A statement from If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
Reproductive justice is racial justice. Everyone must be able to decide if, when, and how to create, sustain, and define their families, free from the terrors of policing and white supremacist violence. That Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, was found guilty on three charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — for killing George Floyd is at once a rare and historic moment of accountability in a system rooted in anti-Blackness, and a heartbreaking signal of how far we are from a world of true freedom and justice for all.
What this verdict does not do is take away the loss and grief. It does not resurrect George Floyd. It does not allow him to return home and be held by his family and watch his daughter grow up. Countless others share that pain, and their names have become rallying cries over this past few weeks, this past year, this past decade, for centuries — under this brutal system that’s disappeared, disposed, and dislocated Black communities since its inception.
As a legal organization that organizes and operates within and beyond the current legal system, and which works to change systems of oppression into systems of justice, we hold at the heart of our analysis the tensions between what was, what is, and what could be. The criminal legal system is not “broken.” Policing is not spoiled by a few “bad apples.” Policing in this country began as an enforcement apparatus for enslavement; it has grown — indeed, been, watered, fed, and cultivated — into a punitive system of racist targeting, mass incarceration, and the deadly silencing of dissent. Because of this, we want to make room for complicated and conflicting feelings about the nature of justice and punishment, and the fundamental and foundational guilt of the criminal legal system itself. We share fears that, tonight and in the coming weeks, state and white supremacist violence against communities who speak out against racist policing may escalate.
If/When/How will continue to work for change. We are continuing to build and grow our racial justice and anti-racist practices internally, while also building and growing our work supporting and defending people who are criminalized for their pregnancy outcomes, and organizing, training, and mobilizing legal professionals to bring an intersectional, anti-racist lens to all they do. We know a different future is possible; we see the If/When/How community building toward it every day.