As socialist feminists and abolitionists, how we respond to harm as a political formation is of critical importance. As of September 27th 2020, Emerge will use the following protocol to respond to instances of harm perpetuated by our members, both within and outside the group.
As feminists, we are committed to survivor-centered processes. As prison abolitionists, we won’t cooperate with the police or the state and are committed to transformative justice. As socialists, we recognize that context and nuance are key, and we expect to handle each situation differently, according to what is wanted and needed by those affected. We’re committed to consequences over punishment, and we’re influenced by the work of longtime abolitionists and transformative organizers such as Mariame Kaba, Shira Hassan, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Ejeris Dixon, and others.
How do we define harm, as Emerge?
Harm is complex and hard to define. We’ve tried to separate various types of harm into 5 categories, with our general responses to each (though we will handle and assess each situation as it arises):
- Social conflict without much political character-- fallings out, etc.
- Political conflict-- two people can’t stop fighting about strategy or theory
- Oppressive conflict-- inflected or driven by sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism
- Harassment that is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise oppressive
- Violence-- physical assault, intimate partner violence, sexual violence
Areas 1-3 will commonly be addressed through mediation, while areas 4 and 5 will commonly be addressed through a community accountability process and may involve suspension or removal from Emerge. Accusations of serious harm (broadly defined as areas 4 and 5) could result in immediate, temporary suspension of Emerge membership, following conversations with both parties. This includes access to digital platforms and participation in events.
How will we respond?
Emerge has appointed two Community Stewards, who will be the first point of contact for those who have been harmed by a member of Emerge. When someone reaches out, the Community Steward who responds will be responsible for the following:
- Having an initial conversation with the person who has been harmed
- Listening to what they want and finding out what they would like to see happen
- Collaborating with the harmed party to decide what kind of action would be best for the type of situation, including but not limited to a mediation, a community accountability process, or a direct conversation with the member who has caused harm.
- Talking with the person who has caused harm (though this conversation can be had, if desired, by the other Community Steward)
- Gathering, as needed: facilitators, community members, and support people to move the process forward. The Community Stewards will not be responsible for facilitating community accountability processes themselves, unless they truly are the best person for that role and have the capacity.
- STEWARD 1, [To be Appointed No Later Than The End of January 2021]
- STEWARD 2, [To be Appointed No Later Than The End of January 2021]
What we can offer those reaching out:
- We will try our best to respond within 3 days.
- We will be committed to survivor centered-practices.
- We will cooperate in seeking accountability, according to the needs and desires of the harmed party.
- We will support Emerge members who have caused harm in taking accountability.
- We can offer some amount of confidentiality: we can limit details that are shared with the rest of Emerge and determine who has access to information at what times.
What we cannot offer those reaching out:
- We cannot offer complete anonymity if mediation or community accountability are requested: in these cases we will need to tell the person who caused harm what they did. If action is taken, at some point we will need to inform the Emerge membership of what happened in broad strokes, although we can remove names and details.
- We will not work with the police, ICE, or any other arm of the carceral state. We cannot support someone who reaches out if reporting a member to the police is their ultimate goal.