On behalf of Communities of Resistance (UK),
As an organization committed to fighting the prison industrial complex (PIC), we celebrate and support Judith Butler’s refusal of the Zivilcourage Prize at Berlin’s 2010 Pride celebrations. Butler’s decision to highlight racist and imperialist complicity in European white gay movements is part of a larger project of challenging islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments which maintain and perpetuate the prison industrial complex.
The prison industrial complex is the network of governmental and private interests that uses prisons as a response to social, political and economic problems. The PIC includes all institutions, government branches, agencies, NGOs and businesses that have a financial, organisational or political interest in maintaining the prison system, such as border agencies and detention units, security corporations, prison construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, etc. This also includes the public discourses that circulate to legitimize the use of violent detainment, deportation, and tightened borders. In Western Europe this includes popular racist depictions of Arab, Muslim, and other immigrant individuals and communities of colour as homophobic, barbaric, and uncivilized – a discourse explicitly drawn upon by Berlin Pride in their media and organizing.
Of course, tactics that work in tandem with imperialist, war-mongering, and neo-liberal state-propagated agendas of securitization, are not isolated to Berlin Pride. These strategies are part of a trend of what Jasbir Puar has termed “homonationalism” (Puar 2007), and are resisted by anti-racist, anti-colonial, and anti-imperialist queer organizing such as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto, Canada), and SUSPECT (Berlin, Germany). Unfortunately however, it is often queers of colour, who, after calling out complicity in hyper-individualized, racist white gay agendas, personally bear the brunt of the backlash from well-organized and well-funded (thanks to the growing corporatism of apolitical, identity-based pride events) white gay movements.
Judith Butler’s refusal of the Zivilcourage award was a high profile example of the resistance that anti-racist queers of colour do everyday in their challenging of homonationalist agendas the world over. This resistance also fights against the dominant discourses of racist, anti-immigrant sentiments that are so intimately tied to the prison industrial complex. It is with great respect and admiration that we celebrate not only Butler’s refusal, but the ongoing work of anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist queers of colour in Berlin, Toronto, and elsewhere.
Communities of Resistance (CoRe)