All Lives Matter in Prison
I am sincere and stand by when we say Black lives matter, but I think we should say and believe that all life matters. I am in a political/race-driven prison just like in California and Texas. We say Brown Pride, White Pride, Black Pride, then White Power and Black Power. We should take all race out of it and be power to the people!
I am 50% Mexican and 50% white and in Juvenile D.O.C. it was mostly Black and Mexican. My last name is [white-sounding] so I got jumped every day for years with a couple of the other white kids. If we are to fight hurt, pain and suffering of being oppressed and rejected. But it’s hard when we are surrounded by so much hate. I only know my dad on that side of the family, the Mexican side, hates me and disowns me cuz my mom and dad was never supposed to happen.
We only admit there’s a problem when it surfaces. I got sprayed by the cops a couple months ago for no reason, filed my grievance, but don’t have no help nor know how to take further actions. It sucks that it takes people to die to get action. …
If each one of us did what was right it would be all good, but you can’t change the people that want to look at every one else instead of being a solution. I will be the solution whether anybody is watching cuz all life matters!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Since the uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, we have received many letters echoing the slogan “All Lives Matter.” Like this comrade, they are not doing so in opposition to “Black Lives Matter” but in solidarity based on similar experiences.
We want to commend this comrade for standing with all oppressed people, and with Black Lives Matter as a movement despite eir experience being jumped by New Afrikan youths while in juvie. It speaks to the unity of the oppressed, that ey could see past that experience and not paint a whole group as eir enemy, when those who have lived much more privileged lives are quick to paint whole groups based on something they saw on TV.
In today’s globalized culture it is sometimes hard to have conversations that are limited to one audience, and as a result other audiences are often offended.
In case any of our readers are unaware, the phrase “All Lives Matter” became popular among cops and white nationalists as a rejection of “Black Lives Matter.” The implication is that “Black Lives Matter” somehow means Black lives matter more than others, when on the contrary the slogan was developed by New Afrikans who just wanted their lives to be given the same respect and value as others, specifically as euro-Amerikans. The less forgiving implication is that people who say “All Lives Matter” just want to keep Black lives in a position of less value.
In contrast to this mainstream narrative, every letter that we’ve got so far from prisoners who are white or Raza, stating “All Lives Matter” seem to be coming from a genuine place of respect for all lives. But you all should know what the implications of the saying can be.
We agree with this comrade that race should not be brought into politics, as race is a baseless concept. So why do we talk about whites, and New Afrikans and indigenous and all these other groups of people so much in our writing? Well, we are talking about nation – a group of people with a common culture, language, territory and economy. While integration is greater than previous points in this country’s history, there are still independent New Afrikan, Chican@ and countless First Nations within this prisonhouse of nations that is called the United States. And until these nations are liberated from imperialism, from the United $tates, there cannot be justice here.
What about euro-Amerikans? In prison, euro-Amerikans will generally experience life as an oppressed persyn. Certainly there are hierarchies, and there are white supremacist groups that work with the pigs, etc. But most of our “white” readers are feeling more oppression than your average persyn walking down the street in the United $tates. That is why we see uniting the imprisoned lumpen on a class basis as an important project that is primary within the prison movement, while recognizing the national contradiction as primary in this country overall. To highlight this class unity, we prefer the slogan “Prisoner Lives Matter” to demonstrate what all of our comrades are facing in the Amerikkkan gulags, where you can be murdered for nothing like George Floyd was.