Saving Our Own Lives - A Liberatory Practice of Harm Reduction Book
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RELEASE DATE - 8 DECEMBER 2022
Liberatory Harm Reduction is one of the most important interventions of the 20th century, and yet a compilation of its critical stories and voices was, until now, seemingly nowhere to be found.
Saving Our Own Lives, an anthology of essays from long-time organiser Shira Hassan, fills this gap by telling the stories of how sex workers, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, queer folks, trans, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit people are – and have been - building systems of change and support outside the societal frameworks of oppression and exploitation.
This is a collective story of trans women of colour, who were sex workers and radical political organisers, who created shared housing to ensure that young people had safe places to sleep. It is the story of clean syringes, "liberated" from empathetic doctors’ offices by activists who were punk women of colour who distributed them among injection drug users in squats in the East Village, and the early AIDS activists who made sure that everyone knew how to use them. It is the story of Black Panthers and the Young Lords taking over Lincoln Park Hospital in the Bronx to demand and ultimately create community-accessible drug treatment programs; and of bad date sheets passed between sex workers in Portland, who created a data collection tool that changed how prison abolitionists track systemic violence.
At a political moment when Liberatory Harm Reduction and mutual aid are more important than ever, this book serves as an inspiration and a catalyst for radical transformation of our world.
"Saving Our Own Lives is rooted in Shira Hassan’s extensive experience and commitment to harm reduction as a liberatory practice. This is a book grounded in deep love for those who are most marginalised in our society and respectfully documents their stories and emancipatory analyses. This open-hearted book is illuminating, informative and inspiring. It will have a forever place on my bookshelf."
Mariame Kaba, author of We Do This 'Til We Free Us
"This vital book is a spark, a balm, an agitation, a blessing, a celebration. Through narrative and research and conversation and reflection, Saving Our Own Lives tears down the myths perpetuated by the medical-industrial complex and prison-industrial complex, and shows us how communities have been building ways to survive and heal in spite of--and against--these systems. Shira Hassan’s book is at once expansive and personal, far-reaching and like coming home. I'm going to return to it again and again, and you will too."
Maya Schenwar, co-author of Prison by Any Other Name and editor-in-chief, Truthout