In the wake of the aborted insurrection on the U.S. Capitol building by supporters of the president in which 5 people were killed, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP.) is bracing for further unrest in the lead-up to the official transfer of power from one faction of the bourgeois dictatorship to another by preemptively locking down the entire federal prison population from the 16th until at least the 21st of January. This follows reports of the mobilization of 26,000 of their National Guardsmen to secure their nation’s capitol to prevent any further disturbances – such is the fear within the American government of the potency of their own Commander-In-Chief’s populist proto-fascism on his largely white, working class base.
This fear is also evident by the level of appeasement and overall reconciliatiatory nature of the brief memo from M.O. Carvajal, the director of the FBOP, who attempts to express his sympathies for the impact of the sudden lockdown measures by stating:
“I know this is frustrating for all of you. I understand this decision directly impacts each of you, as well as your loved ones, and is made with considerable thought in regards to current national events. We must ensure the safety and security of everyone in the BOP. We will continue to monitor events carefully and will adjust operations accordingly as the situation continues to evolve.”
Carvajal then proceeds to effusively thank us for our patience, promising to facilitate opportunities for contact with the outside world:
“Communication with your families is important; thus, you will be provided limited access to phones and email to ensure you can remain in touch. I thank each of you for your understanding and cooperation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It has made a difference during this difficult time and your patience and understanding is appreciated. Please continue to communicate with staff and share your concerns. I remain committed to doing everything I can to help keep all of you healthy and safe. Thank you.”
All of the above is in contrast to the comparatively blunt warning and punitive lockdown measures initiated during the protests for social justice and against national oppression after the murder of George Floyd by the repressive forces of the state. As reported in ULK 71, an F.B.O.P. memo from that time period cautioned:
As you are aware, our nation is facing difficult times as emotions run high and peaceful protests have turned into violently charged demonstrations. In an effort to maintain the safety and security of the institution, a lockdown has been initiated. This lockdown is not punitive … However, we are committed to preventing any time of disruption from occurring, and I strongly emphasize any type of violent behavior will never be accepted or tolerated at this facility.
The FBOP. response in both of these instances, while equally punitive in nature, do reveal a notable contrast in narrative approach: when it is the just rebellion of the oppressed New Afrikan masses and their allies in the streets, the prison administration is sure to mention that they will brook no dissent; yet when it is the oppressor nation’s own privileged population’s turn to become unruly on openly conspiratorial or seditious grounds, the prison population’s “understanding is appreciated” for such an inconvenience.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Much has been made about the contrast in police response at the Capitol compared to the uprisings of youth and oppressed nations over the previous summer. The idea that New Afrikans, First Nations, [email protected] and often the Third World diaspora have a second-class citizenship in the United $tates has become more obvious in the popular dialogue. More obvious than any other time for the post civil rights era generations.
As we said in our original article on the Capitol siege, it’s been hundreds of years now of oppressed people trying to be equal with euro-Amerikans and they are still fighting each other over it. To continue down the path of integration is a fools errand. It’s been tried, the oppressed have bent over backwards to appease the white folk, but they will not concede equal rights and treatment. It is only in the struggle for independence that the oppressed can achieve true democracy and self-determination.
We mourn the hundreds of thousands of people who have died due to the incompentancy of the U.$. government from the federal to the local levels during this pandemic. Deaths in prisons from COVID-19 are at 2,173 as of 19 January 2021.(1) We know of one comrade in California who died who was working with a local USW cell.
In California, Governor Newsom put prisoners at the forefront of their vaccination roll out plan. However, things have not gone so smooth. All over the state vaccines are sitting unused, while they have opened up access to more than 10 times the number of people than they have vaccines for. According to the COVID Prison Project, which is tracking the vaccination of prisoners across the country, almost all of the 19,000 vaccinations administered through the California Department of Corrections and “rehabilitation” so far have gone to prison staff. Though California is one of a handful of states that have confirmed data of vaccinations having begun (currently at 65 prisoners).(1)
As infections and deaths reach record-breaking numbers every day, prisoners continue to be much more likely to be infected with SARS-COV-2 virus and they are more likely to die from COVID-19, despite the fact that the population in prisons is younger than those outside prisons. Old age is a very strong risk factor with COVID-19. This demonstrates that being in prison in the U.$. has a significant negative effect on your health status and the health care that you receive. It is very ironic. One would think that prisons are the most effective way to “stay inside” and get a population safe from a viral plague. The fact that prisons are rampant with this disease shows that “natural” disasters such as plagues, earthquakes, and floods are in fact bound with social relations just like all other things.
On top of that, prisoners are suffering disproportionately from the conditions of shelter-in-place, nominally to stop the spread of the virus. The rest of the country gets to decide for themselves whether they want to follow best practices and stay at home and where a mask. As one might have predicted, this model failed horribly and is leading to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. But for prison staff, lockdowns are a routine affair. In many rural, white communities, sheriffs have refused to enforce state ordinances to promote public safety by sheltering in place. In prisons, correctional officers are happy to lock oppressed people in their cells for months with little access to the outside. This hypocrisy exposes the pigs true intentions.
Being in prison is about controlling all your time; the labor time you could have spent building up wealth and the leisure time you could have spent building your relationships and community. As mentioned above, being locked in a prison in the United $tates has a strong negative affect on your health status. It seems that many who don’t die from COVID-19, will have long-term effects. This will affect people’s ability to be productive and enjoy leisure time after being released from prison. U.$. prisons have long-term affects on peoples’ class and gender outcomes throughout their lives, especially for the oppressed nations which have less resources and support to overcome these setbacks.
Meanwhile, there is some pleasure involved on behalf of staff instituting lockdowns to make their jobs easier and refusing to wear masks because they “don’t feel like it.” Pleasure that would not exist for people who actually cared about others.
While there are economic reasons at the heart of why the oppressed always bear the brunt of “natural” disasters, there are cultural reasons as well. So much death and suffering could have been prevented in U.$. prisons without any affect on capitalist profits. And arguably, the U.$. economy would be doing better right now if the government had implemented better, clearer practices in society in general.
The struggle for basic health, including mental health and social connection, are struggles for basic humynity. Struggles we see falling more in the realm of gender than class, because it is not about economics and production. It is about transforming the relationships between people in a cultural way. A way that works to eliminate the possibility of one group finding pleasure in the oppression and suffering of another. We see the examples of the oppressed coming together in these conditions to struggle for basic humynity, and to build it between each other, as the early steps of a revolutionary transformation of national and gender relations in our society.
Amerika declared war on New Afrika, first and foremost by the murdering of New Afrikan men, women and children and then imprisonment. Amerika made movies and television shows (the news) to publicly show other fellow white supremacists in and outside this country her kills and trophies. This was also to instill fear into the so-called blacks to not defend oneself from these eminent attacks on us.
Whether we are in these concentration camps or in the free society, Amerika is murdering us and are using us to Blackface this evil nation to try and gain freedom, justice, and equality with the Black Lives Matter movement. But they don’t give no credit to the originators of the phrase “Freedom, Justice and Equality”, who are those who come from the Moorish Science and the Nation of Islam.
Black Facing of Amerika is also the browning of Amerika… By the sexualization of our brothers’ phallus or Mandingo and our sisters’ big breast and booties, both sexes of the white nation exploit our reproductive organs for their own survival and our own destruction. Despite improvements in recent years, New Afrikan males are still more than 5 times likely to serve long prison terms than white males, and New Afrikan infants are still 3 times as likely to die than white ones. The prison is a major location of the control of New Afrikan sexuality and reproduction, which once took place on the slave plantation.
In The Man-Not, Tommy J. Curry explains,
“Enslaved Blacks were denied manhood and womanhood, they were defined as beasts of burden whose bodies were used at the discretion of whites. Violence against the enslaved took no gendered form. It was unbridled violence against Black bodies where rape was enacted against both sexes.” (p. 158)
“The prison subsumes the Black male self only as penis and flesh. In Soul on Ice, Cleaver notes that”the penis, virility, is of the Body. It is not of the Brain… [I]n the deal which the white man forced upon the [B]lack man, the [B]lack man was given the Body as his domain." Toward the end of the 1960s, Cleaver had already worked out the role white administrators (in both society and prison) determined for the Black penis: It was the symbol of pure animalistic brute sexual force, the criminal rapist beast." (p. 86)
This imperialist/capitalist nation white-washes us so they can be able to Black face in a whole new level. We must fight to defend our minds, our souls, and our bodies; fight to defend our elders, our children, our men and our women. It’s time to police our own neighborhoods as the rapper G Herbo said. It’s time to separate from the United $tates and become New Afrika. It’s time to depend on ourselves and ourselves only! Stand for what you know is truth or die for the lie$!
Remain Consciously Conscience
The Black petty bourgeoisie are in all areas of the socially oppressed and economically oppressed communities; from churches, schools, boards of directors, your city councilmen/women and especially the entertainment business. They’ve taken in these capitalist and imperialists’ potion (lies) and love the brief ecstasy it brings them. As a drug addict, you’re induced into a temporary high, and once the high is gone, you notice that you either need more or you could stop, but why should these talented Tenth, or house negroes want to become rehabilitated? They see and hear the truth but being conscious makes them believe they are in control. So unconscious becomes their mind state chemically-induced coma, while walking. It becomes almost as dangerous as their masters’ frame of work!
What is Blackface? It was originally a form of racist comedy put on by the Europeans in this country. They paint their faces and act as an ignorant black person. Then they transmutated that ideal and inserted its ideological substance there in our ancestors’ minds. In which, they begin to put on the Black face paint and act as ignorant as our captors did, believing it to be the only way to take back the “joke” from our oppressors. Sad to say it only amplified their criterion for a stronger potion (lies) for Us to take! Alchemy at its best.
Now that the chemical has arrived, it is slowly being administered to our children, or the “colorized people.” The black petty bourgeoisie begin to release statements such as: ‘You must work hard and not think about the environment you’re in! That is in order to succeed in life!’ Yet, I see the working class and many are still being feasted on by the ruling class parasitic capitalism!
We need to weed out these conscious but unconscious in our communities! For they are the potion of lies waiting to be administered to our present Brothers of Struggle and Sisters of Struggle (BOS and SOS) within the United Struggle from Within (USW). We must begin to insert our truth, the original truth(s) of our ancestors. It is the first vaccine, so to say, that will cause a chemical reaction to their lies. Next is where we sit at in these institutions of slavery. We must re-educate not only oneself, but our Brothers and Sisters of struggle, where you are currently held captive. Then call out those in our communities that wear this Black face.
Capitalism and imperialism was born by racism and colonialism, that’s why socialists and internationalists must be self-determined and head strong. Words are the deaf, dumb, and blind poison! Its transmutation becomes one’s actions, habits and then your way to death, self genocide! Remain consciously conscience.
Black Face of America
It has come to the attention of We, the politically intelligent mason prisoners of amerika in California, the sudden changes of opinion by U.S. society and its exploiter nation’s status quo to no longer look favorably on the social construct of cross dressing, make-up drag or Halloween costumes done in the fashion of Black face. This narrative goes to draw a connection to the false information campaigns led by the bourgeois pop culture executives in order to keep the population of exploiter nations like the U.S. in a state of false security and economical privilege as underdeveloped nations around it suffers.
No white man, woman, or child should be caught painting their face Black - especially those who hope to have a career in social politics. Question is, when Blackness is not only a state of mind, but also the substance of which all things are manifested from, including the outer orbits of space called the Universe, is Blackface really that wrong?
When being Blackface isn’t at all that easily escapable for the darker shades of humanity, and is actually necessary in the national suicide process of neo-Nazi defectors and Euro-amerikan/white supporters of New Afrikan liberation by reparations, repatriation and total autonomy for all things indigenous to Afrika. And really, who of us doesn’t want to claim a little Afrika, aka Blackness for ourself?
Facts are that people have been tanning since the beginning of Egyptian/Summarian civilizations. So why is it currently being blasted all over capitalist news media broadcasting stations that this Black facing is a national catastrophe in need of most attention and immediate gratification?
It’s just that; immediate gratification, something that has very little to do with solving long-term conflicts in any given phenomenon, but instead is a diversion in interest of the long-term imperialist agenda to bourgeoisify the entire world with the capitalist systems of greed, ignorance and destruction.
Anyway, Halloween and its costume parties aren’t the subject in need of discussion. What is most needed for the politically inclined to wake their game up in is the why questions posed by brothers and sisters of the African National Prisoners Organization (ANPO) and New Afrikan Shamaan (NAS). Why does the devil call our people black? Or even African for that matter?
This is a subject that has begun to resurface in prisons, in such a way that it has been the reason for violent group altercations and segregated populations, resembling the Jim Crow south. (Jim Crow was a famous Black face character performed by a white entertainer.)
When Black Face Goes Bad
In California prisons, the segregation issue is at an all time high because it is a culture that is integrated so deeply amongst the population that Blacks segregate themselves into groups amongst themselves. There are those who consider themselves to be African-American, those who consider themselves Negroes, those who say they are Black and those who struggle for national independence under a variety of terms, for example the Asiatic Free Moors and the New Afrikan.
There is a very real divide between these populations that needs to be consolidated if it is to be that prisoners as a whole will ever come together in peace to face the exploiters. Where prisoners as a whole are made up of several nationalities, that will play a powerful role in a united effort to overthrow the current prison structures. Every national population must seriously organize itself in a Community Social Accountability Regiment to draw the lines between the political divides within We the oppressed internal semi-colonies of the oppressor nation, Amerika, if We are to ever get beyond failed hunger strikes and commissary boycotts. Though the immediate gratifications offer a temporary relief from the pressures of confinement. We escape to Walt Disney’s World of mystic illusions, the state department is still subjecting We all to toxic prison conditions. And as long as We are a divide between who isn’t Black and the argument that this whole entire damn planet is Black, We shall remain a population of social rejects, ignorant to the science of self.
The film 13th was released on Netflix in October 2016, just prior to the U.S. presidential election. It is clearly an anti-Trump film, although it is not clearly pro-anyone else. In April 2020, Netflix released the film for free on YouTube. It has been abuzz lately as a “must watch” film in the wake of the George Floyd uprisings.
The title 13th gives the impression that the film will focus on the 13th Amendment, and we assumed it would push the narrative that modern-day prison expansion is motivated by profiting from prisoner labor. We also thought it would be a film pushing people to focus on reforming the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Longtime readers of Under Lock & Key have likely already seen pieces debunking the line that the prison boom was motivated by exploiting prisoner labor. With our expectations from the title, we were pleasantly surprised by the film.
The film first focuses on the 13th Amendment, and explains the South needed labor after slavery was abolished. Where once there were slaves, there were then prisoner laborers. The exception in the 13th Amendment which allowed slavery for people convicted of a crime was primarily economically-motivated. From there, the film tracks prison expansion, which really took off after the exploitation of former slaves had ended, in response to social movements.
How the title relates to the theme of the film may be in that the 13th Amendment satisfied a dominant need of the time – white Amerika’s economic need for Black labor – and white Amerika has been adapting to meet its needs at the expense of New Afrikans ever since. 13th spans almost two centuries of U.$. history, and draws attention to many ways Amerika has adapted to meet its needs, whether they were economic needs or social needs.
13th does touch on the topic of prisoner labor for profit for private corporations, but doesn’t overly focus on it. Is prisoner labor for private profit a bad thing? Yes. Being that fewer than one percent of prisoners are engaged in productive labor for private profit, should we focus on it with all our energy, as if it is the main push for prison expansion?(1) MIM(Prisons) would answer this in the negative.
There are some economic motivations for prison expansion in recent-decades, but not for exploiting prisoner labor. 13th spends quite some time exposing the lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) role in prison expansion, as well as its present role in pushing for “community supervision” (read: ankle and wrist bracelet GPS trackers, and privatized probation and parole).(2) The economic interest in prison expansion is in job security for Amerikans, and state funding funneling into private corporations for services. There is a socio-economic benefit to Amerika in draining the oppressed internal semi-colonies of time and resources through expensive phone calls, long drives to visit families, and other exorbitant and arbitrary fees and expenses.
In the end, the audience is left with a call to remain vigilant to what’s coming next. It leaves the focus on ALEC and corporate influence in legislation. A take-away of 13th is that nothing has worked to get the white oppressors’ boot (or knee) off of New Afrika’s neck. Amerikkka just changes tactics, but the effect is the same.
That’s what we’re seeing today with the recent Black Lives Matter movement upsurge. We don’t need a less-funded Amerikan police force. We need New Afrikans to have their own police, and military, AND state to do as they please without having to cooperate with this clearly sociopathic Amerikan nation. On the whole, 13th affirms our view that prisons are primarily a tool of social control, and we will answer the film’s call to remain vigilant so Amerika can’t continue oppressing New Afrika any longer.
Hello - Saludos y Respeto to all those in the struggle, the struggle is real. I must weigh in on the events unfolding in Southern Califas. Namely the two lynchings, the first in Palmdale CA, the second in Victorville CA. What do they have in common? Answer: the Sheriff’s Department! Both racist! Both departments have a long history of working together and as a political prisoner held in CDCR these are the same two departments that joined forces to try and silence my voice and bring down the AV Brown Berets.
Both Departments have deputies that are card carrying members of the racist Minute Men, the new KKK. And having shined the spotlight on this fact earned me a life sentence for crimes I did NOT commit.
And in both cases there is no doubt in my mind there is Departmental involvement. And nothing can surprise us coming from these two historically racist departments.
In both cases these were meant to send a message to the BLM movement against police brutality going across this nation right now, and to discourage it! The evil and racist regime in Palmdale has a long history of using these tactics to silence the voice of the PEOPLE. And if they can’t kill you, they will bury you behind the wall. And this will not stop until they are made to understand the world is watching and will hold them responsible and accountable for their actions. But the racism and prejudice is systemic NOT only in the Sheriff’s Dept. but also in City Government in the Antelope Valley and Silver Valley (The Sinister Valleys) to a mind-blowing degree.
My heart goes out to the families, friends, and loved ones of these latest victims of these Evil Regimes. I spent years of my life trying to expose the racist and criminal practices of these two partners-in-crime, it has come at a great cost. My family, my freedom, not to mention all my worldly possessions but I will NOT stop until justice has been done, and the Evil has been exposed; because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the ONE. In the end the TRUTH ALWAYS comes out! We must continue to move forward and not be discouraged!
LA LUCHA SIEGE!!! VIVA LA CAUSA!!!
(Justice for Ro Alvin Harsh)
MIM(Prisons) adds: Six lynchings, 5 of them New Afrikans and one Latino, have been reported on the heels of the recent uprisings against police terrorism.
Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Palmdale, CA is under investigation
Malcolm Harsch a 38-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Victorville, CA has been declared a suicide by police and the family
Dominique Alexander, a 27-year-old New Afrikan man hung in a Manhattan park and was ruled a suicide by the police, who later said an investigation continues
a 17-year-old New Afrikan boy was hung from a tree in Spring, TX was ruled a suicide by police
a Latino man hung in Houston, TX was also ruled a suicide after family stated he was suicidal
Otis ‘Titi’ Gulley, 31, a New Afrikan transgender woman hung in a park in Portland, Oregon was ruled a suicide by police
More than 200 detainees began a hunger strike on October 18 at the ICE Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington. The NWDC is a private prison run by the Geo Group. The facility can hold over 1500 people and houses those swept up in immigration raids, transfers from the U.$-Mexico border, and other migrants caught in the Amerikkan system. This is one of the largest immigration prisons in the country.
Since 2014 detainees have launched 19 hunger strikes to protest their detention and conditions behind bars. This latest protest is demanding edible food and humane treatment, with many also demanding a complete shut down of NWDC. Prisoners find maggots, blood, hair and other things in the food. Kitchen workers report rats running around the food prep area. Guards abuse the prisoners. And Geo group ignores these complaints.(1)
U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers mirror conditions in other prisons in the United $tates. In fact, prisoners at Clallam Bay Correctional Facility in Washington also went on food and work strike earlier in October to demand better conditions, focusing on food quality.
ICE officials issued a statement denying the existence of a hunger strike: "Failure to eat the facility provided meal is not a stand-alone factor in the determination of a detainee's suspected or announced hunger strike action. Commissary food items remain available for purchase by detainees." They followed up this statement with a press tour of the NWDC, featuring spotless conditions, a well stocked urgent care room, and nice library. It appears that no prisoners were interviewed or even filmed up close in the tour.(2)
A majority of the 54,000 ICE detainees in the United $tates are held in privately run prisons. And migrant detention makes up the majority of the private prison population in this country. But this isn't about the difference in conditions between private and state or federally run prisons. Conditions across the criminal injustice system are abusive, dangerous, and inhumane. We're not fighting for a different face on the abuse.(3)
While federal arrests overall have gone up over the past 20 years, between 1998 and 2018 federal arrests rose 10% for U.$. citizens and 234% for non-citizens. The most dramatic increase was between 2017 and 2018, a 71% rise in arrests of non-citizens. In 1998 63% of all federal arrests were U.$. citizens while in 2018 that number flipped and 64% of all federal arrests were of non-U.$. citizens. The portion of federal arrests increasingly focused along the U.$-Mexico border increased from 33% in 1998 to 65% in 2018. 95% of this increase was due to immigration detainees.(4)
The ICE detention centers make clear the purpose of prisons in the United $tates. This is national oppression. These non-citizen detainees are mostly being prosecuted for the "crime" of being in the United $tates without permission of the imperialists. This "crime" represents 78% of the cases.(4)
Closed borders are a requirement of imperialism. The wealth is kept within these borders for the lucky few who are born to this privilege. That wealth is stolen from outside the borders; exploitation of labor and theft of natural resources brings great profit to the imperialists. And the imperialists share that profit with the citizens of their countries to keep them passive and supportive. This wealth differential is obvious, even between the poorest within U.$. borders and average people living in the Third World. Those living outside those borders are desperate to get in to access this wealth stolen from their homeland. The role of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security is clear: keep this wealth within u.$. borders exclusively for Amerikan citizens.
We support the just demands of prisoners in NWDC and throughout the criminal injustice system. This system has sunk so low that people are forced to starve themselves to fight the dangerous and inhuman conditions. It will not be fixed by improving the condition in one prison, or even by shutting down one facility. But these demands fit in with the anti-imperialist struggle as we fight for open borders and an end to a system where one nation has the power to lock up others just for the crime of crossing an invisible line.
A modern-day example of New Afrikans building independent institutions and public opinion for socialism is the groups carrying out the Jackson-Kush Plan in Jackson, Mississippi and the surrounding area. There are a number of different organizations involved in, and evolved out of, this Plan, and its roots go back to the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA) in the 1960s. It is directly built on the long history of New Afrikan organizing for independence, going on since people were brought to the United $nakes from Africa as slaves. The Plan itself was formulated by the New Afrikan People's Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement between 2004 – 2010. (1, p. 3)
The project has gone through many different phases, all focusing on attaining self-determination for people of African descent in Mississippi and the surrounding region. Sometimes the organizing has been more heavily focused on electoral politics,(2, 3) sometimes more on purchasing land, and currently the Cooperation Jackson project appears to be at the forefront of pushing the Plan forward.
Cooperation Jackson's mission is to develop an intimate network of worker-owned cooperatives, covering all basic humyn needs, and more: food production and distribution, recycling and waste management, energy production, commodity production, housing, etc. The main goals of Cooperation Jackson (C.J.) are to provide sustainable livelihoods for its organizing base, which includes control over land, resources, means of production, and means of distribution. Currently C.J. has a handful of cooperatives in operation, and is building the Community Land Trust to have greater control over its target geography in Jackson. This is just a snapshot of the work of Cooperation Jackson, which is explained in much more detail in the book Jackson Rising.(1)
The Jackson-Kush Plan is being carried out despite big setbacks, repression, harassment, and roadblocks from the government and racist citizens alike, for decades. This is the nature of struggle and the folks working with the Plan are facing it head-on. C.J. and the other organizations involved are doing amazing work to establish what could be dual power in the state of Mississippi.
While the MIM has congruent goals with the Jackson-Kush Plan (at least including the self-determination of New Afrikan people; control over land, economy, and resources; environmental sustainability; an end of capitalism and imperialism), there are some notable differences.(4) We're holding out hope that the Plan is being intentionally discrete in order to build dual power, but the ideological foundations of some of its structure point instead to revisionism of Marxism.
Cooperation Jackson's plan includes working with the government in some capacity. It needs to change laws in order to operate freely and legally. This itself isn't wrong – MIM(Prisons) also works on and supports some reforms that would make our work of building revolution much easier. But because of its relationship to the state, C.J.'s voice is muffled. MIM(Prisons) doesn't have this problem, so we can say what needs to be said and we hope the folks organizing for New Afrikan independence will hear it.
Cooperation Jackson's structural documents paint a picture of a peaceful transition to a socialist society, or a socialist microcosm, built on worker-owned cooperatives and the use of advanced technology. Where it aims to transform the New Afrikan "working class" (more on this below) to become actors in their own lives and struggle for self-determination of their nation, we are for it. So often we hear from ULK readers that people just don't think revolution is possible. Working in a collective and actually having an impact in the world can help people understand their own inherent power as humyn beings. Yet it seems C.J. sees this democratic transformation of the New Afrikan "working class" as an end in itself, which it believes will eventually lead to an end of capitalism.
"In the Jackson context, it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy."(1, p. 7)
This quote also alludes to C.J.'s apparent opposition to the universality of armed struggle in its struggle to transform the economy. In all the attempts that have been made to take power from the bourgeoisie, only people who have acknowledged the need to take that power by force (i.e. armed struggle) have been even remotely successful. We just need to look to the governments in the last century all across the world who have attempted to nationalize resources to see how hard the bourgeois class will fight when it really feels its interests are threatened.
Where C.J. is clearly against Black capitalism and a bourgeois-nationalist revolution that stays in the capitalist economy, we are in agreement. Yet C.J. apparently also rejects the need for a vanguard party, and the need for a party and military to protect the interests and gains of the very people it is organizing.
"As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained within the nation-state edifice. We are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn't dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats."(1, p. 8)
As students of history, we assert that C.J. is putting the carriage before the horse here. National liberation struggles have shown the most success toward delinking populations from imperialism and capitalism. Yes, we agree with C.J. that these national liberation struggles also need to contain anti-capitalism, and revolutionary ecology, if they plan to get anywhere close to communism. But C.J. seems to be saying it can dislodge from capitalism before having national independence from imperialism.
The end of this quote also raises valid concerns about who holds the means of production, and the development of a new bourgeoisie among the party bureaucrats. This is one of the huge distinctions between the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and China under Mao. In China, the masses of the population participated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which attacked bureaucrats and revisionists in the party and positions of power. These criticisms were led from the bottom up, and the Cultural Revolution was a huge positive lesson on how we can build a society that is continually moving toward communism, and not getting stuck in state-capitalism.
Another significant difference between the line of the MIM and of Cooperation Jackson is our class analysis. Cooperation Jackson is organizing the "working class" in Jackson, Mississippi, which it defines as "unionized and non-unionized workers, cooperators, and the under and unemployed."(1, p. 30) So far in our exposure to C.J., we haven't yet come across an internationalist class analysis. Some pan-Africanism, yes, but nothing that says a living wage of $11 is more than double what the average wage would be if we had an equal global distribution of wealth.(5, 6) And so far nothing that says New Afrika benefits from its relationship to the United $tates over those who Amerikkka oppresses in the Third World.
We can't say what the next steps for the Jackson-Kush Plan should be. There's still opportunity for people within the project to clarify its line on the labor aristocracy/working class, the necessity of armed struggle to take power from the bourgeoisie, and the significance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. MIM(Prisons)'s Free Books for Prisoners Program distributes many materials on these topics. Some titles we definitely recommend studying are On Trotskyism by Kostas Mavrakis, The Chinese Road to Socialism by E.L. Wheelwright and Bruce McFarlane, and Imperialism and its Class Structure in 1997 by MIM.
I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.
The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.
There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.
So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.
Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.
This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.
Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.
[The following was written about the same time as we were writing Intersecting Strands of Oppression for ULK 65. This author echoes our own discussion of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing while heavily citing MIM Theory 2/3, as we did in our piece. This question of how gender and nation interact, and how revolutionaries should approach these topics in order to push things in the right direction continue to be of utmost importance. - MIM(Prisons)]
On 27 September 2018, in the United States Senate's Judiciary Committee, the nation heard riveting testimony of an attempted sexual assault, and the denial of that assault. A Crime that had occurred 37-years ago with no corroborating witnesses.
In a he-say, she-say trial, who gets the benefit of the doubt? The accused, or the accuser? In this era of #MeToo, is it guilty until you can prove yourself innocent, or innocent until proven guilty? Could due process be sacrificed at the altar of gender politics and why does it matter?
In reviewing my in-cell library on feminist theory, these matters and debates are not new, and the answers to these questions have long been addressed. The first question that has to be asked, "Who speaks for the feminist?" "Who has her girlfriend's back?" The demarcation in the feminist lines can best be exemplified by the research compiled by one feminist researcher, Ealasaid Munro:
"The emergence of 'privilege-checking,' however, reflects the reality that mainstream feminism remains dominated by straight white middle-classes. Parvan Amara interviewed self-identified working class feminists for a piece published on the internet magazine The F Word and noted that many of the women she spoke to found themselves excluded from mainstream feminism both on the internet and 'in real life.' Amara notes that many women tend to encounter feminism at university. Women who do not go on to further education face a barrier when attempting to engage with those academic debates that drive feminism."(1)
So if academia is where the debates that are driving feminist theory are occurring, what does that academic debate look like if she is not white?
"Ignoring the difference of race between women and the implications of those differences presents the most serious threat to the mobilization of women's joint power. Refusing to recognize difference makes it impossible to see the different problems and pitfalls facing us as women. Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down on the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying."(2)
Another theorist surmised, "Black women's own views on rape can't help being shaped by the actions of their white sisters. That is to say, that Black people cannot use a white supremacist justice system without perpetuating white supremacy."(3)
These other theorists have long been critical of weaponizing process. This was recently on display in California. There, a recall movement was taking place to remove a judge for imposing a light sentence on a Stanford University student for sexual assault. The most vocal opponents to the recall were Black women. The most visible, former California Supreme Court justice, Janice M. Brown.(4) She argued, that punishing a judge for exercising discretion will only harm defendants of color. Statistics bear this out. Per 100,000 of the Black and Brown population in 2010, 6,000 were imprisoned; while per 100,000 of the white population in 2010, 640 were imprisoned.(5) Black and Brown persons of color are in front of Criminal Court judges far more than whites.
Another theorist called this type of feminism Carceral Feminism, and rails against the federal passage of the 1999 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). "Many of the feminists who had lobbied for the passage of VAWA remained silent about countless other women whose 911 calls resulted in more violence. Often white, well-heeled feminists, their legislative accomplishment did little to stem violence against less affluent, more marginalized women."(6) And a further theorist noted, "If women do not share 'common oppression,' what then can serve as a basis for our coming together?"(7)
These other feminist theorist, the marginalized, had observed that the debate was about rational-feminism versus emotional-feminism. This feminist theorist argues that rational-feminism must prevail over emotional feminism.
"The sisterhood line as currently practiced (but not in the 1960s and early 1970s) is white, bourgeois, sexist propaganda. Women just turn around from seeking approval from men that they never got; to demanding unconditional approval from women. They put each other on a pedestal and imagine each other to be flawless goddesses."(8)
This same theorist argues, the root of emotional feminism is nothing more than a chauvinist plot to keep women marginalized and caught up in their emotions, rather than applying her faculties of reasoning.
"The root of this is the patriarchal socialization of women to restrict themselves to the sphere of feelings, while letting men develop the rational faculties necessary to wield power. Women are taught to read romantic novels, major in English, or maybe psychology, if the women seem like they are getting too many scientific ideas."(9)
Is the rallying cry, "I BELIEVE HER", the death nails to due process? Is process going to be sacrificed at the alter of gender politics? Is the new standard for America's fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons "GUILTY, UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE YOURSELF INNOCENT"?
One theorist's 1992 writings used the 1986 rape convictions of white women by the race of their rapist. 68% of their rapists were white; 22% of their rapists were Black; 5% were Other; and 2% of their rapists were Mixed. The theorist begs feminists to take a serious look at the 22% of white women raped in 1986 who were raped by Black men.
The theorist goes on to state a general proposition that all feminists can generally agree upon, "Three-quarters of all rapes are by acquaintances, and the figures on rape should reflect that women are raped by the type of people they date."
In 1986, 12% of the men available to white women were Black. However, no where near 12% of the sex white women were having were with Black men. Thus the 22% of white women's rapist being Black is disproportionately high. Furthermore, the population of white women was more than six-times the population of Black men. For every [1% of] white women who had a sexual acquaintance with a Black man, it takes [6% of] Black men to be those acquaintances. Out of those acquaintances charged with rape, the 22% figure means a very high proportion of Black men generally are convicted of rape of white women compared to white men.
The theorist takes note, up to this point, the figures have been examined from the perspective of the rape victim. But taken from the Black man's perspective, white women are a large group of the American population, while Black men are a relatively small one. For Black men, 63.3% of their rape accusers were white women. If Black men had 63.3% of their sexual interactions with white women, then the accusations might be fair, but this was far from the case.
The theorist surmised we could get an idea of how skewed the accusations were looking at "interracial dating." The theorist could not give a figure for what percentage of the dates people went on were interracial. Instead, the theorist surmised we could guess that it was similar to the figures for the percentage of people in interracial marriages. Black men married to white women accounted for 0.3% of total marriages in the United States as of 1989. In 1989, less than 4% of Black married men were married to white women, so we estimate that less than 4% of Black men's dating were with white women. Hence, less than 4% of accusations faced by Black men should come from white women. Instead, the figure was 63.3%.(10)
The history of that story is the other side of sexual politics here in America. An America where the LAPD and Oakland-PD have had 100s of convictions overturned, due to incredibly, credible, false testimony of police officers. A land where 15% of the Black population in Tulia, Texas, were incarcerated by the incredibly, credible, testimony of a single racist officer.(11) According to the San Quentin News, 139 prisoners nationwide were exonerated in 2017.(12)
Credible demeanor in testimony has never been foolproof. The National Academy of Sciences, along with the FBI, have noted eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable testimony.(13) While this would obviously be in reference to witnesses testifying against strangers, but the juries which wrongly convinced these defendants were doing so from witnesses who were credible and convincing in their testimony. In 2013, 153 of the 268 exonerations by the Innocence Project were for rape.(14) 72% of all DNA exonerations are people of color. Of the 72%, 61% are African Americans.(15)
Theorists can clearly see, "I BELIEVE HER," with its lock-in-step demands of sisterhood, is classic emotional-feminist theory. What is the emotional-feminist rationale to do away with "INNOCENT, UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY"? Nor could emotional-theorists surmise they are not doing away with this unitedly, American, idea. [...] "I BELIEVE HER" is a presumption-of-guilt, rather than the presumption-of-innocence that the rational feminist are standing for, and for years have been arguing against the emotional-feminist assault on process. While emotional-feminism, with its well-heeled, racial, social, and economic status is having the loudest voice, their marginalized sisters, whose rational-feminist approach, is the only voice of hope for fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons; a hope the other side doesn't win the debate.
While expressing full unity with MIM(Prisons), I feel compelled to also urge those who say they are engaging in the fight against imperialism to expand their reach. We are living within a time where the public is realizing that prisons and other oppressive methods are doing more harm than good. Campaigns are being launched throughout the world on behalf of the rights of prisoners and the oppressed in general.
MIM(Prisons) encourages those struggling against imperialism to be united no matter the group one may claim as long as it's against imperialism. We have a justice system that perpetuates the institution of racism in this country through its targeting of the most marginalized communities: people of color, women and the LGBT community. As one we are more than they are and it's time we realize this truth and act on it NOW!
The public generally associates torture with physical violence; they sometimes have a hard time accepting that there are equally brutal forms of mental torture. It's interesting, though. Back in the 1940s and 1950s when stories came out about communist regimes holding prisoners in isolation for very long periods of time, we had no problem calling that torture.
We all have family and friends who can be our voice as well as a way and means to destroy the system from within. If our family and friends were employees at these prisons they would expose the ill treatment we are receiving, and misconduct of the other prison officials. Shutting down prisons should be a prisoner's main focus. We must stop funding our imprisonment by buying things from these prisons.
If the state has to pay they will soon run out of money as they are doing in Louisiana, and now Louisiana is forced to release prisoners due to lack of funds and the feds refuse to give them any more money.
Many may not share my views but one can not disagree that picking up the torch after someone else or starting one's own movement will be rewarding. As I think about all of the movements and campaigns that have been launched on behalf of prisoners or other oppressed people, I wonder why these groups have not thought to get prison jobs in order to expose the system. If they are fired or harassed because of it they can bring suit over it. We must encourage this. ULK 51 ran an article about a Louisiana correctional officer who exposed Winn Correctional Center.(1) Changes were made and the private prison group lost its contract with the state. So what I am suggesting works.
We must keep our minds on decarcerating our states by educating ourselves and others of the root cause for incarceration and working with others to create the ideal community. Create opportunities for this place, get family, friends, and the community to participate and play the role of developers. Its been proven over and again that when we invest in ourselves, plan and build for ourselves, people thrive with virtually no crime. If we are true champions of human rights and mean to fulfill our constitutional guarantees of a more perfect union, then we have a moral obligation to end prison slavery, overhaul our criminal justice system and decarcerate by fighting the system from within the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We want to expand on this comrade's comment about educating on the root cause for incarceration. This is a critical point to understand. It's definitely not profitable to lock up so many people. In reality prisons in the United $tates are a tool of social control, used mostly to keep oppressed nation lumpen in check. We can win some critical battles against the criminal injustice system, but we aren't likely to end the mass incarceration until we take down imperialism as a whole. The prison system is too tied up in U.$. imperialist domestic policies.
This comrade brings up the interesting situation in Louisiana where prison and state officials were threatening to release a third of the prison population (10,000 prisoners) if the 2018 budget cuts were implemented. Although there was a lot of news about this potential "crisis" at the time, since then we found no follow up. Presumably the state found the money to keep people locked up. In 2017 Louisiana officials made similar threats, though on a smaller scale. Obviously funding is necessary to keep prisoners locked up, but it seems that Louisiana keeps finding enough money to keep their prison infrastructure intact. We fully support prisoner boycotts and other financial attacks on the system. But, as we explored in detail in ULK 60most of the funding is already coming from the state budget so we need to approach these battles with a clear understanding of the potential impact.(2)
We agree with this comrade's evaluation that people can thrive with no crime. It is the capitalist patriarchal system that creates the current culture of crime, and puts the biggest criminals in charge of murder, rape and large scale theft around the world in the name of the government. And so we would extend our moral obligation beyond ending the criminal injustice system and to ending the imperialist system.
Finally, we want to comment on the "communist regimes holding prisoners in isolation." This is common anti-communist propaganda but we're not sure exactly what the author is talking about here. In the 1940s and 50s over a third of the world's people embarked on the socialist road. And there is no doubt the Amerikan propaganda machine told lots of stories about those countries' evil behavior. In hindsight a lot of these stories have been proven false.
In the case of China, the prisons were actually an example of a true system of reeducation and rehabilitation. In fact, the entire country undertook a reeducation campaign to remould individuals and the society as a whole to serve the interests of the people rather than the interests of profit. One example is shown in the book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett, where we see that their conditions of confinement were different from conditions in U.$. prisons in significant ways. They were housed with other prisoners, and not isolated. They were provided with literature and newspapers, not cut off from society. They were encouraged to expand their perspectives and grow together, not to just watch TV and withdraw into themselves. And ultimately they came out of prison praising the communist government in China.