An Abolitionist Approach—Nine Rhythms

  • 1. An abolitionist approach maintains that all students are sentient (and sacred, inherently good) beings, and as a result have an inherent right—the right not to be treated as the property of an education system or a prisonindustrial complex, but to only be treated with dignity and respectability.
  • 2. An abolitionist approach intentionally integrates people and place, recognizing that the pursuit of freedom for all oppressed identities demands an understanding of the ways identities are formed by, and inform, the place in which those identities are situated. Therefore, the web of destiny that points toward freedom is not people over place, or place over people—but people and place mutually.
  • 3. An abolitionist approach recognizes, assents, and demands that a student's right to freedom means that we must abolish, and not merely reform, institutionalized academic exploitation, since reform integrally assumes the foundation of education systems is without deficiency.
  • 4. An abolitionist approach upholds that the freedoms of being, thinking, and discoursing are a moral baseline in producing knowledge within all classrooms, and that the radical creativity of student imagination to make sense of their freedoms by producing knowledge must be the cornerstone of teaching, learning, community, and care.
  • 5. An abolitionist approach vehemently rejects, and seeks to abolish, all forms of human discrimination within and beyond classrooms—including racism, white supremacy, sexism, heterosexism (homophobia), patriarchy, cisgen-derism (transphobia), xenophobia, colorism, nationalism, classism, ageism, ableism, colonialism, ethnocentrism, nativism, religious imperialism, and all other isms and phobias we lack cognizance of—valuing the interconnected freedom of all oppressed people in the pursuit of universal emancipation.
  • 6. An abolitionist approach refuses the oversimplification of single-story narratives to make knowledge, make sense, and make meaning of the complex histories, voices, stories, images, emotions, and experiences within students' lives, and privileges complexity as a feature of inherent human dignity.
  • 7. An abolitionist approach commits to healing and humanizing acts of accepting, listening, discoursing, understanding, loving, laughing, empathizing, and hoping within classrooms, not only as social-survival techniques but also as resistance mechanisms to lessen, and effectively abolish, the reach, power, size, scope, grip, and impact of cognitive and socioemotional harm inflicted by oppressive systems, structures, practices, policies, and protocols within school communities.
  • 8. An abolitionist approach actively invites students and communities to participate in creating, embodying, and actualizing a vision for abolition and expanding a moral framework to see beyond the limits of prejudice by deepening relationships through passionate-proximity and conscious-compassion in order to understand, unlearn, and undo all forms of dominance.
  • 9. An abolitionist approach affirms that “hope is invented everyday."7

Periodically, throughout your reading, return and ground yourself in these nine rhythms—listening to, reflecting on, dancing with, and making connections across your lived experiences, philosophical truths, pedagogical praxis, and abolition.