On Saturday, June 7, we hosted the Transformative Justice: Our Movements and Our Struggle event at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in downtown Los Angeles.
We will be posting the audio of the event here once the somewhat challenging task of editing the recording is done.
After the event, we met as the event organizers to assess and critique what happened. Below are some of our notes from our assessment, which we’re sharing so that others can share a bit of our own learning experience.
We definitely saw that there was a big need for an open discussion about making transformative justice work in our movements. Not just in LA, but everywhere. Although there’s a whole lot more needed, and we barely scratched the surface, we feel that the event at least moved things forward in the right direction. We think that it did help put out the idea of transformative justice as a tool in anti-capitalist social movements.
The collaboration between our different organizations was very productive. It wasn’t superficial collaboration based on fake unity; it was meaningful collaboration based on hard political debates and understanding our differences.
The event, document and organizing process has had a positive impact on people not just in LA, but even on the other side of the world. We think that is a remarkable success, since we began this process thinking of just addressing the immediate needs of movements here in Los Angeles.
The draft working document that we wrote together is, if not perfect or complete, something that we can be at least a little proud to share. It represents a lot of new political understanding for us, and we feel that it’s a helpful contribution to our movements.
We think that there are good opportunities for moving forward and building from this event in a practical way, and to continue our collaboration.
The event did not function very much as a cohesive whole. Instead of building from one section into the next, it seemed very disjointed. We had meant for the different talks to be more focused on concrete examples, and to then build off that with the discussion and document. We should have coordinated the presenters together better, so that their talks connected to each other more, and we should have done a better job of introducing and framing the different parts of the event.
Along those lines, we should have organized to have one MC throughout the event who could have helped provide some continuity.
Because of time issues, we ended up re-arranging things and cutting away what we had planned as the heart of the event – the small group discussions. Some better advance contingency planning could have helped us adjust the event while still preserving that discussion space.
The audio and translation for Ana Pagu’s talk could definitely have been set up better. Again, a little bit more forethought about these details could have made the event much more solid.
Because the event was organized by a small core of people, we were all busy and anxious during the event and didn’t get the chance to personally engage with and welcome all of the people who came as much as we wanted. Recruiting more people from our organizations to help out with day-of tasks for the event instead of relying on the same core of organizers could have helped make sure that everyone was welcomed and connected.