The Walking Dead and Visions of Community


I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead, and last night as I was watching the beloved family of survivors adjusting to life in a new planned community, it suddenly hit me that this show is totally modeling different ways of surviving and living; some of those ways are good, some bad. Before, I just watched the show as pure entertainment, but the ideas of Walidah Imarisha and what she calls visionary fiction, now stay with me. Now I will watch The Walking Dead not only for entertainment, but to also view new models of how to live. In the show, human beings have infected blood, meaning after they die, a part of their brain reawakens, and the only thing they crave is human flesh; they are known as Walkers.

Walkers have taken over the United States, and the people who survive are forced to be tough, sometimes ruthless, suspicious of people they don’t know, and always assume the worst. Enter Rick Grimes and his shifting family of survivors. Strangers before the Walker takeover, they have come to depend on each other, not only for survival, but for strength, love, and laughter. They have rules for surviving and keeping each other safe. Before adding a new person to the family, they ask three questions, every person has a job wherever they reside, and everyone looks out for each other.

What comes afterward when we abolish prisons and police? We have to have plans for the building of new ways of being, relating to each other, holding each other accountable when harm is committed, especially violent harm, and healing each other.  What does a world without prisons and police look like? What does a world without privilege and marginalized bodies look like? What does a world without all the –isms look like? We can look to shows like The Walking Dead and science fiction to help us envision intentional communities centered on love and respect for humanity.


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