Guests: Joyce McMillan; Victoria, MSW
Host: Shimon Cohen, LCSW
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Thank you to this episode’s sponsor! UH has a phenomenal social work program that offers face-to-face master's and doctorate degrees, as well as an online and hybrid MSW. They offer one of the country’s only Political Social Work programs and an Abolitionist Focused Learning Opportunity. Located in the heart of Houston, the program is guided by their bold vision to achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global. In the classroom and through research, they are committed to challenging systems and reimagining ways to achieve justice and liberation. In 2022 they will continue their ongoing series, Eyes On Abolition that explores abolition as practice and as a critical framework to bring about change, and invite you to join them in April when they host Becoming Abolitionists author, Derecka Purnell. Go to http://www.uh.edu/socialwork to learn more.
In this episode, I talk with Joyce McMillan and Victoria about the family policing system, also known as the child welfare system. Joyce is a parent, activist, and community organizer who is focused on systems abolition. She is the Founder and Executive Director of JMac for Families and Parent Legislative Action Network. Victoria is a PhD candidate at UCLA Social Welfare, policy analyst, and here for the abolition of all carceral systems, organizing with Cops Off Campus Coalition, Let’s Get Free LA Coalition, and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. We talk about the need to abolish the family policing system. Joyce and Victoria explain why they call this system the family policing system, drawing parallels to how prison and carceral systems function. They talk about how much of family policing is an attack on families in poverty – the majority of neglect reports are actually for situations due to poverty and have nothing to do with someone’s ability to parent. They talk about how the family policing system disproportionately harms Black, Brown, and Indigenous families, and how there is a history of racist social control in the creation of this system and its present-day operation, including predictive analytics and mandatory reporting. Joyce discusses how families do not know their rights, are not given warnings of their rights, and her work on Miranda rights for parents. Victoria talks about how the family policing system is part of the larger carceral system of surveillance and how families are caught up in this system. Both discuss how we could be supporting families rather than separating them. And yes, we talk about so-called “color-blind” removals. Joyce and Victoria share how they got into this work, with Joyce sharing how her children were removed and she fought to get them back, and Victoria sharing about her father being in kinship care and her work with youth involved in the system. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.