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We Do This 'til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice

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"Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to." What if social tra "Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to." What if social transformation and liberation isn't about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle. With chapters on seeking justice beyond the punishment system, transforming how we deal with harm and accountability, and finding hope in collective struggle for abolition, Kaba's work is deeply rooted in the relentless belief that we can fundamentally change the world. As Kaba writes, "Nothing that we do that is worthwhile is done alone."


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"Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to." What if social tra "Organizing is both science and art. It is thinking through a vision, a strategy, and then figuring out who your targets are, always being concerned about power, always being concerned about how you're going to actually build power in order to be able to push your issues, in order to be able to get the target to actually move in the way that you want to." What if social transformation and liberation isn't about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle. With chapters on seeking justice beyond the punishment system, transforming how we deal with harm and accountability, and finding hope in collective struggle for abolition, Kaba's work is deeply rooted in the relentless belief that we can fundamentally change the world. As Kaba writes, "Nothing that we do that is worthwhile is done alone."

30 review for We Do This 'til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    rosa guac

    a book i'll come back to and re-read. quotes that i'm thinking about: - "abolition is not about your feelings. it is not about emotional satisfaction. it is about transforming the conditions in which we live work, and play" - "transformative justice is militantly against the dichotomies between victims and perpetrators, because the world is more complex than that: in a particular situation we're victimized, and in other situations we're the people that perpetrate harm. we have to be able to hold a a book i'll come back to and re-read. quotes that i'm thinking about: - "abolition is not about your feelings. it is not about emotional satisfaction. it is about transforming the conditions in which we live work, and play" - "transformative justice is militantly against the dichotomies between victims and perpetrators, because the world is more complex than that: in a particular situation we're victimized, and in other situations we're the people that perpetrate harm. we have to be able to hold all those things together" - "i think love is a requirement of principled struggle, both self-love and love of others, that we must all do what we can, that it is better to do something rather than nothing, that we have to trust others as well as ourselves. i often repeat the adage that 'hope is a discipline.' we must practice it daily"

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ai Miller

    Just incredible. I don't know if this is the best place to start for people looking to get into PIC abolitionism (I would say as a true intro text, Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete? for a truly basic starting place about why prisons are bad,) but this tackles so many different topics and is such a clear call about how to organize and what the values we need to stick to as prison abolitionists. The section about transformative justice in particular is incredible, as as the examples of experime Just incredible. I don't know if this is the best place to start for people looking to get into PIC abolitionism (I would say as a true intro text, Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete? for a truly basic starting place about why prisons are bad,) but this tackles so many different topics and is such a clear call about how to organize and what the values we need to stick to as prison abolitionists. The section about transformative justice in particular is incredible, as as the examples of experiments that people are engaging in as alternatives to carceral structures. I really just want to thrust this book at every person I know and demand they read it, and I can only hope they get half as much out of it as I have. Will be a reread very soon, and many times after that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Wren

    A few short passages from We Do This 'Til We Free Us: * So, maybe I just have a different perspective and I talk to a lot of young organizers - people reach out to me a lot because I’ve been organizing for a long time - I’m always telling them, “Your timeline is not the timeline on which movements occur. Your timeline is incidental. Your timeline is only for yourself to mark your growth and your living.” But that’s a fraction of the living that’s going to be done by the universe and that has alrea A few short passages from We Do This 'Til We Free Us: * So, maybe I just have a different perspective and I talk to a lot of young organizers - people reach out to me a lot because I’ve been organizing for a long time - I’m always telling them, “Your timeline is not the timeline on which movements occur. Your timeline is incidental. Your timeline is only for yourself to mark your growth and your living.” But that’s a fraction of the living that’s going to be done by the universe and that has already been done by the universe. So, when you understand that you’re really insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you just are, then it’s a freedom, in my opinion, to actually be able to do the work that’s necessary as you see it and to contribute in the ways that you can see fit. So, I think that’s my answer to that. And self-care is really tricky for me, because I don’t believe in the self in the way that people determine it here in this capitalist society that we live in. I don’t believe in self-care, I believe in collective care, collectivizing our care, and thinking more about how we can help each other. How can we collectivize the care of children so that more people can feel like they can actually have their kids but also live in the world and contribute and participate in various different kinds of ways? How do we do that? How do we collectivize care so that when we’re sick and we’re not feeling ourselves, we’ve got a crew of people that are not just our prayer warriors, but our action warriors who are thinking through with us? Like, I’m not just going to be able to cook this week, and you have a whole bunch of folks there, who are just putting a list together for you and bringing the food every day that week and you’re doing the same for your community, too. I want that as the focus of how I do things and that really comes from the fact that I grew up the daughter of returned migrants, African-returned migrants. I don’t see the world the way that people do here, I just don’t. I don’t agree with it, I think capitalism is actually continuously alienating us from each other, but also even from ourselves and I just don’t subscribe. And for me, it’s too much with, “Yeah I’m going to go do yoga and then, I’m going to go and do some sit-ups and maybe I’ll like, you know, go to…” You don’t have to go anywhere to care for yourself. You can just care for yourself and your community in tandem and that can actually be much more healthy for you, by the way. Because all this internalized, internal reflection is not good for people. You have to be able to have… Yes, think about yourself, reflect on your practice, okay, but then you need to test it in the world, you’ve got to be with people. So, that’s important. And I hate people! So, I say that as somebody who actually is really anti-social… I don’t want to socialize in that kind of way but I do want to be social with other folks as it relates to collectivizing care. * You can’t force somebody into being accountable for things they do. That is not possible. People have to take accountability for things that they actually do wrong. They have to decide that this is wrong. They have to say, “This is wrong and I want to be part of making some sort of amends or repairing this or not doing it again.” The question is: What in our culture allows people to do that? What are the structural things that exist? What in our culture encourages people who assault people and harm people to take responsibility? What I see is almost nothing. * Not only is it true that punishment doesn’t work, but also when you prioritize punishment it means that patriarchy remains firmly in place. And if I am at my core interested in dismantling systems of oppression, I have got to get rid of punishment. I have got to do it. But I want accountability. I want people to take responsibility. I want that internal resource that allows you to take responsibility for harms that you commit against yourself and other people. I want that to be a central part of how we interact with each other. Because while I don’t believe in punishment, I believe in consequences for actions that are done to harm other people. I do. I think boundaries are important. I think all these things are really important. But with punishment at the centre of everything we haven’t been able to really address the other stuff that needs to happen. Because people fucking need to – they need to take accountability when they harm people. * Oh my gosh. You’re asking me great hard questions. I keep threatening to write an essay called “Abolition Is Not About Your Fucking Feelings.” I wrote that in a tweet and got so much blowback because people felt like I was insulting their ability to feel what they want to feel. That’s really not what I’m saying. The concept of the personal being political as a basis for feminist organizing in the past is so true, and yet it is so fraught at the same time. What it’s not saying – and I think what sometimes people want it to be saying – is that how I personally feel then should be made into policy. And we can’t operate in a world where that’s true. We shouldn’t codify our personal feelings of vengeance to apply to the entire world. * Also, I really feel like over the years I’ve learned myself better. And that helps you to figure out what your actual boundaries are. And also, boundaries are usually a negotiation between what you want and what other people want. It’s not like a firm, set thing. You have to get really good at being able to negotiate. And the only way to do that is to know who you are. * I don’t think we’re grateful when horrible things happen to us. But we can be grateful for the lessons we learned. * It’s like, why? You’re going to burn out. It’s not humanly possible for you to just be your Lone Ranger self out there in the world. Ella Baker’s question “Who are your people?” when she would meet you is so important. Who are you accountable to in this world? Because that will tell me a lot about who you are. And how much hubris must we have to think that we, as individuals, will have all the answers for generations’ worth of harm built by millions and millions of people? It’s like I’m on a five-hundred-year clock right now. I’m right here knowing that we’ve got a hell of a long time before we’re going to see the end. Right now, all we’re doing as organizers is creating the conditions that will allow our collective vision to take hold and grow.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I have been following Mariame Kaba on Twitter since shortly after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, although I only knew here as @ prisonculture until a year or so ago. I had read an article or two of hers before I knew the two identities were the same person, but that was about it. Ferguson helped me understand the problem with policing in America, but it took the following 6 years of tragic deaths to arrive at the conclusion that policing in all its forms, as well as prisons in all their f I have been following Mariame Kaba on Twitter since shortly after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, although I only knew here as @ prisonculture until a year or so ago. I had read an article or two of hers before I knew the two identities were the same person, but that was about it. Ferguson helped me understand the problem with policing in America, but it took the following 6 years of tragic deaths to arrive at the conclusion that policing in all its forms, as well as prisons in all their forms, needed to go entirely. I spent the last year not knowing what that post-abolition world would look like, and while I knew there were a lot of activists and organizers who had been working towards abolition for at least the last 20 years, I didn’t know where to turn beyond the obvious to help me understand what that work was. I read Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete? and purchased Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Golden Gulag, but I needed more. That’s when I saw We Do This ‘Til We Free Us was forthcoming and immediately put in a preorder through the Haymarket store. I decided to make myself a Mariame Kaba crash course out of the experience of reading the book, so I downloaded all the interviews with her I could find on the podcasts listed on iTunes and loaded up my iPod (yes, I still use an iPod). For the last two weeks I have been reading We Do This ‘Til We Free Us and listening to Kaba’s various interviews, and it has been a paradigm-shifting experience. I would recommend this course of action to anyone following a similar path. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us is a collection of Kaba’s writings since 2014. It is a well-curated and well-edited collection, with the essays grouped together to give the book and ideas within it a natural movement from identifying the problem, laying out the guiding principles, discussing the various challenges, and depicting what proper and misguided actions look like. There’s a real benefit to collecting these essays, interviews, and transcribed presentations because they cover the same ground and same ideas with different examples and different approaches, the cumulative effect being that even the thickest of us will be able to internalize the thinking and arguments that are the foundation of Kaba’s work. I don’t normally write in a book unless I have good reason to. For this book, I plan on it being a continued resource, a guiding star for the road ahead, so I had a pencil with me whenever I read, and my copy is full of underlines and marginalia. The more I actively engage with a work of this kind, the more I can be certain I’ll get out of it. Kaba’s writing is neither florid nor writerly. I very seldom found myself falling in love with a passage because of the language, as I did with Angela Davis’s book. But where Kaba lack’s poetry in her prose, she has clarity and conviction. No single article sets out to define the pillars of her thinking, and at no point does Kaba seek to codify her thoughts or approach in some unified manifesto. Instead, these articles are about specific experiences and moments, in which themes recur and thoughts resurface. Reading the articles is like swimming in someone’s thoughts rather than reading a treatise, which seems like the right approach for the way Kaba lives her activism and organizing. Kaba thinking is fluid and agile, and I found myself admiring her approach as a teacher with vast amounts of experience and knowledge but as someone who is still very much within the movement, not someone teaching from outside of it. And this book doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: how Mariame Kaba sees the world in all her lived experience and studied knowledge. She doesn’t claim to speak for anyone other than herself, and one of her recurring themes is about how important it is to have multiple viewpoints, approaches, and experiments from people in the struggle. I recommend this book to any and everyone looking to wrap their heads around prison industrial complex abolition, what that means, and what it looks like in dreams and in action. I have already pre-ordered the next two books in the series from Haymarket and am looking forward to the road ahead.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Froio

    I want to start this review by saying that this is an incredibly powerful and politically useful book. Kaba's work is invaluable and she is setting the ground for a better world and that is certainly undeniable. Her pieces about her own organizing work, highlighting the criminalization of survivors and giving instructions on how to organize around PIC abolition are incredibly insightful and will certainly be instructive for abolitionists like me who are trying to get a better grasp at how to hel I want to start this review by saying that this is an incredibly powerful and politically useful book. Kaba's work is invaluable and she is setting the ground for a better world and that is certainly undeniable. Her pieces about her own organizing work, highlighting the criminalization of survivors and giving instructions on how to organize around PIC abolition are incredibly insightful and will certainly be instructive for abolitionists like me who are trying to get a better grasp at how to help reach the abolition of the police and prisons. I have a background in gendered violence which definitely informs what I am about to say about a couple of the essays I didn't like. I think there's a lot of liberal flattening of power dynamics in the analysis of interpersonal violence when Kaba discusses the Larry Nassar case, and it honestly sometimes reaches the point of it being slightly too dogmatic. I agree and often argue the same things that Kaba does with regard to gendered violence-incarcerating one abuser doesn't fix the problem, the current system doesn't allow us to treat the roots of the problem, all that stuff-but I am against advocating for the freedom of abusers in the current system that already widely condones violence against girls and women. I understand that Kaba's position is political and I have an understanding of the argument-but I struggle to square this with the reality that Nassar was a prolific abuser and there is literally nothing in place to stop him if he were to be freed. There are ways to bring together the fight for recognition of sexual harm (which wasn't recognized and still widely isn't) and the idea of abolition but I am uncertain that advocating for individual abusers is the way to go here. I say this as someone who thinks abolishing prisons and finding ways to deal with sexual harm is urgent-but I am still reckoning with the widely accepted idea that abusers still receive more empathy than victims. Abolition has to come with an erosion of class status and to /simply/ advocate for the freedom of individual abusers /in the current class system/ is, to me, incomplete and putting dogma above survivors. I think a lot of Kaba's responses to sexual crimes are responses to bad faith arguments about sexual violence that are thrown at many abolitionists and I totally recognize this. However I think it's dangerous to let those reactions set the terms for the conversations we are having about how abuse happens. For example, I really need to challenge the mantra of "hurt people hurt people" (again used in the Nassar piece) because this isn't the only reason, in our current society structured by power, that people hurt each other. I find this too simplistic an explanation that lacks a reckoning with how abuse can be pleasurable for those doing it (especially for those in power!)-hurt may well be a PART of the problem but it certainly isn't all of it and it just feels like a sanitation of the issues which are incredibly complex and difficult. As I said, it was only a few part of this book that I had some problems with. I really liked most of it, but I needed to write my thoughts down somewhere. I recommend it to people coming into abolition and looking to grapple with some of the issues around it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Luca Suede

    "Abolition is not about your fucking feelings" I want to preface this gushing review with the fact that Mariame sent 30 copies of this book to RVA bail fund so some of our folks locked up could have copies inside! She's the real deal and has been for some time. CWs for this book: Childhood sexual violence, anti-blackness, lynching, police brutality/murder, slavery, genocide, rape, sexual assault, etc. The content is heavy, no question. I have a short list of books I think of as the "abolitionists "Abolition is not about your fucking feelings" I want to preface this gushing review with the fact that Mariame sent 30 copies of this book to RVA bail fund so some of our folks locked up could have copies inside! She's the real deal and has been for some time. CWs for this book: Childhood sexual violence, anti-blackness, lynching, police brutality/murder, slavery, genocide, rape, sexual assault, etc. The content is heavy, no question. I have a short list of books I think of as the "abolitionists must reads," and this one has shot right to the top. Mariame has profoundly answered many questions practicing abolitionists are afraid or unwilling to, a skill and commitment she has held for decades. She acknowledges many of the doubtful moments abolitionist organizers are afraid to admit we hold, from killer cops to childhood sexual abuse. I was struck by the fact that this book was written by an organizer and feels as though it was written for fellow organizers. It accomplishes that tricky task of being a movement work written for/by movement folks, while being something that someone new to carceral abolition could read, understand and be inspired by. This work is highly accessible, with most chapters being 3-7 pages. Because so many of these works have appeared in the press, it's easy to read a piece, google it, and send the link off to whomever you think needs to read it. Because of this access, I immediately ordered a copy and sent it to my dad, hoping it would help him turn a corner with the same conversations we've had many times over. Mariame rewrites those conversations, and reframes the punitive approach, without shame and guilt. This book was also lovely because I learned a lot about Mariame's upbringing from organizer parents. She has been a fairly private person, and explains her motivations and what inspired her to open up a bit more, become more visible, etc. The essays I was most moved by were in the "The State Can't Give Us Transformative Justice," specifically "The Sentencing of Larry Nassar Was Not "Transformative Justice," (58) and "We Want More Justice for Breonna Taylor than the System That Killed Her Can Deliver" (63). I'll leave it with this- "My friend scholar and activist Erica Meiners says that liberation under oppression is unthinkable by design. So an abolition politic insists that we imagine and organize beyond the constraints of the normal" (92).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ani

    Abolition envisions a world where we address harm without relying on the violent systems that increase it, a world where we have everything we needed: food, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, clean water, and more things that are foundational to our personal and community safety. Mariame Kaba is an educator, organizer, and abolitionist working to dismantle the prison industrial complex. We Do This 'Til We Are Free is a collection of her articles, talks, and interviews. I would recommend i Abolition envisions a world where we address harm without relying on the violent systems that increase it, a world where we have everything we needed: food, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, clean water, and more things that are foundational to our personal and community safety. Mariame Kaba is an educator, organizer, and abolitionist working to dismantle the prison industrial complex. We Do This 'Til We Are Free is a collection of her articles, talks, and interviews. I would recommend it as an abolitionism 101 guide along with Angela Davis' Are Prisons Obsolete? Kaba offers an abolitionist analysis intervening interpersonal violence along with state and structural violence. State violence - locking up people in jail and punishing them - instead of countering interpersonal violence enables and reinforces it because it is based on a superficial view of violence and a simplified good vs evil binary. Like in cases of gendered violence, locking up a few perpetrators in prison does nothing to stop the many other perpetrators, meet the needs of survivors, or change the culture that made the violence possible. Abolition requires addressing and dismantling the oppressive systems responsible for creating conditions for harm and abuse. I get that dismantling all the oppressive systems is going to take a looonng time, and it will probably not happen in our lifetime. Mariame Kaba talks about the need to understand that these movements are not happening only on our timeline. Our timelines are for us to mark our growth. And that allows us the freedom to do the necessary work and contribute in the ways we see fit on individual, community, and societal level. A younger me would have liked to see a model for a transformative justice system, but Kaba quotes Anglea Davis here, who says that there is no one alternative, there will be multiple alternatives. We don't know how they will look like right now because we haven't lived in a world free of all these oppressive systems. It's something we have to figure out by working to get there and building knowledge through struggle.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alannah Balfour

    I try not to idolize people I admire, because it makes them less human and their work difficult to inact in my own life. But this author makes that tough! It is a collection of essays and interviews that navigate all the conflicting questions I have as a baby abolitionist while staying true to the meaning of abolition in the 21st century. I'd probably recommend you have some knowledge with the prison-industrial complex first, be that through experience or reading a book like "The New Jim Crow." " I try not to idolize people I admire, because it makes them less human and their work difficult to inact in my own life. But this author makes that tough! It is a collection of essays and interviews that navigate all the conflicting questions I have as a baby abolitionist while staying true to the meaning of abolition in the 21st century. I'd probably recommend you have some knowledge with the prison-industrial complex first, be that through experience or reading a book like "The New Jim Crow." "A world without harm isn't possible and isn't what an abolitionist version purports to achieve. Rather, abolitionist vision purports to achieve. Rather, abolitionist politics and practice content that disposing of people by locking them away in jails and prisons does nothing significant to prevent, reduce, or transform harm in the aggregate. It rarely, if ever, encourages people to take accountability for their actions. Instead, our adversarial court system discourages people from ever acknowledging, let alone taking responsibility for, the harm they have caused. At the same time, it allows us to avoid our own responsibilities to hold each other accountable, instead delegating it to a third party-- one that has been built to hide away social and political failures. An abolitionist imagination takes us along a different path than if we try to simply replace the Prison Industrial Complex with similar structures."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leila

    I remembered most of these essays from when they were first published, almost all as effective interventions to respond to dominant paradigms and narratives at the time (e.g. about Marissa Alexander, Cyntoia Brown, Larry Nassar, Breonna Taylor). I appreciate Mariame’s clarity and grace that invites people into abolitionist politics. The points she makes and questions she raises around transformative justice and community accountability continue to be grounding for me, though I’m at a point where I remembered most of these essays from when they were first published, almost all as effective interventions to respond to dominant paradigms and narratives at the time (e.g. about Marissa Alexander, Cyntoia Brown, Larry Nassar, Breonna Taylor). I appreciate Mariame’s clarity and grace that invites people into abolitionist politics. The points she makes and questions she raises around transformative justice and community accountability continue to be grounding for me, though I’m at a point where I crave a lot more specificity about practical applications, challenges faced, lessons learned, and gaps that exist. What felt grounding was that Mariame emphasizes that no existing group is or strives to be “the model” but rather that different folks are doing what works well for their communities. In one conversation that was transcribed for this book, she says, “Part of the problem with policing, prisons, and surveillance is that it’s a one-size-fits-all model. Angela Davis says this perfectly—there is no one alternative. There are a million alternatives. And the issue is to figure out which alternative works for what situation... what works for this particular situation we’re in? What works for these people? How are we going to actually address that based on human needs?” I recommend this book for folks learning to embrace abolition and starting to rethink the ways the punishment mindset shows up in our everyday lives.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aava Farhadi

    An absolutely incredible incredible book that highlights abolitionism (what it is, what it looks like), organizing strategies & disputes common misconceptions; it also covers the extensive work of Mariame Kaba — this book is written for both experienced abolitionists and those who want an introduction, especially because the language is very accessible. As Kaba says, hope is a discipline, something we need to be exercising, constantly. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us allows us to practice this discip An absolutely incredible incredible book that highlights abolitionism (what it is, what it looks like), organizing strategies & disputes common misconceptions; it also covers the extensive work of Mariame Kaba — this book is written for both experienced abolitionists and those who want an introduction, especially because the language is very accessible. As Kaba says, hope is a discipline, something we need to be exercising, constantly. We Do This ‘Til We Free Us allows us to practice this discipline by introducing another world and inviting us to collectively reimagine another world: a world devoid of prisons, policing, the military, ICE. But, not to say that this book is entirely uplifting as that would be reductive — reading through the stories of Black & queer/trans people who Kaba has organized for is both devastating & infuriating. One of my favorite quotes: “Abolitionism is not a politics mediated by emotional responses. Or, as we initially wanted to title this piece, abolition is not about your fucking feelings.” We have all internalized pro-retributive messages, but it is, as Kaba says, important we do not codify our emotional responses. Abolitionism is about pragmatism, though it is often painted as a purely emotional response, and she makes this point clear throughout. Great read & I cannot recommend it enough.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Highly recommend for folks who believe in PIC abolition - or maybe you think that you do and want to read essays on it - or you believe in some aspects of it, but not all, which I think the essays explain is okay, but then you aren't a PIC abolitionist, which is OK. This was a short/quick read for me and highly inspiring as a queer Latinx person from Chicago. The essays were helpful for me when it's hard to hold these discusses lately with COVID restrictions and have helped me solidify my stance Highly recommend for folks who believe in PIC abolition - or maybe you think that you do and want to read essays on it - or you believe in some aspects of it, but not all, which I think the essays explain is okay, but then you aren't a PIC abolitionist, which is OK. This was a short/quick read for me and highly inspiring as a queer Latinx person from Chicago. The essays were helpful for me when it's hard to hold these discusses lately with COVID restrictions and have helped me solidify my stances - or at least understand how to explain myself clearer. Some of the essays were similar to one another, but it wasn't too big of an issue. My husband, who hasn't read this, got to hear me at night spewing off a lot of the things I found interesting in this book and highlighted for later. I work in the immigration field and up until the last couple years my focus has been on ICE detention and ending ICE contracts and immigration detention. I have learned how the PIC is so racist and unjust that it also feeds the ICE detention system - it's all a mess.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mohit Nair

    What a fantastic and accessible read! It's as if she predicted every question I would have along the way and proactively answered each one (goes to show the level of work and attention that's gone into this work over the past few decades). I'm so grateful Mariame Kaba finally decided to center herself in the work she's been leading for years. I found myself wrestling with a lot of questions, including this need for a transformative justice system that does not rely on a punitive, carceral state. What a fantastic and accessible read! It's as if she predicted every question I would have along the way and proactively answered each one (goes to show the level of work and attention that's gone into this work over the past few decades). I'm so grateful Mariame Kaba finally decided to center herself in the work she's been leading for years. I found myself wrestling with a lot of questions, including this need for a transformative justice system that does not rely on a punitive, carceral state. What I love about her work is how applicable it is to our current events including the lynchings, police violence, and even the anti-Asian hate. I'm thinking back to her words as we think about how to respond to these acts of terror: "old fashioned, non-high tech tools of surveillance are already destructive and devastating. Perhaps this is my plea that we train ourselves to see the mundane rather than to focus on the spectacular and on the excesses...Black and brown people know that the state and its gatekeepers exert their control over all aspects of our lives. This is not new."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maddi Hundley

    i've been wanting to read this since before it was published bc every other post on my twitter timeline has been about it. i thought it was a good book and liked that it wasn't one continuous 200 page text, but rather, it was a collection of essays about different examples, thoughts, experiences, etc. centering around the theme of abolition. the reason i am taking a star off is because i thought that it was such a high-level academic and wordy book that i didn't feel it would be very accessible f i've been wanting to read this since before it was published bc every other post on my twitter timeline has been about it. i thought it was a good book and liked that it wasn't one continuous 200 page text, but rather, it was a collection of essays about different examples, thoughts, experiences, etc. centering around the theme of abolition. the reason i am taking a star off is because i thought that it was such a high-level academic and wordy book that i didn't feel it would be very accessible for people who haven't had time to explore ideas of abolition or who don't read advanced texts often—i have read about a bit abolition before and read academic works often, and it was still hard to read (the text, not necessarily the content at its core). i'm not sure if that's a Valid Reason to remove a star, but i genuinely felt it hampered and impeded my reading experience and ability to comprehend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Brennan

    Took my time while reading this because I wanted to be sure I was absorbing and retaining the things I was learning. I will also probably be referencing this book for years to come. I have been hesitant to call myself a PIC abolitionist because I feel like I don’t know enough yet and I was getting caught in conversations not really knowing what to say to the “what comes next” questions people inevitably bring up. Found Kaba’s persistent mentality of “you don’t have to know all the answers in orde Took my time while reading this because I wanted to be sure I was absorbing and retaining the things I was learning. I will also probably be referencing this book for years to come. I have been hesitant to call myself a PIC abolitionist because I feel like I don’t know enough yet and I was getting caught in conversations not really knowing what to say to the “what comes next” questions people inevitably bring up. Found Kaba’s persistent mentality of “you don’t have to know all the answers in order to be able to press for a vision,” (167) very helpful. As well as the emphasis on community building, mutual aid, and creating a new reality together. Eager to continue to learn and find my role/place in helping create the groundwork that can lead to abolition of our harm creating/continuing structures and new ways to address harm, how we hold people accountable for harm, and how we help people heal from harm.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jay Evans

    This is a great collection of essays. It's easy to read and easy to put down and pick up later. There's a sense of development and sequence to the order in which they're presented. I think it's meant for folks who've been organizing around (or at least considering) these ideas for some time. It may not build an argument to convert someone who does not consider themselves already at least somewhat abolitionist but it helps anyone who is open and interested but perhaps daunted by the amount of unc This is a great collection of essays. It's easy to read and easy to put down and pick up later. There's a sense of development and sequence to the order in which they're presented. I think it's meant for folks who've been organizing around (or at least considering) these ideas for some time. It may not build an argument to convert someone who does not consider themselves already at least somewhat abolitionist but it helps anyone who is open and interested but perhaps daunted by the amount of uncertainty they feel about slow, incremental progress or how we maintain our ideals in a truly imperfect and downright unjust system. I love the casual but thoughtful way in which Kabe articulates her thoughts. It's extremely human and accessible from that perspective. So glad I picked it up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Austin

    I almost never write reviews, but this compilation of Mariame Kaba’s articles and interviews is an incredible collection and necessary for the time that we find ourselves in now in the US. MK’s approach and writing is simultaneously profound and accessible. Though there’s nothing explicitly “new” for followers of her work, the collection and arrangement here is a helpful framework for all who are interested in beginning and/or deepening their abolitionist praxis. I know I’ve benefitted already fr I almost never write reviews, but this compilation of Mariame Kaba’s articles and interviews is an incredible collection and necessary for the time that we find ourselves in now in the US. MK’s approach and writing is simultaneously profound and accessible. Though there’s nothing explicitly “new” for followers of her work, the collection and arrangement here is a helpful framework for all who are interested in beginning and/or deepening their abolitionist praxis. I know I’ve benefitted already from a first read of pieces That were new to me, and a second or third read of others. I can’t recommend this enough, and my only hope is that there will be more to come from such a brilliant and inspiring person.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Houlihan

    Every word: "The system will occasionally offer such kernels, but they don’t add up to justice." "No reform is being forced upon the pharmaceutical industry in the wake of Shkreli’s harms." "Cages confine people, not the conditions that facilitated their harms or the mentalities that perpetuate violence." "Hope Is a Discipline." "No one enters violence for the first time by committing it.” No one enters violence for the first time by committing it." "Transformative justice is about trying to figure Every word: "The system will occasionally offer such kernels, but they don’t add up to justice." "No reform is being forced upon the pharmaceutical industry in the wake of Shkreli’s harms." "Cages confine people, not the conditions that facilitated their harms or the mentalities that perpetuate violence." "Hope Is a Discipline." "No one enters violence for the first time by committing it.” No one enters violence for the first time by committing it." "Transformative justice is about trying to figure out how we respond to violence and harm in a way that doesn’t cause more violence and harm." Consequences are difference than punishment.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Mariame has a unique skill of explaining complex, deep-rooted, and widespread issues in ways that are accessible and easy to understand. In this context, in one sense this book is an easy read: short chapters (mostly collected articles and interview excerpts) divided into 7 sections, without constantly needing to use a dictionary. At the same time, there are many concepts and questions that prompt a lot of reflection and discussion. Mariame’s voice has been very influential in my political forma Mariame has a unique skill of explaining complex, deep-rooted, and widespread issues in ways that are accessible and easy to understand. In this context, in one sense this book is an easy read: short chapters (mostly collected articles and interview excerpts) divided into 7 sections, without constantly needing to use a dictionary. At the same time, there are many concepts and questions that prompt a lot of reflection and discussion. Mariame’s voice has been very influential in my political formation, so it’s no surprise that I found the whole book incredibly important and prescient.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    Regardless of your familiarity with abolition, this book is so good!! Lots of super thought-provoking nuggets and really useful frameworks. Abolition really isn’t just about prisons and police it’s about allllll the intersecting systems that perpetuate violence and harm! We’ve gotta jailbreak our imaginations and envision and build a better fckin world! Loved to read about a lot of local Chicago organizing, too. And it was also so helpful to hear how much hope Kaba has for the world— hope is a d Regardless of your familiarity with abolition, this book is so good!! Lots of super thought-provoking nuggets and really useful frameworks. Abolition really isn’t just about prisons and police it’s about allllll the intersecting systems that perpetuate violence and harm! We’ve gotta jailbreak our imaginations and envision and build a better fckin world! Loved to read about a lot of local Chicago organizing, too. And it was also so helpful to hear how much hope Kaba has for the world— hope is a discipline!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nora

    This book is an important must read. A lot of these writings are from Mariame Kaba’s blog, and there are still so many gems. MK ties history to current events in a way that shows you not only that abolition is a worthy life long pursuit, but that shows history’s yearning to bend towards justice. It’s an easy read, formulated for those new to abolition as well as those who have been organizing for abolition for some time. MK offers hope for a future without cages, while reminding us all what to l This book is an important must read. A lot of these writings are from Mariame Kaba’s blog, and there are still so many gems. MK ties history to current events in a way that shows you not only that abolition is a worthy life long pursuit, but that shows history’s yearning to bend towards justice. It’s an easy read, formulated for those new to abolition as well as those who have been organizing for abolition for some time. MK offers hope for a future without cages, while reminding us all what to look forward to.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    This book has opened my eyes to a world that is literally right in front of me. I live in a very white and privileged bubble. This book broke that bubble. I moved through this world not thinking about how much many power US institutions do to people. Well, i never noticed it because i am not the target and knowing this now helps me in stopping them from continuing to do harm. Want to know how to stop them too? Read this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Truly, an essential text for anyone who is even curious about defunding, disbanding, and abolishing the prison industrial complex. The wealth of knowledge that Kaba brings to this organizing, and the ability she has to incisively critique and connect dots is invaluable. This one will stay on my mind, and I will revisit it often. "Everything worthwhile is done with other people." My belief in collectivism as the only way forward is more firmly cemented than ever. Truly, an essential text for anyone who is even curious about defunding, disbanding, and abolishing the prison industrial complex. The wealth of knowledge that Kaba brings to this organizing, and the ability she has to incisively critique and connect dots is invaluable. This one will stay on my mind, and I will revisit it often. "Everything worthwhile is done with other people." My belief in collectivism as the only way forward is more firmly cemented than ever.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen Kohoutek

    Wow, this is an incredible book, and I just think everybody should read it. It's a collection of Kaba's essays, and interviews, and it's phenomenal, really getting right to the heart of what abolition is, and what needs to be done. The overriding air of hope, despite everything, and as "a discipline," is also much-needed. 100% recommendation. Go read it! Wow, this is an incredible book, and I just think everybody should read it. It's a collection of Kaba's essays, and interviews, and it's phenomenal, really getting right to the heart of what abolition is, and what needs to be done. The overriding air of hope, despite everything, and as "a discipline," is also much-needed. 100% recommendation. Go read it!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Absolute must-read if you're interested in or curious about abolition of the prison-industrial complex. This book is easy to digest and made me think more deeply about how the PIC invades our minds and our actions every day. There are alternatives to the PIC and this book will help expand your political imagination to see the possibility of a more just future. Absolute must-read if you're interested in or curious about abolition of the prison-industrial complex. This book is easy to digest and made me think more deeply about how the PIC invades our minds and our actions every day. There are alternatives to the PIC and this book will help expand your political imagination to see the possibility of a more just future.

  25. 4 out of 5

    allison mills

    This is a read for people who land anywhere on the scale from current criminal justice system supporters to full-on abolition supporters. There is something to be gained for everyone. This book offers insight on a vast array of topics and perspectives that are critical to understanding abolition, transformative justice, restorative justice, and all of the gray areas in between.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily Zhu

    i always appreciate the clarity and accessibility of kaba's vision and her analysis of the interplay btwn state & interpersonal violence. the entire "Part VI: Accountability Is Not Punishment" (esp the chapter on #MeToo), "Hope is a Discipline," and "Everything Worthwhile is Done with Other People" rly stuck out to me this time. i always appreciate the clarity and accessibility of kaba's vision and her analysis of the interplay btwn state & interpersonal violence. the entire "Part VI: Accountability Is Not Punishment" (esp the chapter on #MeToo), "Hope is a Discipline," and "Everything Worthwhile is Done with Other People" rly stuck out to me this time.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Singleton III

    Gets better near the end. Kaba's analysis of punishment is brilliant! i would have liked this book more if more case studies had been included. It would have been great to read more about alternatives to policing and incarceration that are successfully reducing harm. Hopefully their next book will have a lot more of those stories. Gets better near the end. Kaba's analysis of punishment is brilliant! i would have liked this book more if more case studies had been included. It would have been great to read more about alternatives to policing and incarceration that are successfully reducing harm. Hopefully their next book will have a lot more of those stories.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Taylor

    Been waiting on this book! Even though I read several of the articles/interviews before, they still felt like a new perspective when put in the organization of a book. Several essays touch on some of the more provocative concepts of prison industrial complex abolition, but the book still seems like a suitable introduction to PIC abolition.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Owen Cantrell

    “I think that love is a requirement of principled struggle, both self-love and love of others, that we must all do what we can, that it is better to do something rather than nothing, that we have to trust others as well as ourselves. I often repeat the adage ‘hope is a discipline.’ We must practice it daily.” Read this book in the spirit of love in which it’s intended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Avery

    SO many takeaways about this book — I think it will be one I come back to over and over. I was really drawn in by the framing of abolition as first, a philosophy rooted in hope, and second, as a practice rather than a goal. I also haven’t been able to stop thinking about the point that prison itself was created as a reform to capital punishment — with that, how can we keep relying on reforms?

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