COLLECTIVE COMMUNITY CARE
In many discussions that I’ve had around abolition, I have realized that there needs to be more political education around what “abolish the police” means. Everyone, including myself, is on a lifelong journey of learning, and no one has all the answers. However, some people (mainly Black women) have been theorizing and practicing abolition for decades, and these are the voices that need to be amplified right now. I have personally learned from Black anti-carceral feminists, most influentially Mariame Kaba, the organization Survived and Punished, and the collective Just Practice.
Abolishing the police is not only a call for defunding/giving no money to the police, but to expand our imaginations and think about what safety and accountability means to us. If the goal is to co-build a world based on care and justice, free from both from the violence of the state and from systems of oppression, then it has to tear down all carceral regimes. As Angela Davis says in Are Prisons Obsolete?, we need to remove the prison from our social, political and economic landscape of our society, which includes removing white supremacy, cisheterosexism, ableism, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism and other oppressive systems from our heads and hearts and societies, because the majority of systems of oppression are interlocking, as the Combahee River Collective stated. Ruthie Wilson Gilmore talks about how abolition needs to be red (socialist), green (environmentally just), and international.
Abolition is a political project that rests on constructing a society on care instead of violence. At the core of abolition is a set of principles around valuing and caring for all other beings, and Earth. It must be practiced every day. It is about growing, striving for being our best selves in how we treat each other, about community care, in the micro of interpersonal relationships and the macro of tearing down all oppressive systems, and at the same time building up ones based on care for each other. Abolition is a framework that centers people who are most oppressed, especially Black trans women. We, as a community, have to do the work to keep us safe. This means having international solidarity with people in countries who have been violated by imperialism and capitalism. Abolition does not look like an American suburb (although suburbs are one model for living with less policing) because that does not take into account the systems of oppression still at work in suburbs, and as Tamara K. Nopper says, white affluent havens are not models of accountability.
There are other models of justice that have already been dreamed than the punitive one that the state relies on. I am in the baby stages of learning and practicing them. Among them include restorative justice, which looks at restoring relationships and community after harm has happened; transformative justice, which says that it is important to look at why violence is occuring in order to prevent harm from happening again, which the state (through the prison industrial complex) does not do. They put a bandaid fix on the issue of harm by taking someone out of their community, disappearing them and punishing them. Disability justice brings to the table ten principles: intersectionality, leadership of the most impacted, anti-capitalism, cross movement organizing, wholeness, sustainability, interdependence, cross-disability solidarity, and collective access and liberation. Healing Justice identifies how we can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence, and to bring collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds.
We need to not only abolish the police and prisons and the military industrial complex but abolish the thinking that makes the police possible. It needs to be a global struggle, since we live in a global world. We need to, as James Baldwin said, and I heard from Nyle Fort in The Struggle For Prison Abolition: From The U.S. to Palestine, demand the impossible, because “the impossible is the least that one can demand.” The impossible, in this case, looks like many different things. There is no one answer. It includes, according to Angela Davis, things like demilitarization of schools, revitalizing all levels of education, providing free healthcare and housing, food and basic needs for everyone, and a justice system based on reparation instead of retribution.
What do you think?