I joined a reading group on abolition last week. There’s a great introductory study guide online with podcasts, videos, and text to engage with. This post will be my initial reflections, which will hopefully provide a rationale for my blogging.
Part of the reason for me to blog is to amplify more diverse voices. This guide is created and curated by BIPOC. I acknowledge the inherent tension of my writing with the desire to amplify BIPOC voices. I don’t want my blog to become a spotlight on my only. I want to lift diverse voices, and I find this study guide is a great way to do just that. I also want to keep them short.
I want to reflect on some of the takeaways from our first week’s reading (introduction). [Side note: the preface and introduction are some of the most critical content, whether that’s a book, guide, or article.]
The intro is packed with links for further reading since the guide’s authors must assume some basic knowledge. The introduction includes a two-part podcast with Ruth Wilson Gilmore on Intercepted. The podcast is a great way to get introduced to Abolition with contemporary parallels. Ruth Wilson Gilmore remembers her father as an antiracist organizer who “ was somebody who saw, long before Black Lives Matter, that when Black people’s lives matter, everybody’s lives get better.” Ruth Wilson Gilmore has simplified this into “where life is precious, life is precious.” This is so simple, yet it flies in the face of many North American individualistic ideals and practices. This intro clarifies the difference between harm and crime and how the prison industrial complex not only doesn’t decrease harm, but it perpetuates violence and harm—it’s reactionary to violence with more violence to reduce crime.
There’s a lot in the weeds here: property and people, harm and crime, reform and abolition.
I hope this doesn’t come across as merely a selfish desire to process the ideas “out loud” but instead raises awareness of antiracist practices, including abolition, and empowers us all to learn.