Zine Review: Transformative Justice and/as Harm

Zine, A.J. Withers, Rebuild Printing, still.my.revolution@gmail.com, $3

I read this zine in the aftermath of the unrest in Baltimore, and am writing this review just after a jury in Boston sentenced a man to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing. The enormity of the failures of criminal justice in the United States can make it overwhelming to even begin to imagine other possibilities for justice. In this zine, A.J. Withers explains the basics of transformative justice, an alternative approach to seek healing after a sexual assault or other act of aggression.

From a clear and useful glossary to a comprehensive and detailed list of endnotes, the zine is very well-researched. One section was written as a paper for a course in Withers’ social work PhD program, but the zine never reads as overly dry or academic. It is always rooted within Withers’ own experiences in activist communities in Toronto, both as a survivor of sexual assault, and as a member of groups engaged in transformative justice.

Don’t expect any grand conclusions from this zine— transformative justice isn’t a magic formula to prevent sexual assaults or instantly heal survivors. There are problems with white people claiming a form of justice rooted in indigenous communities. Oddly, I found the discussion of our shared complicity one of the most comforting sections of this zine. Knowing that none of us is innocent means we share the responsibility for making things right. (Check out our review of another zine by A.J. Withers, If I Can’t Dance Is It Still My Revolution? on page TK.) (Kelly McElroy)

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