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[Culture] [Missouri]
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Hip Hop is Dead Until it Takes Up Revolutionary Politics

Hip Hop is Dead, Biggie SmallsHip hop culture began in the late 1970s, but it wasn't until the middle to late 1980s that the cultural life and expression of hip hop began to grow and influence youth throughout amerika and the world. Many people wrote this phenomena of hip hop culture as some fad that would soon wither away.

During the late 1980s, early 90s, the era I coin the Black Consciousness era of hip hop, Black and Latino youth found a way to use hip hop to express their anger, fears, ideas, art and frustrations within the dominant white-oppressor culture, police brutality and poverty.

Hip hop culture isn't just about the music, it's about a lifestyle - from the clothes we wear, style of hair, taggin' rail cars and walls with radical art and graffiti, unity and more. It's a culture of resistance.

However, white-owned corporations saw a profit to be made and stepped in to co-opt the movement. Yes, a lot of us found a way to eat, but the result was a lack of potency in the music and a watered-down culture where cars and ICE are the motivating factor. It is a culture that is teaching our youth that it's all about them (as individuals). That it's cool to be a dope field (sippin' syrup, etc.) and to be victims of HIV/AIDS (it's ok to have multiple sex partners). Is there any wonder why the highest rates of HIV/AIDS are among Blacks and Latinos between the ages of 13-24?

Culture in general, and hip hop culture in particular, plunges its roots into the base of the material reality of the environment in which we live in the hoods and barrios and it reflects the organic nature of society, which is more or less influenced by the dominant white society and culture of our oppressed communities.

Can hip hop be a vehicle for revolutionary culture? Yes, it can be, but it is not now. Culture is an essential element of the history of a people, and it's social development. Amilcar Cabral once has this to say about culture: "Study of the history of liberation struggles shows that they generally have been preceded by an upsurge of cultural manifestations, which progressively harden into an attempt, successful or not, to assert the cultural personality of the dominated people by an act of denial of the culture of the oppressor. Whatever the conditions of subjection of a people to foreign domination and the influence of economic, political and social factors in the exercise of this domination, it is generally within the cultural factor that we find the germ of challenge which leads to the structuring and development of the liberation movement."

If hip hop is to transform into a true vehicle for social change, we must demand that our artists keep it a hundred and give us more analysis in their music. Stop promoting the use of addictive narcotics, that they become more active in our communities, and give our youth the encouragement to study, unify, and resist oppression. If they fail to do this, hip hop remains sterile and dead. Long Live 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, Eazy-E, Left Eye, Pimp C, Big Pun and all other hip hop artists that paved the way for the next generation to refuse and resist.

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[International Connections] [California]
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Migrants Treated Unequally

I start off by writing that I will not be using the term "illegal aliens" as a way to refer to my people. As it is only used by oppressors to debase emigrants. It is senseless to have such a label since this country was formed on migrants. Furthermore CA was one of the many states tripped from Mexico. Indeed. That clear, I move on to the issue at hand, non-citizens contributing to the growing prison population. I use my personal story as a foundation to paint a bigger picture.

I was born in Mexico, at the age of four. Regardless of what your native country may be, we all seem to paint a wonderful picture of what the U.$. has to offer us. Yet it is completely the opposite of what we dream. When we arrive to the "land of opportunities" we are welcomed with degrading and low wage jobs. Due to us being migrants we are forced to accept these conditions. Victims of oppression, we work for the rich while they gain from the poor.

Some of my fellow migrants realize this, but go about it in the wrong manner, i.e. committing crimes. Being victims of oppression does not justify participating in or conducting illegal activities, but does in fact play a role with why we end up incarcerated. The government magnifies crimes committed by migrants to form stereotypes that all illegals come to the U.$. with the intention of committing crimes, which is not true.

Until everyone is treated equally and with dignity, the prison population will continue to grow. While the bourgeois injustice system is in effect, we can expect no such change. While we live in an imperialist state we can expect no change at all.

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[Culture] [Pennsylvania]
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The pain of awakening

Dear God,

I write you this letter from the depths of hell where I have been sentenced to a life of misery and pain. I curse you for opening up my third eye to a rude awakening and destroying the elaborate illusion I had created for myself. You, like a thief, have robbed me of that blissful state of not knowing and I want it back you omnipotent sadist.

You have tricked me. You have tricked me into becoming conscious, so you can laugh and enjoy yourself while I wallow in pain and loneliness as the truth slowly manifests itself to me.

I envy those I left behind, how happy they look as they sit in front of that one eyed monster, as it illuminates images of Hip Hop rappers who exploit bikini clad wimmin.

I want to be like you and laugh at the pain of ignorant people, watching them beat each other up on TV shows like Jerry Springer. I want to be a part of that crowd that cheers on Amerikkka as she invades helpless countries, raping and murdering innocent people under the guise of freedom.

I'm tired of people looking at me like I'm the one who's crazy because I refuse to conversate with snitches, who sold their soul to the prosecutors for mere crumbs. I want to be like other people and talk about basketball and football games instead of being a recluse in my cage reading revolutionary papers and thinking how to form a mass struggle behind these walls.

I want the same elated look of happiness of my face like those prisoners who play dominoes and cards all day without a worry in the world, oh how good that must feel.

I no longer want to feel the repulsive emotion known as love, which only weakens me when I expect it from people, only to be disappointed.

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[Culture] [Idaho] [ULK Issue 10]
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Tap the Potential of Hip Hop as Revolutionary Culture

I stopped reading ULK #9 to write this topic across a piece of paper, then I continued my ULK, which I might add is very enlightening. Thank you to MIM and all my comrades who make it possible. It's great to see brothers professing unity in the game instead of killing. I'm no active member but I've got my stripes, and I would be in a unique position to be a huge positive force in these young knuckle heads life by showing them exactly what Amerikkka wants the affiliated to be and what we as humyns should be. The street cliques can easily be revamped into a united front against U$ immorality if we proceed to do such instead of siding with paper and bling which brings me to the subject at hand, hip hop music.

In Idaho the pigs only allow radio, so all day I listen to my cellie thump hip hop. I was raised on MIG and 8 Ball. I'm from Oside SD, CA but I had to look a while back to see if I was being progressive or regressive. In no way is hip hop progressive, with the exception of a very small minority like Dead Prez. It's impossible to extract a positive role in the revolution when your mind is bent on pimpory and slinging packs! What's worse is with your $ from exploiting comrades, hip hop teaches to purchase the goods of the imperialists. The hip hop industry is grossing billions to ensure we are notoriously hypnotized and killing each other for the most idiotic of ideas.

I'm disgusted that something that could be such a huge asset to the liberation of nations all over the world is the main source of ignorant propaganda for the pigs. I don't need to name songs or artists cuz anyone who can formulate the words coming out of the speakers knows. I understand that the skill it takes to be a popular musician and a lot of these people come from backgrounds that this is one of the few skills they developed besides running and thugging, so if hip hop is to be an asset we all have got to teach these artists that the pictures they are painting are influencing more people to stroll down a path that destroys themselves, others, their communities and ultimately their culture.

I'm sure that will be a major struggle of its own because these high level execs will not forsake their deals to teach us that its wrong to be capitalistic. I doubt the U$ would even have allowed hip hop to become nationwide if they hadn't noticed and curbed the industry toward mindlessness. Look what happened to Ice T when kop killer came out, he was damn near lynched. People nowadays are obsessed with the latest hip hop trying to emulate it in every form and fashion. But hip hop is not only fantasy, it is counter revolutionary.

Don't think it's just hip hop either, it's 99% of all that the U.$. feeds you from sports to TV to movies, anything to keep you perpetuating the system instead of disillusionment. Reality is hard to deal with when you're lulled by the song that soothes the savage beast. If these mediums could be utilized the message would spread fast tho. Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people!

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[Political Repression] [Hughes Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Texas Prison Officers Label ULK Recipients Gang Members

Here on Hughes Unit the gang officers put us on file as members of a gang called ULK. A few weeks ago when I was called to the gang offices I was asked a lot of things about your newsletter. I don't see how they can do this when there is no gang called ULK at all. I would like you to let all comrades know about what's going on in Texas and what they do to prisoners who get Under Lock & Key on Alfred Hughes Unit. Once they put us on gang file they can read all mail that comes to us from anyone, and they can withhold mail and send it back to people. Please send me help to fight this.

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[Abuse] [State Correctional Institution Huntingdon] [Pennsylvania]
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Filth and Retaliation in PA

I'd like to expose the abuses and misconducts of correctional staff here at SCI Huntingdon. I begin with conditions of confinement. I am surrounded by vermin as well as roaches. Although the institution provides an exterminator service, the infestation is a continuing dilemma. Cells are generally too cold. I usually have to wear 2 pairs of socks, 2 shirts, and my jumpsuit just to barely keep warm. At times I must wear this while utilizing a blanket just to sleep.

Lights are kept on 24 hours a day. The toilet is on a timer, and if you flush too quickly you must wait for the timer to reset. Not exactly comfortable if you have a cell partner! Food is generally served cold. Trays usually have water or condensation around them because they sit for long periods of time before being served. Water seeps into food posing health risks. Although Department of Corruptions directives state that RHU prisoners shall have the same portions; portions are not equal to those of the general population.

Clothes is laundered once a week and if you have a cell partner you must use the same laundry bag. Clothes generally come back dirty! Correctional staff liked to "burn" or not provide trays or yard periods to those who they pick on, although DOC policy forbids such retaliation. Grievances are addressed, but the rationales do not specifically address issues cited and the specific issue is generally ignored. If you are served with a misconduct report, the hearing examiner is not impartial at times known to say that he believes his officers over the prisoner. Clearly a statement made by someone who is biased. The Program Review Committee is basically the same way.

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[Economics] [Organizing] [Texas]
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Prisons Used as Political Tools in Rural Communities

In the prison system, people upstate in rural areas send applications for prisoners to be sent up to the towns. If you live in a rural area upstate and your economic structure has been wiped out you need to have another industry. Now you have prisons. The benefit is that you get money for every person shipped to your state, but you also gain greater political power and shift the political power from the cities to the rural areas because every prisoner who goes into these rural areas is counted as a citizen in the county in which they are incarcerated. So big cities may lose two assemblymen because you and your crew are in jail upstate.

This is why all these rural areas want these prisons built in their communities. Prisoners are a population that they don't have to deal with and will never be heard, but they count as a part of representation in the government giving rural areas greater political power.

That's why these small hick towns have 3 or 4 penitentiaries where they have a population of Blacks and Latinos in their towns when in fact no Blacks or Latinos live within the town, but within the prison. Like the town of Tennessee Colony in Texas which has 4 units: Coffield, Beto, Gurney, and Michaels Unit. In most of these towns and cities most of the prison workers in the unit are related going back 4 to 5 generations: husbands and wives working together, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, and so on. With this in mind you can picture the tight knit community in these units where "if you touch my mother or sister, I can do anything to you, and there's nothing you can do about it, because everyone on the unit will cover for me."

What most prisoners don't know is that they hold more power and rights than they know. If every prisoner who is from a big city put in for hardships to be at units close to their home, these hick towns could lose all of their political power. And these hick town units with populations of 5,000 would not have any power in their wardens. But there is a catch, once your application is in for a hardship. They are out to get you, and place loads of bogus cases on you, so you have to remain on the Unit 12 months case free before you can be shipped.

What we as prisoners must do is know our enemy when we go out and battle against them. We must be clean and can't have any contraband in our cells, or on our persons when we file law suits against them. And make sure the cameras get playback when they do search you or your cell to show them planting stuff on you or in your cell.

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[Abuse] [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at Rock Mountain] [California]
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Fighting Abuse of Authority in Texas

I am currently fighting a battle in court regarding the abuse of authority and unconstitutional treatment of prisoners here in Donovan. I currently have the court ordering RJDCF an informal response to my allegations. It is due July 23rd and it's July 19th.

I have been housed in administrative segregation for 14 months awaiting a non-adverse transfer to a lower level institution. Ad-seg is for prisoners who are serving a period of disciplinary detention for committing wrong acts. I have not done any wrong. I have been in adseg because of someone else's security concerns.

So here I am 14 months later, unfairly without any privileges I have rightfully earned. I lost my paying job, my ability to attend religious services, go to normal yard, socialize with friends, regularly attend law library, lost my property because staff failed to pack it up as required. The guards constantly degrade us and call us names. They threaten us, and harass us, feed us portions of food not suitable even for a small child. They act as if their shit don't stink and like they're better than us. I don't like it and I have decided to take it to the courts. But as you likely know, it's the legal system. The injustice system. I don't expect to win. But I sure am going to try. It's just sad that most of the other prisoners are too chicken to do anything about it.

I have a small group (6) who have joined my fight because they get the same treatment. I have tried to get more and still am, but most of them fear the likely retaliation from the guards. I only have just under 12 months left. I'm tired of their (the guards) shit and how they get away with it because they keep scaring people from stepping up to the plate. I'm going to do this. I want to prove to them that they are no better than we are.

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[Control Units] [Abuse] [Mt Olive Correctional Complex] [West Virginia] [ULK Issue 10]
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Abuse in West Virginia

I recently read an article in your ULK #7 that really caught my attention. It was from a New York prisoner who was assaulted by correctional officers. I too was recently assaulted by correctional officers here at Mount Olive Correctional Complex, the Supermax, located in West Virginia where I'm currently incarcerated. I have filed grievances, my family has contacted the governors office, attorney general's office, even local news stations informing them of what happened, and nothing has been done about it. I was recently informed by another CO that the people who did this to me were considered to be "pretty high up on the food chain" around here. Those people include Associate Warden, The Captain, the Prison Investigator, and another Correctional Officer.

I am in need of a civil rights attorney to represent me, but this is a small town. Everyone knows everyone and nobody wants to get involved. What this prison administration doesn't cover up, the government officials in this area cover up for them. I need your help, let's stop the abuse, I'm not the only victim in this prison, I'm just the one who's speaking out against the violence that's taking place inside these walls.

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