radfam is a discussion group in minneapolis where you don’t have to justify your definition of family. the nuclear, biological family is not the norm here. instead, we are interested in promoting individual autonomy in defining what family means. we discuss issues that are at the intersection of families and social justice. we are committed to supporting reproductive justice, queer politics and radical family planning, recognizing that these are concepts to be talked about and negotiated in community. we we are interested in including, not excluding you so if there is something in this blog that raises a question for you or if you'd like to make
Send a question to radfam.
Submit something for us to post.
a suggestion, feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
some people use the term “queer” as a verb, meaning, to make something more tricky, critical, and dangerous to the norms and assumptions of a hierarchical society.
here are some of the ideas for radical change that have generated interest: leaving facebook, shifting the focus to storytelling, sharing phone numbers and agreeing to receive texts when someone needs support, joining up with other efforts or radical care groups, and going on hiatus for a while to see in what new form radfam might arise.
please use this page to say how you feel about these options, or to suggest totally different ones. please stay in a creative spirit and don’t shoot down other people’s ideas.
the description for the group is below, in case that is helpful in some way.
radfam is a discussion group in minneapolis where you don’t have to justify your definition of family. the nuclear, biological family is not the norm here. instead, we are interested in promoting individual autonomy in defining what family means. we discuss issues that are at the intersection of families and social justice. we are committed to supporting reproductive justice, queer politics and radical family planning, recognizing that these are concepts to be talked about and negotiated in community. we we are interested in including, not excluding you so if there is something that raises a question for you or if you’d like to make
a suggestion, feel free to reach us at email@example.com.
i sent this to my mom, and she replied with her version…
the fad of looking up your ancestors seems like the most innocent thing in the world. someone wants to know more about their family, so they look up some historical records and find out some new information. but there are some problematic patterns in how a lot of us white folks are doing genealogy right now, and i’m interested in thinking about alternatives.
my biological grandfather on my mother’s side (i have many other grandfathers) got into genealogy ten years ago. he gave us a lot of information about his dad’s dad’s dad, and many other men going back hundreds of years. nothing about women, and nothing about my grandmother’s side. she had died years earlier, and he had married someone new. there was nothing about the native americans who were mentioned now and then, or the african american slave who my mom said was mentioned in a very disturbingly brief and casual way. did my ancestors own slaves? i have no idea. but whether they did or not, slavery contributed directly to my opportunities as a white person, to the job i have now, and the spare time my comfortably retired grandfather uses to do genealogy research.
i am aware that white folks sometimes say we are related to native people and use that story to benefit us. i’m aware that i don’t know very much about who my biological ancestors were, and that my grandfather made choices to avoid difficult conversations.
but i think some genealogy can be really awesome. for people who have been historically oppressed it is a huge deal to reclaim the history that was stolen from them. i saw an amazing documentary years ago (forgot the name, wish i remembered it) made by a lesbian daughter about her dad and other queer ancestors. she had to do so much research to uncover their queerness.
i’m thinking now about my great aunt j., whose partner was a woman. i met her a few times when i was little and i remember she was a fashionista and she had a great smile.
and what about the hidden ancestors? the ones who were incarcerated and stigmatized, mentioned quickly or not at all?
b., my grandpa’s sister, was a strong, rebellious woman who was stigmatized and cut out of the family because she “slept around.” i stand with her in her rebellion and claim her as my ancestor, maybe closer to me than my grandfather, even though i never met her.
my dad’s dad fled the pogroms in balin, ukraine in 1913. he was four years old. i emailed my dad today about our cousin s., who was incarcerated since he was a teenager. our other cousin a. used to visit him once a year.
my genealogy would be about the difficult conversations, but also the reclamation and queering of family. the concepts of heritage and blood have done so much damage. it’s like genealogy is a tool for congratulating ourselves and erasing the atrocities.
to the radical genealogists out there: i’d love to join together in an anti-genealogy that shows how i am connected to you and holds our feet to the fire in the right way. the information we find will be resources for being the big queerfamilies we want to be.
and then my mom wrote:
today i was on the bus and the driver said we needed to stop to wait for the police. a police car showed up, and two officers came into the bus, grabbed a woman and forced her off the bus. her kid screamed. then another police officer took her kid away. they said the woman had mentioned a gun or insinuated she might have a gun. i didn’t hear what was said.
i followed them and got the badge number of one of the police officers. the other passengers didn’t understand why i had a problem with it. they said he was doing his job. the police officer had tears in his eyes when i talked to him.
i’m thinking about civility. you know those people who love civility? they always talk about how great it is, and if everyone were civil the world would be a better place. the doctrine of civility says that woman was the threat, and the police were responding to remove the threat, they were helping us. when i was talking to people on the bus after this incident i was not being civil. i am not civil. like that woman, i will speak up to protect my family or someone else’s family against state violence.
looking back, i think i would have asked if she wanted me to come with her in the police car that took her away. i would have understood if she had said no, or said nothing, because she was in the middle of trying to get her kid back from them.
i hope over time i learn more ways to resist what’s wrong.