(Courtesy of Junauda Petrus, @junauda on Instagram)
As part of the launch of Junauda Petrus’ newly released children's book “Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers,'' Petrus is celebrating women elders with “Grandma’s House Party” at Public Functionary on May 6.
Petrus released her new book early last month. It imagines a reality where our collective care is held by the wisdom, sweetness, love, and authority of Black femme elders.
Petrus says she’s witnessed older women de-escalate situations without harm. She says that’s not the case with the police.
“The police state was created in the legacy of slave patrols and indigenous removal and genocide. The police state is necessary to protect wealth and protect whiteness. The system itself shows that there's always going to be people who will use Black bodies as a justifiable collateral and upholding of this police state.”
Petrus remembers when 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The police officer who shot Brown later described him like a demon, and the Hulk.
“And that's why he was so afraid and shot this child down dead. And I thought of all of the elder Black women who I've interacted with in community who know how to command love and accountability, without violence or oppression.”
Petrus says her experience of community restoration upheld by the Black elder women inspired first a poem, and then later the children’s book.
“Elder women who have matured into themselves have often filled the gaps in society. These are the people whose houses folks end up going to. These are the people who lend money, who make food, who show up and watch the babies. And a lot of that is the ways that our society doesn't center Black people and Black families.”
Petrus says “Grandma’s House Party” is a continuation of bringing her book’s vision to life. The event will feature things she associates with her elders like banana cake, old school music, and flashy attire. The celebration takes place at Public Functionary in Minneapolis on Saturday, May 6 at 7 p.m.