Ep. 243 Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law — The Stacks Book Club (Mariame Kaba) – Transcript

Today anti-violence activist and author Mariame Kaba returns to discuss Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law for The Stacks Book Club. We highlight the depth of knowledge that this book provides about the history and current state of criminalization, and unpack the idea that prison is something that ties us all together. We ask why so many so-called reforms look like prison and policing, and what solutions might work in their place.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our December book club pick will be.


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*Due to the nature of advertising placement, these timestamps are not 100% accurate.*

Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today is The Stacks November book club day. I’m joined again by abolitionist activist founder and author Mariame Kaba. We’re breaking down the book Prison by Any Other Name: the Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms co written by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, with a foreword from Michelle Alexander. This book is a deep dive into the idea of prison reforms, what they’re sold to the public as and what they truly entail. Prison by any other name is a must read for anyone interested in social justice and the problems of ethical criminal reform. Maryam and I talked today about how to tell the difference between a productive and harmful reform, about consequences and punishment and about what a better future could and should look like. There are no spoilers on today’s episode, and please make sure to listen to the end of the episode to find out what our December book club pick will be. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on today’s episode can be found in the link in the show notes. If you love The Stacks and you want more of it, you’ve got to head to patreon.com/thestacks and join The Stacks pack. It is a place for book lovers for lovers of this podcast. And it is the way that I’m able to make this show week in and week out. We’ve got some awesome perks over there like our monthly virtual book club, our Discord channel, but we also have timely timely perks like discounts on merch and access to the stacks reading tracker. This is the best reading tracker you’re ever going to find. It’s personalized just for you. You can add to it, you can subtract from it. I’m obsessed, but you can only get the tracker from right now until the end of January 2023. So make sure you sign up for the sacks pack to get your tracker plus everything else plus supporting this show. But really just get your tracker head to patreon.com/the sacks. Want to give a quick thank you to our newest members John Katie Pella Witzke and Taylor Z. Thank you all so much, and thank you to the entire Stacks pack. Alright, now it’s time for my conversation with Mariame Kaba about Prison by Any Other Name.

Alright everyone, we are back. It is the Stacks book club day. I am joined again by Mariame Kaba. Welcome back.

Mariame Kaba 2:22
Thank you for having me, having me back.

Traci Thomas 2:25
I’m so happy you’re back, especially for this book, we’re gonna get into some prison abolition, we’re going to be talking about the harmful consequences of popular reforms visa vie the book prison by any other name by Maya Shenwar and Victoria law. The book came out in 2020. It just so people know, I was reading the New paperback, which had a little update, about COVID, and the summer of 2020, and things. So I will reference that if you listened on audiobook, you don’t have that. If you have the pay the original hardcover, you don’t have that. And if you got it from your library, and E copy, you also might not have that. So just so folks know, there is a little addendum that was added. So if you bought the book recently, and you got the paperback, you have it otherwise, you probably know. Anyways, let me tell folks what the book is about and then we’ll dive in. So as you can tell from the title prison by any other name is about the harmful consequences of popular reforms in prison. So it goes through about like electric monitors, it goes through probation, schools as a place of policing, it goes through mental institutions, as well as hospitals as a place of policing, Child Protective Services. And it talks about how all of these things, while sometimes maybe helpful in certain situations are also a form of surveillance, punishment and policing. How’d I do? You did great. That’s a great way. My least favorite part of the entire episode is laying out what the book is about. I’m like, I don’t know. If you haven’t read the book, you can listen, there aren’t gonna be spoilers, because this is true nonfiction. Like you’re just gonna learn stuff. So we always start here, Marian, what did you think of the book? I really appreciate this book.

Mariame Kaba 4:13
I appreciate it as someone who reads a lot of books about prisons, about policing, surveillance, the incarceral state. And the reason I really appreciated this book is twofold. The first is both Maya and Vicki have experienced the incarceral state and the prison industrial complex, not just as people who are writing about it, which they’re both amazingly good writers, but as people who have been directly impacted, in the case of Vicki Vicki got into some trouble as a young person ended up in a having a violent felony charge, but ended up being put on probation and didn’t end up getting incarcerated, which she credits has changing her life trajectory, allowing her to go to high school, eventually college and be able to become a very well established and well known writer today. And then Maya, through the experience of Keeley Schenwar, her sister going in and out, in and out in and out of jails and prisons for the most of her adult life and into beginning and as a teenager, has seen the experiences of mass criminalization in first direct way has experienced so much of it. And unfortunately, Keeley passed away a couple years ago, and that was another shock and trauma. And so I like that part of the book that really is like it’s coming from the eyes of people who actually experienced the thing, not just reporters who are reporting on the thing. So that I think was a really important part in the second part of why I really appreciate this book is because it widens our lens. It says, You can’t just look at prisons, you can’t just look at policing, you can’t just look at surveillance. It’s all of a piece. Yeah, you have to consider the prison industrial complex. Because if you don’t, you’re missing so much of what’s actually going on as it relates to criminalization. So the book does that in a really beautiful way. It’s super accessible to read, I don’t know what your thinking is on it. I’m interested to hear how you respond to it, as you read, read through it. But it’s accessible to read. It’s not an academic book. So you don’t have to spend all your time figuring out like, lots of hard words and jargon or theories that don’t, it’s just like a layperson can pick this book up and just like dive right in. And you don’t have to even have had experiences, knowing about prisons to pick up the book and be able to gain something from it. So

Traci Thomas 6:45
I agree with all of that. I found the book to be really readable. And I have read some about, you know, prisons and things. But what I really liked is that this book made clear what the industrial complex part was, and not just the prison part, right? Like, it’s like Pac, I’m like, okay, but the I see that industrial complex, I’m cute. I’m more curious about that. So that was really helpful. I love that they used examples of real people in each section, who had experienced whether it was like children who had had police officers in their schools or whatever. I also loved the way that the book kept making me ask questions of the system of like, for example, it was like, Oh, the asylums job is to like, keep people in it longer. And I’m like, why would that be? Who benefits? Like, I kept having these questions of like, Who benefits from this? Which I always love that feeling? Because usually, for me, the answer is like capitalism, like the people who own prisons, I’m like, good, Traci, you’re thinking you’re getting that. So I love that. And then the other thing that like, is such a huge part of this book, or it’s such a huge thing that came up for me when I was reading this book, was how people who write about abolition or talk about abolition, or organizer and abolition how much they have to know, because so many, like, a normal book would be about education, and it would have a section on Student Resource Officers. And you talk a little bit about policing in schools. This book, every frickin chapter, there’s a huge history lesson in the middle of like, Okay, what did where did this come from? How do we get here? And I just was thinking, like, holy shit, these authors had to do research on seven different subjects, and do what’s going on now. And the facts and figures now and the recent history, and then also the deep history and like, take it back to slavery and take it and I was just like, whoa, in your first episode with me, like, obviously, if you listen, you can hear how smart you are and how many things you know about, but it’s not like, when you say prison abolition or whatever. It seems really small, right? It seems like this one idea of like, how can we do you find the police? When you read this book, and you’re like, holy shit, these people are so smart. They understand this country way too. Well, I want to die. How will I ever learn this? Like, I was just so overwhelmed by like, the scope. And it’s like 250 pages, like this scope of a 250 page book is taking me all over the country, in and out of this and that, and I also love that they featured especially in the later half of the book, a lot of different organizations who are doing the work. I really appreciated that too. Because I think for me, and for other people that I’ve spoken to, it’s like, well, how can I help? Or like, where do I go? And it’s like, there’s a million people in just this book, who are doing something ame in my community, like I live, I live in LA, but I’m from Oakland, and every time it was like in the Oakland in the Bay Area, I’m like, sure. There there are people there. So those are like my big, overreaching, overreaching thoughts about the book.

Mariame Kaba 9:52
I wanted to also bring up something that just riffing off of what you just said, was this concept of like, what do abolitionists need to know? So one of the most important things to me about abolition is that the reason why prison industrial complex abolition is begin at the prison is for a reason that I think people don’t often think about, which is that it is, if you think about the kind of one of the most concentrated areas of violence, it’s the prison. If you think of the prison is starting point, because the prison isn’t someplace over there. The prison is something that ties all of us together. And how does it do that? I always do this, when I talk with students all the time. I’m like, I want you as your, you know, audience members, I want you to think, for a second of all the different ways that you yourself are connected to the prison. And you might say, I don’t know anybody who’s locked up in prison. And yeah, you may not know anybody who’s locked up in prison. But did you go to college? Yeah. Did you know that? Maybe some of your furniture was made by people who are incarcerated? one degree of separation? Did you recently watch a true crime series on television? A degree of separation? Do you vote in elections? Well, do you vote for State’s Attorneys? Do you vote for you know, your your state Attorney, meaning your your district attorney, main person? Who’s the chief law enforcement officer of your like, do you pay taxes? How about do you I mean, like the list? It radiates out, which you know, Ruth Wilson Gilmore always tell people that that’s why you have to think about prisons as landscapes. And you have to think of them having all these other tentacles that actually reach beyond people are caught trying to be isolated in there. But if COVID taught you anything, right, right, right, that whole notion of virality comes like a lot of horrible things that people think are stuck in the prison. Never stay there. Because people come in and out even just the staff, right, like, so like, these are the things to think about. And this book makes it so apparent that if you look at that, if you centered the prison, you’re not just centering the prison, you’re centering all these other relations. Right? Right. You know,

Traci Thomas 12:34
And if you work backwards, right, like, okay, the prison is the center and you work your way out. It’s like, how do people get to the prison like people who are being incarcerated? Here’s all these different tentacles of how and that’s what this book does. This book is like, okay, great. We agree prison, not great. How do we get there, these different feeder systems and these different feeder systems that you’re trying to reform? Also, not great people not doing? It’s not doing what you think you’re doing? It’s not? I think it’s giving?

Mariame Kaba 13:00
And why does it look like the prison? Why is the thing that you’re supposedly making? This is a point that I consistently have made for many years, and people who know me will be annoyed to hear me make it again. But it is absolutely true. That when you put alternative, and then you say to prison, alternative to policing together into three words, what is constant policing in prison? Yeah, exactly. So all you do is think about what you need to have that is the quote, alternative to what you already use the prisons and policing for right? And then you don’t ever question, for example, why we’re actually locking people up for use of drugs in the first place. Right? So you just think, well, we put drug dealers in prison, so therefore, we have to find a way to do that. For this population of people. We’ve already criminalized When abolitionist are like not we want to explode that very thing from the beginning. We don’t want you to think of an alternative to prison and keep prison constant. We want to ask you, what are the conditions that have to be in place for your and my and everyone’s wellness? Right? That’s the question not, don’t we need cops to be safe? You’ve boxed yourself in right?

Traci Thomas 14:16
You’re starting with cops. Why are we starting with cops? We can be starting with what do we need to be safe? What makes us feel safe? When have we felt safe in the past?

Mariame Kaba 14:25
Brainstorm all the ways you feel safe, right? That’s the place to start. Number one that lets you come on the list. Ever. Thank you. Thank you. A whole bunch of things you’re like, Well, I’d like to have a job that would make me feel safe because I’d be more financially secure. I like my house. I want my house to remain mine. I you know I want I want like green space so my kids can run around freely. I want like you have a whole labors that I know thank you neighbors that you know in a solid relationship someone you can talk to in your home

Traci Thomas 14:59
Friends, a library a place to go to the bathroom and doors? So many transportation that’s free? Yeah, a million. There’s a million things right? Of course. I mean, and that’s the other thing. Like, I think with abolition work like, and like, I don’t call myself an abolitionist cuz I don’t feel like I’m fully there. But I feel like I’m thinking in that way. And like, that’s how I that’s where I want to be. And like, that’s what I’m working towards, which I don’t know if there’s technically a difference. Like, I know that people have different how you class. But anyways, that being said, I think what I really like about it is like, it’s so much easier thinking and more obvious thinking than all the hoops I have to jump through to make police make sense, right? Like, it’s like sort of a freedom of thinking of like, How can I be better like b&q could get people housing like, this is fun. What does that look like? As opposed to like, Hey, it’s okay for the police in my neighborhood to come and rip down people’s tents on the streets of Los Angeles. Because that is good for sprouts. Like, it’s like, that’s a lot of mental gymnastics for me. Whereas like, giving people a home, yes, that works for at work like that works for who I want to be and who I say that I am. And like, how I want the world to be. So this book does a lot of that to have like, sort of reinforcing who I think that I want to be in a lot of ways. And also like this book armed me not to use violence language, but it helped me to like, have talking points for future conversations with people because I think and I’m sure you know this, when you talk about abolition, and you say that it’s something that you believe in, it immediately becomes a confrontation. Well, what about this? How about that data? Do you think? Do you think child protective services are bad? What about it? And it’s like, whoa, okay, let’s talk about it as it’s like 50 books at 53% of black children, by the age of 18, will have had some sort of experience with Child Protective Services, Department of Health insecurity, that 53% of black children, and it had some other statistic that I didn’t write down that was like, of children who have had those experiences, like a quarter of them end up in prison. Yes. Like, so talk to me about like, if we want to have this argument, if you want to fight me on this, like, let’s go. And this book gave me like, facts and figures, because you know, those people love the fact that a figure, it’s like, oh, this makes sense. No, I need literal data. Who said it? Who, who said it? But you know, literal data, and they still won’t be okay. Because it’s not about the data. It’s about the feelings. And I really, I really tell people this all the time, which is why I don’t spend I’m not an evangelist for abolition. I never, I have never wanted to and I don’t go out there trying to convert people to the cars, right. Dylan Rodriguez, who’s a longtime abolitionist, and he’s a professor in California, at Irvine, I think always says there’s no such thing as an individual abolitionist. There’s no such thing. There’s abolition. And then there’s all of us trying to friggin come together and come up with the collective project around. I love that. I love that for two reasons. One, because like I was saying, I don’t know if I’m an abolitionist like, to me that feeling of having to define something as like, what’s the qualification? And that’s less helpful for me, where it’s just like, I’m working towards this. Right. That’s all good. i That’s with other people. Yeah. I mean, I’m not leading. I’m just putting my money in the right places. I’m listening to the right people. Like that’s all I’m doing. But it is something that I believe in and like that I want to see and I you know, I’m sure you feel this way probably won’t see a full police in prison abolition in my lifetime, or maybe ever. But like, I guess that’s actually a really important question that I didn’t get to ask you last time that I want to ask you. Yeah. Which is, you’re a person who’s been dedicating your life to this work in community with others. And as we talked about, you know, you have hesitation about being upfront and all of these things.

In the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd and, and also in connection with COVID, I think I think people downplay what COVID did for abolitionist thinking. People started talking about it, it was on the ballot, essentially, as they say, yeah. How did that feel for you? Because your name gets thrown around, right? It’s like Merriam Cava said, this, I read we do this, like, it’s on all the interfaces, reading lists, and all of a sudden, whether you ask for it or not, you’re in the front and your name. It’s like you Angela Davis, Ruth, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, like, so I’m, and we know that you’re sort of opposed to being in the front of all these things. And also, we know and I’m sure you knew at the time, like even though people were excited about this stuff, it wasn’t going to change overnight. There’s so much work to be done. As soon as people recognize this there was gonna be pushed back on all these things like you understood it better than anyone else, probably or better than most. How did it feel for you to see people walking down the street saying defund the police and prison abolition now and getting in these debates publicly,

Mariame Kaba 20:02
You have to, I think the the benefit of living a life and doing something for a while, is the ability to see the thing that was ridiculed a minute ago shift and change being taken seriously. And I have seen that 20 years ago or more, when I would be in rooms that were doing, I was doing anti criminalization organizing and you would say you were the abolitionist, you would be laughed out, right, easily. People would just be like, oh, you know what I mean, it was not a thing for people to really be able to wrap their brains around, even though incarcerated people and others had been writing and thinking about PAC prison in prison abolition, at least, for a very long time. Even before way before I came into being of consciousness around this. I grew up like most of us as a preservationist. I was a police and police in prison preservationist, why wouldn’t I be? I grew up in New York City, I was born in 1971. I grew up with criminalization as the weather, but the climate as the water, I, how could I have been anything other than a preservationist, right? I always tell people that the hardest thing to do in the world is to change your mind and your worldview, and then to admit that you’ve changed your mind your worldview, right? It’s so hard. It’s so hard, right?

Traci Thomas 21:30
But once you do it, it feels like it’s not hard. And yeah, it’s like, it’s incredibly it’s like, I didn’t know I was wrong.

Mariame Kaba 21:39
I didn’t know what I wasn’t wrong. I thought I was right at the time. And now new information is coming, right? Oh, my God, I’m taking that in. And I’m shifting as a result like that, you know, but anyway, so going back to your question, it was both surreal in one way, but also what I expected, and another, I love that, I feel like people will come to knowledge about these things, because I believe in human beings. I believe in us. I think that over time. I think first of all, most people are good. In terms of not and I don’t mean like good people. I mean, most people want to do good. Like I really genuine, that is a fundamental value and belief in my life. Some other people think that people are fundamentally wired to do evil. And that is not me. And so because I believe that people want to do good, I know that when things get presented, that allow people to see the good that can come out of those actions, but they will be more likely to go in that direction. And so for me in that way, it was kind of like, common sense. Like, you know, this thing is gonna be getting formed. Don’t This is okay, you you hear them talking about that. And also what is reformed re form, right? That means the form is constant, if something at its core and at its root is violent, and toxic, re forming, that leaves the toxic thing in place, and you just put some new wrapping around the toxic thing, but the toxic thing is still the form.

Traci Thomas 23:27
Right, right.

Mariame Kaba 23:28
I know when people figure that stuff out, people are like, um, yeah, I kind of know this is going on. I’m still scared. Yeah, I don’t know what else I worried. The thing we have right now feels like it’s a stock gap. And it’s potentially like, plugged into the hole as soon as we pull it out, the gusher is gonna come up. I so that’s why I value people who will just admit that it’s feelings that Elon admit that they’re just fearful and scared and that they’re trying to figure stuff out like that I totally get what I don’t get are people who are out? No, maybe I do get it. Because there are also people who are invested in authoritarianism and control. And think that some people just need to be socially controlled. And those people usually look like me. And you and others, right? So yeah, so like that, that I get like the people who want to use these tools of social control and really just kind of suppression and repression, there’s them and then there are people who are just scared and then there are people who don’t think about it that much because they’re preservationist, because friggin criminalization is the water and the climate. And you know what? You would never think about it like we’re right. To me, it’s a miracle that you are at a point in your life where you are rethinking things right and what I mean by that miracle is why should you there don’t hold that this is the quote nor literally fed all the cop again, that’s all you get. The cops are good, Officer Friendly comes to your school. You would like to think differently in light of that is shocking. Yeah. To give people time. And so yeah, so those are the things I saw. And I noticed and I think going back to the book in a minute, to me, the thing that I really appreciate, is they lay out so so clearly for us. The concept of the net widening,

Traci Thomas 25:23
Right, aim fire. That’s how they, I think it’s mark some Corbett who say, Ready, Aim Fire, and then whoever the target whoever has hit becomes the target. That’s exactly right. And the kind of the ready fire aim, that’s how they phrase it ready fire aim.

Mariame Kaba 25:40
The huge kind of net widening that’s constantly occurring, because as they say, on page 199, moving towards real freedom will mean taking criminalization out of the equation. Now, when you say that, that seems like such a simple sentence, that’s quite scary to me seems scary to take out homos ation, because then what are we going to do with these people who we need to put somewhere else? Right?

Traci Thomas 26:04
Well, and also like, I mean, this is kind of goes back to what I was saying last week, or last time about consequence. And punishment is like, not only is the prison industrial complex, it’s this whole big thing that touched all the things but we learned punishment from one more teeny tiny, so like, even set even before you’ve ever seen a police officer, even before any of that you are learning that there is somewhere else you have to go when you do something wrong, right like that there is a timeout somewhere for you. Or there is, you know, or if you were certain people, like there’s a spanking that came your way, or there’s some sort of punishment that you’re learning. And there’s some sort of criminalization from such a young age from an even a parent like me, who’s like, I’m trying really hard not to do that. I still do it. My kids are still learning that sometimes. And I have twins. Yeah. So sometimes with twins, it’s hard. Because one twin is physically attacking the other twin, and you’re trying to have a conversation about accountability. And you’re getting like smacked in the face by spaghetti noodles. And it’s like, listen, someone has to take a break someone, we have to go in separate spaces, everybody, we have to be put somewhere else, right? And you learn that from an early age, even if I come back in after and I say sorry, we had to take a break. Let’s talk about it. Like there is this learning that happens? Because I can always control my emotions like, key, you know, and like, I’m the person in power. And sometimes the person in power is wrong and doing bad things like

Mariame Kaba 27:34
I know, the power is a human being who’s also scared also scared, and afraid.

Traci Thomas 27:38
Also scared, and frustrated and overwhelmed. Yes.

Mariame Kaba 27:42
Yes, that are happening. As a parent, I think about this all the time. My youngest siblings are twins, and saw them, you know, saw that whole thing. It’s not easy. Okay. So given all of that, and given the what you just mentioned, I think about the concept of punishment. When we think about punishment as as kind of a thing that we are just fed for forcefully from the time we’re a very, very small person, and we go and we grow up, and then we replicate what we grew up doing. And it just becomes a cycle of things that are happening. When you tell people No, don’t punish. Um, how are people going to react to that?

Traci Thomas 28:22
It doesn’t almost doesn’t make sense. It feels like it feels like a foreign language. Right? I agree. Like, that’s why my question to you last time about like punishment first consequence, it’s like the I don’t know that I understand. Yeah, difference like I do on paper. But in practice, I’m like, am I punishing? Am I giving a consequence? Like, did I take the thing away? Because the thing was what was causing the problem in the moment, and we had to stop the thing? And now we have to talk about it? Or should I take the thing away? Because I was annoyed by the thing, and I wanted it to be turned off. That’s punishment.

Mariame Kaba 28:54
Those are the questions you should ask me all the time. And moving towards having clear answers. My thing is, if you are inflicting pain and suffering on another person, that’s a punishment, right? Pain and suffering on another person is punishment. An example of what is a consequence is if somebody is harming a bunch of people in a particular space, and you say, you got to step down from your position of power, where you’re harming a bunch of people. Yeah, that’s a consequence. That’s not a punishment. That is a person who has major power, who is wielding on unchecked harms on people, you got to D platform, that person, you got to tell them that is not punishing that person. Do you know why it’s not punishing that person? Because you’re not saying that person can’t get another job? Right? You’re not taking away their freedom of movement. Like you know, like, literally you’re not eating them as a result. You are saying, You can’t do this anymore because us as a society, we’ve decided we don’t believe this shit should be going on in our right, right, yeah, you have to stop number one. Number two, you have to make amends. And we’ll tell you what we think needs to be that amends. If you don’t want to take this accountability and this responsibility, we’re gonna have to figure out some other way to get you out of a place where you can keep harming other people right now, that doesn’t have to be a prison. Right? Why can’t we use our collective imaginations to figure out what else we have deep enough? You know? Yeah, that’s the difference consequences are things that are as a result of your actions. This is a thing that cannot continue. And here are the steps you need to take in order to make this right. Right as possible, because you’re not going to ever make it good. And you’re never going to be able to take back the harm you already did. The wounds exist, they may heal. But even when you touch a healed wound, in a certain kind of way, no scar, there may also still be pain. There may also also that doesn’t go away, because you took responsibility or you took accountability. Right. Right. So we have to figure out Yeah, go ahead. No, sorry,

Traci Thomas 31:07
I should say what I think is really interesting about what you’re saying. And what I’m thinking about is that consequences and punishment often have been linked. And so I think it’s hard to imagine sometimes get that one as a consequence, and not actually punishment, right? Like that. There’s not the like, vindictive nature kind of behind it. And I feel like that’s what’s hard, because like, you know, taking this down to my kids, again, because that’s what I’m obsessed with these days is because they’re almost three. So it’s really in that age of like, okay, we have to have consequences is that they might feel pain or suffering in the moment when they lose the toy that they’ve been throwing through the window. Yeah. But it doesn’t consequence, because that is directly tied to the harm that they were causing. And that’s directly tied to something, you know, like, it’s not like, I’m like taking away their food. Yeah, I’m not saying you can’t have dessert because you broke a window. I’m saying you can’t have this toy that broke the window right now. And, and I feel like sighs con right. Appropriate consequence, I think maybe when a consequence is outsize that it can become punishment. Exactly.

Mariame Kaba 32:14
What kind of consequence for the actions, right? Like, for example, you should feel uncomfortable when you’ve harmed people you should feel upset. You should feel badly, because you did something bad? Like I think we, I don’t agree with people who say like, oh, you know, of course, you should feel bad. And that feeling bad should be the motivator for you to want to feel less bad by taking accountability. Accountability is a gift to the cause harm, because they have a way forward, it means they have a way to be able to deal with the fact that they feel guilt. That is a gift, I’m giving you a gift of accountability. I’m saying to you, here’s space for you to take accountability for what you did. That is not a friggin punishment, that is a gift to you. Because again, a corollary of giving people an opportunity to take accountability is the equivalent of you know, when somebody when a harmful thing happens to a person, and you’re grieving as a result of that. Accountability is the corollary for the person who caused harm.

Traci Thomas 33:23
Right, right. Yes. Do you see? Yes, I see. Wow.

Mariame Kaba 33:29
So that is something again, we have to change the culture such that people can understand that. So I’m not saying you don’t get a consequence for bad actions. You have to you have to just let people have been so I’m saying what’s the right size response to that? And I think prisons are not that

Traci Thomas 33:47
right. Is it being locked away in a cage?

Mariame Kaba 33:50
chamber for 15 years? I say no, but I don’t say no to like, a bunch of things we can do. We can find people money because they are needing to pay back money that they gave to people, we can figure out a way to remove people from the situations that they’re in without putting them in a cage. We get like there’s a million possibilities of work right often, but I think because we we feel vengeance feels good. We don’t want to give up that part. Right. vengefulness

Traci Thomas 34:21
Right. Right. Okay, we’re gonna take a quick break, and then we’ll be right back. Okay. Don’t yell at me if this is a bad question. I’m nervous because I am not sure. When we talk about reform, we’re reforming the system. Right. And we’re, as we mentioned, we’re doing a thing to fix a thing that may be broken forever. It’s not it’s working how it’s supposed to work, but we don’t agree that it should be working this way. It’s probably a better way of phrasing it. Yeah. Is defunding the police. For example, is that a reform?

Mariame Kaba 34:55
Yes. It is a reform is a reform what it means is there’s a difference. And I’ll just share this because it might be helpful to people who are listening like, well, are all reforms back? Well, listen, a reform, that is a step away from the current death making institutions that we have towards something different and hopefully better, could be characterized as a, quote, reform in the moment. But what it doesn’t do is put obstacles in our way towards where we’re heading. So what we don’t want to do is have reforms that I’ll be back here in two years talking to you. And we have to now dismantle, get rid of those two, get rid of those two, because we just put together something we didn’t think through. And what it ended up doing was widening the net, criminalizing more people, making people less, you know, safe, making people feel poor, what actually the poor, you just want to do that. So defunding, here’s what I always try to explain to people about defunding, defunding the police means taking resources from policing and putting them into the comments, other places where people will be able to have life affirming institutions that actually edify them. Okay. So that’s that’s the basis of default right? Now, what people will say many abolitionist are like defund isn’t an abolitionist, necessarily inherent abolitionist step, right? Because you can defund police and still put funds into institutions that replicate policing. One, that’s what we have in this book. And that’s what this book is telling us. This book is giving us that like caution, and saying don’t defund police as the institution, and then put money into mental health courts that only find a way to actually future continue to criminalize people. But now, they are given electronic monitors, and they’re incarcerated in their homes because they have a mental illness. Right? We don’t want to do that. So militias are always thinking and asking kind of generative questions about what do we put in place that we don’t have to come back in two years to to focus on fixing. How are we putting things steps in place that don’t put new obstacles in the way towards the abolitionist horizon? We’re trying to reach right. So that’s why you hear a lot of abolitionists that I’m not against reform, that’s not what I’m talking about. In fact, people will say, we want to actually have steps in the direction of the horizon, we’re trying to go at every question, every thought has to be like, is this increasing the possibility towards freedom and liberation? Or is it decreasing the possibility towards freedom and liberation? If the thing I’m putting in place? The answer is it’s decreasing the possibility of freedom and liberation, then we don’t want to do it. Right. That’s simple.

Traci Thomas 37:52
Right? And you have, and we do this. So we free so you have like a little thing. It’s like a list of like, is this reform doing this? Or is this reformed? It’s really, it’s very helpful. Yeah. Um, okay, one of the things in the book, that I was like a real mind blower for me, and this is gonna maybe sound very dumb, but I’m gonna preface this as I’m a person who has never done an illicit drug in my life. Just for whatever reason I’m square bear. I’m not was never enticing to me. I have a lot of energy. And I’m very social. And I think a lot of people use drugs in those situations. And I just, it’s never appealed to me anyways, no judgment. Yeah. But a thing that had never truly never occurred to me until I read this book, was that there are people who are incarcerated or on monitors are on probation, for drug use, who do not have a problem with drugs. Yeah, of course, I just think that I always felt like, Oh, they’re drug addicts they need they need to be put away somewhere. Because they have a problem with drugs. They’re unsafe, they’re harming people when they’re doing drugs. And of course, I know that that is not true. Because I know people who have been in trouble with the law for smoking weed. And I know that they also live very full meaningful lives and have children and are happy people and do it once every month, or whatever, or once a week or every day, whatever. But they don’t have a problem. And I don’t know. I mean, I do know. The other thing this book taught me is that the prison industrial complex and all of its tentacles have the best PR people on the face of the planet. Hello. Because things that I know and that I think about for two seconds that I know like this, it becomes increasingly clear how indoctrinated I am in the system, even though I think that I’m like doing the work and like trying to help I’m like, I didn’t it never dawned on me that people who are arrest who have drug charges against them could have just been caught at a party smoking weed or doing a line or whatever. Like, I have so many friends who that applies to family members. Yes. And I think that like another big mind blower for me in this book and it’s in your or books to is sometimes the answer is do nothing. Thank you. I mean, that feels so hard. But it feels hard because it’s like, what are we going to do? Yeah, I think not an answer. That’s not an answer. That’s an

Mariame Kaba 40:12
That’s not a solution, that’s not an answer. And that’s not what. And it’s like, they point out in the book, the case of Monica Jones, Monica Jones, who was arrested for sex work, and then put in the forced rescue program or row program, the rose program. And like Monica Jones says, at one point, the people are like, well, what would have been the solution? And Monica Jones is like, decriminalize sex work and make it safer for us to actually do the work we’re doing. Like, why are you asking me this question? Right, this

Traci Thomas 40:42
feels obvious. It’s like, don’t

Mariame Kaba 40:43
it’s like do nothing, I don’t need to be in the rescue program in Arizona for like doing sex work, right? You know,

Traci Thomas 40:55
And also, like, during work hours, five days a week, and for six, it’s like, this doesn’t make, because here’s the thing, this is what I don’t understand. This is what makes me want to just like, punch people is like, Okay, this system is in place to air quotes help people, right? Like, that’s what we’re told. That’s how I think that when you’re a person who doesn’t think about this critically, that’s how you justify it, right? Like, we’re gonna help people, someone has a drug addiction. Someone is a sex worker, we’re gonna help. Yeah. The things that are in place to help are so harmful, even if you remove like, even if you put a prison in the nicest hotel in the world. And just like if you put it in the Ritz Carlton in Bali, okay, great, great property, I’m sure. But it’s still prison. Yes. There’s not things in police there that are solving any problem. Nothing. And like this rose program for sex workers is, how am I helping this person find a different career? If I’m saying you need to be at work, you need to be in class from 6am to 3pm, Monday through Friday, learning about Jesus. I go, like, that’s the part that I’m like, make it make sense. Yeah. If you’re telling me that I have to go to drug court because I’m a drug addict, because I got caught doing a bump of coke at a party. And my repercussions are that I can’t go anywhere, including my job. Or maybe I can go to my job. But I can’t, like, I have to go to this class for six hours every week. And I can’t do this. And I can’t do that. How am I even if I’m in treatment, that is actually a functioning form of treatment, which many of them aren’t? Yeah, like it doesn’t. The solution that you’re providing is antithetical to the thing that you want me to do? Well,

Mariame Kaba 42:53
And but let’s go back to what I said before, when we met last time and talked about Stanford beard, that the purpose of the system is what it does. And if you keep that in mind, you will look at the outcome of that system, which doesn’t actually help the person doesn’t actually let the person go and find another job if that’s what the outcome of instead has this person jumping through hoops who pursued evading over and over again, getting revitalizing. If that’s what’s going on. The purpose of that system is that it’s to make people on the hamster wheel. Alright, hamster wheel and sleep. Right, right. You’re continuously criminalized, being sent somewhere else. That’s the purpose of the system. And I know it’s aided here.

Traci Thomas 43:45
I hate this so much. God dammit, we’re so fucked. What is wrong with us? Like, this is your like, I just, I hear what you’re saying. And I get it and like, says it and you say it. And I know and like, as soon as you start thinking about it, and like reading this book, it was like, the elite. How about the fucking Student Resource Officer who went to that young child’s home over stolen calculators? I could fight.

Mariame Kaba 44:16
No, I’m okay. You know what, you know, this is the thing. And the question doesn’t ever get asked, like to me, we just saw I think people probably paid attention to this because it was so horrific. What happened in Uvalde Oh, my God, I can’t even okay. But I was hopeful that that was going to dislodge something in the conversation around school resource quote unquote, officers, which is just cops. So if all of that is there, and we’re all those cops were hanging out, and they spent almost an hour doing nothing, nothing. Why are we in this position of not interrogating? Why they are there? You’re

Traci Thomas 45:00
right. And like the thing that also came out during that time was like I didn’t was not familiar with the Supreme Court case. But the case that’s like the police don’t have to do anything. Absolutely. They don’t have a duty to protect. So you guys have all these toys and costumes and protective gear and weapons and games and things. And you don’t even have to use them. No, like, let’s defund that. Yeah, I know, like, Let’s do fun, the toys that you don’t have to use no people, but you’re not going in. Why are you still here,

Mariame Kaba 45:31
But there’s a political investment in having them still here. And this is the point that I keep wanting people to think more deeply about. Because remember that every time you mentioned the concept of defunding people say, I don’t like that word, it doesn’t mean whatever. I want reform, reform the police, okay, they scream about that. But you say, Okay, we’ll take all these resources away from them. And they don’t want that either. So the issue is not that people are mad at the word, it’s that people don’t want to take resources away from the Deaf making institutions. Right? Can we just be honest about that and start there. They think that those deaf making institutions are what keep them quote, safe. And therefore, everything you propose, that may be a quote, reform has to not actually get at the root, it has to be cosmetic.

Traci Thomas 46:22
Honestly, like your body camera more resources, yes, more.

Mariame Kaba 46:25
term money, more resources going to them, training, more resources going to that every suggestion by the quote, reformers, is to increase the size and scope of the debt making institution not to decrease its power. Right? And if you do that, then it’s because people are interested in the politics of those institutions.

Traci Thomas 46:47
Right. And so in, in we do the slavery, as you say this, there also was like, I listen, anybody who’s new to like, abolition work like me, it feels like everything is mind blowing, because I think some of it is that you all are helping to articulate things that I think and feel but can’t quite say or can’t haven’t been able to work through. But in in your book, you talk about how rich white neighborhoods have a form of abolition. Yes. Because they have they they they have a world in which if they need the police, they can call the police. Right. I didn’t want the police. Yeah, sorry.

Mariame Kaba 47:28
Let me say what I really mean by that. I don’t mean that those spaces are abolitionist, I mean, specifically more, that those spaces have an abundance of resources, and that the cops still exist in those kinds of spaces. But they don’t. They’re not in the space, they are the they are the thing that makes that space possible. Right. Right. So like the, in a way, if you think about it, these are the ways where people with resources, so Jimmy is caught with drugs. Jimmy goes to court, everybody knows Jimmy can go to court treatment, Jimmy actually gets that opportunity to go ahead and do that. Because he’s resource he has people the judge sees his I was willing to give him a chance, all this kind of thing. Jamal gets the same exact situation going on and Jamal gets incarcerated for that particular situation, right? If that is because we are embedded in a system that has racism, sexism, all those things in place, the outcomes end up being very different for those same people. The white suburb thing like is, I think, more complicated than what I talked about in the book, what I meant was like trying to use an example to get people thinking about what if we provided people with the resources they needed, not the criminalization, and in those spaces, that is usually the first response. Right? And then they still have the cop, they still use the cops as usually deployed to other places to actually preserve their own gated communities, right, like the cops are there to keep the other people at bay. Not that. Right. Right. Like that’s the case. But that’s not an abolitionist. Right? Right. That’s just the way that these resources get deployed in us. That means it can use the resources differently. It’s what I wrote.

Traci Thomas 49:18
And I think also like kind of to that point is that those people are not engaging with the police every single day. So this idea that the police should be defunded to them means nothing because they’re not getting stopped and frisked, they’re not least aren’t just following them, neighbor back. And so they’re not this omnipresent, no force in their life and so other people, other people, but yes, but not for them. So it’s like, well, how much are we funding the police? Like they’re not even around? You know, so I feel like that’s also part of it is like, they’re not seeing it and by design, of course, that’s what the police want. Like, we want to keep your community safe by being this first line of defense for people to get in to your country. Unity, so we can fuck with people on the outside and you never see it and we can keep our toys and our perfect exactly right. Yes, yes. Well, I’ve never thought of that until I read that in your book. And I was like, Oh, of course this makes sense. Okay, we’re, of course running out of time. This is like horrendous for me. But I want to I kind of teased us last time, I really want to talk about alternatives. Because I think for me, that is the hardest part to comprehend. Because, for me, I know a lot of this stuff is fucked, right? Like, you don’t have to explain to me that a police officer going home with a child to search his house for a calculators is a problem. Yeah, you don’t have to explain to me that more people are part of the criminal industry or the part of what do they call it? Prison nation is what they call in the book, more people part of prison nation now, because of the monitors and the probation and all this stuff than ever were before and that it hasn’t like that there’s more people on probation than there are incarcerated. Like, I know, that’s bad, because I know what that means. And what that looks like. The part that’s the hardest for me is the alternatives. Is the solutions is the imagination part. That’s hard. That’s really hard work for me. For some people, it’s probably not.

Mariame Kaba 51:12
No, it’s hard on all of us.

Traci Thomas 51:13
It is. I wasn’t sure. Derricka made it sound so possible. She’s such a beautiful spirit.

Mariame Kaba 51:20
No, it’s hard for all of us. Why? Because of what we talked about earlier, which is that these things are the weather and the climate and the water.

Traci Thomas 51:28
And we are doing really good with climate these days.

Mariame Kaba 51:31
Ok, this is what’s going on! So like, right course, it’s hard. My friend Erica miner says this all the time. And it’s absolutely true. She’s written this, which is that liberation is unthinkable by design. liberation is unthinkable by design. And that is because you’re in it. You’re in the muck. You’re in the slog, all the, you know, Morgan, Jessica says this about the fact that why it’s so hard to uproot oppression, it’s because the very systems that we’re trying to uproot live within us. So we are all those things. So of course, your imagination has a ceiling on it.

Traci Thomas 52:10
But it’s not supposed to. That’s what we’re taught our imagination- limitless. It’s like, you start to try to imagine and you’re like, Oh, my God, there’s no all these knows. And my way.

Mariame Kaba 52:18
I always say this, that oppression puts a ceiling on our imagination. Like, literally liberation is unthinkable by design. We can, it’s hard for you, you live this, what else is there? Who knows. That’s why here’s what I always say. And people get very mad at this. And I don’t care, which is that we’ll figure it out by working to get there. We will figure it out together by working to get there. And here’s an example of that. When you talk about you want to think about alternatives. So let’s say if you know that crime quote unquote, is your main indicator of community wellness or well being, it isn’t mine. Okay, harmless, harmless for me, because some things are criminalized, and they’re not harmful, and some things are harmful, that are not, right. So arm is my vector. But let’s say crime is your main indicator. Okay. And you would be interested, I think, to learn that community investments actually reduce it. So here’s an example in the late 1990s. In Philadelphia, I always bring this up, because I think it’s something that people don’t ever think about, they kind of launched a program that was supposed to kind of breathe new life into the city’s neighborhoods, and to offer support specifically to low income homeowners who did not have resources in order to renovate their homes. Right. So this was a big thing that they came up with. So the initiative actually gave residents who were primarily in black and brown neighborhoods, up to $20,000 that they could draw down for Hong Kong repair. And they prioritize things like structural fixes that were like plumbing, roofing, etc. Recently, we found out that new research that had been done on that there were about 13,000 recipients of these grants that got this money, and they found that the blocks were the homes were repaired, actually experienced 22% less crime, and 22% less homicides than they would have, if not for the repairs.

Traci Thomas 54:19
So incredible. Like that. It’s incredible.

Mariame Kaba 54:23
That’s an actual decrease that with people who want best practices and measurement and data, right? You could show them do that study and you could be like, Okay, here’s the situation. So what we should do is take money from the cops and put it in that renovation program, right? We’ve actually increased that and put that in blocks and communities across the country that are struggling economically, black, brown, white, poor, rural, whatever, give them those resources. And then let’s see what happens to co crime and homicides. In five years, right, right, that to me is an alternative. Right? You don’t think about it in that way, because you’re thinking like the alternative to prison, the alternative. Right, like, but that is that is doing what you say you want to do, which is to increase people’s wellness, decrease crime and decrease homicides. That’s happening right there. That’s an alternative.

Traci Thomas 55:29
Right? Because like, the alternatives are not one to one. No. And then I want anything, right, a million. There are a million things. And I think for me, again, I love a rule. I’m a very regimented rule kind of person. If you tell me, don’t step on a crack, you’re gonna break your arms back. I’ve not stepped on a craft since I was like, I’m just falling. So for me, I’m thinking, what’s the alternative to this? It’s gotta be this. Yeah. them saying in this book? No, it’s not one to one. I was like, wow, I have opportunities. Now to think about other like, it’s that simple for me. Yeah. And I think also part of it is like, as I’m saying, like, as a person who loves a rule and regulation, I respond really well to consequence. And I know a lot of people don’t Yeah, and I know, this is very much a me thing. Yeah. And so a lot of the time I’m like, Well, that sounds great. If I got in trouble for this, I’d love to go on a treatment program. You treated move on, like, because I know I would respond. Well, yeah. Like this is a great opportunity for like, that’s just my personality. And I think that’s also hard with abolition. And you talk about this in your work like that feelings can’t be the guiding factor. Right. And like, that is hard harbors were selfish. Right. We and we see the world through our own experiences. Yeah. And so it’s hard. But I feel like if once I started to think it’s not one to one, yeah, it’s not one thing. Yeah. And then it’s not one thing for one, like, like, it’s not like, Okay, if you renovate the home, there’s gonna be no more crime. It’s like, okay, we got to renovate the home. But maybe we should implement that community directory, we talked about the detail thing, it’s like, here’s the details of who lives here. What might be in the home, who has these skill sets? Yeah, and like, and it’s not just that, but like, maybe all the maybe all the stores in the neighborhood should have a safe space sticker. So we know like, and that it’s a combination of things that work and don’t work, and that we don’t need to be married to a solution, and I think that’s hard.

Mariame Kaba 57:34
It’s hard. But I also want to point out one point that you made before, which is that you may feel okay with going to treatment, but you would have resources to find a place that would not be a treatment center that replicated a prison, of course, so that the most people don’t have that. So we’re seeing like, we’re seeing, like, the reason why abolition is so to me exciting and capacious, and is that we know that we’re not going to change one thing, we have to change everything. And while other people feel like that’s daunting, I feel like that means we have lived in limitless possibilities to do so much shit. And we can try things, thank you and fail at them. Because guess what Wall Street is constantly trying and failing.

Traci Thomas 58:21
And the prison industrial complex is a failure for reducing harm and increasing safety. It’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing has designed Thank you. But it is a failure for any metric that I have. Or that you might have-

Mariame Kaba 58:34
That I have that where i where i Seriously Why am I an abolitionist? I’m an abolitionist, because I care about harm deeply. Because I’m a survivor of harms. Because I do not want that for other people. And I don’t think these systems, I think they cause harm to other people. That’s why I’m so incensed about it. It’s not because I’m trying to push. The people who talk the most about violence that I know, are all abolitionists, we literally talk about violence and harm 24 hours a day, because not only are we thinking about it from the prison standpoint in the policing and surveillance and when we’re thinking about the interpersonal harms that are happening, and we’re like this, it ain’t even doing stuff for this. Right? We are deeply about that. We care about those systems being concentrated forms of violence, and we want to get rid of those. But we also don’t want to just say you are being harmed, and that’s nothing. That’s why you have so many abolitionists working on transformative justice processes, doing other kinds of things, because we know people deserve to be able to have be well, we weren’t hoping for every one. That’s the point.

Traci Thomas 59:43

Mariame Kaba 59:44
Not for some people, everyone, everybody, everybody, everybody, yeah, including people who harm people because we know they were harmed at one point to like, it’s not just a binary thing. You have to get out of that like this is this and this is that that’s how the world operates. Arab, we’re all we’re all different kinds of things. We’ve harmed people and we also learned, we, you know, are good, do good things and we do bad things like, right? Like, these aren’t just the duality thing, you know?

Traci Thomas 1:00:12
Right, right. We’re of course running out of time I cry because I have like a billion other questions. I’m so I’m like freaking out because I have a million things. But be back and I will. I will we can do more. I’m gonna I’m just gonna need to talk to you regular. I’m gonna just like hi, Miriame. Can I just tell you what I learned today? Not everyone’s an addict. Surprise!

Mariame Kaba 1:00:32
You are always welcome. I enjoyed these conversations.

Traci Thomas 1:00:37
So I want to say one more quick thing that really stuck out to me, which was about gentrification. And it wasn’t a huge part of this book. But it was talking about community policing. One thing about that is that I would be really curious if a community police officer knew that they were a community police officer versus a regular police officer, LAPD looking at you. Curious, curious which of you are community guys. But I again had never really thought about how gentrification I knew that gentrification was harmful for the communities that had been there. Before. I knew that people couldn’t afford it. I knew all these things, people were displaced. I had never really considered. Even though I’m familiar with barbecue Becky and Oakland, which is down the street from where I live, I’d never considered how much policing the gentrifiers do. I do. It’s huge, but it’s not. We don’t talk about that as much as we talk about displacement, which is also huge. Yeah, but it’s one in the same. They’re all connected or connected. Like in the community policing relies on gentrification, a lot of ways to do that work for them.

Mariame Kaba 1:01:42
You what, what is all those stupid next door apps and all the other apps not policing of a different kind?

Traci Thomas 1:01:48
I’m proud to say I’ve never been on one of those. My some of my girlfriends are like, oh, did it I’m like, I put the reason I wasn’t honest. Because I don’t want to know what’s going on. Because I’m very nervous and scared. I get scared. Because, again, I have feelings that are not abolitionist. Right? Like, I feel those things very deeply.

Mariame Kaba 1:02:07
This is my point about abolition, and I always remember that. It’s like I too, when some shit goes down and somebody hurts a person I love. I too. Want vengeance, okay. I just think these people should be buried underground, right? Just get them away from me, I feel those things. And I, myself, you should feel your feelings. Biggest feelings are okay. You I don’t want to codify my feelings into a system that then is put out there and harms a lot of other people. I don’t want to I don’t want to do that’s the difference. Feel my feelings? Do my thing. Maybe personally, I also will do some shitty things.

Traci Thomas 1:02:49
Yeah, I might talk to you. But I talk about you in the group chat. I might call you a bunch of names.

Mariame Kaba 1:02:54
You know, maybe it’s not even a situation where if you were really harmed, I have friends who are abolitionists who believe in baseball bats, and going to people’s houses is an abolitionist strategy, right? Because it’s not, not all abolitionists are rooted in transformative justice, right? People want to find ways to stop violence. Sometimes they think you take a baseball bat and beat people up in the knee and they’ll stop doing dv to their family members. Because you are, you’re saying I will come back next time and beat you with another over that. Right like that. Right ticular incident that’s going on. I have I’m rooted in transformative justice. And I do not believe we can use violence and violence. But there are a bunch of abolitionists who disagree with me on that right. Big Tent of people, we agree that the systemic concentrated forms of violence need to go, they need to be abolished. That’s about it.

Traci Thomas 1:03:47
How you get there, it might be a baseball bat, it might be transformative, it’s really up to you. Reach across the aisle with your baseball bat. Okay, the last things we have to talk about really quickly are the cover and the title. I have minor thoughts about these things. I feel like what’s in the book is so important and powerful that the cover is fine. For me. It’s a little on the nose. I didn’t really care. It’s like read with the spiral of change with barbed wire. I was like, okay, whatever. Yeah, the title. I love a Shakespeare reference. So I’m going for the title. I’m team title, but and I think the title is helpful cuz it tells you exactly what’s in the book. Yeah, but neither of them really jumped out at me in any meaningful way.

Mariame Kaba 1:04:24
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m also with you on the cover not being my I didn’t feel like motivated by the cover. I like I like prison by any other any other name because I think it does tell you what’s in the book. And it also says that what people are trying to do is just replicate. It’s all press. It’s all part of it. It’s over and over again. You just call it a new things. You make a new title, but it’s Chrism. Right, like Yeah, and or criminalization. So I like that title. But yeah, I can I can take or leave the cover itself.

Traci Thomas 1:04:58
I agree. Yeah. This one is such a dream. If you could see my paper with all these other questions, people don’t kill me that we didn’t talk about every single thing in this book. I know. I know. It’s so much it’s so much but anyways, this was such a dream. Mariam has two books in the world to this year. When you have another one coming that you’re working on-

Mariame Kaba 1:05:18
Yeah, I this year I released a children’s book called See you soon.

Traci Thomas 1:05:23
Yes, I do. For my kids. I didn’t know that.

Mariame Kaba 1:05:26
That. Yeah, it’s about a little girl whose Mom’s going to prison. And that’s a follow up for missing daddy, which I put out a few years ago. So I put that out this year with Bianca Diaz is my illustrator beautiful Gisha her art is amazing. And then we put out Andrew Ricci and myself. No more police came out in August. And then I have a book coming out next year, probably in May. It which is called let this radicalized you and it’s about organizing, and organizing. It’s a book that I wish I’m co writing it with my friend Kelly Hayes. And what I’m excited about is that it’s a book I wish I had as a young activist when I was starting when I was still new. And we’re trying to make that book because I haven’t seen anything out there that is similar to what we’re trying to do. So I’m really excited and that’s the book that I have to turn in soon.

Traci Thomas 1:06:17
Ok, I can’t wait to read it. This was such a dream I would tell you all to follow Maryam on Twitter but she’s not she doesn’t want you I got in but I only got in on the stacks. I haven’t requested you on my personal page but I sort of want to so will you look out for me

Mariame Kaba 1:06:35
I can only tell when people told me Mariame they like they contact me via email. They’re like Mariame my friends like people I known for years. Like please open your account so I can get on!

Traci Thomas 1:06:46
Somehow I got in on the sites. I think sometimes you open it up for a little bit and I think I must have gotten in. Yeah, because I was like,I can’t get it. I gotta I have not okay. Anyways, we’ll talk about this off right. But this was such a dream. Thank you so so much and everyone else we will see you in the Stacks.

Mariame Kaba 1:07:03
Take care. Thank you everybody.

Traci Thomas 1:07:10
Alright, y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you to Merriam Kaba for being my guest. And now it’s time to reveal our December book club title. The book is True Biz by Sarah Novic. It’s a novel about a teacher and her students at a boarding school for the deaf. Make sure you listen to next week’s episode on December 7 to find out who our guests will be for this discussion on December 28. If you love the show, and want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks to join the stacks pack. Now is the time to get that reading tracker. Make sure you’re subscribed to this actually listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcasts, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks. Follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram and at the stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stocks podcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Kristian Duenas with production assistants from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designers Robin MacWrite and our theme music is from take your adjusts The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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