What Does it Mean to Defund the Police

Below is the final in a series of essays for the Pittsburgh’s School of Education while I have served as Associate Dean for Equity and Justice. Intentionally NOT diversity and inclusion.

This a form of public pedagogy. Read, write, reflect, talk, take action. Not in that order necessarily. There are myriad ways to do the work of transforming society. Try.every.thing (Ruth Wilson Gilmore, CLR James, Mariame Kaba)

Much appreciation to Courtney Ross, Greg Latshaw, and Cassia Crogan: a dream team to create equity-driven curricula for and beyond the school. This essay is but one of our collective work, made possible by outstanding leadership of Valerie Kinloch


defund the police


In the past weeks, we have witnessed and engaged in the uprisings decrying anti-Black violence at the hands of law enforcement and vigilantes. As noted in in my last essay about the racialization of what is named a riot vs. an uprising, I invited you to think with me about these forms of racialization. We have seen myriad statements from corporations, universities, and other entities addressing not only this moment but also sometimes, as Dean Valerie Kinloch did in her statement, the larger movement and what it demands of us all, particularly of Black people. The American Studies Association’s president released a statement that named this time of global protest as not just an uprising but a rebellion. This statement also made the important distinction that a rebellion is not a revolution, appropriately citing Grace Lee Boggs and Jimmy Boggs.

I am inviting you, again, to think with me about the calls for action and demands we have heard and in which some of us have participated. For many, these weeks have provided wake-up calls, an amazing amount of free webinars, and calls for specific actions. One action in particular has been a demand to defund the police. What does this mean?

Read the full essay here.





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