An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World

St. Martin’s. Jan. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781250272973. $26.99. POL SCI
In this latest work, Cullors (co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement; author of the best-selling When They Call You a Terrorist) sets out 12 principles for activists in the movement to abolish policing and mass incarceration. Cullors is adamant that current American police establishments cannot be reformed and must be built anew. Here she proposes that accomplishing abolition will require activists to engage in courageous conversation, active forgiveness and accountability, community-building, and thinking creatively about reform. For each precept, she writes an analysis illustrated by examples from her experience and the experiences of other activists, tips for growth, and practical scenarios. Cullors uses her own experiences to illustrate her theories in a way that helps readers make connections. She aims to set out a space for developing healthy communication and reflection skills, which she argues are not taught or modeled effectively in the United States. Cullors invites readers to engage critically with the text, which is accessible to a wide audience; there are key questions at the end of each chapter to help direct readers’ actions.
VERDICT A useful and surprisingly personal handbook for activists. Recommended for all readers interested in social change activism, particularly prison reform and the defund-the-police movement.
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