Unearthing Resistance

A group of colorful open umbrellas blocks Christian protesters holding a cross
What gets repressed comes back to haunt you

By Sarah Leonard

The things you repress come back to haunt you. In this issue, Sarah Jaffe’s exploration of New Orleans’ Southern Gothic haunted tours — how they “smooth over the real violence that haunts the city,” and residents’ struggles for housing and labor justice — has us thinking about everything that gets buried. 

Our “abortion international” package responds to attempts in the States and abroad to drive abortion back underground. Only the most willfully naive conservative could believe that banning the practice will get rid of it, but right-wing and fascist regimes over the last century have relied on the enforcement of gender roles, the empty veneration of motherhood, and the protection of some nativist vision of the nuclear family — all that’s queer, uncoupled, or non-procreative, gets repressed. (Our writers explore the return of these attitudes in a deep dive into the extremely online right-wing women who insist on the holy immutability of male and female.) We seek advice from the many organizers, especially throughout the Global South, who’ve used moments of extreme repression to organize healthcare on their own terms. 

We include Kwaneta Harris’ account of being punished in prison for speaking with others about reproductive health. Prison rules stifle hundreds of thousands of voices in the U.S., and Harris, incarcerated in Texas, also writes about her attempts to call the outside world while in solitary. Leesa Nomura, a formerly incarcerated organizer with California Coalition for Women Prisoners, tells Lux that “if people inside can do so much to get the word out, at the risk of retaliation, then we should be working double and triple hard to make things happen.” In an interview, political theorist Joy James compares the effects of prison struggle to earthquake tremors beneath the earth’s surface, and pushes us to be honest about the bitter, uncertain fight for a world without prisons:  “I don’t trust dreams that don’t allow the possibilities of nightmares.”

We include one dream in our archive section, arising from the nightmare of French colonialism. Martinican writer, activist, and surrealist Suzanne Césaire demanded in the 1940s that her compatriots face history, without being oppressed by it, and she conjured the dreams that had been crushed by violence and insult. “It is about becoming conscious of the incredible store of varied energies until now locked up within us,” she wrote. “We must now deploy them to the maximum without deviation, without falsification.”

This issue searches out repressed tactics and dreams that might become the nightmare of authoritarians.

Sarah Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Lux.

Photo of NYC For Abortion Rights protest by Camilo Fuentealba.