cover image On Property

On Property

Rinaldo Walcott. Biblioasis, $12.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-77196-407-4

Walcott (Queer Returns), a professor of gender studies at the University of Toronto, delivers a clear-eyed assessment of the links between property, policing, and the subjugation of Black people. Taking inspiration from the Rastafarian example of “how transformation can happen in the midst of ongoing forms of subjection and suffering,” Walcott draws parallels between calls to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the 19th-century abolitionist movement, and notes that the earliest specialized police forces were established to police slaves in his native Barbados in the 17th century. Walcott also claims that the war on drugs in the 1990s gave rise to a “prison industrial complex” that disproportionately imprisons Black people while providing jobs for whites displaced by deindustrialization; he also asserts that police reform efforts, including hiring more minority officers and establishing outposts in underserved neighborhoods, fail because they only “further cement the position policing occupies in our lives.” The answer, Walcott contends, is to redirect resources currently earmarked for “caging people” to education, health care, and other social programs that have been gutted by neoliberalism. Though he offers little practical discussion of how to achieve defunding, Walcott’s analysis of the ways in which white supremacy is baked into the legal systems of Canada and the U.S. is stimulating. Progressives will embrace this well-conceived call for change. (June)