every villain is lemons
sometimes what I think is normal other people think is radical, like breadcrumbs on top of mac n cheese, or the abolition of police
I feel so silly writing my little thoughts out about this and that in the wake of the murders of Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, and Ma’Khia Bryant and in the aftermath of the Chauvin trial. Up until last week I was writing my next post about octopuses. I took a break from it because it felt frivolous. But instead of giving in to my desire to give up and live under my comforter, I turned to Dorothy Day who reminds me why I do everything I do.
Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, "What else is the world interested in?" What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships. God is Love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship with each other of love. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family but to look upon all as our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly, that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven.
I saw a quote the other day from a formerly incarcerated person that summed up my feelings about the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). He said that prison cannot be a place of rehabilitation because it is traumatizing by design. You cannot rehabilitate while you are being traumatized every moment of every day.
Toward the end of my college career I made a Google doc titled “Racism/White Privilege Collection” filled with links to articles and videos that could help white people learn more about those subjects. I created it because I was tired of explaining the same points over and over again to my white friends and acquaintances at the predominantly white school I attended. I hope it was a useful resource to those who took the time to deconstruct their own racism and prejudices.
About five years ago I learned about PIC abolition and it immediately appealed to me. I love its emphasis on restoration, creativity, and transformation. Last summer, after the murder of George Floyd the movement came into the national spotlight. Some of my friends and family members changed their views to being in favor of abolition and the increase in public education around the subject has been heartening to witness.
I am in no way an expert on this subject, but I volunteer with some PIC abolition groups and spend a decent amount of time reading and learning about abolition. In an effort to educate I want to share articles, books, videos, and podcasts that have helped me in my journey to become an abolitionist. There are a lot of articles out there, including some that are not in line with the movement. I remember reading one that was titled something along the lines of “What we mean when we say Abolish I.C.E.” and the author went on to say that it was simply a rallying cry and he and his fellow activists didn’t really want to abolish the system, just reform it. Friends, that ain’t it. Aside from the fact that if reform worked, we wouldn’t be having these conversations over and over again, this misinformation creates confusion around the terms people invested in this work use.
If you’re tempted to delete this email right now, I encourage you to wait a second. Ask yourself why it’s so difficult for you to believe in a world without policing. Sit with those thoughts and all the feelings that question may bring up. Abolition requires us to think collectively and creatively. It asks us to see people as humans with dignity, not statistics or stereotypes. In my opinion, it’s an incredibly Christian ideology. Jesus doesn’t want us to live in fear or contempt of one another. He tells us to think radically by not just imagining a world without fear, but actually working to create that world. We know that the only true justice is Divine justice, but that doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to live in an corrupt and unjust society.
The resources below are in no particular order. I’ve read/listened to/watched a lot of these resources, but not all. The ones I’ve included that I haven’t read are from sources and authors I trust. Some of these resources are academic. Some are primers on the movement. I encourage you to click on what speaks to you. I hope they unsettle you and move you to act. There is a lot of work to be done, so let’s educate ourselves, educate others, and get out there.
What Abolitionists Do by Dan Berger, Mariame Kaba, and David Stein
What Does Justice Look Like Without Prisons? by Oonagh Ryder
Prison Reform Misdirection: 5 Caveats About Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration By Kay Whitock
From Military Industrial Complex to Prison Industrial Complex Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore in conversation with Trevor Paglen
Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex by Angela Davis
Transatlantic visions: Resisting the globalization of mass incarceration by Julie Sudbury
A Catholic Case for Police Defunding and Abolition by Michael Jaycox
Abolishing ICE is the radical idea America needs to be talking about by Will Bunch
Prison Industrial Complex for Beginners by James Braxton Peterson, John Jennings, and Stacey Robinson
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
ABOLITION NOW! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex
We Do This 'til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba
We Do This 'Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice
Abolish ICE is Not Just a Slogan: Immigrant Justice in the Age of Coronavirus
Intercepted Podcast: Ruth Wilson Gilmore Makes the Case for Abolition (2 parts)
AirGo: The Abolition Suite. From the podcast: “The Abolition Suite is a series of AirGo episodes exploring the concepts and practices of policing and prison abolition with the thought leaders who have been pushing an abolitionist future forward for decades. The Abolitionist Suite is presented in support of the #DefundCPD campaign and the Black Abolitionist Network.”
Abolitionist Futures Full Reading List is extremely in depth and touches on many aspects of abolition
Resource Guide: Prisons, Policing, and Punishment by Micah Herskind
AAIHS Prison Abolition Syllabus 2.0 is very long but structures its resources through the history of abolition, beginning with the origins of modern punishment and American slavery.
Links To Click On When You’re Bored At Work
Who hasn’t wanted to live in the opulent cake scene from 2006’s Marie Antoinette? I made my dad search multiple Chicago bakeries for pink macaroons so I could decorate my high school graduation cake with them. I am here for all the elaborately iced cakes that now occupy my instagram feed.
As someone who sold her soul to Google a long time ago and yells “get the CCTV footage!” at the tv on every British crime show I watch, I don’t have too many feelings about internet privacy. This deep dive into a facial recognition company I’ve never heard of definitely gave me pause and caused me to rethink my relationship with technology.
When you think of dog hair, you likely think of the non-stop shedding most dog owners experience, not Indigenous women using dog fur to make yarn and blankets.
Putting people in categories is a natural human drive. We like to order the world we live in to try to tamp down the chaos. I’ve often found that these categories can be limiting (don’t get me started on that time when all my friends in college got into a personality type test) I can see why some find them useful. While my mental health diagnoses over the years have been helpful to me, I recognize that’s not the case for everyone. This article does a good job explaining why.
You know I love cults. More accurately, I love learning about them. What has become very apparent to me in the past few years is the cult-like behavior of QAnon lovers and die-hard 45 supports. This article about sons and daughters whose parents have fallen in deep into the conspiracy world was equal parts sad and fascinating. Should I start to pity these people as people indoctrinated in a harmful cult, rather than racists spewing untrue garbage? The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, especially as I’ve been listening to The Opportunist, a podcast about an internet cult that mixed conspiracy theories, far right propaganda, and murder.
“The real bittersweet aspect is young adulthood begins with all this time for friendship, and friendship just having this exuberant, profound importance for figuring out who you are and what’s next,” Rawlins says. “And you find at the end of young adulthood, now you don’t have time for the very people who helped you make all these decisions.” OOF.
There’s a really great episode of Radiolab where the police’s current obsession with data and statistics is explained. This article examining DC’s MPD’s Gun Recovery Unit and their abusive tactics is just one of the legacies of MPD. I found it especially interesting since I live in DC and used to see the GRU in action in my old neighborhood.
100 Women of Color share the first times they experienced racism
Things That Are Bringing Me Joy
My latest coping mechanism is watching videos of abandoned dogs getting adopted and crying about it, then hugging Lola.
Flowers blooming! It’s so cliché but I don’t care! Nature is beautiful, let’s celebrate it!
I know I shouldn’t delight in the suffering of others, but as someone who has always found Rachel Hollis insufferable, watching her downfall has been satisfying.
I made these cookies and they were so incredible I immediately made another batch.
This Henri Nouwen quote that slapped me in the face: “You are not what you do, although you do a lot. You are not what you have collected in terms of friendships and connections, although you might have many. You are not the popularity that you have received. You are not the success of your work. You are not what people say about you, whether they speak well or whether they speak poorly about you. All these things that keep you quite busy, quite occupied, and often quite preoccupied are not telling the truth about who you are. I am here to remind you in the name of God that you are the Beloved Daughters and Sons of God, and that God says to you, ‘I have called you from all eternity and you are engraved from all eternity in the palms of my hands. You are mine. You belong to me, and I love you with an everlasting love.’ ” Tattoo this on my forehead ASAP.
Do you have any abolition resources you’d like to share? Any new cult podcasts you’re listening to? Someone remind me to tell you about the time I went to the Clink Prison Museum in London and it turned out to be an absolute nightmare. I really think that was the impetus for my journey to abolition advocacy.
I hope you’re as well as you can be. Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, please share with a friend. Alternatively, you can send it to someone to hate read. Anything to get those sweet, sweet clicks.
To a lesser degree, that is how I feel every time someone talks about “returning to normal” in a vaccinated world. How can I grieve such a tremendous loss of life and time when I am still living in a world where cases are on-going and people continue to die of/have severe health issues from a disease some still don’t take seriously?