What is Abolition
Beyond the Book: Theory vs Practice
I’ve been working on my next book all day every day, and it has me thinking.
I mean, of course it does - but really though.
So much of my book is based off of conversations with amazing activists and changemakers across the US and in these conversations I’m having there are a lot of repeating themes.
I’ll dive into a lot of this deeper in the book, but one thing I’m hearing in conversation with a lot of the more seasoned activists is a basic hard truth:
Very few of us who work in abolition or liberation truly put our ideas to practice in our day to day lives.
Abolition: the fight to end slavery, incarceration and other violently oppressive systems is something that is, in most opinions, at direct odds with most patriarchal, punitive, and capitalist systems. And yet, even many of our abolitionist and liberatory movements have elements of this within.
So many of our movements are patriarchal or extremely hierarchical and punitive. We build our own “justice” within our groups that are based on revenge instead of relationship.
And there is reason for this: it’s really all most of us know. It’s how we were raised, it’s saturated in our culture. It has infused itself into our way of thinking and doing in ways that we are often not fully aware of.
But we need to become more aware, because if we can’t start putting these ideals into practice now, everything we’re asking for and fighting for is just theory.
So this has me thinking about one of the little systems in my life that is very important to me and that I have a large amount of power in: my family.
I’d like to think that my relationships and my parenting is fairly abolitionist just due to my own ethics and baseline awareness, but is it? How can it be without intention?
Abolition and liberation is so very important to me. And if it’s so important to me, then I need to take a more deliberate and intentional look at how my relationships work.
This is honestly something I’m just now really diving into. An inventory of sorts as to how my most important relationships are structured. But here are some things I’ve realized so far:
My partner and I almost never fight. We are lucky in that way so far. But I do know that sometimes, when we’re upset with each other, we tend to tiptoe around each other a bit until we are kind of like, “ok, let’s hash this out.” Is that tiptoeing because we haven’t normalized hard discussions or just because they so rarely happen? Likely a combination of both. This is something we can talk about more when we’re both in a calm place so we can see what’s really happening and where we may need to make tweaks so that we don’t feel fear or hesitation in discussing difficult topics.
I am not a disciplinarian with my kids, mostly because I just really hate being upset with them. They know this about me and absolutely take advantage. I’m trying to figure out a way to teach them responsibility without turning to punishment. I’m trying to figure out how to get chores done and a somewhat presentable kid bedroom that isn’t because I yelled or did it myself and is instead based on our family relationship and what we all want it to look like in order to have a functional house.
I’m trying to figure out how to balance the knowledge I have as a parent with the very different perspective my kids have as younger people, and my duty to protect them along with their need to make their own way. I know that is a very basic issue for all parents, but addressing it in a way that isn’t punitive or overly hierarchical and prioritizes my kids’ sense of self while also teaching them how to be in responsible and reciprocal relationship with people is a challenge I’m really thinking of in my spare time right now.
These are conversations I’m excited to have with my family. I’m excited to see what we can build.
In your visions of a more just and free world, what elements of those visions can you start building into your home, family, friend group, or work place? Share your ideas in the comments.
Ok, that’s it for now friends. I’m getting back into this whole book thing.
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