The Organizing Committee of the Ann Snitow Prize is thrilled to name Mariame Kaba its third annual honoree. The award recognizes a feminist of outstanding vision, originality, generosity, and effectiveness, whose work combines intellectual and/or artistic pursuits with feminist and social justice activism. As an organizer, educator, archivist, curator, and prison industrial complex (PIC) abolitionist who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice, Kaba powerfully embodies the values of the prize. She walks the often difficult walk of these interconnected movements, keeping one eye on the harms of the world we live in and the other the world we want to live in—one of mutuality, care, justice, and happiness.
Kaba is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots abolitionist organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. She is a co-founder of Interrupting Criminalization, the Chicago Freedom School, Survived and Punished, and most recently Sojourners for Justice Press, a Black feminist abolitionist micro-press. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller We Do This ’Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice and co-author of No More Police: A Case for Abolition with Andrea J. Ritchie.
“I am incredibly honored to have been nominated for and to actually be awarded with the Ann Snitow Prize,” says Kaba. “Like Ann, I believe that feminism is ever evolving and changing, which means that there’s room for constant experimentation and also for fun. I hope to continue to push forward in her legacy.”
Kaba was selected by judges Lori Adelman, Marika Cifor, Sam Huber, Carolyn McConnell, and Margo Okazawa-Rey. “Kaba’s work exemplifies the combination of intellectual and activist heft that the Ann Snitow Prize aims to recognize,” says Huber. “Her beautifully written and powerfully argued essays and books have done much to establish feminism and PIC abolition as mutually dependent projects; the model of her own organizing has perhaps done even more. She’s helped me and many others reconceive the role of activism itself—the importance of engaging directly in politics with others—in our thinking and dreaming about a better world.”
Sarah Schulman, winner of the 2021 Ann Snitow Prize, adds that Kaba “is known as a peacemaker and a generous colleague. She is constantly championing and mentoring individuals and communities. Her writings are widely read—especially among young activists. She is a public intellectual and activist who has not been commodified or branded.”
Kaba intends to use the award to donate to BxRebirth, a collective of Black moms and caregivers that donates diapers, formula, and doula services to families in the Bronx, and to the micro-press Sojourners for Justice.
2021: Sarah Schulman
“Because we live in a time where perfection and smooth lack of difference are broadly demanded, I never thought I could be the recipient of this prize. I have had differences of opinion with half of the judges, while also cooperating with them. For those long, true histories of parallel, crossing, overlapping work for justice, this means so much to me. It feels so deep to be recognized by my real peers. It is reassuring, and even more—it is moving.”
— 2021 Winner Sarah Schulman
Sarah Schulman is a writer, scholar, and activist whose prolific body of work across mediums—fiction, nonfiction, theater, and film—attests to a lifetime of creativity and dedication to queer, left, and feminist causes. She is the author of nineteen books, most recently Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT-UP New York, 1987-1993 (2021), which has been praised as “remarkable,” “amazing,” and “definitive”; in the words of one reviewer, “a resounding rebuttal to exclusionary versions of AIDS history.” Sarah’s nominator, Susan Stryker, the groundbreaking historian and leader in trans theory and activism, calls the book “the capstone of Schulman’s decades of activism on AIDS-related issues.”
Schulman was selected by judges Kaavya Asoka, Liat Ben-Moshe, Karma Chavez, Sarah Leonard, Premilla Nadasen, and Barbara Ransby. Nadasen, the winner of the inaugural Ann Snitow Prize, notes that Schulman’s “fierce courage in tackling difficult issues, and her unwavering commitment to not only theorize but to help build a more just society—in the U.S. and abroad—embody the essence of the Ann Snitow Prize.” Fellow judge Chavez adds: “Schulman’s longstanding and diverse feminist and queer activism on issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to the sexism of the literary world to gentrification to Palestine made her a truly ideal candidate. In particular, the importance of her recent book, Let the Record Show, as a handbook for activists facing government inaction and pandemic politics made her an ideal choice in this historical moment.”
2020: Premilla Nadasen
“I am deeply humbled to be the inaugural recipient of this prize in honor of pioneering feminist Ann Snitow. It is a recognition of the many poor and working-class women of color who fought for economic justice, racial equality, and feminism who mobilized to make their political voice heard. Through their activism, they cultivated a feminist politics that is even more urgent today.”
—2020 Winner Premilla Nadasen
A woman of African and Indian ancestry, Nadasen grew up in South Africa and moved to the US as a child. She became an activist in high school and joined the student anti-apartheid movement at college in the 1980s. As an activist, historian, and pedagogue—she now teaches at Barnard College—Nadasen lifts up often invisible working women and women’s social justice movements, grassroots multi-issue organizing by low-income Southern women, and the vibrant labor organizing among domestic workers, a force made up largely of women of color and immigrants. Bringing together the politics of care, global migration. labor, race, and poverty under a feminist rubric, Nadasen discovers new points of intersection, broadening and deepening both the definitions and possibilities of feminism.
In an extraordinary year—marked by continued police killings of Black people and massive Black Lives Matter protests, increased attacks on democracy and reproductive justice, and a pandemic that manifested America’s and the world’s deep historic, racialized health and economic inequalities and the centrality of care in all our lives—we were proud to honor Premilla with the inaugural Ann Snitow Prize.