Let This Radicalize You: Organizing and the Revolution of Reciprocal Care
What fuels and sustains activism and organizing when it feels like our worlds are collapsing? Let This Radicalize You is a practical and imaginative resource for activists and organizers building power in an era of destabilization and catastrophe.
Longtime organizers and movement educators Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes examine some of the political lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the convergence of mass protest and mass formations of mutual aid, and consider what this confluence of power can teach us about a future that will require mass acts of care, rescue and defense, in the face of both state violence and environmental disaster.
book is intended to aid and empower activists and organizers as they
attempt to map their own journeys through the work of justice-making. It includes insights from a spectrum of experienced organizers, including Sharon Lungo, Carlos Saavedra, Ejeris Dixon, Barbara Ransby, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore about some of the difficult and joyous lessons they have learned in their work.
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About the Author
Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator and curator who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. Mariame is currently a researcher at Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, a project she co-founded with Andrea Ritchie in 2018. Mariame has co-founded multiple other organizations and projects over the years including We Charge Genocide, the Chicago Freedom School, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women, Love & Protect, the Just Practice Collaborative and Survived & Punished. Mariame serves on the advisory boards of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Critical Resistance and the Chicago Community Bond Fund. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Nation Magazine, The Guardian, The Washington Post, In These Times, Teen Vogue, The New Inquiry and more. She co-authored the guidebook Lifting As They Climbed and published a children's book titled Missing Daddy about the impacts of incarceration on children and families. Kaba is the recipient of the Cultural Freedom Prize from Lannan Foundation.
Kelly Hayes is the host of Truthout's podcast "Movement Memos" and a contributing writer at Truthout. Kelly's written work can also be found in Teen Vogue, Bustle, Yes! Magazine, Pacific Standard, NBC Think, her blog Transformative Spaces, The Appeal, the anthology The Solidarity Struggle: How People of Color Succeed and Fail At Showing Up For Each Other In the Fight For Freedom and Truthout's anthology on movements against state violence, Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Kelly is also a direct action trainer and a co-founder of the direct action collective Lifted Voices. Kelly was honored for her organizing and education work in 2014 with the Women to Celebrate award, and in 2018 with the Chicago Freedom School's Champions of Justice Award. Kelly's movement photography is featured in "Freedom and Resistance" exhibit of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
"This is a prophetic work, one that will be pressed with great urgency into the palms of friends and comrades, kin and colleagues, and anyone else ready to rise up against machineries of mass death. With great clarity and generosity, Hayes and Kaba model how participants in movements can be tough on systems while being gentle with one another and themselves, nurturing a "counterculture of care" as an integral part of building the next world." --Naomi Klein, author, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal "In this time of perpetual crisis, when too many of our movements are imploding and the work often feels soul crushing, Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba have turned decades of collective wisdom and experience into the text we desperately need right now. This book will radicalize even the 'radicals' by reminding us that to be radical is not to have all the answers or some special portal into transcendent knowledge. It is about seeing and moving differently in the world. It means having the courage to imagine, make mistakes, to trust, listen, learn, think, and rethink; to resist punditry, pedestals, and perfection; to reject cynicism and embrace critical analysis; to plot, to hold on, to care and commune, to show up, to love. They teach us to mourn and organize, and that we who believe in freedom have to rest. And they understand better than anyone what Dr. King meant when he called on us to 'rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.'" --Robin D. G. Kelley, author, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination "Let This Radicalize You is a rich treasury of practical lessons and insights from organizers and activists across many of today's most important sites of struggle. Through deeply moving storytelling, Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba share a stirring vision of commitment and collaboration that is rooted in love, reality, and solidarity--and one that doesn't shy away from the challenges we face inside and outside our movements or the high stakes. This book is a gift for everyone, no matter their level of political engagement, interested in building the new worlds of care and mutual flourishing that we need." --Astra Taylor, author, Remake the World: Essays, Reflections, Rebellions "There is so much incredible goodness between these covers. How I wish I had this wisdom when I was young. Everything within fills me with hope and joy for our future. This book is about reclaiming our humanity and care for one another as we seek to heal ourselves and our world. It is an essential work that can change the course of the history we create each day!" --Lisa Fithian, author, Shut It Down: Stories from a Fierce, Loving Resistance "Let this Radicalize You is geared toward helping young organizers learn to strategize, make critical analyses, and to act effectively and with integrity in the communities they work with. Perhaps most important of all, it shows the need to go beyond having a nuanced critique or organizing one-off events--it is a text that teaches us how to build a movement. The authors have more than succeeded in meeting their task: Let This Radicalize You should be required reading for anyone entering social movements and wishing to eradicate harm and create more liveable futures. But this book is also a movement encyclopedia for anyone who is oriented toward liberation or even slightly curious about what it might mean for us to get there. This is a necessary text for the freedom dreamers, the poets, the seasoned activists, the rebels, and the community builders from all walks of life, because it shows us what it means to be transformed in the service of liberation. Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba show us that freeing ourselves and freeing one another is work, but, importantly, that it is work that can and must be done together." --Robyn Maynard, coauthor, Rehearsals for Living "Let This Radicalize You is a beacon of world-making potential you won't find anywhere else. In the wretched catastrophes of the racial capitalocene, this book is your guide to elsewhere, and it is brilliant." --Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, coauthor, Rehearsals for Living "Let This Radicalize You is part handbook, part liberatory vision, designed to inspire you to deepen your involvement in radical movements while accompanying you along the way. Holding hope amid a dystopian world, Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba created a book that will serve our movements for years to come." --Ejeris Dixon, coeditor, Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement "The compounding crises of this era can so easily drive us into paralysis and despair. This beautiful book pulls us instead toward a politics rooted in our deepest values of care, compassion, and community. Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba have created a visionary and urgently needed guide to cultivating hope and action in treacherous times." --L.A. Kauffman, author, Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism "Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba have produced one of the most essential treatises on mutual aid ever written. It begins and ends with the reality that any movement that truly wants to remake the world has to be founded on one unshakeable principle: care. Let This Radicalize You is a letter addressed to our vulnerable hearts, reminding us that our love, support, and solidarity really can build a whole new world." --Shane Burley, author, Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse