Prison Abolition and the F-word.


This post is about prison abolition and why I’m not afraid of the word fail. ⠀

When I used the word fail earlier this week, people reacted. Backs raised, messages were sent, some people shrunk into themselves, and others attacked the one who said it. And I said it.⠀

And I’ll admit, I was puzzled by this response. Not just why this word is so triggering for other people — but also why it’s not for me.⠀

I went to bed early, spent the night dreaming of prisons, woke, showered, coffee, and then I realized….. ⠀

It’s a bit of a circuitous route, but here we go.⠀

I mentioned in my introduction that I’m an abolitionist. I’m not an anarchist, but this is probably my most Left opinion. The most push back I receive is when I voice this opinion. But here goes anyway:⠀

Your worth as a human being is not derivative. It simply is. You are worthy of love, care, respect, safety, affection, and recognition. Full stop. ⠀

Your actions, behaviors, and ideas have consequences, but they do not determine your worth as a human being. ⠀

Your actions, behaviors, and ideas will all fail at some point. This is a normal part of life. But your worth is not removed because of these failures. ⠀

Your need for love, care, respect, and safety are not removed no matter how big of a mistake you make. And even if your mistake is so big that we need to remove you from society, society is not transformed, justice is not created by removing your humanity. ⠀

The idea that our worth is based on what we do, think, make, or act is tied up in all forms of domination. ⠀

This word — fail — is so triggering because it is used by those who have power OVER us to dominate, subjugate, and destroy us for simply being human.⠀

I’m not afraid of the word fail because my worthiness and yours are not dependent on it. And I will continue to practice this kind of love as long as I’m on this earth. ⠀

When Angela Davis asks us to radically transform the world, she doesn’t mean think small. But we can start small. From the inside out. ⠀

This is the kind of world I want to create. One in which we use our love and power in the service of justice, equity, pleasure, and joy. I hope you’ll join me.

[Photo. by @kbredbeckMy tiny green and yellow WIP rests on my lap, jean skirt, and tan leggings. The stitch marker is a silver postcard that says I Love you in cursive. End.]

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