BLM Solidarity Statement

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Commitment to Anti-Racism

On behalf of the collective membership, board of directors, and staff of Gallery Gachet Society

13 July 2020

Gallery Gachet Society stands in solidarity with the international mass movement led by Black Lives Matter. We commit to the ongoing work of speaking and working against anti-Black racism and racism in all of its forms.

As Black communities mourn and seek justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Machuar Madut, Nicholas Gibbs, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, Deborah Danner, Eric Garner, Meagan Hockaday, Sandra Bland, among so many others, we witness their untimely deaths to police violence. We witness their murders as acute instances of centuries of carcerality and criminalization oppressing racialized people and recognize that the current uprisings and demonstrations build on decades and centuries of organizing and movement-building. Black and Indigenous communities of different cultures, diasporas, and nations; peoples racialized through the discourses and structures of race and whiteness, are forced to endure systems of white supremacy throughout Indigenous lands. These racist systems include racial capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy, ablism and sanism, enslavement, displacement, anti-migrant policies, detention and deportation, settler colonialism, genocide, and their legacies of intergenerational trauma and impoverishment. Valuing self-determined traditions, cultures, and futures of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, we listen and work in support of BIPOC survivance, resurgence, social movements, and solidarities.

“I may be crazy, but that don’t make me wrong.” 

– Marsha P. Johnson (Marsha P. Johnson Institute)

As an artist-run centre formed by psychiatric survivors, Gallery Gachet is dedicated to addressing mental health through art programming and support for artists. At this moment, we are encouraged to reflect deeply on the ways racism and oppression are specifically harmful to mental health. In support of arts programming relevant to culturally-meaningful and self-determined modes of healing, survivance, and thrivance, we commit to honouring the leadership of BIPOC communities.

As police and RCMP exist and are trained to defend private property owners through increasingly high-tech militarized means, Gallery Gachet denounces the use of armed police officers and RCMP for “wellness checks,” which has led to the death of people experiencing emotional or mental distress. Police violence affects Black, Indigenous, and racialized people at drastically disproportionate rates. The threat of systemic and hate violence is even more stark through intersections of disability, neurodivergence, 2-Spirit, Trans, gender, queer, and class experiences and conditions. The Vancouver Police Department’s budget is 21% of the City of Vancouver’s budget while community services (along with parks, recreation, arts, culture, libraries) account for 5%. Budget increases for policing reforms to address racism and violence have failed us. We denounce these carceral conditions, including the carcerality of psychiatric institutions and social work, the criminalization of survival and of Indigenous land protection, and racist and anti-poor police street checks practiced throughout inner-city, racialized, and impoverished neighbourhoods, including the Downtown Eastside where Gallery Gachet is located on the unceded and occupied territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

“Abolition is about presence, not absence; it’s about building life-affirming institutions.”

– Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Gallery Gachet stands in solidarity with those demanding the redistribution of police funding to community-led programming, cultures, housing, support, care, healing, and accountability. We support investment in culturally-relevant health programs and the creation of an unarmed, medically-trained, emergency mental health support team that is led by and accountable to BIPOC, disability, Mad, and low-income communities. We believe this work is realized when practiced through values of harm reduction, disability justice, and transformative justice — values and practices informed by the experiential knowledge of drug users, sex workers, Black abolitionists and organizers, and Indigenous, migrant, Mad, and disability communities.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

– James Baldwin

To ensure the anti-racist practice of our mandate, Gallery Gachet commits to ongoing transformative review of our policies and practices until our arts and community programming and cultural work coincide with the realization of BIPOC lives and futures.

We assert that whiteness as the default for mental health advocacy and discourses must end, and white privilege must no longer obscure the intersectional differences of oppression experienced by racialized peoples. Those of us who benefit from white privilege commit to the life-long work of decentering whiteness and acknowledge complicity with racism within the organization, space, and DTES neighbourhood.

Our work includes consistent learning through different forms, including anti-oppression workshops and arts programming. We commit to creating spaces and communities beyond diversity, valuing labour and BIPOC leadership, experience, and knowledge through hiring, membership, board representation, and programming. We commit to challenging artists to understand cultural appropriation and cultural sovereignties. We commit to organizing collectively and across the arts and culture sector, as well as in relation to our neighbours and all communities throughout the DTES.

 

Resources, Reading, and Key Terms

Resources

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter Vancouver

Hogan’s Alley Society (Vancouver)

BC Civil Liberties Association: Ban Police Street Checks

#defundthepolice

@artsaccountability (re: galleries and museums in Canada)

Black Health Alliance

Critical Resistance

8toAbolition Campaign

Abolition Can’t Wait: A Teach In with 8toAbolition

Reclaim the Block (Minneapolis)

Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Kimberlé Crenshaw on Intersectionality

Pam Palmater with Desmond Cole, author of The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power

Sins Invalid

Project Lets: Peer Support for Mental Healing

Syrus Marcus Ware

Mia Mingus

 

Reading

Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice edited by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Andrea J. Ritchie: “Mental Illness is not a Capital Crime: On the Disproportionate Impact of Police Violence on Women of Color”

Edward Hon Sing-Wong: “Mental Health Professionals are not the Solution to Racist Police Violence”

Abolition Journal

 

Key Terms

Abolition

Abolition is the movement to end the institutions of enslavement (slavery) in their historical and ongoing manifestations, including prisons and prison-like conditions.

Patrisse Cullors, “Abolitionists still have work to do in America.”

Carcerality

Carcerality refers to prisons and prison-like conditions historically and currently, including the prison-industrial complex, policing, surveillance, the colonial reservation system, internment camps, enslaving plantations, and migrant detention centres.

Criminalization

Criminalization is the process of making behaviours or individuals illegal as crime or criminals. A critical analysis of this process understands the use of criminalization as ways to dominate, oppress, and control marginalized peoples and their means of coping and survival.

Wikipedia: Criminalization

Disability Justice

“Disability Justice deals with the oppression of disability, but at the same time deals with other systems of oppression and injustice – it is a ‘multi-issue politic.’ It moves beyond rights- and equality-based approaches, beyond access and inclusion in unjust systems, instead working towards collective justice and liberation, towards transforming society as a whole.” From “Beyond Access: Mia Mingus on Disability Justice” https://equitableeducation.ca/2013/mia-mingus-disability-justice

Wikipedia: Disability Justice

Sins Invalid: “Disability Justice – a working draft by Patty Berne.”

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a movement and set of principles and practices developed to counter the prohibition and criminalization of drug use, as through drug policy and “the War on Drugs.”

“Harm reduction is also an approach that seeks to minimize the harms associated with drug use and drug policy, without requiring the individual to have a goal of abstinence. We know that people will always use drugs: to avoid psychological pain/trauma, to relieve physical pain, and to enhance creativity or pleasure.” This includes providing safer injection and smoking supplies and supervised injection sites. From: https://www.allianceon.org/Harm-Reduction

“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.” From: https://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction/

Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational trauma is “cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma.” Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, “The return to the sacred path: Healing the historical trauma and historical unresolved grief response among the lakota through a psychoeducational group intervention,” 1998. From: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00377319809517532

Dr. Evan Adams, “Intergenerational Trauma and Indigenous Healing”

Intersectionality

“Intersectionality is a theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities (e.g., gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, physical appearance, height, etc.) might combine to create unique modes of discrimination and privilege.” “The term was coined by black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989.” From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality

Racialization

“The concept of racialization refers to the processes by which a group of people is defined by their “race.” Processes of racialization begin by attributing racial meaning to people’s identity and, in particular, as they relate to social structures and institutional systems, such as housing, employment, and education. In societies in which “White” people have economic, political, and social power, processes of racialization have emerged from the creation of a hierarchy in social structures and systems based on “race.” The visible effects of processes of racialization are the racial inequalities embedded within social structures and systems.” From: https://libguides.uwinnipeg.ca/c.php?g=370387&p=2502732

Sovereignty (Indigenous)

“Our right to self-determination means we have jurisdiction (the right, power and authority) to administer and operate our own political, legal, economic, social and cultural systems.” From: http://www.chiefs-of-ontario.org/first-nations/sovereignty/

Cultural sovereignty refers to the sovereignties of Indigenous Peoples with regard to their arts, cultures, traditions, languages, and knowledges.

Survivance/Thrivance

Wikipedia: Survivance

Transformative Justice

“Transformative Justice (TJ) is a political framework and approach for responding to violence, harm and abuse. At its most basic, it seeks to respond to violence without creating more violence and/or engaging in harm reduction to lessen the violence. TJ can be thought of as a way of “making things right,” getting in “right relation,” or creating justice together. Transformative justice responses and interventions 1) do not rely on the state (e.g. police, prisons, the criminal legal system, I.C.E., foster care system (though some TJ responses do rely on or incorporate social services like counseling);  2) do not reinforce or perpetuate violence such as oppressive norms or vigilantism; and most importantly, 3) actively cultivate the things we know prevent violence such as healing, accountability, resilience, and safety for all involved.” From: Mia Mingus, “Transformative Justice: A Brief Description:” https://transformharm.org/transformative-justice-a-brief-description/

 

 

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    Gallery Gachet is a unique artist-run centre located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Gachet is a collectively-run exhibition and studio space built to empower participants as artists, administrators and curators.

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