Learning the difference between our friends and enemies means we know that other prisoners share more in common with us than not. It also means that within one's own nation the formations within have even more in common than not. For imprisoned Aztlán the divisions were ultimately imperialist-inspired. The advanced wing of imprisoned Aztlán understands that it's time to Re-unify Aztlán.
In Califaztlán, norteno, sureno, Eme, NF, have been walls that separated. At times each formation was necessary for safety, and some formations may be more progressive than others. But these formations still separate imprisoned Aztlán. Separation for a nation is not good under any circumstances.* I believe the goal of all these lumpen organizations (LOs) is to unite at some point, but how could it be possible?
A future glimpse of a United Aztlán
It's a fact that much animosity and/or pride for one LO or the other has developed. At the same time we see the Agreement to End Hostilities has allowed us all to get to know and support one another. It's now OK to assist and be there for each other, which is great. We have gone back to before north/south feuds started, however what is needed now is a leap forward.
The truth is so long as the LOs (i.e. NF, Eme) still have north/south formations there will not be any unification between imprisoned Aztlán. This will take steps. The implementation of programs authorized at the highest levels. One such initial program would be formally dismantling the formations of Sur/Norte. By doing this, Raza will simply be Raza again.
Tattoos of Norte/Sur would have to be banned for the future. This would help alleviate conflict/tension.
A transition period would relax the Raza and then the next stage of the unification of Eme/NF would be necessary even if they maintained separate committees with the new political org. But a new org with a new name is necessary to provide a glimpse of a new future of a unified Aztlán. At some point, imprisoned Aztlán must move on and create a name that all can come to, otherwise no side will ever win over the other side.
Through the eye of the media, one can't help but see and understand the agendas being put forth. First look at how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear program is being covered with emotionally-driven and fear-inspiring news coverage. In comparison to the cold war period in the United States, where that was solely ideological war due to it being two white global superpowers with different political identities the nuclear issue wasn't syndicated by news on the level that North Korea's nuclear program has been. The United States and all major countries of European descent have done everything in their collective power to keep these weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of nations, governments and people of color or hue. This is about dominance over every country in the world or simply put, 'might makes right' ideology.
Just look at what happened when Iran was building a nuke. How much these European governments were willing to do and in fact pay so that these Middle Easterners would not have the same power of destruction that they themselves wield, and the United States alone has used, on people of color.
These global white supremacists have done everything they could to destabilize nations' governments that they could not control by creating borders on foreign continents, setting up puppet governments (often dictators the likes of Saddam Hussein and Benjamin Netanyahu who use war as a distraction of their individual greed), support contras by the sales of cocaine on the streets of their own country, in which they've colonized other peoples. Gangstering all less technologically-savvy nations out of raw materials, such as petroleum, gold, silver, diamonds, chocolate, opium, uranium, spices, sugar, and factory workers who they pay slave wages. They then turn around and use this wealth to build factories in their home countries and pay their own citizens the going wages.
I say equal power is equal defense, which entitles all nations the same kind of weapons including nuclear bombs if that's what you could be faced with. These global white supremacists only respect those who can present an equal threat. History has proven these whites are the makers and users of weapons of mass destruction, from muskets, rifles, guns, machine guns, grenades, C-4, chemical gases, dirty bombs, hydrogen and nuclear bombs. They've created viruses, diseases, tortures. Yet the media is far more dangerous than any of the ones before mentioned, due to its ability to influence the minds of those not fully conscious of the reality of being controlled by the designers of this Global White Supremacy Agenda.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In July, August and September the Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched a series of nuclear missile tests. The DPRK reports it has developed a more advanced hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).(1) They've also reported that their ICBMs can now reach the mainland of the United $tates. Meanwhile, the United $tates has launched recent tests of their B61-12, a bomb that delivers nuclear weapons by fighter jet.(2) The United $tates and Russia still have far more nuclear warheads than other countries, almost 100 times the number of what the DPRK has.(3)
People who grew up during the cold war lived in a culture of fear of a nuclear attack. So we do not agree that the threat was ignored during that period because it was "white" countries involved. If anything, we'd argue that we've grown too comfortable with the risk of nuclear disaster that these weapons continue to put us in since the collapse of the social-imperialist Soviet Union. And this cold war was also an imperialist reaction to potential resistance. Although the Soviet Union gave up socialism and turned to state capitalism in the 1950s, the United $tates held on to the anti-communist fear. Socialism in the Soviet Union (and China, and other countries) was a significant threat to imperialism, and so the United $tates prepared for a war to defend their wealth and dominance.
Otherwise, we agree with the author above on the hypocrisies of the imperialists. Militarism is integral to the economic success of the imperialist countries. The DPRK has never used its military to gain wealth by exploiting or stealing from other nations. Rather it sacrifices resources from its isolated economy to ensure it can militarily protect itself from imperialists who would otherwise use their weapons against the Korean people to gain access to the labor and markets that the DPRK government denies them. The leverage of nuclear weapons decreases the need to mobilize the able-bodied population into military maneuvers in response to U.$. operations on its border. There are two massive military exercises led by the United $tates on the Korean peninsula each year. One, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, occurs in August when it is harvest season.(4) The other, Foal Eagle, occurs in the spring, often overlapping with the planting season in the northern hemisphere.(5) By increasing the technological capacity of its military, the DPRK allows for more labor time to be dedicated to agricultural production and better protects its food supply. Because of sanctions, the DPRK cannot rely on importing food from other countries when harvests are short. In other words, these new developments are a logical product of the U.$. imperialists' stranglehold on the DPRK through economic sanctions and massive military provocations.
High Desert State Prison (HDSP), the largest prison in Nevada, housing some 3,500 inmates, has been on total lockdown for 4 days, and will remain so for at least two more weeks. This means that we will receive no yard, tier, phone, canteen, or access to any reading material.
Why is HDSP on lockdown? Because in a single week there was two "staff" assaults, and at least 8 fights.
But the pigs are doing nothing to investigate the cause of the violence. For example, that the temperature of the cells was reaching at least 90 degrees. While we have no cold water to drink, and are forced to be housed with individuals we do not get along with for up to 21 hours a day. And there is nothing for us to do: no programs, work, games, etc. We are literally trapped in cages like animals.
So how does HDSP deal with the violence? They enhance the inhumane and deplorable conditions by locking us down. Most of us do not have televisions, and with no access to any library we sit in a cell and twiddle our thumbs.
Violence and anger can only be expected as a result of such conditions. However, comrades, we must recognize that we do not win when we direct this anger and frustration towards each other.
Our focus must be on targeting the administrative policies which are responsible for our current state of existence. There is already a grievance campaign underway challenging OP516, the level system. And
comrades from the United Struggle from Within in Nevada just started a new grievance campaign in regards to AR801.
AR801 is a programs AR that states that Ad-Seg is to receive a minimum of 3 hours out of their cell, and closed custody inmates are to get a minimum of 5 hours out of their cells per day. This same AR lists a ton of programs which are approved by the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC).
The bottom line comrades, HDSP under Warden Williams has failed to implement any rehabilitative programs. The violence, anger and frustration is his and his administration's fault.
We must heed the USW call for peace and unity and challenge the administration's policies. We need all of you to file grievances challenging these policies. But even more important, we need you to have
your family and friends to call the office of the director and ask why HDSP prisoners are being denied all access to rehabilitative programs, school, and work. Have them call 702-486-9938 and complain.
Until then, comrades, do not allow your anger and frustrations with the pigs to be misdirected toward one another.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The United Struggle from Within comrades in Nevada are doing solid work organizing and educating folks in that state. They have set a good example of initiating targeted campaigns that could improve the lives of many prisoners. This is a good way to get folks participating in the struggle in a concrete way. But we must remember to tie these battles to the broader struggle against the criminal injustice system, and imperialism.
If we don't make these connections, we are misleading people, letting them think that these campaigns alone are all that is needed to change the system. And we know that's not true! We know the injustice system won't be reformed into a system of justice. It is rotten to the core because it is serving imperialism, which exists off the oppression and exploitation of entire nations of people. The wealth and power of the imperialists and even the "middle classes" is not something those folks will give up without a fight.
Let's follow the example of the Nevada USW comrades, and build important campaigns relevant to each prison and state. And always keep our work in the context of the anti-imperialist struggle.
19 August 2017 — Hundreds rallied outside the White House today for the "Millions for Prisoners' Human Rights March." The event was organized by U.$. prisoners and outside groups to focus on the issue of the 13th Amendment, which allows for the slavery of convicted felons in the United $tates. During the march to the White House, the most common signs were: "Abolish Mass Incarceration", "End Racist Prison Slavery" and Industrial Workers of the World membership cards. The latter were hard to read for the casual observer and did not reinforce the message of the march. There was one red, black and green flag, and representatives of the Republic of New Afrika in attendance.
While more than half of the participants were local, people from many states were in attendance, including New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, California and even Alaska. The crowd was a mix of movement elders, formerly incarcerated people, self-described "socialist" organizations and many youth for whom this was their first participation in the prison movement.
Last weekend's neo-nazi march, and murder of a young womyn, in nearby Charlottesville, Virginia was a motivator for a number of people to come out today. Some were there because of prisoners who had told them about the rally and asked them to participate. On the one hand this demonstrates the ability of prisoners to provide leadership to people on the outside. But these people were reachable by prisoners because they were involved in the movement already and the misnamed "Millions" for Prisoners rally proved the goals of the organizers to be a bit loftier than what was achieved.
In contrast to the hundreds in D.C., the so-called "Free Speech" rally in Boston today brought out tens of thousands of counter-demonstrators. Of course, they had the benefit of free advertising from all of the corporate news networks. The sight of hundreds of torch-wielding white men marching, chanting Nazi slogans, last weekend was rightfully jarring to many. Yet, innocent Black and Brown men are much more likely to die at the hands of the police or prison guards at this time than at the hands of a neo-nazi (that isn't employed by the state).
"Prisoner Lives Matter!" was one chant that rang true in D.C. For if there is any group whose lives are at risk, and whose unnecessary deaths receive little attention, in this country more than New Afrikan people in general, it is prisoners.
People at the march reported that some prisons had visiting shut down or were on lockdown today to prevent any group demonstrations on the inside. This is another example of why MIM(Prisons) thinks the First Amendment is a more important battle front than the Thirteenth. Just the idea that prisoners might organize a protest is enough to trigger state repression. Organized prisoners are the lynch-pin to a meaningful prison movement, so the right to organize must be at the forefront.
When this correspondent asked participants what the most important issue in the prison movement was, many weren't sure because they were new to it. Many had a hard time picking just one issue because there are so many things wrong with the U.$. injustice system. But the one response that was more popular than ending slavery in prisons, was the disproportionate arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and mistreatment of oppressed nations. While almost always phrased as "race" or "people of color", it does seem that the national contradiction is at the heart of what people see as wrong with prisons in the United $tates. Even the focus on the 13th Amendment was regularly tied to the history of slavery of New Afrikans by speakers. One speaker called prisons the "new plantation", which is true in that they were both institutions to control the New Afrikan semi-colony. But one was an economic powerhouse fueling global imperialism, while the other is a money pit that the prison movement aims to make a liability to the imperialists.
Perhaps an even bigger distinction was in the answers given by recently imprisoned people. Their focus was on their struggles upon release and the needs of those recently released. One New Afrikan man talked about his mother dying while he was in prison and him not even knowing at first. He got the news in such a callous way he didn't even believe it at first. To this day he has not figured out where his mother's body is. Yet he has been out of prison for two years and is already working for the mayor's office providing release support and doing motivational speaking.
It is a good thing that the state is doing more to provide services to recently-released prisoners. But we still need programs for those who dedicate themselves to changing the system. The state can't provide that. And it can't serve self-determination for the oppressed. There is much work to be done to build bridges to revolutionary political organizing for comrades being released all over the country. And ultimately, as the state knows and demonstrates, the only successful release programs are those that are led and run by releasees themselves.
Contra Costa County Martinez Detention Facility (A) module is a General Population (GP) setting that houses northern Hispanics and African American prisoners. The prejudiced treatment of hispanics who are classified on (A) is a continuous issue and the rules seem to bend for us. As a result of an incident in 2011, we were separated from all other GP races. This continues today although we can program in all other GP modules. In 2012, we were subject to lockdown style program of 3 hours free time a week, no bible study, etc. This lasted up until 2015. Note that none of us were even involved in violating Title 15 §1083, yet were treated as we if we were in fights even straight from intake.
We on (A) live amongst GP African American prisoners, as well as others, and other hispanics. Yet we are still "Administrative Separation"(Ad-Sep). We seek an integration process to all other GP units, including the other jail (Contra Costa County - West Detention (WCDF)), which is for less serious offenders and offers more opportunities, programs and privileges. We acknowledge current overcrowding issues. However, there is no reason why us GP prisoners are deprived of those same opportunities: vocational, parenting, etc. Especially those who qualify for such housing. Being deprived of such opportunities is a punishment, which is the underlying issue here. We've been battling administration through verbal and written remedies to no avail. Our valid requests and grievances go nowhere, don't reach the chain of command, are ignored, we are given inadequate responses, and denied appeal rights. Even when attempting to follow policy regarding grievances it falls on deaf ears.
Another thing we seek to battle is the biased intake process, where we are left on (2) intake/disciplinary mod for unreasonable amounts of time without write-up, hearing, or a procedural due process.
As of 4 August 2017, approximately 72 inmates are on hunger strike due to these injustices. The following are the demands turned in to the administration:
We've been seeking just treatment through verbal and written remedies to no avail. This does not get us nowhere. We will be boycotting such prejudicial treatment. Following are more than fair demands that are not out of reach to administration and just according to inmate rights:
1) Cease Ad-Sep label: Equal treatment to those who've not committed any infractions within the jail. Non-existent Ad-Sep label creates a negative aura which pursues us all the way to our cases. We're forced to leave (A) in shackles giving negative impressions in court, lobby visits, etc. Ad-Sep does not exist in Title 15 and inmate handbook. No one asked for Ad-Sep, Ad-Seg, or special housing during intake process. We are GP, should be treated and labeled as such. Just like (B) and (C) inmates who've not broken any rules. Cease punishment violating T.15 §1083(c) over 2011 incident, cease Ad-Sep label because of a bad environment created by classification affecting us in our case.
2) Start process of integration to all GP units including WCDF. If this is not immediately possible there is no reason why we can't receive access to all other programs available in those parts of the jail, such as vocational, parenting, etc. Those who qualify for WCDF should receive opportunities. To deny such opportunities is to bestow a punishment we don't have coming, which is the underlying issue here.
3) Create adequate grievance process, following policy, and chains of command when there is in fact a valid grievance. Provide appeal rights that are denied and give adequate responses.
4) Cease biased intake process where inmates destined for (A) are left on (Q) for unreasonable amounts of time deprived of GP setting and privileges without write-up, hearing, creating negligent meal service by having PCs serve food. You make room for those punished from other mods, you can make room for those without any type of infractions.
Note: We have set forth reasonable and realistic requests and grievances. In a nutshell we simply wish to cease biased treatment and be treated like all other GP inmates. We acknowledge overcrowding problems regarding housing circumstances. However, we should not be denied access to those programs and opportunities. We are separated/segregated from other races unnecessarily. As well as treated with prejudice from setting foot in intake to court.
Title 15 §1083(c)4019.5 "Punishment to inmate/group over others actions" (2011 incident)
14th Amendment "equal protection of the law" - cannot treat inmates differently than others without reason (race is not a valid reason)
Title 15 §1053 Ad-Seg (not fitting criteria)
8th Amendment "Due process procedural rights" (violated)
We support these comrades' just demands, which ally with ongoing campaigns to end long-term isolation as well as to provide proper avenues for having grievances heard. As the comrades point out that this treatment based on supposed affiliation with people who did things before they were even in this jail is an obvious violation of basic civil rights and just treatment. We work to build the anti-imperialist movement so that we can replace the current system with a just one.
Nowhere is the necessity for the societal advancement to communism more apparent than in the realm of disability considerations. No segment of society, imprisoned or otherwise, is in greater need of the guiding communist ethos proclaimed by Marx: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." This humynist principle applies to no demographic more than the disabled.
When communist society is realized, the intrinsic worth of each and every persyn and their potential to contribute to society will be realized as well. In return, communist society will reward the disabled population by adequately providing their essentials and rendering all aspects of society open and accessible for their full utilization. In a phrase, communism will respect the disabled persyn's humyn right to a humane existence. We communists strive for the elimination of power structures that allow the oppression of people by people. The disabled population, as well as all peoples that have hystorically been subjugated by the oppressive bourgeois system of capitalism/imperialism, can then work toward the implementation of a truly democratic society.
Considering MIM(Prisons) recognizes only three strands of oppression in the world today (nation, class and gender), able-bodiedness is a cause and consequence of class, and in countries with more leisure-time it is intimately tied up in the gender strand of oppression. This essay intends to analyze disability as it relates to class, gender, and the prison environment.
Disability and Class
In the United $tates the greatest source of persynal wealth is inheritance. It can be said the ability to create and maintain able-bodiedness may be inherited also. For the most part, class station is determined by birth. By virtue of to whom and where a persyn is born, their access, or lack thereof, to material resources is ascribed. The bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy have access to nutrition and healthcare the First World lumpen and international proletariat and peasantry do not. The likelihood of a positive health background renders the labor aristocracy and other bourgeois classes attractive prospects to potential employers, lenders, etc. This allows them to continue to enjoy nutrition and healthcare not common to the lumpen, proletariat, and peasantry.
It would be extremely uncommon to find a First World lumpen, an international proletarian, or a peasant with a membership to a health and fitness club. This privilege is reserved for the bourgeois classes, including the petty-bourgeoisie and its subclass the labor aristocracy. This, of course, further enhances the prospect of maintaining good health, and compounded with employer-supplied healthcare, does act as prophylaxis against the onset of debilitating and degenerative physical ailments.
It would be unreasonable to ignore the possibility that a member of the bourgeoisie might be genetically infirm, or a labor aristocrat debilitated by an accident. But, due to their class position, these classes are better prepared and equipped to minimize the adversities resulting from such an unfortunate occurrence.
Able-bodiedness may also affect upward class mobility. An able-bodied First World lumpen that can find employment might enter the ranks of the labor aristocracy. A blue collar labor aristocrat may be promoted to a managerial position, and so forth. Of course other factors, such as national background, do play a role in one's mobility (or stagnation for that matter), but disability also plays a significant role.
Disability and Gender
Gender only comes to the fore after life's essentials are secured, thereby standing out in relief on its own aside from class/nation. In the First World leisure-time plays a major role in gender analysis. MIM(Prisons) defines "gender" as:
"One of three strands of oppression, the other two being class and nation. Gender can be thought of as socially-defined attributes related to one's sex organs and physiology. Patriarchy has led to the splitting of society into an oppressed (wimmin) and oppressor gender (men).
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. ... Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. ..." - MIM(Prisons) Glossary
This system of gender oppression is commonly referred to as "patriarchy," which MIM(Prisons) defines as:
"the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over wimmin and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over wimmin in society in general; it implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that wimmin are deprived of access to such power."(1)
Professor bell hooks's description of patriarchy in eir work The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love has also contributed to this author's understanding of gender oppression:
"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence."(2)
Professor hooks's definition of patriarchy not only recognizes terrorism as a patriarchal mechanism, but that patriarchal forces do not intend only to oppress, dominate, and subjugate females or even just females and children, but patriarchy's pathology is to hold down anything it regards as weaker than itself. Patriarchy is a bully.
Children are one of the most stigmatized and oppressed groups of people in the world. Patriarchal society considers children physically disabled due to their undeveloped bodies and therefore susceptible to patriarchal oppression — regardless of the biology of the child. This firmly places children in the gender oppressed stratum. Due to disabled people's diminished bodies (and/or cognizance), disabled people can be categorized similar to children subjected to patriarchy, ergo, disability falls into the gender oppression stratum as well as class.
Patriarchy and Prisons
U.$. prisons are, from top to bottom, patriarchal structures. Prisons are institutions where the police, the judiciary, and militarization have crystalized as paternalistic enforcer of bureaucracies of patriarchy; prisons, the system of political, social, cultural and economic restraint and control, are fundamentally patriarchal institutions implemented to enforce the status quo — including patriarchal domination. Disabled prisoners in Texas have long been labeled "broke dicks," illustrative of their "less-than-a-man" status in the prison pecking order.
There are laws mandating disabled prisoners not be precluded from recreational activities, or any other prison activity for that matter. Yet enforcement of these laws are prohibitively difficult for disabled prisoners, especially prisoners with vision or hearing disabilities, or cognitive impairments. The disabled have few advocates in bourgeois society; they have virtually none in prison.
The likelihood that prison officials discriminate against and abuse disabled prisoners is readily apparent. What is most disheartening is able-bodied prisoners are often the perpetrators of mistreatment against disabled prisoners, frequently at the behest of prison administrators so as to procure favorable treatment. In fact, the most telling aspect of the conditions of confinement imposed on disabled prisoners is the abuse of the disabled prisoners at the hands of able-bodied prisoners. The able-bodied prisoners are quick to manhandle and overrun disabled prisoners in obtaining essential prison services which are commonly inadequate and limited. When queued up for meals, showers, commissary, etc. the able-bodied prisoners will shove and elbow aside disabled prisoners; will threaten to assult disabled prisoners; and have in fact assaulted disabled prisoners should they complain or protest being accosted in such a fashion. All this invariably with the knowledge and/or before the very eyes of prison administrators and personnel.
It is far too common for the victims of sexual harassment and assault in prisons to be gay, transgendered, and/or disabled. Whether the perpetrator be prison officials or fellow prisoners, this practice is condoned by the culture of patriarchy and the hyper-masculine prison environment.
In the Prison Justice League's (PJL) report to the U.$. Department of Justice titled "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Use of Excessive Force at Estelle Unit" the PJL outlined the routine and systematic abuse of disabled prisoners by prison personnel at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Regional Medical Facility for the Southern Region, Estelle Unit.(3) Prisoners assigned to the Estelle Unit per their disabilities are regularly and habitually denied medical treatment for their disabilities, ergo oftentimes exacerbating the causes and effects of the disabilities which brought them to Estelle initially; are denied auxiliary aids so as to accommodate their disabilities as required by law; are physically assaulted by prison administrators and staff, or their inmate henchmen; and with egregious frequency are murdered at the hands of state officials.
Since the PJL's report and subsequent Department of Justice investigation, there has been a bit of a detente in the abuse visited upon disabled Estelle prisoners by prison personnel. But the pigz are barely restrained. Threats of physical violence directed at disabled prisoners are still a regular daily occurrence, and prison personnel assaults on disabled prisoners are still far too common.
Another recent example of the persistent difficulties disabled prisoners face, even with the courts on their side, can be seen in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) recent settlement negotiated with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDC), after it neglected to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from a 1995 settlement, Langford v. Bullock. In 2005, the ADA requirements were still not met, and despite the Circuit Court's order requiring Montana to comply with the 1995 settlement, it is not until 2017, and much advocacy later, that negotiations are being finalized between the ACLU and MDC. We can't dismantle systems of gender oppression one quarter-century-long lawsuit at a time. That's why MIM(Prisons) advocates for a complete overthrow of patriarchal capitalism-imperialism as soon as possible.
Another patriarchal aspect to be observed in prisons is ageism. As children are included in the gender-oppressed stratum, so should the aged. As the able-bodied prisoners' ability to work subsides due to age in the First World, especially in the United $tates where the welfare state is minuscule and the social safety net set very low, the propensity for a once able-bodied persyn to be relegated to the ranks of the lumpen is intensified. As the once able-bodied persyn becomes aged and disabled, their physical, as well as mental, health becomes more and more jeopardized, accelerating the degeneration of existing disabilities as well as increasing the likelihood of creating the onset of new ones (e.g. the First World lumpen are notorious for developing diabetes due to poor diet and lifestyle issues).
Disability as a Means of Castration
Holding people in locked cages is an acute form of social control. Solitary confinement creates long-lasting psychological damage. And prison conditions in general are designed (by omission) to create long-lasting physical damage to oppressed populations. Prisons are a tool of social control, and exacerbating/creating disabilities is a way prisons carry this through in a long-term and multi-generational fashion.
Prisoners, who are a majority lumpen population, are likely to already have unmet medical needs before entering prison, as described above in the section on class. Then when in prison, these medical needs are exacerbated because of the bad environment (toxic water, exposed asbestos, run down facilities, etc.); brutality from guards and fellow prisoners; poor medical care including untreated physical traumas, improper timing for medications (see article on diabetes), and just straight up neglect.
Mumia Abu-Jamal's battle to receive treatment for hepatitis C, which ey contracted from a tainted blood transfusion ey received after being shot by police in 1981, is a case in point. Mumia belongs to an oppressed nation, is conscious of this oppression, has fought against this oppression, and thus is last on the priority list for who the state of Pennsylvania will give resources to. And medical care under capitalism is sold to the highest bidder, with new drugs which are 90% effective in curing hepatitis C coming with a price tag of $1,000 per day. In a communist society these life-saving drugs will be free to all who need them.
Disability in the Anti-Imperialist Movement
The fact that people with disabilities will be treated better after we take down capitalism is obvious. Our stance on discrimination against people with disabilities in our society today is obvious. What is less obvious is the question of how we can incorporate people with disabilities into the anti-imperialist movement today, while we are so small and relatively weak compared to the enemy that surrounds us. This is an ongoing question for revolutionaries, who are always pushing themselves to be stronger, better, and more productive. After all, there is an urgency to our work.
Our militancy tends to be inherently ableist. With all the distractions and requirements of living in this bourgeois society, we have precious little time to devote to revolutionary work. We are always on the lookout for things and people that are holding us back and wasting our time, and we work diligently to weed these things and people from our lives and movement. Often when people aren't productive enough, due to mental or physical consequences of capitalism and national oppression, we can't do anything to help them — especially through the mail. No matter how sympathetic people are to our politics, and how much they want to contribute, we just don't have the resources to provide care that would help these folks give more to overthrowing imperialism. Often times all we can do is use these anecdotes to add fuel to our fire.
Disabilities amongst oppressed people are intentionally created by the state, and a natural consequence of capitalism. If we don't take any time to work with and around our allies' disabilities, then we are excluding a population of people who, like the introduction says above, are in the greatest need of a shift toward communism. We aim to have independent institutions of the oppressed which can help people overcome some of these barriers to political work. At this time, however, the state is doing more to weaken our movement in this regard than we are able to do to strengthen it.
[Of note, the primary author of this article has devoted eir life to revolutionary organizing in spite of being imprisoned and with multiple physical disabilities. Even though it is extremely difficult to contribute, it is possible!]
Where did I come from you ask?
I came from a great civilization
A people who knew what day it was
While the rest of the world did not.
I come from a people who knew
Where the Earth fit in relation to the universe
While the rest of the world knew not.
I come from a civilization
Of great art and rich culture.
A people advanced in mathematics and building structures
Which were symmetrical to the sun.
I come from a people that fought
For its independence
From three foreign nations
In one century alone!
I continue to survive this bloody annexation
And to this day
I maintain my identity
Against pressure to assimilate.
I come from a civilization
Which has been here since the beginning of time.
I am heir to traditions of Cuauhtemoc,
Benito Juarez, and Emiliano Zapata.
I am indigenous to this land
And now I hear these ignorant voices
Telling me to go back where "I" come from?
"I" am from here!
My civilization was founded on the very earth we stand on!
You and your people go back to where you come from!
You have both parents. I have one.
We are both better off than those who have none.
You were given everything. I stayed on my feet.
We both had it better than those raised in the streets.
What about the one that just needed some new kicks?
I don't condone stealing, but I don't judge him one bit.
And you say you know what it's like.
Have you ever been pulled over and feared for your life?
Covered the wound of a person stabbed with a knife?
Gunshots ring past you filling you with fright?
Or decades and decades of fighting for your rights?
And you say you know what it's like.
You have four siblings. With mine I had fun.
My friend's whole family was mowed down by the gun.
You inherited love. There's nothing wrong with that.
I just want you to see that you've never been where we're at.
And you say you know what it's like.
You ever been homeless living under a bridge?
You ever been to prison with the thought of losing your kids?
What about prison in general for something you didn't do?
Oh wait, nevermind. Because you have always been you.
Well I've always been me. Is it money that I lack?
If Amerika's mostly white why are the prisons mostly Black?
You went to a great school. I went to one in the hood.
Despite the school's limitations, I think I turned out really good.
You had a good upbringing. Many envy that.
I just want you to see that you've never been where we're at.
And you say you know what it's like.
When you lock us away, it's usually for years.
You say it's justice, but you just create more tears.
Our families are victims too, of mass incarceration.
Your jury isn't our peers. They convict without hesitation.
You think you do us a favor when we're forced to take a deal.
It's still too much time for a crime that's not real.
You've been to court, too, but you sat where the public sat.
That still doesn't show you that you've been where we're at.
And you say you know what it's like.
When cops kill us, we must have did something bad.
Now we're taking back something we forgot we had.
Our love for each other will bring you to your knees.
And show you what it feels like with your hands up and you can't breathe.
Your lack of care for our lives will never be without fuss.
My people can see that it's not justice, it's just us.
Even some of your people join in our strides.
Because they see the truth of your bigotry and lies.
Times are steady changing, please remember that.
Even on your worst day you've never been where we're at.
I'm writing this letter to update you on my efforts and the outcome of the grievance petition. I filed my petition with the Department of Corrections Commissioner, the Alaska Lt. Governor and to the Department of Justice (DOJ). A few days later another captive and I were transferred to administrative segregation at Anchorage Correctional Complex – East, to the same module where captives who have violated DOC rules are housed. We have been told we are not being punished, however we live under the same punitive conditions.
A few days after our transfer I received a notice from the warden (she calls herself a "superintendent" but she is a warden) telling me that the petition I sent to the Lt. Gov. was forwarded to her to address. She denies all of my claims and tells me that if I still have issues that "the grievance procedure has a specific process to follow, including an appeal process, and the right to seek redress in superior court if the department does not rule in your favor." She then states that the Standards Sgt. is backlogged with grievances and asks for my patience. This letter was coincidentally dated the day before our transfer.
During our transfer our property was seized, was deemed excess and was denied issuance of even the most essential hygiene items. I have filed multiple grievances about this, but the tactic now seems to be to ignore all of my grievances. I have unacknowledged grievances that are over 3 months since filed. The DOC policy states it has 15 working days to investigate and respond.
Now they are retaliating even more by seizing my legal mail, reading and mutilating it. They use excessive force when outside cell by over-ratcheting handcuffs and ensuring we are cuffed whenever outside our cells. If our cell is not shaken down daily, it is every other day. We have been strip searched (unwarranted) at least 3 times. When we are given new clothing to change out, a gay guard glowers at our nakedness. Books that have been sent to me by books to prisoners orgs have been denied for absurd reasons like "contains book" or "unknown substance on book." More retaliatory measures than these have been imposed on me, however it has not stopped me. I still write letters to the Commissioner (who forwards them to the warden I am complaining about), the Lt. Governor, the Governor and any other state official that may listen. Including the ACLU. The ACLU has never responded to any of my letters.
Since being transferred to segregation it is difficult to disperse the grievance petition which I am sure was the reason for my transfer. I did however get it out to close to 60 or 70 people and I believe they will pass it on as well. I have also mailed a few copies to people I know in other institutions. These at first were censored. The reason given: "typed." I eventually had an officer mail them out (after several attempts).
I am not sure what else they can to do me at this point but I am not going to stop fighting.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade's story is a good example of why the grievance campaign was initiated. Prisoners across the country face this same problem with the grievance system of getting no response, or bullshit responses, and never getting grievances seriously addressed. The petition, which now exists for many states, is a simple demand that our grievances be addressed.
Of course we don't actually expect this petition will lead to victory over a grievance system that is purposefully set up to deny prisoners' attempts to demand their rights. But people like this writer are using the petition as an organizing tool; getting others involved in the fight and waking them up to their oppression and the importance of their role in fighting back. We have to combine this work with education about the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control under imperialism so that we don't mislead people into thinking petitioning will fix the entire system. In this way we can take on these smaller battles in the context of the larger struggle to build unity against imperialism.
Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or a generic petition you can customize if one doesn't already exist.