Abolition in Austin Panel

Laurel Mei-Singh, Chris Harris, and Paula Rojas will join the Student Collective for Abolitionist Learning (SCAL), a graduate student organization at UT Austin, for a panel discussion on their abolition-related work in the Austin community and beyond. Read more about each panelist below.

Laurel Mei-Singh

Laurel Mei-Singh serves as an Assistant Professor of Geography and Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include environmental justice, militarization, the relationship of race and indigeneity to histories of war, fences and self-determination, carceral geographies and abolition, racial capitalism, and the Pacific. Her current book project develops a genealogy of military fences and grassroots struggles for land and livelihood in Wai‘anae, a rural and heavily militarized region of the island of O’ahu in Hawai’i. She has published articles on this topic in American Quarterly, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Pacific Health Dialog.

A devoted public scholar, she has participated in community organizing efforts in New York City and Hawai‘i. She has worked closely with Hawai’i Peace and Justice, the Wai’anae Environmental Justice Working Group, and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities based in New York City.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris is a native Texan, proud husband and son, and passionate advocate working to upend our unjust status quo by dismantling systems of surveillance, punishment and exclusion and building systems of support, accountability and restoration. He currently serves as the Policy Director for the Austin Justice Coalition, as a Board member for the MOVE Texas Action fund, as Board President of Equity Action, and as a volunteer for numerous organizations and causes in Austin. Chris has contributed to winning campaigns aimed at limiting: racial disparities in the criminal legal system, police violence, criminalization of poverty, ICE detentions, pre-trial incarceration, subpar indigent defense and investment in police and prisons.

Chris was born in Sulphur Springs, Texas and raised in the Metroplex. He’s an alumni of Austin College where he studied political science and international relations. He enjoys consuming news and tacos in unhealthy quantities, and dropping dimes and feathery jump hooks on the basketball court.

Paula Rojas

Chilean-born community organizer, licensed midwife and social justice trainer Paula X. Rojas grew up in Houston, and spent formative years as a youth back in Chile learning from grassroots revolutionary movements taking down the military dictatorship.

Starting as a youth organizer, she has worked for the last 30 years at the intersection of gender, race and class to build collective people power in her local community. From Sista II Sista in Brooklyn to Mamas of Color Rising and CCU in Austin, she has experimented with different forms of grassroots organizations and abolitionist projects.

Paula continues to be active with INCITE! and contributed to the INCITE! collections: The Color of Violence and The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. Locally she served as co-chair of the Reimagining Public Safety Taskforce for the City of Austin, a process that culminated after years of volunteer organizing to divest public funds from policing and invest in a holistic local People’s Budget with CCU. She is the mother of two amazing kids, Xue-li and Camino, and loves to dance!

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