The newest book from abolitionist, author and organizer Mariame Kaba entered the top 10 of the New York Times Best Sellers list in its first week. Based on sales ending the week of Feb. 27, Kaba’s “We Do This ‘Till We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice” ranked as a top paperback non-fiction book.
The new book is part of Haymarket’s Abolitionist Papers series, “We Do This ‘Till We Free Us,” and offers lessons, reflections and explores abolishing the prison industrial complex (PIC) as an attainable goal.
In an interview with Char Adams for NBC News, Kaba said the book has two target audiences.
“One is people who might not know a lot about PIC abolition and are looking for a way to enter the discussion,” Kaba said. “The second are current abolitionist organizers who are running abolitionist campaigns.”
A carefully curated collection of essays, interviews and reflections, “We Do This ‘Till We Free Us” provides readers with a guidepost for navigating the landscape of abolition. The opening entry of Kaba’s October 2020 article, “So You’re Thinking About Becoming an Abolitionist,” explains that it is about building and creating.
“PIC abolition is a positive project that focuses, in part, on building a society where it is possible to address harm without relying on structural forms of oppression or the violent systems that increase it,” writes Kaba.
The abolitionist organization Critical Resistance defines PIC abolition as “a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.”
While interest in abolition has increased over the past few years, the uprisings of last summer along with the call to defund the police put the issue front and center in a major way. Through her writings and conversations, Kaba grapples with the challenging questions people have about PIC abolition and steps to take on the way to full abolition.
In 2018’s “A Jailbreak of the Imagination: Seeing Prisons for What They Are and Demanding Transformation,” Kaba, along with writer Kelly Hayes, engages readers in a challenging exercise of what it means to radically reimagine how to address harms.
Leading with the story of 27-year-old Tiffany Rusher, Kaba and Hayes argue that the awareness and discussion of the horrors within the system of incarceration require Americans to stop looking away and be present.
Through her decades of experience, Kaba has centered community and collaborative organizing over changing hearts and minds. Kaba’s history and work speak for themselves but are also a lesson on how abolition is possible.
As founder and director of Project NIA, Kaba has partnered with grassroots organizations and activists to address juvenile justice issues, build youth leadership skills and influence policy. Her imprint can be seen across countless organizations in Chicago.
A free reading and discussion guide accompanies the book.
Exonerated! Wrongly Convicted Black Folks Whose Names Have Been Cleared
1. Kevin Strickland, exonerated after wrongful conviction for murderSource:GoFundMe/Tricia Rojo Bushnell 1 of 18
2. Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil IslamSource:Getty 2 of 18
3. Juwan Deering3 of 18
4. Herbert Alford
4 of 18
A Michigan man who spent nearly five years in custody is suing Hertz for failing to produce in a timely manner a receipt that would have proved his innocence long before he was convicted of a 2011 murder. https://t.co/kZaI5tdOv4— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 12, 2021
5. Walter Forbes
5 of 18
“I don’t hold contempt for the people who lied to convict me ... The reason is selfish: I wasn’t going to allow them to destroy me," said Walter Forbes, freed and exonerated last week after 37 years with the help of @UofMInnocence. https://t.co/WfanIitchU— The Innocence Project (@innocence) December 14, 2020
6. Termaine Joseph Hicks
6 of 18
An innocent Philadelphia man has been freed after spending 19 years in prison because two police officers wrongly claimed he’d raped a woman and then shot at them, when he’d in fact saved her from a different man .Attorneys for Termaine Joseph Hicks claim cops made up the story . pic.twitter.com/FJp5DQUMoQ— HJ (Hank) Ellison (@hjtherealj) December 18, 2020
7. Clifford Williams, Nathan Myers
7 of 18
After a combined 86 years incarcerated for a crime they did not commit, Clifford Williams Jr. and his nephew, Nathan Myers, were exonerated and released last week! Mr. Myers was 18 when he was arrested and is now 61. Mr. Williams was 33 and is now 76. https://t.co/EH2qPCspEj— Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org) April 5, 2019
8. Calvin BrightSource:WUSA9 8 of 18
9. Kevin Baker, Sean Washington
9 of 18
Kevin Baker and Sean Washington received life terms in 1996 that were overturned on appeal in December https://t.co/MSWoxkwPzi— Courier-Post (@cpsj) February 4, 2020
10. Theophalis Wilson
10 of 18
Theophalis Wilson was 17-years-old when he was falsely accused of a triple murder in Philadelphia and sentenced to life in prison. Now, 28 years later, he finally has his freedom. He spoke with @KeithJones https://t.co/mVDISp68hy pic.twitter.com/RQ2pEdZBfM— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) January 22, 2020
11. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart
11 of 18
And they are out: Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart walk out of the Baltimore city courthouse after 36 yrs for a crime they didn’t do: pic.twitter.com/5UDGWMZmOB— Tom Jackman (@TomJackmanWP) November 25, 2019
12. Deandre Charles12 of 18
13. Exonerated Five - Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise13 of 18
14. Anthony Ray Hinton
14 of 18
Name: Anthony Ray Hinton, who was on Alabama’s Death Row for nearly 30 years for a murder he didn’t commit. In 2018, he wrote about his experience in the NYT bestseller, The Sun Does Shine.— City of Birmingham (@cityofbhamal) October 4, 2019
Occupation: Works in community education with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery pic.twitter.com/EwiaJueimb
15. Lamar Johnson15 of 18
16. Wilbert Jones
16 of 18
Louisiana man freed from prison after serving 43 years for a crime he did not commit. Wilbert Jones was arrested in 1971 at the age of 19 and convicted of rape in 1974. A judge overturned his conviction weeks ago. He still had to pay $2,000 bail before becoming a free man today. pic.twitter.com/LYV4gbTPOf— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) November 15, 2017
17. Xavier DavisSource:Courtesy of Xavier Davis 17 of 18
18. Huwe Burton
18 of 18
2,372nd Exon: Huwe Burton was convicted in 1991 for stabbing his mother to death when he was 16. He was exonerated on Jan 24th after an investigation showed that his confession was coerced and that his mother's real killer was likely a downstairs neighbor. https://t.co/TM3f76moQ5 pic.twitter.com/rsU1NlPr2y— Exoneration Registry (@exonerationlist) February 4, 2019
‘We Do This ‘Till We Free Us’: Book About Prison Abolition Lands In The New York Times Top 10 List was originally published on newsone.com