass.

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