Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future without Policing & Prisons: Edited by Colin Kaepernick

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Activist Colin Kaepernick shares a collection of powerful essays to fight against the institutions that allow violent policing and prison systems to continually oppress people, especially people of color, in the book “Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future without Policing & Prisons”. 


The Synopsis

Edited by activist and former San Francisco 49ers super bowl quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Abolition for the People is a manifesto calling for a world beyond prisons and policing.

Abolition for the People brings together thirty essays representing a diversity of voices―political prisoners, grassroots organizers, scholars, and relatives of those killed by the anti-Black terrorism of policing and prisons. This collection presents readers with a moral choice: “Will you continue to be actively complicit in the perpetuation of these systems,” Kaepernick asks in his introduction, “or will you take action to dismantle them for the benefit of a just future?”

Powered by courageous hope and imagination, Abolition for the People provides a blueprint and vision for creating an abolitionist future where communities can be safe, valued, and truly free. “Another world is possible,” Kaepernick writes, “a world grounded in love, justice, and accountability, a world grounded in safety and good health, a world grounded in meeting the needs of the people.”

The complexity of abolitionist concepts and the enormity of the task at hand can be overwhelming. To help readers on their journey toward a greater understanding, each essay in the collection is followed by a reader’s guide that offers further provocations on the subject.

Newcomers to these ideas might ask: Is the abolition of the prison industrial complex too drastic? Can we really get rid of prisons and policing altogether? As writes organizer and New York Times bestselling author Mariame Kaba, “The short answer: We can. We must. We are.”

Abolition for the People begins by uncovering the lethal anti-Black histories of policing and incarceration in the United States. Juxtaposing today’s moment with 19th-century movements for the abolition of slavery, freedom fighter Angela Y. Davis writes “Just as we hear calls today for a more humane policing, people then called for a more humane slavery.” Drawing on decades of scholarship and personal experience, each author deftly refutes the notion that police and prisons can be made fairer and more humane through piecemeal reformation. As Derecka Purnell argues, “reforms do not make the criminal legal system more just, but obscure its violence more efficiently.”

Blending rigorous analysis with first-person narratives, Abolition for the People definitively makes the case that the only political future worth building is one without and beyond police and prisons.

You won’t find all the answers here, but you will find the right questions–questions that open up radical possibilities for a future where all communities can thrive.


The Review

This was an absolutely moving and thought-provoking read. These essays really dived deep into the shocking realities for people of color, and the need for police and prison reform in the United States. The racism that has embedded itself into nearly every fiber and nook of the institutions of this nation, from the field of entertainment and athletics to politics and law enforcement, is staggering. 

Yet it was the compelling words and powerful emotions of the writers of these essays and their subject matter. One story that really brought a tear to my eyes and expanded upon my understanding of this topic greatly was My Son Was Executed by an Ideal, based on a conversation with Gwendolyn Woods, the mother of Mario Woods, a young man executed in the streets of San Francisco in 2015, and the writer Kiese Laymon. The honesty and heartbreak of this mother’s story and the shocking realities of the legal system and the protections that the police enjoy, even those who get away with these crimes, will keep the reader engaged yet stunned as this eyewitness event takes center stage.

The Verdict

Engaging, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking, QB turned activist Colin Kaepernick presents a stunning collection of extraordinary writers and their unique perspectives on modern justice in today’s world in the book “Abolition for the People. The shocking realities that not everyone experiences in this nation and the fight for real change are presented perfectly in this book, and everyone in this world should take the time to read this work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Holder of the all-time NFL record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, Super Bowl QB Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 2016 to bring attention to systemic oppressions, specifically police terrorism against Black and Brown people. For his stance, he has been denied employment by the league. Since 2016, he has founded and helped to fund three organizations―Know Your Rights Camp, Ra Vision Media, and Kaepernick Publishing―that together advance the liberation of Black and Brown people through storytelling, systems change, and political education. Kaepernick sits on Medium’s board and is the winner of numerous prestigious honors including Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope honor, GQ magazine’s Citizen of the Year, the NFL’s Len Eshmont Award, the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, the ACLU’s Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award, and the Puffin/Nation Institute’s Prize for Creative Citizenship. In 2019, Kaepernick helped Nike to win an Emmy for its “Dream Crazy” commercial.

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