April 23, 2020
In times of need, who do we have? For abolitionists working to build a world without cages, the answer is clear: we have each other. One of the ways we can hold each other through times of need is through mutual aid—the practice of giving others material support. Mutual aid is not charity. Instead, mutual aid is community building and mutual aid is a political protest. We build community by helping each other with our most urgent needs, creating bonds of support and networks of people in communication with each other. And we mount a political protest when we practice mutual aid by rejecting the carceral state mindset which tells us that we are not in solidarity with each other and that we do not have the power to meet each other’s needs. When we practice mutual aid we show that we have the power to build a world with radically different social relations. This is how mutual aid is an abolitionist project—it is one tool that we use to build up the world we wish to live in, the world in which needs and problems are met not by violence and cages but with community. Today’s edition of Jailbreak! will be the first in a 4-part series on mutual aid. We’ll talk with organizers working on mutual aid projects about the struggles, joys, and lessons. We’ll also promote funds that are raising donations and curate a selection of articles about the practice of mutual aid. We hope through this project to start conversations about mutual aid as a revolutionary tool and political practice, and learn from the work happening on the ground. This moment is a moment of need, uncertainty, struggle but also it can be a moment of hope.
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Mutual Aid Funds Spotlight
NYC-DSA Mutual Aid Covid-19 Relief Fund bit.ly/covid19aid This fund supports both individuals requesting small cash assistance and groups who do grocery/supplies deliveries. Mutual Aid for People Impacted by Incarceration https://www.gofundme.com/f/financial-solidarity-mutual-aid This fund will support people impacted by incarcerated, including those who have been incarcerated and families of those currently incarcerated. NYC COVID-19 Response Fund https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8nnys8G2Qc This fund specifically seeks to support Black folk in NYC impacted to Covid-19. Black people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Emergency COVID Relief for Sex Workers in New York https://www.gofundme.com/f/z6w8v5 This fund supports NYC area sex workers, who are especially vulnerable to loss of work and support.
Feature: Mutual Aid in This Moment by Gabby Miranda
When I was ten I spent the summer in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico with my grandparents and great uncle. All those old relatives had something memorable to share with me that summer, and for Abuelo, his words are the clearest part. I don’t know what brand of traumatized I fit into, but it’s the one where sometimes when I’m talking to people about our struggles, I feel no choice but to respond, “my grandpa told me all you need to sleep is to be tired; all you need to eat is to be hungry.” I think I’m saying, “shit’s hard, but we have to be okay,” and move the conversation along.
My grandpa’s point is in tune with the sway and verve of a crowd of voices alternating between - who keeps us safe? We keep us safe. There’s a certain irony to it - making survival sound simple - but if you take the facts into consideration, in the undeniable, breathable, everyday texture that is the lives violated by carceral-capitalism, survival is simple because it’s necessary. We must keep us safe. And because we have to, it’s aspirational. The instance of my actions is tied to what I must do, not what I could do. That we will be able to eat if we are hungry doesn’t literally put food on the table, but it does say to me that my need is enough. Anyone’s need is enough. In times of solitude, such as the current circumstance, I’m brought back to the feeling of Shakur - it is our duty to win - radiating through our chorus.
Read the full article on our website: https://www.abolitionaction.nyc/post/an-essay-on-mutual-aid-in-this-moment
Mutual aid + prison abolition flyer
"We believe in building systems of community food distribution that will extend beyond the epidemic of COVID-19. We believe mutual aid is one step towards the abolition of police, prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers."
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What We're Reading
“To Serve the People”: Contribution to a defense of mutual aid, revolutionary culture, and survival pending revolution - Tim Horras
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice- Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
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Abolition Action Group is a prison abolitionist collective based in NYC.