We cannot reform away oppression. It must be abolished: Brian Lovato on Abolition

Abolition is both a way of seeing the world and a way of being in and acting in the world. For me, it means understanding the connections between settler colonialism, the carceral state, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, racialized capitalism, etc. But it is also a recognition of our responsibility to act upon these interconnected institutions of oppression in order to overcome obstacles to dignity and freedom.  My own abolitionist politics have their roots in struggles around labor, immigration, and the incarceration of young people of color. These issues have opened my eyes to the connections between them and other forms of oppression that keep things exactly the way they are. They have also driven home the fact that we cannot reform away oppression. It must be abolished.

As someone trained as an academic I too often found myself being asked to step back from this perspective in order to produce better, more objective scholarship. I quickly realized that objectivity always meant favoring the status quo. Abolition represents a desire to do away with this notion of objectivity. It represents a desire to do away with the false distinctions between activism and scholarship. This is important to me as someone who is compelled to act in solidarity with all of those suffering under existing ways of doing things. I don’t see any reason why my scholarly work ought to be separated from this action and Abolition encourages me to engage the world holistically.

—Brian Lovato

[This post is part of a series of “Abolition Statements” from members of the Abolition Journal Collective and Editorial Review Board. See here for a brief introduction to these posts.]