BrownTown finally tackles a much discussed topic on this podcast as well as in recent weeks, police abolition. Ariel Atkins, Lead Organizer of Black Lives Matter Chicago shares her thoughts and experiences since the global uprising against police brutality and white supremacy following the police killing of George Floyd. The gang discusses how we got to this moment, the broader movement for Black lives, coronavirus implications, reforming vs. defunding vs. abolishing police, and much more. Originally recorded June 15, 2020.
Ariel Atkins is a lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Chicago and was very active in the #NoCopAcademy campaign. She is also a hardcore anime and comic book nerd.
BrownTown finally tackles a much discussed topic on this podcast as well as in recent weeks, police abolition. Ariel begins by sharing how she came up in the movement and her transition from activist to organizer. BrownTown chimes in comparing the politicization process of the unpoliticized from the 2016 election to now (see Episode 11). All three share their thoughts and experiences since the global uprising against police brutality and white supremacy following the police killing of George Floyd. In explaining the current resurgence for the Black Lives Matter movement, Caullen sets the stage theorizing on coronavirus/quarantine breaking the trust privileged people had in the system (paraphrased from Heather McGhee) while Ariel explains the snowball of international uprisings in 2019 (shoutout Hong Kong, Chile, Venezuela).
Ariel and BrownTown soon bring it home to Chicago, breaking down riots/rebellions as "language of the unheard" (MLK), critiquing Mayor Lori Lightfoot's draconian measures to quell Chicago protests and unwillingness to budge on getting police out of schools, Latinx and Black communities coming together after police manipulation of Latinx gangs, and more. Social media has been a firestorm of information, performative allyship, and a spark for real conversations and politicization. With this, the gang shares their on and offline interactions, explain #8CantWait vs. #8toAbolition, and what everyone can do to unapologetically show up for Black lives, fight white supremacy and anti-Blackness in all their insidious and invisible forms so that we all get free. Originally recorded June 15, 2020.
On Abolition: We would not be where we are in this moment if not for the centuries of work from our ancestors and decades of work from living legends such as Black Feminists Angela Y. Davis, Mariame Kaba, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore. In short, abolition is "about presence, not absence. It's about building life-affirming institutions" (Gilmore). We want to abolish these harmful systems in their current form and radically reshape our social and political structures to equitably meet our needs with respect to our natural environment. More than a political vision, abolition is a way of life that replaces carceral logics in virtually every aspect of our lives with restorative practices and ideologies.
Abolition Resources and Topics Mentioned
Follow Ariel on Instagram and Black Lives Matter Chicago on their site, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
CREDITS: Intro music and engineering by Genta Tamashiro with audio snippets of Ariel, recorded by Caullen Hudson. Outro song Proll'ems by two-time Bourbon 'n BrownTown alum and Chi DNA subject Tweak'G. Podcast audio engineering by Genta Tamashiro. Episode photo by Jim Vondruska.
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