Rustbelt Abolition Radio works to figure abolition as the political horizon which guides our praxis, which constantly asks us to reorient our journey through the tempestuous waters of racial capitalism. When we speak of abolition, we are striving to articulate and enact a political imaginary and practice that aims at something far more expansive than simply dispensing with police and prisons – nothing short of a world, or worlds, that lie beyond the ecological disaster that is the present, perhaps even beyond the reach of the language currently at our disposal.
“Disability justice is deeply resonant with the abolitionist plot”
Abolitionist praxis is not simply about resisting the most glaring manifestations of the carceral state – such as police and prisons – nor simply about positing alternatives to existing institutions; abolition is equally devoted to, as Fred Moten puts it, “renewing our habits of assembly,” to holding the “ethics of our accompaniment” as an open question. In this regard, our show team continues to learn from the radical practices emerging from the disability justice movement. Disability justice activists have introduced the concept and practice of “collective access,” as a way of talking about the process of creating the conditions for gathering, sharing knowledge, and collaborating across a broad diversity of bodies and minds, for refusing the ableist devaluations and pathologizations which systematically exclude so many people with disabilities even from ostensibly radical organizations, spaces, forums, and media.
Disability justice is thus deeply resonant with the abolitionist plot, which, as Ruthie Wilson Gilmore puts it, aspires toward a radical non-exclusivity, toward a world in which there would be “no boundary or border that would keep somebody in or somebody out.” It is in this spirit of breaking down the walls that separate us that Rustbelt Abolition Radio offers transcriptions of our monthly audio shows, recognizing that this is a modest, yet crucial and necessary, move toward putting the principle and aspiration of collective access into practice. You can find them on each of the episode pages. We hope that this practice can play a small part in affirming, as the queer, gender non-conforming, people of color with disabilities led organization, Sins Invalid, puts it: our commitment to moving together, so that no body is left behind.
We would welcome audience feedback and suggestions on how we can continue to make our show more widely accessible, across the violent geographies of race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, citizenship, and other social configurations. To learn more about the politics of disability justice generally, we recommend Sins Invalid’s Skin, Tooth, and Bone: The Basis of Movement is Our People: A Disability Justice Primer. For more on the relationship between ableism and carcerality, or between disability liberation and abolition, see the seminal text edited by Liat Ben-Moshe (featured on our first episode), L. Chapman, and C. Carey, Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in Canada and the United States.