“We must fight for liberation beyond reforming or seeking “justice” from a system that is designed to protect capital and property and thrives on the disposability of Black lives,” – Stephanie Younger

By Stephanie Younger •


The 2020 uprisings in defense of Black life made an abolitionist politic accessible to many people, allowing so many of us to re-evaluate why we are conditioned to believe that carceral systems work, that police keep communities safe, and how we can make this system obsolete. The existence of these systems is so normalized that people respond to viral instances of state violence against Black people on social media with the belief that the police “aren’t doing their job,” that it “isn’t normal.”

Recently, we have seen reforms that seek to “change the system,” instead of meeting the demands of Black liberationists to divest from it. An example that comes to mind is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. In March 2021, Derecka Purnell, a writer, author, lawyer and organizer wrote an article for the Guardian addressing the failures of this legislation, which instead of meeting the movement to defund the police, gives $750M to police. “…Congress does what it always does when the police kill people: give cops more money,” Purnell wrote.

“The George Floyd Act, named after someone who died because he didn’t have money to cover cigarettes, gives millions of dollars to police in grants. And lawmakers gave the police more money right after they failed to secure a $15 federal minimum wage and failed to deliver on the $2,000 checks they promised to voters who put Democrats in office. But, Congress made sure to include $750m in the George Floyd Act to investigate the deadly use of force by law enforcement. Protesters have been demanding to defund the police to keep us safe; not spend millions of dollars to investigate how we die. We know how we die – the police.” 

– “The George Floyd Act wouldn’t have saved George Floyd’s life. That says it all” by Derecka Purnell for The Guardian

Investigating the violence of a system that is doing exactly what it is designed to do—that thrives on disposability and not accountability—fails to address the root of the problem, which is the existence of the police itself. This is a system that is not, and never will be accountable to Black people, and can never keep people safe. We must fight for liberation beyond reforming or seeking “justice” from a system that is designed to protect capital and property, and thrives on the disposability of Black lives. Abolitionists recognize that police and prisons don’t work to rehabilitate people or keep communities safe, conceptualizes their absence and acts into existence, the presence of transformative ways to address harm and violence.

Critical Resistance defines “Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Abolition” as, “a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.” In that same article about the Prison Industrial Complex, they state,

“It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives.” 

“What is the PIC? What is Abolition?” Critical Resistance

Stephanie Younger is a 19-year-old based in Richmond, Virginia, whose work centers the intersections Black feminism and womanism have with prison and police abolition.