The “No Selves to Defend” anthology was conceived and edited by Mariame Kaba of the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (now called Love & Protect) as a fundraising, education and consciousness-raising tool. Published in June 2014, the anthology locates Marissa Alexander’s case within a historical context that criminalizes and punishes women (particularly of color) for self-defense and survival.
The women featured in the publication (besides Marissa) are: Lena Baker, Inez Garcia, Rosa Lee Ingram, Joan Little, Cece McDonald, New Jersey 4, Cassandra Peten, Bernadette Powell, Juanita Thomas, Yvonne Wanrow, and Dessie Woods.
“No Selves to Defend” includes original art by Micah Bazant, Molly Crabapple, Billy Dee, Bianca Diaz, Rachel Galindo, Lex Non Scripta, Caitlin Seidler, and Ariel Springfield; as well as writing by William C. Anderson, Sam Hsieh, Mariame Kaba, Victoria Law, Andy Smith, Mychal Denzel Smith, Emily Thuma, Lewis Wallace, and Rachel Domain-White.
One hundred and fifty copies were printed (thanks to generous support from Kiese Laymon, Ariel Springfield, and Mychal Denzel Smith) and 125 copies were available to purchase. All proceeds were donated to Marissa’s legal defense fund. Marissa successfully fought her 20 year mandatory minimum sentence and will officially be free from house arrest in February 2017. There are no plans to do a second printing of the anthology.
In the two years since the anthology was released, we’ve learned of the cases of Naomi Freeman, Cherelle Baldwin, Eisha Love, Bresha Meadows and more. All of these women and girls and countless others who are victims of violence were criminalized for survival. “No Selves to Defend” continues to be relevant and necessary.
We invite and encourage everyone to organize discussion groups based on “No Selves to Defend” this month and beyond. On this site, you will find some questions that you can use to guide your discussions. Also included here is a poetry zine if you’d prefer to organize poetry circles to discuss the criminalization of survivors of violence. Finally, for those participating in the #FreeBresha Days of Action (October 5 & 6) who want to do a teach-in about her case, there’s a new curriculum template.
If you do host a book or poetry discussion, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a note and some photos of your group. We’ll post them here.