ear Robyn and Leanne,

I am writing to you from Waawiyaatanong, on the territory of the Anishnaabe, Odawa, Wyandot and Potowatomi peoples. It feels strange to be writing to you both now, after having written so many letters to you in my head when thinking alongside the printed, highlighted, and highly tabbed draft of Rehearsals for Living which sat on my desk as I wrote No More Police: A Case for Abolition (Kaba and Ritchie, 2022), in what often felt like a parallel process of exchanging drafts and dreams for a future without policing - and the structures it manufactures and upholds - with my co-author Mariame Kaba.

I also felt challenged to match the rich, gorgeous, generative, lyrical, almost magical incantations of freedom you conjured for each other and for all of us through your letters, and had to concede early on that I couldn’t come close to doing them justice, my offerings a pale reflection of the beauty and brilliance emanating from the pages of Rehearsals.

Thank you for reminding us of the gift of letters from the heart to comrades in the present and into the future, of the creative craft of letter writing, of the imaginative possibilities fueled by a carefully chosen phrase, and for the invitation to step outside of and beyond the constraints of journalistic and academic writing and exchanges of ideas - including this invitation into an experimental session format – in recognition that our imaginaries of possibilities for living otherwise are constrained by the structures in which we think, communicate, and critique the world as it is now. Your courageous and gorgeous exploration of epistolary form has encouraged me to return to the art of letter writing in my personal life, and to revisit the letters written by and among people who have shaped my politics, including James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde, who prolifically wrote letters to friends and foes challenging ideas, structures and practices, and exploring new ways of thinking, writing, and living.

As you did with each other, and as Robyn and I did across borders in the early days of the pandemic as we sought to make sense of how policing, punishment, and organized abandonment were morphing into new and familiar shapes for Black communities under the guides of “public health,” I am writing in a time of urgency, in which the ongoing cataclysms unfolding where Rehearsals began are intensifying, as the Right rises around the globe with increasing ferocity, teeth bared, coming for our throats. In the midst of a world on fire, thank you for reminding us that worlds have been ending for us as Black and Indigenous peoples for centuries, and that we are always in a process of surviving, resisting, and remaking the world in the midst of those endings.

Thank you for taking the risk of reaching out to each other across divides imposed by settler colonialism, across borders, across urban/rural communities, for naming the ways in which our unfreedoms fuel each other’s, how our experiences of settler colonialism and racial capitalism - and the policing they require - intersect and diverge, and how these realities must inform our solidarities, for showing what we can learn and unlearn from each other, for helping us learn how we can show up for each other.

I am grateful beyond words for the gift to U.S. based organizers in particular of an iteration of conversations I was privileged to witness and be part of in the early 1990s in Toronto among Indigenous women and Black women who were both born in and migrated to Canada about our relationships as colonized subjects. This exchange and those they build on offer critical insights about what being true comrades and co-strugglers requires us to recognize and act on in terms of complicities in each other’s oppressions, exclusions and liberation.

I brought these lessons with me to the U.S., and into conversations about reparations – for theft of Indigenous land and children into residential schools, for theft of Black people’s humanity, labor, and relationship to land, for theft of our connections to each other and the Earth, conversations in which we moved through trading barbs, showing wounds, and finding balm – moving from Indigenous enslavement of Black people to Buffalo soldiers to maroon communities like the one Alexis describes, embodying the ways our liberation is bound up in each other’s.

I have often been dismayed at the distance and fissures between Black and Indigenous organizers in the U.S., at refusals within Black liberation movements to acknowledge the truth that we cannot make demands for land from the settlers who stole it while dragging our enslaved African ancestors here with them - to work it, shed blood and tears into it, and die on it - and still claim to respect Indigenous sovereignty. Refusals to recognize that to lay claim to land on Turtle Island is to participate in the systems of domination that our collective liberation requires us to overthrow. I have been disappointed by how few formations that sprang up in the cauldron of the 2020 Uprisings to demand divestment from policing and punishment have done so in solidarity and relationship with the Indigenous people of the lands on which they are fighting for a different future. There are a few notable exceptions, including the Seattle Solidarity Budget campaign, elaborated in conversation and co-conspiracy with the Duwamish people. Another is the movement to #StopCopCity, which is in relationship with the original stewards of the land on which the City of Atlanta proposes to build a $90 million militarized police facility, in spite of the eviction notice delivered to their door by representatives of the Muscogee Creek nation.

I have been heartbroken by the ways anti-Blackness and anti-Indigeneity drive competition for the “center” of political analysis – of the violence of policing and prisons, of economic deprivation and structural exclusion, of future visions for life on Turtle Island - keeping us from being united in collusion against racial capitalism and settler colonialism and making new worlds with and for each other. Rehearsals for Living offers so many antidotes to this deadly division – including the words from both of you we included in the poster and postcard series we created for the release of No More Police, highlighting how policing, in all its formations, is foundational to settler colonialism, and how resistance to policing requires #LandBack, unconditionally.

Kung Li Sun’s brilliant work of visionary fiction Begin the World Over invites us to reimagine what would be different if Black and Indigenous peoples had joined forces to win a critical battle that fundamentally shaped the possibilities for living on Turtle Island over the intervening centuries. Rehearsals for Living similarly invites us to reimagine what would be possible if we joined forces in battle now, in mutual knowledge and respect for our distinct and connected experiences of settler colonialism, in mutual accountability, care, compassion, and commitment to a collective future otherwise.

In so doing, you invite readers to reach past ideology toward the true meaning of freedom, to recognize the impossibility of Black and Indigenous liberation in a settler colonial nation state, in a bordered world, in relations to each other and the land that are shaped by racial capitalism. To find our way to dreaming otherwise beyond the state as we have known it on Turtle Island, to recognize that the carceral nation-state cannot hold our abolitionist dreams for the future, and to rehearse the practices and forms of governance that might manifest them. Thank you for the gifts of everyday practice and rehearsal to decolonize our lives, communities and relations that you offer us and that I take with me every day – from inviting organizers and community members and children to play the game Robyn plays with her son of imagining what else could be present everywhere a police station now signals the absence of what our communities need to be safe, to sharing Leanne’s teachings about how Anishnaabe ways of practicing reciprocal relationships of mutuality in community and with the land are central to the project of abolition. Thank you for showing us how to see and build the future through our children’s eyes and hearts.

It has been an honor to engage in dialogue with you both on the shape of abolitionist futures in the pages of No More Police, and through subsequent events and celebrations, and to invite abolitionist organizers and scholars to engage with questions around our relationship to nation-state, nation, and abolitionist futures in the Interrupting Criminalization Abolition and the State Discussion Guide which includes your words, among others, as points of departure for reflection.

Your courage in writing Rehearsals for Living has fortified me to step outside the comfort of traditional forms, to experiment with new ways of thinking, writing and dreaming about change in conversation with comrades, co-strugglers, and communities. It emboldened me to take the risk of turning an experimental talk I gave at the 2019 ASA into a book whose title Practicing New Worlds (2023) echoes yours. In it, I explore the ways in which relationships and critical connections like the ones you both model and describe in Rehearsals for Living can create possibilities to shift the larger systems and structures of violence that you catalogue, that we can feel powerless to shape or unravel, but which being in relationship and reciprocity makes more possible to shift. Thank you for giving me courage to write a book about what I don’t know instead of what I do, to engage in an experiment in dreaming instead of simply documenting, and including works of visionary fiction in which I and others attempt to orchestrate what Mariame Kaba and Kelly Hayes (2023) call a “jailbreak of the imagination” and make a run toward an abolitionist horizon.

We are all, now, living, loving, and organizing as visionary fiction, pouring our hearts into letters to the future, breathing and hurling hope forward in visions of otherwise, and in rehearsals of freedom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, soul, and revolutionary spirit for the many clues, signposts, love notes, and invitations you have offered the collective to light our way there.

With love, in struggle,



Hayes K, Kaba M, (2023) Let This Radicalize You: Organizing and the Revolution of Reciprocal Care. Chicago IL: Haymarket Books.
Kaba M, Ritchie AJ (2022) No More Police: A Case for Abolition. New York: New Press.
Ritchie AJ (2023) Practicing New Worlds: Abolition and Emergent Strategies. Chico CA: AK Press.

Andrea J. Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant survivor who has been documenting, organizing, advocating, litigating and agitating around policing and criminalization of Black women, girls, trans, and gender nonconforming people for the past three decades. She is the co-author of No More Police: The Case for Abolition, and the author of the forthcoming Practicing New Worlds: Abolition and Emergent Strategies.