When much of the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, award-winning author of several books, including the recent novel Noopiming, began writing each other letters—a gesture sparked by friendship and solidarity, and by a desire for kinship and connection in a world shattering under the intersecting crises of pandemic, police killings, and climate catastrophe. Their letters soon grew into a powerful exchange on the subject of where we go from here.
Rehearsals is a captivating book, part debate, part dialogue, part lively and detailed familial correspondence between two razor-sharp writers convening on what it means to get free as the world spins into some new orbit. In a genre-defying exchange, the authors collectively envision the possibilities for more liberatory futures during a historic year of Indigenous land defense, prison strikes, and global-Black-led rebellions against policing. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, and the long-disavowed histories of slavery and colonization that have brought us to this moment in the first place, Maynard and Simpson create something new: a vital demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up new ways of ordering earthly life.
Robyn Maynard is an award-winning Black feminist scholar-activist based in Toronto, and the author of the national bestseller Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present. Her writings on policing, feminism, abolition, and Black liberation are taught widely across North America and Europe.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Leanne is the author of seven books, including her 2021 novel Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, which was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction.
Naomi Murakawa is an associate professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She studies the reproduction of racial inequality in 20th and 21st century American politics, with specialization in crime policy and the carceral state. She is the author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America. She is the editor of the Abolitionist Papers book series at Haymarket Books.