Questions

Cece McDonald by Micah Bazant

Cece McDonald by Micah Bazant

The following are some questions that you can use to guide your book discussion. If you are looking for ideas of how to structure your discussion, check out the poetry section which includes some guidelines for facilitating conversation.

Special thanks to Colby and Hyejin of Survived & Punished for creating these questions based on the anthology.

1. What does the term “criminalized survivor” mean to you?
2. How are women of color survivors characterized by legal systems and media? How do race, gender and class determine someone’s ability to claim the right to self defense in court?
3. What are examples of recent high profile cases where people are granted a self to defend or not by law enforcement, the media, and the courts?
4. How do we conceive of “self defense”? Is there a way to think of “self defense” more expansively to include more than just fighting back in the moment? What about the survivors who don’t “fight back” and are still criminalized for surviving? (ex: Failure to Protect, etc.)
5. How are transgender women of color in particular denied the right to self-defense and criminalized?
6. What is the relationship between poverty and the ability to escape abuse and also criminalization? Please give examples from the text.
7. How do you understand the relationship between jury trials as supposedly “of one’s peers” and the high rate of conviction of women of color survivors?
8. How are mainstream anti-domestic violence and sexual assault movements and advocacy efforts dependent on the criminal legal system?
9. How are criminalized survivors impacted by mandatory minimum and other forms of extreme sentencing?
10. How did survivors in No Selves To Defend advocate for themselves? What were the results?
11. Abuse and rape survivors are often instructed to call hotlines, shelters or police for help. Which of those resources are available to criminalized survivors? Who (in your local community) would you want to call for support?
12. What forms of violence must be addressed by movements for racial and gender justice to support criminalized survivors? How are they being addressed in the work that you do?
13. When survivors of violence and the legal system are discussed together, it is often from the perspective of needing to prosecute perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence more rigorously (e.g. advocacy for harsher sentencing, mandatory minimums for rape, mandatory arrest laws, better procedures for testing rape kits). How does this framing impact advocacy for criminalized survivors?
14. How can we learn from Cece McDonald’s statement that “prisons aren’t safe for anyone, and that’s the key issue”?
15. Based on the stories of survivors highlighted in this text, how do you understand the relationship between individual freedom campaigns and a larger movement to de-criminalize survival? What kind of movement strategies and tactics do you see organizers using across these cases?
16. What solutions can we envision that might thrive outside of the racist criminal legal system?
17. No Selves to Defend is a call to action. How will you respond to this call?

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