Day 24 - 28 Love Letters to Black Women
This Black History Month, I am sharing 28 stories of Black women who shaped me and showed me the way towards liberation. Because Black women are often not cited for their ideas, I thought this would be one way to give flowers to those who influenced me.
On Day 24, I would like to celebrate activist and organizer, Mariame Kaba.
When I think of what it means to live a life in solidarity with others, I think of Mariame Kaba. Mariame Kaba is an educator and organizer whose work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, transformative justice and supporting youth leadership development. Kaba founded Project NIA, which seeks to end youth incarceration, and has co-founded several social justice organizations. She has won several awards, and has written extensively on abolition and collective liberation. (http://mariamekaba.com/) As our news continues to be flooded with images of Black people like Tyre Nichols crying out “I can’t breathe,” as their lives are snuffed out by the police, Mariame Kaba’s work to eliminate institutionalized violence is more important than ever.
Kaba advocates using collective power to make significant changes to the criminal legal system. In an interview, she spoke of a lesson she learned early in her life from her father, who was part of the Guinea independence struggle, “‘You are interconnected to everyone, because the world doesn’t work without everyone.’You may think that you’re alone, but you’re never actually alone. This was really important because at a very young age that made me understand the importance of collectivity, and that we can’t do anything alone that’s worth it. Everything worthwhile is done with other people. So that became the soundtrack in my head.” (https://adimagazine.com/articles/mariame-kaba-everything-worthwhile-is-done-with-other-people/)
Kaba’s work embodies what it means to build power collectively to change conditions that oppress. Her work in mutual aid is grounded in the idea that our fate is bound together, and that by building relationships and community, a group of people can act together to make changes to our world so that everyone can survive and thrive. Her work has shown the importance of resisting the idea of the lone hero — instead, change happens when a group of people brings their ideas to the table to co-create together.
Photo taken by Biyeshi Kumsa, Dartmouth College alumna class of 2022
Image Description: Mariame is standing and speaking at a microphone.