A Space for Dreaming Abolition
We gathered an intergenerational group of Black, Indigenous, queer, non-binary, and disabled neighbors to dream abolition & share those dreams with each other. Now, we share (some of) them with you.
"I take a long view, understanding full well that I’m just a tiny, little part of a story that already has a huge antecedent and has something that is going to come after that. I’m definitely not going to be even close to around for seeing the end o it. That also puts me in the right frame of mind: that my little friggin’ thing I’m doing is actually pretty insignificant in world history, but if it’s significant to one or two people, I feel good about that. If I’m making my stand in the world and that benefits my particular community of people, the people I designate as my community, and I see them benefittting by my labor, I feel good about that. That actually is enough for me.
“Maybe I just have a different perspective. I talk to a lot of young organizers—people reach out to me a lot because I’ve been organizing for a long time—I’m always telling them, ‘Your timeline is not the timeline on which movements occur. Your timeline is incidental. Your timeline is only for yourself to make your growth and your living.’”
—Mariame Kaba, We Do This Til We Free Us, p. 27
In the last couple of years, the word abolition has been on the minds and on the lips of many. Mostly it has been heard when referring to getting rid of carceral institutions, like the police and prisons. It has also been attached to questions of defunding police, and spending more on strategies that actually create safe communities, like low income housing, good living wage jobs, responsive education, free healthcare and mental healthcare. In this video we suggest that abolition is all that and more. We say abolition means dismantling and disrupting all systems of oppression and tyranny, including those systems we carry in our heads and bodies. What that means is abolition starts in our homes and in our hearts and minds.
In November, we gathered together a intergenerational group of neighbors--activists, artists, cultural workers, healers, students, and parents, more--with different levels of understanding of what abolition is and what it could be. We shared our thoughts and our dreams in community as a means to witness one another as we grappled with the learned need to punish ourselves and each other. We shared our dreams of what freedom looks like. We wondered how being in right relations with ourselves, each other and the world around us, below us and above us could bring us closer to abolishing systems of oppression and oppressive behavior.
We know in order to create the world we want, we must first be able to imagine that world, to think about it and to share our dreams with others.
This post is an emergent resource we will continue to develop called A Space for Dreaming Abolition. We are sharing it in its emergent form because we know abolition and dreaming are concepts, ideas, tactics, and practices that facilitate generational healing. And as you gather with family, comrades, and neighbors (virtually and safely in-person), we want to offer you the words and wisdoms from our Black, Indigenous, queer, non-binary, disabled, and poor comrades, who dreamt abolition with us on November 17, 2021.
We hope you learn something from our collective dreams that you might share with others. And we hope you take time to dream and reflect on what abolition could look like to you and your communities and what steps you might take to make your dream of abolition a reality.
There are many pathways to liberation & they all begin with a desire for change.
With deep love, gratitude, honor, and camaraderie,
Keyssh, Crystal Mason, Kapi’olani Lee, and Jason Wyman
AKA The Dreaming Abolition Co-Creative Crew
in partnership with the Alliance for Media Arts & Culture
Please share these community-generated definitions by Black neighbors in Richmond, VA, Richmond, CA, Philadelphia, PA, and Oakland, CA.
Nia Morris’ Abolition Dream
On November 17, 2021, Nia Morris from Philadelphia, PA, shared their Abolition Dream.
Mic Crenshaw’s Abolition Dream
On November 17, 2021, Mic Crenshaw from Portland, OR, shared their Abolition Dream.
A Space for Dreaming Abolition, a visual poem
As part of the co-creative process, the Queering Dreams team engaged in a series of focused conversations about intergenerational development, cross-territorial organizing, and abolition. These conversations formed the basis for a poem, which was constructed using an exquisite corpse-like process as suggested by Keyssh. Leading up to the workshop, we asked all participants to share an image that frames freedom. These images along with their names and geographic location (as identified by the political geography of the United States) formed the basis for our Opening Circle and provided a way for all to call themselves and their freedom into time & space collectively. This video pairs the poem crafted and the images submitted to create a visual poem, which is greater than any of its singular parts. Together, the images and words form not just a possibility for abolition in the future, but a moment of freedom for Black, Indigenous, queer, disabled, non-binary, and poor neighbors to feel included, seen, held, and loved.
A Space for Dreaming Abolition Agenda
Since our initial gathering on November 17, 2021, we have facilitated A Space for Dreaming Abolition for the ToP Trainer Network, with the larger Queering Dreams community, and at Allied Media Conference 2022. This iterative process has resulted in a refined agenda that uses the above videos as reference material.
A Space for Dreaming Abolition Agenda is ©2022 by Crystal Mason, Jason Wyman, Kapi’olani Lee, Keyssh, Sauda Garrett, Kafi-Ayanna Allah, Michael Crenshaw, Ashara Ekundayo, Shania Harris, and Sheila McKinney. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Please feel free to use, share, and remix this agenda and give credit to all of the contributing artists.
A Space for Dreaming Abolition Community Resource Directory
As part of our larger toolkit launching in early 2022, we are pulling together a Community Resource Directory about abolition, art, media, and organizing. It will include books, videos, lesson plans, art activities, podcasts, organizations & community groups, and more recommended by those who joined us on November 17, 2021.
The following is a list of six resources submitted by Queering Dreams Co-Founders Crystal Mason & Jason Wyman that informed their contributions to A Space for Dreaming Abolition.
The Black Women's Manifesto by Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maxine Williams, Frances Beal, and Linda La Rue
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
The Racial History of Criminal Justice in America by Heather Ann Thompson
We Do This ‘Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba
Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Second Edition, Edited by Eric A. Stanley & Nat Smith (Editor) with a Forward by CeCeMcDonald