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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 14]
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Education: Still Much Work to be Done

I read ULK 9 and enjoyed the attention given to education in this issue. The political education of the lumpen should be central to the revolutionary movement of north amerika. There are three pillars in any true revolutionary process: organization, politicization, and mobilization of the masses. In other words, theory before practice and unity before everything else. I am in my fourteenth year of incarceration on a life sentence. I came in at the age of 18 and I have observed the forging of lumpen alliances for a number of various reasons over the years. Very rare is it to find a lumpen organization (LO) with a sound political line and/or agenda, and even more rare is it to find an LO of such a professed platform that actually practices what they pretend to preach. I am also a representative of the ALKQN and so I write from the same side of the battle lines as the rest.

It should go without saying that a movement absent foundational theory is bound to fail, but the truth is these things need to be said, explained, understood, and accepted. One of the primary and principle things that we, as individual and collective members of today's LOs have to establish is the question of political theory and exactly what kind of society we aspire to affect. The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons is aiding us in this way, yet there is much more political work to be done amongst ourselves. The ability to define the difference between capitalism and socialism is fundamental to our level of education. But so is the realization that we, in general, as the lumpen proletariat, referred to by Marx as the 'underclass,' have the task of eradicating the remnants of the former (that are so deeply planted in our subconscious that we more often than not fail to even realize or acknowledge) before we can truly even hope to successfully set out to establish the latter. Sufficient political work needs to be undertaken in the goal to raise collective political consciousness. Classes are essential to such a program. We need the demand for unity on every corner, and the serious dedicated attempts to effectively study and debate the materials we are afforded by such groups as MIM(Prisons).

Some of our respective LOs have histories that stretch back into the 1940s. Many of our LOs have revolutionary grassroot origins. There are those of us who realize this and who are struggling to re-align ourselves, and those around us, with the spirit of those beginnings. But it is a mistake and an unseen obstacle in our failing to analyze, consider, and take into account the opportunism so many of our leaders began to shroud themselves with at the beheading of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. This opportunistic spirit is what helped magnify the influx of both the drug and "gang-banging" culture we so readily embraced throughout the late 70s and all the way into the early 90s. It also resulted in the influx of brothers and sisters who were met with open arms, and empty heads. That era, for the most part, was declared a victory by the federal government. Our communities were war-torn, drug and crime infested, and the U.$. prison industrial complex was impregnated with more bodies of color than any other place in the world. And a new era began, the era of programming.

All these things need to be taught. If we are to become serious and elemental in the fights against imperialism we must come to accept ourselves, the lumpen, first as a product and consequence of capitalist society, and then, as the spear-head of the revolution - a true socialist revolution, for ourselves, and for the people of the Third World.

Every one of us has a responsibility and an obligation to the true meaning of our respective LO to manifest it in our every breath, action and thought. The label must become second to the representation. For in the end there can be no division nor dividing factors in the United Front. As revolutionaries, we are perpetual teachers. We must teach ourselves and each other, and in some cases even our very own leadership. A plunge in morale is a result of our own fears and failures to teach. As revolutionaries it is up to ourselves not to become discouraged or weary, and it is up to ourselves to muster the physical, moral, and intellectual effort it takes to dare others to learn and to teach. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Much work remains to be done among us all to raise the level of political consciousness so that every cadre, however high the position they may occupy, is schooled in the policies of our movement, its character, its strategy and tactics."

Education/political consciousness is key; unity in that line is the lock; the safe is the imperialist/capitalist mindframe that must be cracked; and the new man or woman, the turning wheel of change, the revolutionary, is the hidden treasure within.

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[Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 11]
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Response to Legal Help Request

I just got my first issue of Under Lock and Key (July 2009, No 9). Needless to say, I sure appreciated it. The mail room personnel did not censor it, but that does not necessarily mean they won't in the near future. I write to respond to the letter that was written by the Georgia prisoner (Pig Enables Stabbing of Prisoner in Riot, May 2009). Hopefully you will print my letter so our comrade can read it and use the information therein.

First, to our comrade, you've got to file your complaint at the unit level and keep copies of it and any other documents that you file with the administration because you'll need to file a title 42 United States Code Section 1983 lawsuit for a redress of grievances. Write down everything that happened to you, as well as everything else that you have done since to secure medical care, etc., for this will definitely come in handy for your lawsuit. If you've got any witnesses that are willing to help you out by testifying you need to try to keep in contact with them.

Second, you need to do some legal research in the unit's law library to better understand your situation and to go about filing your lawsuit. You can write the district court where the incident occurred and request the necessary forms to file your suit. The district court's address should be in the unit law library (there should be a "venue list" or simply request the address from the unit law library). There's a lot you need to know and do and there's not enough space here to expound.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Pennsylvania]
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Unite for change

I am a prisoner in Texas and a member of the ALKQN. I want to shed some light on those who are members of my beloved nation and to those who are prisoners or in the struggle. It is time we unite to judge the oppressor and his ways. We must no longer stand asleep not knowing that for so long we been letting the oppressor keep us as subjects, where our minds are programmed to do what he says.

We must start by awaking our people to realize that we can make a change in our communities and in the court system. We must also have the will to stop selling drugs to our people, because we are killing them with the oppressors ways. For every minority that catches a drug/murder case the oppressor sells them to a prison, or should I say one of these industrial complext warehouse, to get rich. So when are we going to change for the betterment of ourselves? The question lies within you!

I'm not just talking to my King brothers or Queen sisters. I'm talking to every person who belongs to an organization or is just independent. I ask that we stop dwelling on yesterdays and start thinking about tomorrows, because our time to change things is now. I also ask that whoever reads these newsletters start educating yourselves by getting a GED, business degree or degree in anything. Also to start learning the law, so we can teach our families and children on how to not be subjects to the oppressor and his system, but to beat his system within their own laws and rules. Let's stand united as a whole sun and shine our powers into the mission of human service for if we put our minds together we shall accomplish many goals to live in freedom.

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[Prison Labor] [Georgia]
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No pay for work in Georgia

Prisons in Georgia cut down trees, scoop waste from pipes, make clothes, cook food, repair equipment, do plumbing, fight fires, till the land, teach school, make boots, and many other things. Yet we don't get any benefits, workers comp, or pay, whatsoever. Any labor, whatever the work, is done for free. Wages don't exist in the Georgia Department of Corrections. The only way you can earn money is by working the last 6 months of your sentence in a halfway house or pre-release center.

Most of the public has no objections to Georgia prisoners not being paid. They support laws that make it harder for us to succeed or enjoy life. They want us to stay in prison forever. When we get out they don't want us to be able to get a good job or live anywhere near them.

Politicians talk about rehabilitation but that ain't what they really want. They want only to exploit others for gain and retain power. This system we are under doesn't care about the people, they only pretend to care.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 10]
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The Hate U Gave Lil' Infants Fucks Everyone

THUG LIFE

T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.
Sanyika Shakur
Grove Press, 2008.

This novel by former Eight Tray Gangsta Crip, current New Afrikan Revolutionary and captive of California’s Security Housing Units promotes peace, unity and discipline among the lumpen of the oppressed nations. As such, we rate this book positively as a cultural work. The story weaves the THUG LIFE code promoted by Tupac and Mutulu Shakur throughout. In this reviewer’s limited exposure to the collection of fiction branded as “street lit” and marketed mostly to younger New Afrikans, we see this as a superior example. A thorough analysis of this genre might parallel our discussion of hip hop music in a lot of ways.

The bulk of the story is gangster, but lessons and gems are peppered throughout. In the context of the ongoing conflict between the gangs of Los Angeles, the author introduces principles of dialectical development, though he doesn’t develop them very extensively. Cultural references to revolutionary music and movies are also dropped in the story in a way that may promote further investigation by readers who are attracted to the overall gangster story. A comrade and obvious admirer of Tupac Shakur, Sanyika seems to take a similar approach in his writing that Pac took in his music.

In one of the tensest moments of the book, Shakur paints a picture of a disciplined unit of gangsters awaiting a raid, “These bangers had grown fed up with police tactics of intimidation, false arrests, no-knock raids, and summary executions that always seemed to accompany their public ‘protect and serve’ image. They had made a pact to stand and fight when confronted without an escape route.”

Following another police raid, this time of the main character Lapeace’s apartment, we briefly meet Mrs. Delaney, founder of the Black Scouts Youth Brigade, who gives us a lesson in security: “what I do ain’t no secret, it’s just nobody’s business but my own.”

Later, Sekou, Lapeace’s road dog, promotes scientific thinking and attacks identity politics, “I could care less who speaks the truth, I want to hear it.” This is in reference to the Tupac character named Askari Shakur. Interestingly, characters in the book regularly listen to Tupac songs, while this character, Askari Shakur, is used as a stand in for Tupac in the Las Vegas beef that ends in his fatal shooting.

Throughout the book there is a theme of Lapeace searching for a family legacy of revolutionary resistance that he knows little about. Meeting Askari Shakur really encourages this desire for him, but the relationship is cut short by Askari’s assassination. This story line is typical of New Afrikans as a whole who are very ignorant of the struggles lived by their parents just a generation before. In ULK 9, a comrade told a story very similar to Lapeace’s. His mother was in the Black Panthers, resulting in their home being raided regularly as a child. But until her death, he thought she was just a criminal gangster.

The THUG LIFE code is a step. Gangsters living by the code aren’t gonna get us free. Really, gangsters aren’t gonna get us free, period. Not until they start transforming into something other than gangsters. Many lumpen organizations have a parallel analysis of the development of their members that start in the criminal mentality and transition to a more conscious one, in some cases the ultimate stage being promoted is of a revolutionary nationalist nature. To different degrees they promote trading in lumpen individualism for identifying with one’s people, or the people. The problem with these programs is that they are usually presented in a way that is limited by individualism itself. As if each member must go thru these stages. If everyone’s development is the same then we never advance. How we advance as a group is that each generation takes the lessons of the previous generations and builds on them, not making the same mistakes.

By erasing revolutionary history of the oppressed, the government has done much to set back progress. As the lumpen stand in a state of ignorance and criminality, they can only progress as a group through revolutionary nationalism and proletarian internationalism. The progression from nihilistic gang-banging to a code of conduct like THUG LIFE is just one small step, one that has not yet been taken up by the group.

One of the main roles of culture is to create idealized images that represent something that the people can relate to and emulate. Lapeace seems to be a character that merges the author’s past with his present in a way that idealizes the best of the gangster culture. Recognizing the stage we are in is part of a materialist approach to change and to culture. Lapeace is a positive image at this stage of the struggle. And a code of conduct like THUG LIFE is an important stepping stone to where we ultimately need to get.

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[Abuse] [Allred Unit] [Texas]
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Officers Assaulting Prisoners in Texas

I am writing this letter in an attempt to contribute to the truth and show others that they are not alone in this struggle. I was incarcerated on the Beto Unit before they shut down seg and shipped me here to the Allred unit. I came from Beto with a jacket on my back because while in seg an officer (using a sliding shield panel) slammed and cut the tip of my right ring finger off. A mockery of an investigation was said to be in progress for over a year, and it wasn't until I was here on the Allred Unit that i was informed that the officer involved was not at fault nor would be held accountable.

I had watched others on Beto getting physically assaulted and yet when I chose to fight back (both physically and mentally) I was deemed unfit to be released to general population and sent to the Allred Unit with the aggression "threat" to officers jacket on my back. True enough, I will not allow an employee to ever touch me again without just cause, and yet of late (thanks to my jacket) I have been targeted for frivolous disciplinary forms.

I have faced numerous b.s. write ups. When I go before the disciplinary officer during the hearing it is pointless. The counsel substitutes they provide on this unit to assist and defend us do nothing more than ask for lenience on your behalf. You have to gather your own information, witnesses, and evidence on your own. Even when you prove that the officer who wrote you up is wrong, lied, or is without common sense, you are still found guilty. We are told to appeal such hearing decisions and yet that is to no avail.

I recently had an incident where I was accused of "threatening to hurt anyone who came to get me", "slid out of one or both handcuffs" and "disobeyed to come off of the rec yard." When a camera was present that shows I was in handcuffs the whole time, came and was escorted off the rec yard without incident. Even the accusing officer's verbal testimony at the hearing shows he refuted his own written report. When this was brought up during the hearing I was told to file an appeal to the disciplinary hearing. What a crock! Everything written (in policy, procedures and rules) was totally disregarded for this good ol' boy of theirs.

It has gotten worse now that I'm on 12 building. I have seen an utter and complete disregard for humanity. I have witnessed them running into a prisoner's cell after spraying him with chemical agents, slamming him, beating his head into the concrete, poking him in the eye, and kicking him from head to toe the whole time yelling "quit fighting us, stop resisting." Even the nursing staff (present at the time this was happening), when they perform a physical on you (on tape) will simply state "offender complains of this or that and he has sustained such and such injuries due to his resisting or non-compliance during the use of force".

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[Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 10]
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Hunger Strike at Camp Hill

I just received my first issue of Under Lock and Key #9 and I must say that I share the same views as my fellow soldiers. I am currently serving time at Huntingdon in the RHU unit. And I wanted to share some of the struggles that me and my fellow soldiers are being subjected to here at this RHU unit.

Me and some of the soldiers that are here with me just came off a hunger strike. We were being subjected to all kinds of oppression: cold food, small portions, people were finding insects and mouse droppings in the food. So we decided to go on a hunger strike. Out of almost 40 people who are here on a quad only about 15 went through with the movement. It's crazy how we are quick to punch each other in the face or stab each other, but when it comes to standing up to these oppressors we fold and let them do whatever they want. They burn us for our rec, food, showers, etc. We place grievances to no avail.

When we speak up about these oppressions they write us up and give us more DC time. Then, to top everything off the hearing examiner here is one of the officers who was assaulted in the Camp Hill riot. Now how can you place someone like that in power? It's simple because when you go in front of him you are automatically guilty weather you are innocent or not. Even if it's blatantly clear that you are innocent it won't matter.

To all my soldiers, know that if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, and we need to stand together.

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[Organizing] [Varner Supermax] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Arkansas Uses Contraband to Control Prisoners

I am writing to let you know that all the articles in the July 2009 issue of ULK I agree with. I am a prisoner housed at Varner Supermax in Arkansas and we have it hard here too. The system here uses some brutality as a means to keep us apart. But mostly they use material things (rings, watches, drugs, cell phones, women, etc) as a means to have us at each others throats.

I mean really if the DOC didn't want any of this to get in their prisons then it wouldn't. But they allow it because they are getting kickbacks and it keeps prisoners at each other and not focusing on the real issues. As long as we are at each other then we can never unite and as long as we don't unite then we can't stand for the greater cause. This allows them to treat us like beasts and do as they please.

Here in VSM we are living in filth. Our cells are so nasty. We aren't being given any brooms or mops. Our cells flood every time we shower in them. We have to take a couple paper towels sprayed and clean our whole cell. But we are too busy down here hatin' and trying to get each other knocked off, all for a dollar, that we ain't trying to bring this to the outside attention.

We just can't give up and lay down. Use your grievance systems, write letters, and do what you have to do to let it be known how we are being done. Pushing paper works.

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[Education] [Texas] [ULK Issue 10]
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Cellies Educating Each Other

Studying in Allred UnitGreetings to all my brothers and sisters and political prisoners. I want to encourage all comrades to promote educational thinking. My cellmate, who is a Crip, took time out of his schedule to teach me how to count. Yes, count. I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade to only have to come to prison and learn math. I'm 37 and my celly is 28. He encouraged me and pushed me to use my mind. We have had our ups and downs inside this cell which is in a high security unit.

The administration does not care if we kill each other, but instead we build each other. He sees my potential and motivated me to use it. Comrades, do not let youth fool you. They look at us as leaders. But if you only want to prove how ignorant and violent you are or "was", they will continue to promote that too.

Failure is falling down and staying there. Get back up! Know thyself.

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[Culture] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 10]
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Rapper$ Delight

Our komrades in MIM(Prisons) ask "what role does Hip Hop have to play today?" As a revolutionary culture, that is.

Since rappers are hard core capitalists it's a waste of time for me to even contemplate this question. As revolutionaries we must not waste time or energy on things we know aren't going to change. Let's keep it one hundred on a revolutionary level. Hip Hop has digressed not progressed.

It has come a long way. It's gone from "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy and Cop Killer by Ice T (who ironically enough now plays a pig in one of today's many cop shows) to "You're a Jerk" by the new boyz (the present #1 video on 106th and Park - B.E.T.) and "Throw it in the Bag" by Fabulous featuring The Dream (a shoplifting song).

So you see komrades, what Hip Hop has to do concerning the revolution and what they're doing and continue to do and will always do is on the opposite side of the revolutionary train of thought. I don't knock Hip Hop's hustle. It is what it is. I enjoy Hip Hop as entertainment while disregarding most of their lyrics lest I be tempted to shoplift (humor).

On the real, though, prior to the presidential elections B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Television), the Hip Hop channel, pushed hard for the election of Obama. Almost 24/7. Rappers threw rallies, wore shirts and pins promoting the vote for Obama. What do you think would've happened if this much attention would've been given to Sean Bell when he was murdered by three pigs of the NYPD? What would've happened if every single rapper who was still in the rap game at this time made entire CDs rapping about police brutality? Would it have raised a revolutionary consciousness within our urban youth? What if every CD put out at this time was dedicated to the memory of Sean Bell? What if every CD has the face of Sean Bell on its cover instead of a video girl in a thong bent over a Benz? Yea, that's all we're going to get: what if.

Instead this is the reality check. Michael Vick formerly of the Atlanta Falcons gets sent to prison for fighting some dogs, they're about to send Plexico Burress, formerly of the New York Giants to prison for shooting himself accidentally, and the three pigs who riddled Sean Bell with bullets get sent home to their families. Meanwhile Sean Bell's children have no father. Sean Bell was unarmed.

It's a "bloody" shame too, because the fact is, music in general has always bridged together cultural differences.

Is Hip Hop a vehicle for change? It can be, but it won't be. It will continue to pursue the all mighty dollar. What does the revolutionary culture or revolutionary culture (without the "the") look like? In the Hip Hop culture I don't see it. But if I was a Hip Hop rapper this would be some of my CD titles:

Sean Bell, Blood in my Eye, Police Brutality, Assassins with Badges, Modern Day Gestapo, When will they Murder Me?, Attica 71, It's now or never.

But since I can't rap a lick that ain't gonna happen either. So all we can do is what we can do. If you know how to rap then put it down and bring revolution to the rap game because what's already there is simply a Rapper$ Delight.

MIM(Prisons) replies: While we certainly agree with the points made on the injustice of the Sean Bell murder, we point out that many people still rap about Sean Bell years later. And a whole CD was put out for Oscar Grant, with many others putting out singles in respect to him. Most of them were very critical of the police and their connection to the state including Obama. These don't get as much play as the other crap out there, even crap by the same artists who put out these revolutionary songs.

It costs millions of dollars to make a song "popular." Therefore, if you look at the list of songs that get the most rotation, they're all owned by two corporations: Universal and Sony (occasionally Capitol gets one in). If you aren't sponsored by one of these companies you cannot afford the payola. That is part of the game. So even the big artists who do some songs for the people have to write most of their songs for the money, or else they choose to not be a "big artist." Therefore most of what the people listen to is still crap.

If you check out some of the artists that aren't on BET, in XXL or on for-profit radio stations then there is no doubt that a revolutionary undercurrent to hip hop is still present. What will never happen is hip hop becoming revolutionary for profit. But hip hop is already playing a revolutionary role at the fringes.

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