On Day 2 of YES! Fest, a panel of four grassroots leaders engaged in a stimulating discussion on the concept of “transformative justice,” and how it can form the basis for deep solutions to racial and gender-based injustices, mass incarceration, immigrant abuses, the climate emergency, and more.
The panelists were Amanda Alexander, founding executive director of the Detroit Justice Center; Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Keep It in the Ground Campaign of the Indigenous Environmental Network; Mariah Parker, a county commissioner in Athens, Georgia, who was elected at the age of 26; and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Although the idea of transformative justice originated as a response to gender-based domestic violence, its applicability is broad. Panelists, using real-world examples of transformative justice, explored nonviolent approaches to repairing harm in communities by examining the root causes of that harm to inform upstream solutions.
For example, on the issue of the criminal justice system, Parker said that rather than pouring our efforts into reforming a system that disproportionately targets people of color, “we need to be thinking about what sorts of investments will prevent harm from happening in the first place.”