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.
We are caught in a system of competitiveness, manipulation, one against the other, brother against brother, family against family, people against people, gangs against gangs, ethnic groups against ethnic groups, color against color, class against class, instead of minority or lower class against the ruling class.
We focus too much on meaningless self-imposed politics that were manipulated into our minds growing up. Like ditch school, destroy your own neighborhoods, sell drugs to your own people, we gang bang, we fight our own over colors and sides only. The only way you can make it is by rapping about killing your own people or selling drugs to your own. As a Chicano I grew up not only hearing this from my peers but that's also what the music I was told to like and listen to said. The television also told me my people are only on TV as gang bangers, drug dealers, etc.
As I grew older I started to realize something is wrong here, where did I go wrong? What have I done for myself? For my family? For my people? Nothing but self-imposed distraction. I am soaking in my own blood and that of my people. I got a hunger for knowledge. Why is it things are the way they are?
The more I studied, the more I realized this is not new but a very old cycle set up by a system to manipulate my mind. A system that went after Martin L. King, a peaceful man, a pastor on his quest for civil rights. The government unlawfully wired his phones, tried to break up his family, tried to unlawfully disrupt his movement by all means to an end. We've learned how the CIA was helping Pablo Escobar flood our streets with drugs. How they dismantled and unlawfully disrupted the Brown Berets and Black Panthers because they were trying to teach and uplift the people; telling them there is a system in place to oppress you, know and understand your rights, bear arms to protect your neighborhoods from pig brutality. After both Brown Berets and Panthers fell our children were open to assault by this system, poor schools, no jobs, drugs. Then record labels signed groups who furthered the system's wishes singing and rapping, "kill your own," "sell drugs," "it's cool to go to prison."
Regardless of tribe, set, race, if you are classified as Security Threat Group (STG) you are on the same boat as me. STG is a Homeland Security term for a domestic terrorist. First rule in war, identify your enemy. We have been identified and classified as enemies of the state. What else is there to be said? Are we to continue letting our self-imposed politics disrupt reality? Such insignificant things and views like colors and sides or race hinder our lives? They can stop one arrow not a hundred. There's nothing wrong with being part of groups, families, etc. But it is wrong when those groups lose focus of the message and cause. It is not okay to soak in the blood of your own people, period.
Learn from our oppressor, they are some cold operators, they understand the power of knowledge and education. The ruling class in the United States is composed of men and their families who use ivy league universities and elite law schools as private schools for their offspring and as training grounds for their corporate livelihoods. They rule us with iron precision through the military, the CIA, the FBI, private foundations and financial institutions. Their control of all the media of education and communication comprises an extremely effective system of thought control.
We must learn from someone who defeated this system. Ho Chi Minh understood the power of education. His mandated policy for his warriors and cadres was spot on. Fighting and violence is easy. You must have balance. You must be able to read and write, be able to teach others and most importantly fully understand and be educated in your political paradigm and why you are fighting.
Chicanos in Colorado are currently in a struggle for our true history. We hunger for knowledge because that knowledge has ended all violence between tribes, shown us our common interests, not the blind mentality of colors and sides. We are currently under assault by Colorado Department of Corrections, not allowing us to receive our real education, stopping all education or history on the concept of Aztlán, Chicano unity, Mexica movement, claiming it's STG. Since when is history and education a crime? Well for us, always.
If there is to be a movement, then there must be leaders. Those leaders must be judged by their ability to give not take. Leadership must convey confidence, not egotism, one who sacrifices, not one who is an opportunist. Leadership is the act of using power to free people, not to control them. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The destruction of the Black Panther Party, the flooding of cities with drugs, and the rejection of literature on [email protected] history in prison are all manifestations of the same system. This system seeks to peacefully control oppressed nations by keeping them from learning about the history of this oppression and the many examples of resistance. And when that fails it locks up the oppressed, or even targets activists for death.
What can we do about this system with so much more power and resources than we have as activists and anti-imperialists? The truth is our side has more power; we have 80% of the world's population, which is exploited and oppressed by imperialism, on our side. The imperialists are paper tigers, that appear fearsome, but in reality are propped up on a fairly fragile structure of power.
That said, dismantling that structure will take a lot of organization, trial and error. As this comrade points out, we need to focus on education and fight to get true history into the hands of the oppressed. And then we need leaders to step up and organize and educate others. There is no special qualification for this leadership. Anyone who sees the problems in the world around them can take up organizing others to fight back. United Struggle from Within is an organization for these leaders, and MIM(Prisons) supports USW organizers with literature and resources. Get in touch today to get started with a local study group or campaign against repression in your prison or elsewhere in the world.
The example(s) set down by the “People’s Machine” still resonate today…within the hearts and minds of captives in particular, and conscious folk out in “minimum security” (Amerikkka!) in general.
The blood of our revolutionary martyrs still stains the ground in San Quentin, Soledad, Tracy, Attica, Angola, Jackson, Walla Walla, among others! Their spirits call out to us…“Avenge Us”, they say! Can we hear them? Truly?
Today being the day, 47 years ago! that the “Dragon” spit fire and in turn, ran out of the adjustment center…to a revolutionary death! The Amerikkkans thought that killing Comrade George, they would kill the movement…WRONG!
Granted…the system of capitalism has been quite active in circumventing our quest(s) for revolutionary change! As we ourselves have internalized “gangsta” delusional fantasies…and in turn, became cannibals of our own! Between the two lives the poor and oppressed masses! The have nots! starving for freedom…starving for justice…starving for equality! Just unsure of “how” to go about obtaining it?!
The fact that every issue of ULK that i have ever read has had at least one prisoner submission that referenced Comrade George, speaks volumes! At least to those who are truly conscious…These Brothas identify with strength in these torture chambers, where broken men abound! They want to be about more than lip service…it is on those of us who know, to teach! and lead by example!
Comrade George, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Khaiari Gualden, others unnamed, sacrifice their very lives for the cause of liberation! They waged struggle in service of all of us behind the walls and we owe them, period!
Today, i am deep in thought…examining my conditions and the cats i find myself imprisoned with. And I am working…regardless of what the Amerikkkans do to me: indeterminate SHU, death row, out of state moves, even death! i shall continually strive to be the example of resistance to those around me! Way i see it, i have absolutely nothing left to lose…but my chains! Life in a cage is unacceptable…to a “Black Cat”! i salute all of you Brothas in struggle with a clenched fist held high! Thinking of the beloved Comrade G. i have blood in my eyes! Power to the People!
Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.
The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole "set offs" after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.
Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded "set off." So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.
It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ's treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn't help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.
There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It's not about fear of violence; it's about fear of Black violence.
TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we'd be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren't sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.
In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has "budget problems": it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.
The battle here isn't between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can't lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.
This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.