Hey, my name is Peter Kamau Mukuria, currently incarcerated here at Red Onion State Prison in the state of Virginia, Virginia supermax prison. But anyway, so this commentary is regarding a quote from Ruth Wilson Gilmore and it’s about abolition. And in this quote, I found– the quote is not only powerful but I shared this quote with another comrade of mine. And the response was almost equally as powerful to which he compelled me to share this quote and see what you can make out of it.
The quote by Ruth Wilson Gilmore goes like this: abolition requires that we change one thing, which is everything; abolition is not absence; it is presence; what the world will become already exists in fragments and pieces, experiments and possibilities. So those who feel in their gut deep anxiety the abolition means knock it all down, scorch the earth and start something new, let that go. Abolition is building the future from the present in all the ways that we can.
Now in response to this quote I shared with a comrade, their response and the takeaway from it was that transformation doesn’t mean destroying utterly and then creating out of nothing. It is not a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is a butterfly crawling out of a cocoon. It is not obliterated. It turns into something so entirely new. It’s not even recognizable as the original. It is recreated by a brilliant metamorphosis into a new reality.
But there is nothing negative or aggressive about the process. It is more powerful than destruction. It is consistent with nature’s way of unfolding. It can appear to be impossible because it requires that we put the puzzle pieces together in a bold new way, but it does not take magic or faith. It is truth made manifest out of failures of our past.
Now I want the listeners to marinate on these two very powerful quotes and ponder on their significance. Perhaps you should also form your own takeaway from these two quotes and see what you can come up with in regards to the meaning of abolition.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.