Adrienne Maree Brown

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Adrienne Maree Brown
Brown in 2015
Brown in 2015
BornEl Paso, Texas, US
Alma materColumbia University

Adrienne Maree Brown, often styled adrienne maree brown, is a post-nationalist writer, doula, activist and Black feminist. From 2006 to 2010, she was the executive director of the Ruckus Society.

Much of her work as a writer is based around the writings of Octavia E. Butler.[1] Her first book, Emergent Strategy, was published in 2017 to positive reviews.[2] Her second book, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, was published in 2019 and demonstrates how activists can tap into emotional and erotic desires to organize against oppression.[3] Her 2020 book We Will Not Cancel Us considers questions of harm, accountability, and transformative justice, speaking primarily to an audience of activists and others organizing in alignment with a prison abolitionist movement framework.[4][5]

Early life and activism[edit]

Brown was born in El Paso, Texas, to a mixed-race couple who met at Clemson University in South Carolina.[6] She is the eldest of three children. Her father was in the military and she spent much of her childhood abroad in Germany, as well as in Georgia, New York, and California.[7] As mixed-race children, Brown and her sisters experienced racism in school.[6]

Brown attended Columbia University where she studied African American Studies, political science, and voice.[7] She was at the university when Amadou Diallo was killed by police officers in 1999. She cites this time as being pivotal to the development of her political consciousness, especially regarding issues of policing and race.[6] She identifies as bisexual and has recounted experiences with homophobia and sexual assault.[7] She's been living in Detroit since 2009 where she moved to after being invited to consult with Detroit Summer in 2006 and also after dating Detroit-based rapper Invincible.[7][8]

Later career[edit]

After graduating from Columbia, Brown began working with the Harm Reduction Coalition in Brooklyn. She served as a social justice facilitator at the Social Forum and work with social justice organizations in Detroit.[6][7] Of her work in Detroit, Brown wrote, "Our actions have to be towards the world we want. We need to be guerilla gardening and turning people's heat and water on. We need to be the guerillas putting up solar panels in the hood. That's what Detroit has taught me."[9] Between 2006 and 2010, Brown also worked as the executive director of the Ruckus Society,[7] and cofounder and director of the League of Young/Pissed Off Voters, as well as collaborating with Arctic Indigenous Youth Alliance.

In 2006, Brown served as a consultant with Detroit Summer, based out of the Boggs Center.[10] From this Brown developed a strong relationship with Grace Lee Boggs, whom she counts as a mentor.[6][7][11] Brown was a major figure within the Allied Media Conference as a host and facilitator.

Brown has supported Democratic candidates in presidential elections, encouraging her readers to vote for Joe Biden[12] and Barack Obama.[13]


Brown previously contributed to Detroit-based newspaper The Michigan Citizen, and was a sex columnist for Bitch magazine.[2][14] She has published extensively on sex, healing, self-care, trauma, and science fiction.[15]

In 2010, she published the Octavia Butler Strategic Reader with Alexis Pauline Gumbs. In 2013, she received a Detroit Knight Arts Challenge Award to run a series of Octavia Butler-based science fiction writing workshops.[10] In 2015, she collaborated with Walidah Imarisha and Sheree Renee Thomas to edit and release Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, a collection of 20 short stories and essays about social justice inspired by Butler.[8][16][17] Her own writing style has been said to belong to the afrofuturism genre.[8]

Her first book, Emergent Strategy, which examines sustainable social change, was released in 2017 by AK Press to critical acclaim.[2][18][19] Brown's most recent anthology, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good was released in February 2019.[20] In April 2019, it appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction, where it was number six.[21]

Emergent Strategy has given way to a series of essays published by AK Press on sustainable transformative justice, including the November 2020 release We Will Not Cancel Us And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice and Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, out May 2021.[22][23]

Brown has contributed to many anthologies focused on justice, transformation, and feminism, including How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office: The Anti-Politics, Un-Boring Guide to Power (2004), Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement (2012), Dear Sister (2014), and Feminisms in Motion (2018), How We Fight White Supremacy (2019), and Beyond Survival (2020).[24][25][26][27][28][29]

In September 2021, Brown published Grievers, her first long-form work of published fiction.[30]


The Sabbatical Suite, released March 25, 2021, is an EP consisting of five songs written on sabbatical in 2020 via voice notes set over J-Mythos' beats. According to the Instagram post, these songs in part explore the political period of 2020, especially that of Black Lives Matter activists, while maintaining the tenderness her work is known for through lullabies and storytelling.


Alongside Autumn Brown, Brown runs the podcast, How to Survive the End of the World, which seeks to learn "from the apocalypse with grace, rigor and curiosity" and is currently in its 5th season, as of 2021.[31]

Alongside Toshi Reagon, Brown runs the podcast, Octavia's Parables, which gives an in-depth dive into Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.



  • Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (AK Press, 2017) ISBN 9781849352604
  • Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation (AK Press, 2021) 9781849354189
  • We Will Not Cancel Us And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice (AK Press, 2020) 9781849354226

Edited collections[edit]


  • The Sabbatical Suite (2021)
  • End of the World Show (2017- current)
  • Octavia's Parables (2020- current)


  • Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement (World Changing, 2012) ISBN 978-1780260846
  • Dear Sister, "awakening" (AK Press, 2014) ISBN 9781481451420
  • Joyful Militancy Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times (AK Press, 2017) ISBN 9781849352888
  • Feminisms in Motion, "Love is on Everyone's Lips" (AK Press, 2018) ISBN 9781849353342
  • How We Fight White Supremacy (Bold Type Books, 2019) ISBN 9781568588681
  • Beyond Survival, "What Is/Isn't Transformative Justice?" (AK Press, 2020) ISBN 978-1849353625

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Kresge Literary Arts Fellow (2013)[32]
  • Knights Arts Challenge winner (2013, 2015) [33][34]


  1. ^ Bailey, Moya (2013). ""Shaping God": The Power of Octavia Butler's Black Feminist and Womanist SciFi Visions in the Shaping of a New world – An Interview with Adrienne Maree Brown". Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology (3). doi:10.7264/N34F1NNF. ISSN 2325-0496.
  2. ^ a b c Pérez, Miriam Zoila (December 18, 2017). "17 Women of Color Who Rocked the Resistance in 2017". Colorlines. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  3. ^ cgonzalez (February 26, 2019). "In 'Pleasure Activism,' Adrienne Maree Brown Dares Us to Get In Touch With Our Needs". Colorlines. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Burton, Nylah (February 9, 2021). "Cancel Culture Is Real, But adrienne maree brown Says We Should Be Careful About Throwing People Away". Shondaland. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  5. ^ We Will Not Cancel Us Book Release Event with Adrienne Maree Brown, retrieved May 19, 2021
  6. ^ a b c d e "Earning Our Place on the Planet: An Interview with adrienne maree brown". Longreads. April 24, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Cooper, Desiree (December 15, 2011). "Social activist challenges groups to create safe spaces for all: Adrienne Maree Brown". Between the Lines. Pride Source Media Group. ISSN 1080-7551.
  8. ^ a b c McGonigal, Mike (June 10, 2015). "The Visionary: Adrienne Maree Brown". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Generation, Movement (2009). "Resilient Cities: Building Community Control in a Shifting Climate". Race, Poverty & the Environment. 16 (2): 15–18. JSTOR 41555160.
  10. ^ a b Streeby, Shelley (2018). "World-Making through Science Fiction and Activism". Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-Making through Science Fiction and Activism (1 ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 9780520294455. JSTOR 10.1525/j.ctv1xxzdb.
  11. ^ Jeffries, Zenobia (March 27, 2017). "The World Is a Miraculous Mess, and It's Going to Be All Right". YES! Magazine. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  12. ^ brown, adrienne maree (August 12, 2020). "strategy and kamala feels". Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  13. ^ brown, adrienne maree (January 17, 2012). "obama and revolution". Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  14. ^ "The Pleasure Dome". Bitch Media. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Campbell, Justin Scott (May 10, 2018). "Trauma Makes Weapons of Us All: an interview with Adrienne Maree Brown". Medium. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  16. ^ Gottschling, Grace (September 5, 2018). "Social Justice books your kids are reading for college". Campus Reform. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  17. ^ Patton, Venetria K. "Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements". New York Journal of Books. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  18. ^ Jackson, Symone (July 16, 2018). "Revisiting our roots to propel us forward - lessons from Adrienne Maree Brown's "Emergent Strategy"". Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  19. ^ Gabriel, Larry. "'Emergent Strategy' is food for thought during the time of Trump". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  20. ^ "Pleasure Activism". AK Press. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "Paperback Nonfiction Bestsellers". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Brown, Adrienne M (2020). We Will Not Cancel Us. AK Press. ISBN 9781849354226.
  23. ^ Brown, Adrienne M (2021). Holding Change. AK Press. ISBN 9781849354189.
  24. ^ How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office: The Anti-Politics, Un-Boring Guide to Power. Soft Skull. 2004. ISBN 1932360085.
  25. ^ Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement. World Changing. 2012. ISBN 978-1780260846.
  26. ^ Dear Sister. AK Press. 2014. ISBN 9781849351720.
  27. ^ Feminisms in Motion. AK Press. 2018. ISBN 9781849353342.
  28. ^ How We Fight White Supremacy. Bold Type Books. 2019. ISBN 9781568588490.
  29. ^ Beyond Survival. AK Press. 2020. ISBN 9781849353625.
  30. ^ Mary Retta (September 10, 2021). "adrienne maree brown on Why 'All Organizing Is Science Fiction'". Vulture. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  31. ^ "How to Survive the End of the World". How to Survive the End of the World. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  32. ^ "Adrienne Maree Brown - Kresge Arts in Detroit". Kresge Arts in Detroit. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "Announcing Detroit's Knight Arts Challenge winners". Knight Foundation. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  34. ^ "Knight Arts Challenge Detroit 2015 Winners". Retrieved April 11, 2021.

External links[edit]