Abolition is a goal that I use to orient my thinking and action: Michael Hames-Garcia on Abolition

Abolition is a goal that I use to orient my thinking and action. When I am teaching or writing or demonstrating or speaking in public or private, I can ask myself whether I am contributing to the abolition of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, capitalist exploitation, policing, incarceration, and educational inequality. I try not to delink these many ways in which some humans attempt to stifle the spirit of other humans because I firmly believe that to separate them is to compromise with oppression. While a compromise in one struggle might seem to advance the cause of another, it does so falsely and strengthens the illusion of independent struggles that are neither overlapping nor mutually reinforcing. History and society show again and again that racism reinforces sexism, that capitalism serves as a buttress to xenophobia, and so forth. Here then is the crucial analytical work of prison abolitionism. To think the abolition of prisons in our society one must think an end to economic and educational inequalities whether colored by race or merely delimited by class. One has to think about a society in which immigrants are neither hated nor feared, where sexual variance and gender nonconformity do not raise concern or animosity, and where police are not needed to protect the prized possessions of a few from the need and envy of the many. Prisons serve too many purposes in contemporary U.S. society for a singular or monocausal analysis. Understanding their various functions—and therefore how to make them obsolete—thus requires us to see the many lines of causality that give them shape and the many avenues we must tread to abolish them from our midst.

—Michael Hames-Garcia

[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.]