In our recently published post “Abolitionist University Studies: An Invitation,” we asked for responses to it. We are collecting those responses on this linked page of the Abolition.University website. The responses we have received so far include: Sharon Stein – Abolitionist Work’s Psycho-affective Dimensions and Pedagogical Challenges Curtis Marez – Response to “Abolitionist University Studies: An […]
by Dylan Rodríguez
The recent and unfortunate statement by Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, “In Defense of Nuance,” defends and affirms the condition of domestic warfare popularly known (though misnamed) as “mass incarceration.” (The “mass” of “mass incarceration” is not an undifferentiated cross-section of the US demography, but is in fact a targeted, profiled, carcerally segregated population that reflects the nation’s racial chattel and racial-colonial foundations and their present tense continuities.) We should be clear that Walker’s missive ignores, dismisses, or otherwise trivializes and caricatures a thriving and growing body of abolitionist scholarship and collective praxis that is rigorously challenging the cultural and political premises of policing, criminalization, and incarceration as normalized protocols of gendered racist state violence in the United States and elsewhere.
Without a single cloud floating in the Mauna Kea sky, kia‘i (protectors) assembled on the morning of July 17, 2019 at Mauna Kea Access Road to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The resolve to protect Mauna Kea from TMT was as clear as the skies above–no telescope was necessary to see this. In response, the State of Hawaii deployed police, equipped with riot batons, tear gas, guns and a Long Range Acoustic Device, to open the access road for construction crews to ascend to TMT’s build site at the northern plateau. It was the largest police operation in Hawai‘i in recent memory with officers from multiple jurisdictions across the islands. This execution of force coincided with Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige’s Proclamation to declare a State of Emergency and, in doing so, declare those safeguarding the Mauna as a threat to the state. But kia‘i were prepared, stood their ground and continued to defend this sacred mountain.
As NYC-born and raised educators, organizers and activists who work on issues relating to race, class, criminalization and youth justice, we were deeply touched by the Netflix series When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay. Based on the case of the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latinx teenagers who were coerced into confession, wrongly convicted and harshly sentenced to prison for the alleged rape of a white woman, this series captures the socio-political and economic atmosphere of New York City in the eighties and nineties.
… The Netflix series touches on themes relating to race, class, gender, criminalization of youth and media moral panics, which we want to help students further unpack. The readings in this syllabus are meant to supplement the documentary series and allow students to engage critically with the historical and contemporary criminalization of working-class youth of color. We hope that youth educators will add to this syllabus and continue these important conversations inside and outside of the classroom. It is through expanding our knowledge about the past and present that we can organize against the criminalization and incarceration of our youth. Please use #exonerated5syllabus or #WhenTheySeeUsSyllabus to share.