Mariame Kaba Is a Treasure to Us All

Mariame Kaba

No, my inspirational activist in question is not an illustrated character, but she does prefer articles and posts not use her real image, so here’s Mariame Kaba (in avatar form)– a writer, organizer, educator, and prison abolitionist by whom I’m completely inspired. Like Angela Davis in my first Activist Profile, Kaba is a community organizer whose work focuses on eradicating the prison system and all forms of incarceration and punishment. She’s the founder of many organizations including Project NIA— an organization working to decrease youth violence and incarceration through restorative justice; Chicago Taskforce, which zeroes in on eliminating crime against women and girls; Chicago Freedom School— a program that helps empower and educate youth leaders and activists; Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team— a community group that enables women to research and extinguish the violence and abuse they face as well as many other nonprofits. She also wrote the already infamous We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transformative Justice. As a grassroots organizer in both Chicago and New York, Mariame is one of the leading advocates for community-based collective action to end the cycle of violence that leads to incarceration for primarily Black and Brown people. I first discovered her work through Twitter once I became more active on the network during my senior year of high school as I sought more information on policing, the inherent injustice of the legal system, and how the prison industrial complex disproportionately impacts poor people and people of color. Over the years, Mariame has taught me to think critically about incarceration and criminalization and why we should be focusing on creating a world without police and prisons: a world where people of color aren’t murdered or caged by the government and one where everyone has what they need to be safe and cared for. In reading her writings and studying her work, I’ve become an abolitionist myself and co-founded the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective so we can build an abolitionist future here. I’m inspired by her never ending passion for healing and imaginative beauty and the way she refuses to give up on a world without punishment and suffering.