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At the 2015 Allied Media Conference opening ceremony, Patrisse Cullors asked “what would technology for black lives be,” while wearing a shirt designed by Foremost and Damon Turner with the words BULLETPROOF #BlackLivesMatter emblazoned across her chest in gold. Inspired by this idea, micha cárdenas, Patrisse Cullors, Edxie Betts and Chris Head are collaborating to develop UNSTOPPABLE, a set of materials and processes for producing DIY bulletproof clothing at low to no cost. UNSTOPPABLE is art as intervention. The artists have developed a set of instructions for making these garments for wide dissemination.

These clothes and prototypes will be the basis for a series of workshops, round tables and conversations about direct action approaches to ending the murder of black people, in particular black trans women, at universities and community centers around the US, and wherever there is interest in hosting these conversations. The project name comes from the words of Sylvia Rivera, a trans latina leader of the movement for liberation for transgender people, who said “a lot of heads were bashed [at Stonewall]. But it didn’t hurt their true feelings — they all came back for more and more. Nothing — that’s when you could tell that nothing could stop us at that time or any time in the future.” The idea also refers to the idea of that firearms’ capacity to cause harm is called stopping power. We are unstoppable.

Science fiction stories in films and games such as Hunger Games and The Last of Us, depict a future in which the police kill people en masse with immunity. These stories are our reality now. The police are killing black people with impunity. While a larger movement to change ideas and laws is of the utmost importance, UNSTOPPABLE is an intervention now to stop the bullets from killing black people. UNSTOPPABLE also responds to the apocalyptic state of the environment by recycling materials discarded by the auto industry, an abundant source of waste that can be reused to save lives.

Governments today kill both through direct acts of state violence, such as police killing black people, and through neglect, choosing not to prosecute the murders of trans women, or looking the other way when civilians and paramilitaries arm themselves and commit murder. In this state of necropolitics, where the government facilitates death for communities it deems unwanted, we must act to physically protect ourselves now, as we do not even know where the next bullet might come from.

Materials research support from Ryan Li Dhalstrom. Modeling by Edxie coming soon.

Dr. micha cárdenas

Dr. micha cárdenas is an artist/theorist who creates and studies trans of color movement in digital media, where movement includes migration, performance and mobility. She is Assistant Professor of Interactive Media Design at University of Washington | Bothell. cárdenas received her Ph.D. in Media Arts + Practice (iMAP) from the University of Southern California and is a member of the artist collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0. Her solo and collaborative work has been seen in museums, galleries, biennials, keynotes, community and public spaces around the world.

cárdenas’ co-authored books The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities and Trans Desire / Affective Cyborgs were published by Atropos Press. Her poetry has appeared in the anthologies Troubling the Line, The &Now Awards 3, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and the forthcoming Writing the Walls Down. She has published book chapters in Plants, Androids and Operators – A Post-Media Handbook, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, Queer Geographies: Beirut, Tijuana, Copenhagen, The Critical Digital Studies Reader and the Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader. Her articles have been published in CTheory, the Media-N Journal, the Ada Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and the AI & Society Journal, as well as the magazines No More Potlucks, Mute Magazine and Make/Shift Magazine.

Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors is an artist, organizer and freedom fighter. As founder of Dignity and Power Now and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and the director of Truth and Reinvestment for The Ella Baker Center for Human Right, she has worked tirelessly promoting law enforcement accountability across the nation. She led a think tank on state and vigilante violence for the 2014 Without Borders Conference and produced and directed a theatrical piece titled POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied. Ms. Cullors is a Fulbright Scholarship recipient, was named 2007 Mario Savio Activist of the Year, and received the Sidney Goldfarb award. Cullors’ vision has earned her numerous accomplishments and honors in the past year.  LA Times named her a ‘new civil rights leader” for the 21st century; Diddy’s channel Revolt.tv named her one of the “New Leaders Of Social Justice”; she was featured in the rector’s forum at all saints church, delivered the 17th Annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture at Hampshire College, has been featured in Essence and Ebony magazines, and recently received the Louis E. Burnham Award. Earlier this year, Patrisse traveled to the United Kingdom to share with Parliament the role the #BlackLivesMatter movement can play in the UK.

Edxie Betts

Edxie Betts is a black, filipin@, black footed, trans femme, gender non conforming, queer anti-authoritarian art healer whose aims are to uplift those within the margins of margins. They aim to combat all oppressions and systems of domination through their cultural political work while critically engaging in movements with an end goal of liberation.

Chris Head

Christopher Head is an artist and software developer based in San Diego, California. His interests and work include leftist politics, firearms, code, queer expression, and social justice. He can be found on the web at chead.net.

Josefina Garcia-Turner

Josefina Garcia-Turner hails from the Central Valley of California and is currently a graduate student at the University of Washington Bothell’s Culture Studies program. Her research focuses on radical trans and gender non-conforming resistance to prisons and structural violence. Her current project is a hypertext based speculative fiction that imagines Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera’s Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) as a prison break and heist group.

Kate Sohng

Kate Sohng is an undergraduate student of Interactive Media Design in University of Washington. She is most interested in learning web programming and code for Processing as great tools that effectively deliver messages of social justice. She keeps studying how to interact with people with the code and design to evoke others’ emotions that may lead people’s considerations toward social justice issues.

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