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What Abolition Means

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Kaepernick Publishing has been running a series this month titled “Abolition for the People,” inviting some of the nation’s leading scholars, activists, and organizers within the movement to abolish police and prison to share their thoughts on what that means and why it matters.

The whole series is worth reading.

I want to especially lift up Mariame Kaba’s series-closing piece, however, which was published today. Kaba is one of the most important and insightful abolitionist organizers and thinkers out there. Probably more so than anyone else, I have learned from her the vision and politics of abolition. As she writes here,

Prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition is a political vision, a structural analysis of oppression, and a practical organizing strategy. While some people might think of abolition as primarily a negative project — “Let’s tear everything down tomorrow and hope for the best” — PIC abolition is a vision of a restructured society in a world where we have everything we need: food, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, clean water, and more. Things that are foundational to our personal and community safety.

Every vision is also a map. As freedom fighter Kwame Ture taught us, “When you see people call themselves revolutionary always talking about destroying, destroying, destroying but never talking about building or creating, they’re not revolutionary. They do not understand the first thing about revolution. It’s creating.” PIC abolition is a positive project that focuses, in part, on building a society where it is possible to address harm without relying on structural forms of oppression or the violent systems that increase it.

Read the whole here.

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