Courtney E. Martin, writing for Reasons to Be Cheerful and noting that it was just over year before Rosa Parks’ refusal to move became the Supreme Court’s ruling desegregating public buses, reminds us that it’s been only a month since the police murder of George Floyd — yet small steps already have been taken on the road to defunding the police.
These wins matter, not because they mean the work is done, but because they mean the work is working. Abolition is a long game. You don’t just wave a magic wand and create a society where harm is handled using restorative, rather than punitive, practices, not to mention where the sources of so much harm (alienation, poverty, disinvestment) are eradicated. Or, as Reverend William Barber puts it: “While realism cannot determine the goals of our faith, it must shape our strategy in movements of moral dissent.”
Abolition is not just about police. It’s about a different world. And building that world is going to take sophisticated strategies designed by the wisest movement minds we’ve got. As longtime abolitionist Mariame Kaba writes in The New York Times: “People like me who want to abolish prisons and police… have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all? This change in society wouldn’t happen immediately, but the protests show that many people are ready to embrace a different vision of safety and justice.”
Emphasis added, and repeated: the work is working.
“We need to celebrate these moments in the midst of so much tragedy,” she writes. “Joy is the lifeblood of a movement, just as much as rage.” I said something similar just yesterday, in fact while I was reading Rampant‘s list of wins so far.