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[Education] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 30]
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Affirmative Action Battle Fails Oppressed Nation Youth

incarceration not education
On November 15, 2012 Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions was declared unconstitutional in federal appeals court. This strikes down a 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of race as a factor to determine which students to admit to college. While bans on affirmative action are fundamentally reactionary in preserving white privilege, this was a weak legal victory for school integration. The justices did not cite the need for equal access to education for all people in their reasoning, but rather struck down the ban because it presents a burden to opponents who must fight it through the ballot box, because this is a costly and time consuming activity. This "undermines the Equal Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change," according to the majority opinion of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The courts determined they would rather leave this debate over affirmative action to the governing boards of the public universities.(1)

A similar law in California was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving conflicting legal rulings for different parts of the country. It is likely that these cases will move to the Supreme Court. Six states besides Michigan have banned affirmative action in school admissions: Washington, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, California and Florida.

Debates over affirmative action in Amerika provide revolutionaries with an opportunity to talk about the history of national oppression and the reality of ongoing oppression today. But we need to be careful not to get caught up in the details of affirmative action alone. Based on college admissions information and population statistics, in recent years oppressed nations are actually attending college at rates that are approaching those of their white counterparts. But the story missing here is what's happening to the rest of the Blacks and Latinos who don't attend college, as well as which colleges each nation is attending. Affirmative action would impact the latter problem, but has no affect on the close to 50% of Black and Latino students who don't make it to high school graduation.

From 1976 to 2010, the percentage of Latino college students rose from 3 percent to 13 percent, and the percentage of Black college students rose from 9 percent to 14 percent. During the same period, the percentage of white college students fell from 83 percent to 61 percent. As the table below shows, the percent of Blacks and Latinos in the college student body overall in the U.$. is approaching their representation in the population.(2)

Nation1976 % of student body2010 % of student body2010 % of population (age 18-24)
white83%61%60%
Black9%14%15%
Latino3%13%18%

Another relevant measure of college education equality is the percentage of 18-24-year-olds enrolled in college. For 2008 the rates by nationality were(3):

"Race"2008 % w/college education(age 18-24)
white44.2%
Black32.1%
Hispanic25.8%

Clearly there are still wide disparities in educational access as well as the degrees that oppressed nation students are achieving relative to their white counterparts. And a long history of differential college education leads to population statistics that reflect the overall lower educational achievement of oppressed nations. The table below shows the percent of the population with each degree by nationality.(3) The total percentages of each nation with a college degree should get closer together if oppressed nation enrollment continues to approach the population distribution. But that won't necessarily result in the same levels of education achieved.

"Race"Associate'sBachelor'sMaster'sProfessional degree
white9.3%21.1%8.4%3.1%
Black8.9%13.6%4.9%1.3%
Hispanic6.1%9.4%2.9%1.0%

The debate over affirmative action at the college level gets at the core of what equality is. Those who demand "blind" admissions practices have to pretend that everyone applying for college admissions had equal opportunities up to the point of college application. And this gives us a chance to challenge people on what many like to call a "color-blind" society. Even looking at the privileged Blacks and Latinos who went to schools good enough to qualify them to apply for college admission, pretending equality is only possible if we ignore all the aspects of oppression that these groups face in the U.$., from overt racial hatred to subtle cultural messages of inferiority. Society sets oppressed nation youth up for failure from birth, with TV and movies portraying criminals as Black and Latino and successful corporate employees as white. These youth are stopped by cops on the streets for the offense of skin color alone, looked at suspiciously in stores, and presumed to be less intelligent in school.

But the real problem is not the privileged Black and Latino students qualified to apply for college admission. These individual students from oppressed nations who are able to achieve enough to apply to colleges that have admissions requirements are a part of the petty bourgeoisie. The reality is very different for the other half of the oppressed nation youth who are tracked right out of college from first grade (or before) and have no chance of even attending a college that has admissions requirements beyond a high school diploma.

Among the students who entered high school in ninth grade, 63% of Latinos, 59% of Blacks and 53% of First Nations graduated high school in 2009. This is compared to 81% of Asians and 79% of whites. Overall the Black-white and Latino-white graduation rate gap narrowed between 1999 and 2009 but is still very large.(4)

Prison if you can't learn

Few statistics are gathered on drop out rates between first grade and ninth grade, but state-based information suggests that middle school drop out rates are high. These no doubt reflect the differentials by nationality, leading to an even higher overall drop out rate for oppressed nations. It is almost certain that fewer than half of Blacks and Latinos who enter grade school complete 12th grade with a diploma. And the students who do graduate come away with an education so inferior that many are not qualified for college. On average, Black and Latino high school seniors perform math and read at the same level as 13-year-old white students.(5) This is not preparation sufficient for competitive college applications.

History of Amerikan School Segregation

The history of segregation in Amerikan schools mirrors the history of segregation and national oppression in the country as a whole. Access to education is a core value that Amerikans claim to embrace. While harshly criticizing the idea of free health care or other government-sponsored services, eliminating free education is a concept only a small group of Amerikans openly advocate. But equal access to K-12 education is an idea that has never been reality for the oppressed nations within the United $nakes. And the differentials in education are so stark that it is virtually impossible for those attending the segregated and inferior schools reserved for Amerika's oppressed nations to overcome these years of training and lack of good schooling to participate and compete as adults in the workforce.

In the late 1950s, after the landmark Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Amerikan public schools took significant steps towards desegregation. Through the late 1980s, with the use of bussing and other policies, the proportion of Black and Latino students in majority white schools increased and opportunities for education opened up to many oppressed nation youth. But during the 1990s this progress began to reverse and the trend has continued so that today segregation in public schools is worse than it was in the 1960s.

This re-segregation is the result of government rollbacks in federal programs, Supreme Court limitations on desegregation, and active dismantling of integration programs. Essentially, the government determined that desegregation requirements could be ignored. This was partly due to shifting political winds, but MIM(Prisons) looks at the timeline for this re-segregation and finds no surprise that the timing coincides with the crushing of the national liberation movements within U.$. borders in the 1970s. As the public outcry against national oppression receded, with leaders either dead or locked up, and guns and drugs circulating widely to distract the lumpen, the re-segregation of schools was a logical result. And this segregation of schools is among the most obvious aspects of the ongoing national segregation within U.$. borders.

Jonathan Kozol, in his book Segregation in Education: The Shame of the Nation, cites school after school, across the country, with atrocious facilities, in dangerous and unhealthy buildings, insufficient space, non-functioning utilities, and lack of educational materials, serving almost exclusively Black and Latino students. Many of these youth drop out of school before graduating high school. White families flee the school districts or send their kids to private schools. School "choice" has enabled greater segregation by offering options to these white kids that the oppressed nation students can't take advantage of. While "choice" is theoretically open to everyone, it is the wealthy white families who learn about the opportunities for the best schools from their neighbors, friends and co-workers, and who know how to navigate the complexities of the application process. And often knowing someone within the school helps to get their kids admitted to the schools with particularly high demand.(6)

The government reaction to the falling skills and education of segregated schools has been to implement "standards" and "tests" and "discipline" that they pretend will make these schools separate but equal. Yet no progress is seen, and the conditions in these schools continues to worsen. The changes in requirements for underfunded and predominantly Black and Latino schools has resulted in two very different education systems: one for whites which includes cultural classes in art, drama and music, time for recess, and classes that allow for student creativity; and another for oppressed nationalities that includes strict military-like discipline, long school days with no recess, rigid curriculum that teaches to very limited standards, elimination of "fluff" classes like art and music, all taught in severely limited facilities with enormous class sizes. This divergence between the school districts reinforces segregation as white parents can see clearly what their kids miss out on (and are forced to participate in) when they don't attend "white" schools.

According to Kozol, "Thirty-five out of 48 states spend less on students in school districts with the highest numbers of minority children than on students in the districts with the fewest children of minorities. Nationwide, the average differential is about $1,100 for each child. In some states — New York, Texas, Illinois, and Kansas for example — the differential is considerably larger. In New York... it is close to $2,200 for each child." If these numbers are multiplied out to the classroom level, typical classroom funding for low income schools is on the magnitude of $30k to $60k less than for high income classes. At a school level these financial differences are staggering: a 400 student elementary school in New York "receives more than $1 million less per year than schools of the same size in districts with the fewest numbers of poor children."(7) There is an even greater differential when low income oppressed nation districts are separated from low income white districts. There are a few low income white districts but they get more funding than low income oppressed nation districts and so pull up the average funding of low income districts overall.

The achievement gap between Black and white children went down between the Brown v Board of Education ruling and the late 1980s. But it started to grow again in the early 1990s. By 2005, in about half the high schools (those with the largest concentration of Blacks and Latinos) in the 100 largest districts in the country less than half the students entering the schools in ninth grade were graduating high school. Between 1993 and 2002 the number of high schools with this problem increased by 75%. These numbers, not surprisingly, coincide with a drop in Black and Latino enrollment in public universities.(8)

Kozol ties the history of re-segregation back to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on March 21, 1973, (Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby) when the Court overruled a Texas district court finding that inequalities in districts' abilities to finance education are unconstitutional. This was a key class action law suit, in which a very poor non-white neighborhood argued that their high property taxes were insufficient to provide their kids with adequate education while a neighboring rich white district with lower property taxes was able to spend more than twice the amount on students. In the Supreme Court decision Justice Lewis Powell wrote "The argument here is not that the children in districts having relatively low assessable property values are receiving no public education; rather, it is that they are receiving a poorer quality education than available to children in districts having more assessable wealth." And so he argued that "the Equal Protection Clause does not require absolute equality."(9) This means states are not required to provide funds to help equalize the educational access of poorer people. And because of the tremendous segregation in schools, these poorer students are generally Black and Latino.

Ongoing Reality of School Segregation Today

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA does a lot of research on segregation in education in the United $tates. In a September 19, 2012 report they provide some statistics that underscore the growing segregation in public schools.(10) This segregation is particularly dramatic in the border states and the south, and segregation is especially severe in the largest metropolitan areas. They note that desegregation efforts between the 1960s to the late 1980s led to significant achievements in addressing both segregation itself and racial achievement gaps, but the trend reversed after a 1991 Supreme Court ruling (Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell) that made it easier to abandon desegregation efforts.(11)

Key facts from the Civil Rights Project 2012 report include:

  1. "In the early 1990s, the average Latino and black student attended a school where roughly a third of students were low income (as measured by free and reduced price lunch eligibility), but now attend schools where low income students account for nearly two-thirds of their classmates."
  2. "There is a very strong relationship between the percent of Latino students in a school and the percent of low income students. On a scale in which 1.0 would be a perfect relationship, the correlation is a high .71. The same figure is lower, but still high, for black students (.53). Many minority-segregated schools serve both black and Latino students. The correlation between the combined percentages of these underserved two groups and the percent of poor children is a dismaying .85."
  3. In spite of the suburbanization of nonwhite families, 80% of Latino students and 74% of Black students attend majority nonwhite schools (50-100% oppressed nations). Out of those attending these nonwhite schools, 43% of Latinos and 38% of Blacks attend intensely segregated schools (those with only 0-10% of whites students). And another segment of these segregated students, 15% of Black students, and 14% of Latino students, attend "apartheid schools", where whites make up 0 to 1% of the enrollment.
  4. "Latino students in nearly every region have experienced steadily rising levels of concentration in intensely segregated minority settings. In the West, the share of Latino students in such settings has increased fourfold, from 12% in 1968 to 43% in 2009... Exposure to white students for the average Latino student has decreased dramatically over the years for every Western state, particularly in California, where the average Latino student had 54.5% white peers in 1970 but only 16.5% in 2009."
  5. "Though whites make up just over half of the [U.S. school] enrollment, the typical white student attends a school where three-quarters of their peers are white."

The overwhelming evidence that school segregation continues and even grows without concerted efforts around integration provides evidence of the ongoing segregation between nations overall within the United $tates. Even with residential patterns shifting and neighborhoods integrating different nationalities, families still find ways to segregate their children in schools.

The dramatic school segregation in the United $tates points to both a national and class division in this country. First there is the obvious national division that is reinforced by school segregation, which places whites in a position of dramatic privilege relative to Blacks and Latinos. This privilege extends to poorer whites, underscoring the overall position of the oppressor nation. But there is also a class division within the oppressed nations in the United $tates. The education statistics put about half of oppressed nation youth tracked into the lower class, while the other half can expect to join the petit bourgeoisie which constitutes the vast majority of the Amerikan population. Our class analysis of Amerikan society clearly demonstrates that even the lower class Blacks and Latinos are not a part of the proletariat. But a portion of these undereducated youth are forced into the lumpen class, a group defined by their exclusion from participation in the capitalist system. Future articles will explore the size and role of this lumpen class.

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[Mental Health] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 29]
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Psychiatric Matrix of Isolation as Social Control

A comrade from another trench spoke once on leadership and what it means to h: "The answer is that like it or not, people who collect information, analyze and then make decisions on what is true and not true, are leaders. People who do not are not leaders."(1)

Sensory deprivation in solitary confinement creates an inability to make decisions because information flow is very nearly cut off. Another way this bourgeois imperialist society stops leaders in their tracks is by making one's decisions, after analyzing information, seem off, to seem crazy or "mentally ill."

"Another problem relevant to revolutionaries is they have a more intellectual tendency to describe reality independently of the socially acceptable way of so doing. The individual is one who feels manipulated and controlled by outside forces, and is aware of the limitations of his individuality and room for maneuver... he gives himself importance, and does not care what others think, or at least feels that to care about that won't help him to live. He tends to see himself as good and others as wicked."(2)

Prisoners, prison abolitionists and anti-imperialists of all stripes are familiar with the above mindset. It is a mindset that's a prerequisite to successful prolonged struggle against entrenched anti-people systems. Hegemonic propaganda that pigs use to uphold the superstructure inculcates the majority of citizens to turn on non-mainstream individuals. I'm positive some reading these words will be shocked to hear the above quote is the bourgeois definition of schizophrenia.

Comrade Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party, was labeled mentally ill by prison administrators, cops and non-revolutionary whites. His leadership ability of disseminating truths gleaned from study posed such a threat to capitalist hegemony that he had to be discredited by the label "crazy." In prison, pigs forced Newton to visit a psychiatrist. He had this to say:

"From the minute I entered his office I made my position clear. I told him that I had no faith or confidence in psychological tests because they were not designed to relate to the culture of poor and oppressed people. I was willing to talk to him, I said, but I would not submit to any testing. As we talked, he started running games on me. For instance, in the midst of our conversation he would try to speak in psychological questions such as 'do you feel people are persecuting you?' Each time he did this I told him I would not submit to any sort of testing, and if he persisted I was going to leave the room. The psychiatrist insisted that I had a bias against psychological testing. He was correct."(3)

Mental illness is just a form of social control. Just the same as "corrections" and "spreading democracy" are forms of social control. I believe the prison system uses mental health jackets, and society in general tags people as "just plain crazy," to break revolutionary's self-esteem, leadership skills and family connections. When something as large as koncentration kamps throws its weight into convincing people's mothers, fathers and sisters that said person is nuts, it's a short walk away from these individuals actually becoming insane with lack of "free-world" support.

Their tactics are to divide and conquer by pasting "schizophrenic," "depressed" and "anti-social" tags on the foreheads of revolutionary genius. They psychotropically castrate and lobotomize mind-washed leaders into their people's own genocide.

I could leave prison by consenting to swallow my own destruction. I could leave solitary if "all I did" was snitch for them. Most of my family's gone because they believe I'm insane. Forty-six letters sit unmailed because I lack postage. After filing two lawsuits, the Prison Litigation Reform Act bleeds 60% of the $25 a month my dear poor grandmother sends. She could have retired this year, but with all her grandsons in chains.

FDR 25 is a kkkontrol unit policy which I have filed suit on. A policy deputy director for administration Mike Haddon states:

"The policy you are requesting is FDR 25, Intensive Management Unit, it states 'mail, other than first class, privileged and/or religious shall not be allowed for inmates on intensive management and includes newspapers, books, magazines, pamphlets, brochures, etc.' This policy's release could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the Utah Department of Corrections hence it is protected. If this information were to be released into the system, inmates could use that information to fight policy. We do not let that chapter out to anyone who isn't in law enforcement. Your request for a copy of the 78 page policy is, therefore, denied."

A policy that prevents people from collecting information, receiving information and analyzing said information, coupled with the unconstitutional fact that the Utah DOC doesn't provide a law library per supreme court ruling Bivens, halts the ability for captives to "describe reality independently" of that policy. Since only pigs can know that policy, we can't fight it.

Even if I could know it and struggle with it and beat it in court I'd just be labelled "mentally ill," more so than I am now. And this is the purpose of sensory deprivation and mental illness: halting revolutionary leadership and maintaining the status quo. Stopping information and throwing dirty jackets on truth.

Who does bourgeois psychiatry serve by destroying oppressed peoples? The oppressor nation. What types of people are being killed off in these concentration camps? The oppressed nations. What population turns a blind eye to this reality, or even worse, that the Third World is parceled up and packaged for First World consumer consumption? The oppressor nation. What nation must be organized to defeat the oppressor nation? And if we wish to succeed shouldn't we discern friend from foe?

"The job of psychiatrist [and those that subscribe to bourgeois psychiatry] must be abolished [and reeducated after repenting oppressive policy, genocidal injustice and terroristic 'spreading of democracy'], if only because it is corrupting to the truth to have a profession of people [or nation] making money by constructing various vague illnesses [vague reasons for war or psychotropics/institutionalization] that people have. Instead, all oppressed people and progressive-minded people must take up the science of controlling their own destinies."(4)


MIM(Prisons) adds: Just as physical violence is used against the oppressed as a means of control and installing fear, so is psychological violence. So when we think about promoting safety in prisons, we cannot do that without addressing psychological violence as well. Often that is the predominate form of violence used against revolutionaries. Our approach to this must be twofold in terms of helping comrades survive the torture they currently face in U.$. gulags, and to put an end to that torture altogether to really ensure people are safe. It is for this reason that we reviewed and distribute portions of the recently revised Survivors Manual from the American Friends Service Committee. Our Serve the People Programs, such as our Free Political Literature for Prisoners Program and University BARS study groups exist for all prisoners, but are especially important for keeping those in isolation engaged, active and sane. All comrades should support these programs with money and labor, while comrades on the inside should keep the issue of long-term isolation at the forefront of the general struggle for prisoner rights.


Notes:
1. MIM Theory 7, 1995 Revolutionary Nationalism, p. 119.
2. Asylum, pg 29, "Asylum: A Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry, Vol. 5, No.1, Winter 1990-1991 ℅ prof FA Jenner, O Floor, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield 510 2JF, England.
3. Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, Ballantine: New York, 1973, p.262.
4. MIM Theory 8, 1995 The Anarchist Ideal, p. 70.

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[Control Units] [Culture] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 29]
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Rapper Beef Props Up Prison Spending and Isolation

chief keef
[This article was added to and facts were corrected by the Under Lock & Key Editor]

Recently, Chicago rapper Lil Reese signed a $30 million contract with Def Jam to make music. A day or two later he brutally beat down a woman for verbally disrespecting him. Lil Reese is an affiliate of another Chicago rapper, Chief Keef, who has also been making a name for himself for being at the center of controversy around violence in hip hop. A recent episode of Nightline addressed the fact that at least 419 people have been killed in a dozen neighborhoods in Chicago in 2012, more than the number of U.$. troops killed in Afghanistan where resistance to the occupation continues to grow. The program centered around a sit-down of 38 members of lumpen organizations in Chicago organized by Cease Fire, a group discussed in ULK 25. It also featured a Chief Keef and Lil Reese video to criticize Keef's anti-snitching stance. MTV.com reports that the participants almost unanimously agreed that it would practically take a miracle to stop the violence.

The misogynistic nature of rap music has been analyzed and explored thoroughly. This article is not meant to downplay the senseless violence against a humyn being, but the "powers that be" are using the incident with Lil Reese and programs like Nightline to formulate another sinister plot to target the oppressed nations in Amerika.

Chicago has had one of its most deadly years in terms of urban gun violence, and this has been attributed to Chicago street tribes and lumpen organizations. The Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre perpetrated by a man who claimed to be "The Joker" does not generate the same fear or threat that young Blacks and Latinos in the hood with guns do. Why is that?

Imperialists are not worried about white males in Amerikkka with guns. It is the oppressed nations that pose the most realistic threat to the oppressive imperialistic regime. We have seen the toll that the so-called "war on drugs" has had on our Black and Latino nations. Genocide, social control, and mass incarceration of the lumpen underclass; it's the Amerikan way! During the presidential debates both candidates agreed on keeping gun laws the same.

One of the most brutal social control programs is being formulated as we speak and it will be cloaked in a "war on gun violence." In truth it will be a death blow to urban street tribes and lumpen organizations. President Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder have pushed for one of the highest budgets for federal prisons and detention facilities that we have seen in years. The states are actually reducing their prison budgets because of the dismal economic conditions, but the feds are pumping up the volume! A whopping $9 billion dollars has been allocated for the U.$. Department of Injustice in 2013 for corrections, jails, and detention facilities. Of that, $6.9 billion has been allocated to the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2013, an increase of about 4% in tight fiscal times.

There is a prison in Thomson, Illinois that had been tagged as the location where Guantanamo Bay detainees were supposed to be housed after President Obama closed the barbaric torture chamber in Cuba. However the Amerikan public balked! They said they did not want these "dangerous terrorists" housed on Amerikan soil. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder still wants to purchase the prison in Thomson, Illinois and change it into a Super-Max just like the one in Florence, Colorado. 1,400 Ad-Seg/solitary confinement beds for "the worst of the worst" in Amerikkka. These beds will be for oppressed nations, just like the solitary confinement cells in prisons across the country.

MIM(Prisons) has reported extensively on the use of control units as a tool of social control. These torture units are used to target political organizers and leaders of oppressed nations who are seen as a particular threat to the imperialist system. We have been collecting statistics on these control units for years, because the isolation cells are often hidden within other prisons and no consistent information is kept on this pervasive torture within Amerika. We invite prisoners to write to us for a survey about control units in their state to contribute to this important documentation project.

For those facing violent conditions in Chicago or elsewhere who turn to despair, remember that there are many who come from the streets of that very city, from the Black Panthers to lumpen organizations, who have taken positive paths. If it weren't for the interference of white media and the police, things would be different now. Ultimately solutions to those problems must come from the people involved who don't want to be living like that, no matter how they brag about being tough in a rap. The way out may not be obvious, but things are always in a state of change. And when it comes to humyn society, it is up to humyns what that change looks like. Struggle ain't easy, but it is the only way if you have ideals that contradict with the current society under imperialism.

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[Theory] [National Oppression] [Aztlan/Chicano]
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Book Review: Occupied America

Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
7th Edition
by Rodolfo F Acuña


occupied america book cover

A well read book in its 7th edition, "Occupied America" is a history book for the [email protected] nation. This book has been a leading text for [email protected] studies for decades. It is an in depth analysis of [email protected] history. It is also important to note that Occupied America was one of the books banned in 2012 in Arizona and has since been a hot item for the libro trafficantes (book traffickers) who have been defying Arizona and smuggling this book back into Arizona and into the hands of [email protected] youth.

It's clear uncut content about Amerika's treatment of [email protected] along with accurate history of [email protected] rising up in resistance has Amerika scrambling to censor this work.

Occupied America was first published in 1972, emerging from a peak in national liberation struggles in the United $tates. In 1981 the second edition was released and Acuña wrote in the preface:


The first edition of Occupied America followed the current of the times, adopting the internal colonial model that was popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The works of Frantz Fanon greatly influenced the tone and direction of the book. Since then, just like the Chicano movement itself, I have undergone dramatic changes. I have reevaluated the internal colonial model and set it aside as a useful paradigm relevant to the nineteenth century but not to the twentieth. ...I decided to return to the basics and collect historical data.

This quote would lead us to believe that we would have more unity with the political line put forth in the first edition. Though more recent editions will have more updated information, and would likely be more valuable references for that reason. It seems that the changes between editions 2 through 7 are mostly in factual content, with an attempt to avoid polemics.

So what gets the white supremacists so disturbed about Occupied America? I chose to find out and decided to read it again.

Acuña starts the 7th edition of his book in the pre-Columbian times when civilization first started on this continent going back 50,000 years. One learns of the Aztecs, Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mayans, Incas and other natives. This naturally leads to the European invaders and the beginnings of the forging of the Mexican and then the [email protected] nation.

With the Spanish occupation and genocide that soon followed their arrival in North America, Acuña takes you through the social relations of the natives at the hands of the church.

The quest for more gold and silver and thus the mines soon led to a decimation of the native population and with this process came the resistance. But there was development as well in the economic arena. In the states that comprised "northern New Spain" at the time, like California, the Spaniards had Mestizos and natives working and so these oppressed peoples were, as Acuña explains on pg 33, the "vaqueros, soap makers, tanners, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, cooks, servants, pages, fishermen, farmers as well as a host of other occupations."

And so on the one hand the people were worked sometimes to death but on the other hand they developed economically across the region, which is a precursor to nationhood.

Acuña takes us into the Mexican revolution of 1810 when Mexico won its independence from Spain which was a great event but didn't bring socialism to [email protected] and so the exploitation would soon return. Acuña explains the theft of Texas which was spearheaded by the white supremacist Stephen Austin starting in the 1820s. This is where the 2nd edition of the book opens up, leaving out the history above.

The myth of the Alamo is cleared up by Acuña on pg 41 where he states: "Probably the most widely circulated story was that of the last stand of the aging Davy Crocket, who fell 'fighting like a tiger' killing Mexicans with his bare hands. The truth: seven of the defenders surrendered, and Crockett was among them. The Mexican force executed them, and, one man, Louis Rose, escaped."

This book explains the myth of the oppressor nation propaganda that consumes the "history books" we read in public schools.

The U.$. war on Mexico of 1848 is explained very well and one sees the birth of the [email protected] nation in these pages. Along with this birth the layers of state propaganda are peeled back and Acuña highlights the resistance in the [email protected] nation, people like Juan "Cheno" Cantina, Francisco "Chico" Barela and Gregorio Cortez are discussed and one sees how they rose up in militias as revolutionary groups to fight yankee imperialism.

Groups like Las Gorras Blancas (the white caps) came together to defend the people with arms from white supremacy and oppression. In Occupied America we read of the early [email protected] proletariat and the militant [email protected]@ labor struggles. The 'Plan of San Diego' is discussed which was the basis of a revolutionary group that fought the U.$. government in Texas around 1915 with the goal of establishing an independent [email protected] nation, Black nation and First Nations upon victory.

We also learn of how the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo was signed and Amerika stole what is now called the "Southwest." We learn that "the depression" for Amerika was normal program for [email protected]@s. Our conditions did not change and when the "New Deal" came post-depression and Amerikans were put to work on public work projects, because [email protected]@s were not allowed to participate in the "New Deal." At the time of the New Deal, the Communist International was criticizing social democracy in Europe as social fascism for appealing to the labor aristocracy interests in line with the rising fascist powers. In North America the fascist forces were not well developed, but social democracy still served to benefit the labor aristocracy to the exclusion of the oppressed nations.

The book explains the 1960s and the eruption of a new generation of [email protected] that brought the [email protected] movement on the scene. All the [email protected] groups are discussed: Masa, Mecha, Brown Berets, Black Berets, Mayo, Umas, Alianza, Crusade for Justice and many more. These fiery groups along with the many [email protected] publications that are mentioned show the times of this period and the heightened political consciousness in Aztlan.

The "teatro campesino," plays and improvised theater by and for farmworkers out in the fields, showed that [email protected]@s taking on agribusiness added to the times and [email protected] culture.

Although he provides tons of data and information on the entire history of [email protected], the colonization process, the early development of [email protected] as a nation, and [email protected] resistance, where Acuña falls short is in this book is in failing to point out a correct path forward on how [email protected] should liberate ourselves. Oddly he only provides a short paragraph on communism and only to discuss how the state blamed communists for [email protected] activism. And so Acuña leads [email protected] to the edge of the cliff but does not tell the people how to proceed and what will liberate us.

Aztlan will only be liberated in a socialist society, when socialist revolution arrives we will finally taste freedoms. Any struggles short of this will only lead to a bourgeois revolution and a continuation of oppression, only under a new management, as happened to Mexico after the Mexican revolution.

Learning one's history is a necessary step towards liberation but once we are conscious we must then grasp how to move forward and Occupied America leaves this most important element out of the book.

Occupied America has been required reading in Chicano studies college courses in many schools across the United $tates for many decades and will continue in most schools for some time, it has a wealth of information that will continue to awaken and educate [email protected] youth and as a [email protected] historian Acuña has helped the nation in learning our history. Anyone else who wants to learn about the development of [email protected] will also enjoy this book. It is clear why the oppressor nation is so scared of this book - because it's truth!

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Legal] [National Oppression] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 28]
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A Victory for Prisoners' First Amendment Rights

U.S. vs. California constitutional rights
[The following article begins with excerpts from an article by a California prisoner, which gives a detailed historical account of relevant case law, and was originally published by San Francisco BayView. Also available on our website is the full court opinion for In Re Crawford.]

Greetings. The struggle is long and arduous, and sometimes we do etch out significant victories, as in the case of our brotha in In re Crawford, 206 Cal.App.4th 1259 (2012).

It's important to emphasize that this victory is a significant step in reaffirming that prisoners are entitled to a measure of First Amendment protection that cannot be ignored simply because the state dislikes the spiel. New Afrikan prisoners have a right to identify with their birthright if they so choose, as does anyone else for that matter — Black, White or Brown. ...

[California prison officials] have gone so far as to boldly proclaim that the term New Afrikan was created by the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) and that those who identify as or use the term are declaring their allegiance to the BGF, which has been declared a prison gang. They have sought to suppress its usage by validating (i.e. designating as a gang member or associate) anyone who uses the term or who dares mention the name George Jackson. ...

Our brotha's case In Re Crawford was filed June 4, 2012, and certified for publication June 13. In a brilliant piece of judicial reasoning, a panel of justices in a 3-0 decision finally reaffirmed a prisoner's First Amendment right to free speech and expression, stating:

Freedom of speech is first among the rights which form the foundation of our free society. "The First Amendment embodies our choice as a nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom — the unfettered interchange of ideas — not whatever the State may view as fair." (Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (2011) 131 S.Ct. 2806). "The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people ... All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests." (Roth v. United States (1957) 354 U.S. 476, 484."

The programs embodied in the New Afrikan Collective Think Tank, New Afrikan Institute of Criminology 101, the George Jackson University and the New Afrikan ideology itself are inclusive programs emphasizing a solution-based approach to carnage in the poverty stricken slums from where many of us come. The CDCR Prison Intelligence Units (PIU) have sought to suppress these initiatives simply because they do not like the message. They have marched into court after court with one standard line: New Afrikan means BGF and these initiatives are promoting the BGF. In re Crawford continues,

As recently noted by Chief Justice Roberts, "[t]he First Amendment reflects 'a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.' [Citation.] That is because 'speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.' [Citation.] ... Speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection." (Snyder v. Phelps (2011) 562 U.S. _,_ [131 S.Ct. 1207, 1215].

In re Crawford is a very important ruling because the justices said these protections apply to prisoners as well. ...

George Jackson cannot be removed from the fabric of the people's struggles in this society any more than Malcolm X can or Medger Evers or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriett Tubman or Sojourner Truth or Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks or Frederick Douglass, or the countless others who've fought and struggled for a brighter future for generations to come.

What CDCR and its PIU are trying to do is make a run around the First Amendment by shielding its suppression activity under the guise of preventing gang activity, just as it's done historically, which gave rise to Procunier v. Martinez (1974) 416 U.S. 396, 413.

In In re Crawford, CDCR argued for an exception to the Martinez test for validated gang members. The court declined to make such an exception, holding: "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail."

The fact that they even argued for such an exception shows their mindset. Their intentions are to suppress that which they believe to be repugnant, offensive and that which they believe a prisoner ought not be thinking! In their minds we have no right to think or possess ideas, concepts or vision beyond that which they believe we should possess.

Until In Re Crawford, these highly educated judges were sanctioning this nonsense with twisted, perverted rulings permitting a newspaper article or magazine layout or book to be used against a prisoner for validation purposes [to put them in torture cells - editor]. They issued twisted rulings like those in Ellis v. Cambra or Hawkins v. Russell and In Re Furnace, where the petitioner was told he has no right to his thoughts and the First Amendment only protects a prisoner's right to file a 602 [grievance form].

These kinds of fallacious rulings ought to be publicized so as to show the skillful manipulation of the law by those sworn to uphold it. In Re Crawford reestablishes that First Amendment protections apply to prisoners and that we too enjoy a measure of free speech and expression. We ought not be punished with fabricated notions of gang activity for merely a thought!

However, if we are to continue to meet with success, we need our professors, historians and intellectuals to step up and provide declarations that we can use in our litigation, defending our right to read, write and study all aspects of a people's history, like Professor James T. Campbell did in In Re Crawford. This is the only way a prisoner can challenge the opinion of a prison official. ...

Much work remains to be done, like stopping the bogus validations based on legitimate First Amendment material. We know that many individuals are falsely validated simply for reading George's books or a newspaper article, for observing Black August or for simply trying to get in touch with one's cultural identity.

These legitimate expressions should carry no penalty at all. You're not doing anything wrong, and a lot of brothas who've been validated simply shouldn't be. Nor should folks be frightened away from reading or studying any aspect of history simply because the state doesn't like its content. Judges who issue fallacious opinions permitting prisoners to be punished for reading a George Jackson book or researching your history should be exposed.

Literary content and cultural and historical materials are not the activities of a gang; they are political and social activities that we have a right to express, according to the unanimous decision in In re Crawford.

The First Amendment campaign continues to forge ahead, although we still don't have a lawyer. The campaign still exists, and we anticipate even greater successes in the future. ... We've cracked one layer of a thick wall. Now all prisoners should take advantage of this brilliant ruling and reassert your rights to study your heritage, Black, White or Brown.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The issue in this case was one that we have experienced first-hand as well. For example, in 2008 a letter from a comrade in California was censored before it could reach us because it discussed the New Afrikan Collective, which allegedly was a code word for the Black Guerrilla Family.(1) But in reality, the New Afrikan Collective was a new political organization in New York focused on bettering the conditions of New Afrikans as a nation, with no connections to any sort of criminal activity.

The first thing that strikes us about this case is a quote from the proceedings cited by the author above, "Gang related correspondence is not within the exception to the First Amendment test for censorship of outgoing inmate mail." Unfortunately this is not part of the final opinion explaining the decision of the court, and it is specific to outgoing mail from the prison. Nonetheless, it would logically follow from this statement that anything that can be connected to a gang is not automatically dangerous or illegal.

"Gang members" have long been the boogeyman of post-integration white Amerika. The pigs use "gang member" as a codeword to excuse the abuse and denial of constitutional rights to oppressed nation youth, particularly New Afrikan men. And this has been institutionalized in more recent years with "gang enhancements," "gang injunctions" and "security threat group" labels that punish people for belonging to lumpen organizations. Often our mail is censored because it mentions the name of a lumpen organization in the context of a peace initiative or organizing for prisoners' humyn rights. While criminal activity is deemed deserving more punishment with the gang label, non-criminal activity is deemed criminal as well.

As the author discusses, it becomes a question of controlling ideas to the extreme, where certain words are not permitted to be spoken or written and certain symbols and colors cannot be displayed. So the quote from the court above is just a baby step in the direction of applying the First Amendment rights of association and expression to oppressed nation youth. Those who are legally inclined should consider how this issue can be pushed further in future battles. Not only is such work important in restoring rights to people, but we can create space for these organizations to build in more positive directions.

Part of this criminalization of a specific sector of society is the use of self-created and perpetuated so-called experts on gang intelligence. Most of our readers are all too familiar with this farce of a profession that is acutely exposed by the court's opinion in this case. The final court opinion calls out CO J. Silveira for claiming that the plaintiff's letter contained an intricate code when he could provide no evidence that this was true. They also call him out for using his "training and experience" as the basis for all his arguments.

The warden's argument is flawed for two reasons. First, the argument is based solely on the unsupported assertions and speculative conclusions in Silveira's declaration. The declaration is incompetent as evidence because it contains no factual allegations supporting those assertions and conclusions. Second, even if the declaration could properly be considered, it does not establish that the letter posed a threat to prison security.

As great as this is, as the author of the article above points out, they usually get away with such baseless claims. More well thought out lawsuits like this are needed, because more favorable case law is needed. But neither alone represents any real victory in a system that exists to maintain the existing social hierarchy. These are just pieces of a long, patient struggle that has been ongoing for generations. The people must exercise the rights won here to make them real. We must popularize and contextualize the nature of this struggle.

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[National Oppression] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 28]
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Texas Guards Encourage Oppressed Nation Fights

On or around 31 July 2012 there was a small scale race riot on the Estelle Unit which is located in Huntsville, Texas. Sad to say it was Brown on Black and a New Afrikan prisoner was killed. As a member of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party I hate to see two oppressed groups going at each other while the oppressor remains unscathed and ignored.

Nevertheless, the extremely reactionary prisoncrats took this opportunity to show us what they're all about. About one week after the incident we were placed on a special disciplinary lockdown and fed "Johnnies" seven days a week. These weren't any normal "Johnnies," they were concentration camp like rations. An example of one meal that actually sparked a group demonstration across all color and race barriers was: 1 corn dog, a small biscuit with a sliver of peanut butter and jelly and 10 or 12 raisins! I myself wrote a letter to the Assistant Warden, Steven T. Miller, shedding light on the sub-par meals and asking him if the administration was using food (or the lack thereof) as a means to torture prisoners or as a draconian behavior modification tactic.

Once the administration became aware that the focus was now on them they immediately prepared and delivered more food and I have never ever seen that response before. However, I must say the meals being served were way beneath the caloric intake requirements set forth by the ACA (American Corrections Association). This particular incident took place on 15 August 2012 and it was the last meal served that day.

There is an ugly under-current of racism that exists here in Texas prisons. Many white male officers take pleasure in seeing Brown men and Black men attack each other. As conscious people in struggle against prisoncrat imperialists, we must realize we do ourselves a great dis-service by attacking each other. It is not just about white male officers in Texas, it's about all of them that wear these confederate-army-gray uniforms. They beat us, degrade us, dehumanize us, and refuse time and time again to set us free. Who is the real enemy?

Lastly, one of the main keys to maintaining the peace amongst oppressed groups is respect! We can't talk to each other any kind of way, and we can't treat each other any kind of way! Remember that violation of the rules of respect among human beings can be deadly.

Would you believe that one month prior to this race riot and death white male officers were caught encouraging prisoners to make "shanks"?! The New Afrikan prisoner was killed with a homemade shank! These officers in Texas are very wicked.


MIM(Prisons) responds: It is a sad result of the criminal injustice system in Amerika that oppressed nations must demand the right to peace. But as this, and many other stories from behind bars demonstrate, this is the reality we face. And this is why the first principle of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is Peace. The United Front is fighting to unite the oppressed: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."


Correction from the author 9/31/2012: The dead prisoner in this report was not New Afrikan, he was Mexican.

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[Abuse] [National Oppression]
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Anniversary of George Jackson's Death Marked by Ongoing Brutality Against Black Prisoners

For the past three days now. these weak and wicked scum dogs have been attempting to get us Black prisoners Black to viciously attack a brother by telling us he's a "child molester/sex offender." All this after the prisoner filed a few complaints against these wart hogs. Go figure. This of course caused these brain dead compromising prisoners, especially the porters, to exclude themselves from the brother. The pig gave direct orders to the white feed up porter to "don't feed him shit."

After two days of this torture, the prisoner attempted to sign in to Protective Custody in hopes that he could get away from the pigs and make it home in one piece, as he has less than 30 days left. The people incorporating genocidal slavery (P.I.G.S.) weren't satisfied and decided to up the ante. They told the brother he was moving to another cell block and to pack up his property. Once on the front of the C-Block 33/34 companies the prisoner placed his bags down and was cracked over his head by a white prisoner holding a 4 inch broom handle, in the presence of six pigs, 2 in the bubble, 2 on the staircase and 2 on the companies.

Making sense of the white man's fakery to jump him, the brother began backing up towards the rear of the company, dodging several swings with his arms as the attacking prisoner aimed at his face. Keep in mind the pigs are laughing and allowing the white prisoner to assault the brother with a weapon. Both companies are watching it all play out through the side of the cell doors and mirrors. One brother said "you might as well fight them, they (pigs) are gonna jump on you anyway." But he kept saying "nah, I ain't stupid, I'm trying to go home to my son!" Finally, the pigs told the white prisoner to "put the handle down and go kick his ass, he's scared." Feeling comfortable with his "support team" the white prisoner started towards the rear to fight the brother. But the white prisoner got his ass beat. Of course, this was such a disturbing scene for the pigs, just seeing a white man in their back pocket taking blows from a Black fist caused them to quickly pull the pin alarm and call 30 more pigs to C-Block as they yelled "get the fuck off him now!"

The brother got up and locked himself inside his cell while the white prisoner, all pink and red in the face, was dazed and confused was asked by the pigs, "are you alright?" before politely telling him to "go to your cell." All the while the brother was put in handcuffs, roughed up, and rushed out the block into the hallway where the pigs beat us up out of view, but we can all hear it. Later on the pigs came back on the company to the white prisoner's cell giving him one of the brother's dreds that they ripped out of his head. Somewhat of a token of remembrance, just like they did to Nat Turner in 1831. Make no mistake about it, this is Amerikkka in 2012 for the Black man. This is exactly what George Jackson was describing in Soledad Brother. Tomorrow is the 41st anniversary that he was slain in action, and the 181st anniversary of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. Nothing much has changed.

In hindsight and conclusion, when the pig was trying to get us to feed the lie that the brother was a "Rapo," he made a profound statement. The target of harassment said "these pigs been raping our women for hundreds of years and you gonna believe him and his words on face value!?" Enough said!


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right to point out that the oppressors will do everything they can to divide the oppressed. We can't trust them for information, but instead must judge our comrades through their actions. Those who work in the interests of the oppressed are our friends and those who work against the oppressed are our enemies, regardless of the reason for their confinement or what other people say about them. This is a good example of why someone might ask to be moved to an SNY/PC yard for good reason. The debate over protective custody prisoners has been ongoing in ULK for many months and MIM(Prisons) maintains that we can not let the prisoncrats divide revolutionaries with false labels and categories. There are genuine revolutionaries throughout the prison system and there are snitches and compradors found on every yard as well. Actions are much more important than prison-imposed labels.

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[Abuse] [National Oppression] [Censorship] [Calipatria State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 28]
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Lessons from Trayvon Martin Case Relevant to Fighting Oppression in Prison

I received issue 27 of ULK along with MIM Theory 13, thank you. I've already read the ULK and I appreciate all the articles. A few months back you sent out a letter to the warden here over an issue of ULK I did not receive. Although I never received the issue, I did talk to a lieutenant who claimed that MIM was banned. I didn't pursue it because I had passed the time limitation to raise the issue, but I've since received the most recent issues after that. I believe it was issue 25 I didn't get. Your letter got their attention.

Other than that it's business as usual with the oppressor. Just last week the pigs slammed a young Black male (22 years old) to the ground and charged him with assaulting a "peace" officer. The prisoner was attempting to enter the housing unit when one of the pigs asked to see the watch he was wearing.

The young man being a rebel without a cause chose to ignore the pig and proceeded to walk into that building. The pig and his cronies blocked the door and told him he wasn't going anywhere until he showed them the watch. The young man backed off and requested to speak to a sergeant. This simple request pissed the pigs off. They proceed to escalate the situation immediately.

As the sergeant was making his way across the yard one pig rushed the guy and slammed him to the ground. This caused some of the prisoners to act out verbally and tell the pigs that the force was unnecessary. The whole thing was a set up from the start. While one pig was confronting the guy another was on the walkie talkie reporting something (most likely a lie), and then two pigs came out of the building and the only Black pig out of the crowd of six or seven pigs chose to slam the young Black male. When I read the article "Trayvon Martin National Oppression Debate" it hit home when Soso stated: "Every persyn in this country sees the stereotypes of Black youths as hoodlums..." as a result any "unarmed Black youth can be killed by cops and vigilantes while the imperialist state does nothing."

Here lately the pigs have seemingly been trying to incite the masses. It's summertime and out here in Imperial County, California (which is less than five miles from Yuma, Arizona) it's extremely hot. Triple digits regularly, the pigs have been forcing us to wear state issue clothing to the chow hall and the shirts must be tucked in. When it was winter and cold we were not allowed to wear thermals to the chow hall. Now that it's hot they're forcing us to wear stuff that will make you hotter. Furthermore, they have launched a campaign of constant harassment. Searching cells everyday which is causing folks to complain. As of yet no one has written a 602 [grievance form] and me personally I don't have any grounds to write one as I have not been harassed. I try to lead by example and share the literature with the brothers of the struggle.

It seems as if we've lost a generation or two. There's a shortage of revolutionaries, at least here at this place. Only time will tell if the masses wake up. I often imagine myself coming up in the era of George Jackson and the likes. I attempt to put myself in those guys' shoes, and I try to emulate what I picture them being. I'll close on that note, power to the people.

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[National Oppression] [Release] [New York]
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Parole Denials, Solutions, Winning Cases

I am writing to your publication to report some troubling statistics concerning Black men incarcerated, the parole system, and the latest Supreme Court cases regarding parole denials.

Black men incarcerated

There are approximately 27,494 Black males in the New York state prison system (50.8%) - New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) - and, that's over half (51%) of the prisoners in custody as of January 1, 2011, according to DOCCS Under Custody Report: Profile of Inmate Population. These figures are extremely drastic, appalling and warrant investigation by the United Nations, because Blacks are being targeted to fill up NYS prisons in order for certain whites to maintain employment in the rural areas up north in NY.

Black females incarcerated

In NY prisons DOCCS is warehousing 965 Black females (43.7% of the female prison population). Of the total number of prisoners (54,109) under custody in NY (including DOCCS, jails and other facilities), 2,206 (3.9%) were Black female, according to the Under Custody Report (2011). Compare these statistics to the white prisoners women who are only 1.5% of the prison population.

Blacks and Parole

Dating back almost 50 years, the Board of Parole (BOP) commissioners have been denying parole to Blacks more than any other ethnic group in NYS. Despite our (Black male and female) efforts to rehabilitate ourselves via obtaining education (GEDs, mandated programming by DOCCS and college), the BOP continuously denies Blacks parole at an alarming rate compared to other nationalities. Also, for years the BOP has utilized the nature of the crime as the sole reason for denying Blacks parole - although the nature of the crime (NOC) will not change - it is whatever someone was locked up for. This means that those convicted of some crimes have no chance at parole no matter what they do in prison. This amounts to the BOP admitting that prisons are not about rehabilitation since the one thing a prisoner can not change is the NOC.

In a recent ruling the court wrote: "...they [BOP] cannot base their decision exclusively on the seriousness of the crime and must explain their denials in detail..."(1)

On March 31st, 2011 several significant amendments to the Executive Law (BOP) were signed into law - including Executive Law (Exec. Law) 259-c(4); however, BOPs "lawlessness, arbitrariness and their refusal to follow the mandates of the legislature..." warrants an independent investigation by the United Nations (UN) for further scrutiny about denying parole to eligible inmates who have earned their freedom by doing the right thing (i.e. completing their minimum, taking responsibility for their crime(s) and obtaining their mandated programming).(2) If you are reading this article and you have been denied parole after March 31st, 2011, or you know someone in NYS-DOCCS who has been denied parole unfairly, then please be aware of the following cases recently appealed by inmates that - as a result of their litigation - were released:

  1. Velasquez v. NYS Board of Parole (Feb 6, 2012)
  2. Thwaites v. NYS Board of Parole, 934 NYS 2d 797 [see also Pro Se, Vol 22 No 1] and;
  3. Winchell v. Evans, 27 Misc. 3d 1232(A) (Sup.CT.Sullivan Co. June 9, 2010), [reported in Pro Se, Vol.20, No.4].

All the above cases (Article 78s) are winning cases which resulted in prisoners - who chose to litigate their matter by challenging the BOP - being released from DOCCS custody.

Out of twenty years of my incarceration, I have witnessed the BOP deny parole to many men and women based upon their nature of the crime - despite their efforts to rehabilitate themselves. Some of these people have earned Master degrees, Bachelors and the minimum of an Associate degree, only to be denied by the BOP commissioners who judge the prisoners for a period of 15-30 minutes, if that, during their parole hearing.

The nature of the crime doesn't, will not and cannot change so why are we being denied parole solely based on the very element which will not ever be different?

Conclusion

In my humble opinion - after serving 20 years in NY DOCCS - the only way we prisoners will receive justice is by taking our case to the UN for review. How do we attempt to go about this? Reflect back on the Egyptian people and how they were successful in spreading the message of support for their cause via internet. This tactic will have to involve our families who are already walking around with cellular phones all day so this should not be a difficult project. I strongly believe that we can change the BOP unfair practices against us Blacks and Latinos. If we care enough to work together, putting your petty differences aside to bring our relatives home. Our family members have served their time, changed their lives by establishing entirely new ways of thinking and by obtaining higher education. It's time now for our people to step up and support our cause for challenging the BOP unfair parole denials against Blacks and Latinos.

Notes:
1. Pro Se, Vol.21 No.5 2011
2. For more information contact parolereform.org


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we reported in our review of The New Jim Crow, these statistics on national oppression in the criminal injustice system in New York mirror what happens across the United $tates. This author makes a good point about parole hearings and reasons for denial. If parole is going to be based on the very crime for which someone is locked up, there is no point to having a hearing. If prisons in Amerika were truly serving a rehabilitating purpose, the work prisoners do educating and changing themselves should be the primary basis for granting parole. It is good to hear that some court cases are being won on this front.

We do agree that this is a battle worth fighting to help get our comrades onto the streets sooner, but we don't anticipate the imperialist-dominated United Nations to offer any support for the oppressed people of the world. We may win small reforms through the courts and with mass protests, but the only way to truly put an end to the criminal injustice system is by dismantling the imperialist system it serves.

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[National Oppression] [ULK Issue 27]
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Trayvon Martin National Oppression Debate

George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman
In a letter from a long-time reader of Under Lock & Key we received an interesting criticism of the general political movement around the shooting of unarmed Black youth, Trayvon Martin. While he did not criticize MIM(Prisons) directly, some of the comments apply to the the article by cipactli on Trayvon Martin printed in ULK 26 which he had not yet seen when he sent the letter. One of the main points of criticism is based on Zimmerman being half Latino — a point that cipactli's article does not address. The article in ULK 26 identifies Zimmerman with white supremacists. This is a correct categorization of his actions which manifest the results of a lifetime of racist education, but there is a more subtle point to be made about race and national oppression when these crimes are oppressed nation on oppressed nation.

There are some fundamental points on which we disagree with the reader's critique. He writes that "it's long past time for us all to stop speaking in the terms of the racist color codes used to identify human beings like any other commodity in order to facilitate marketing and manipulation." We see the national contradiction as alive and strong within the imperialist United $tates, and it is certainly possible for one oppressed nation to participate in the oppression of another. In fact, it is possible for individual Blacks to rise to positions of power within the imperialist state and help repress the Black Nation as a whole. Barack Obama is an obvious example of this. Those comprador individuals from oppressed nations who want power and wealth, even at the expense of their nation, do not provide evidence that we can move beyond the national contradiction which is what drives attitudes and practices of racism.

As we explained in ULK 26, the national contradiction is still principal in Amerika today. While not called out in the letter, underlying our disagreement on nation is a disagreement on class: MIM(Prisons) sees clearly that the vast majority of Amerikan citizens are not part of the proletariat. Their material benefits from imperialism have put them squarely within the exploiter class.

Every persyn in this country sees the stereotypes of Black youth as hoodlums, dangerous and destined for prison. Zimmerman is no different. And so it is a result of national oppression that unarmed Black youth can be killed by cops and vigilantes while the imperialist state does nothing. Studies have shown that Amerikans (of all nationalities), when asked to identify or imagine a drug criminal, overwhelmingly picture a Black person. This is statistically inaccurate: they should be picturing a white youth. (See our review of The New Jim Crow for more on this topic).

The state would prefer that oppressed nation youth kill each other, as this is a more efficient approach for the state and it helps reinforce the stereotypes about the dangerous hoodlums who must be locked away. By hesitating to pursue Zimmerman for the death of Martin the state is treating him more as a white man than a Latino.

This reader criticizes the many people who have come out to demand "Justice for Trayvon" but didn't step up when Oscar Grant was murdered by police officer Johannes Mehserle. "A cold-blooded execution that met all the elements required to convict Mehserle of premeditated murder beyond a shadow of a doubt! A murder for which he only served one year! Where's the hue and cry for Mehserle's blood!" This is a fine argument, but one which again underscores the national oppression in Amerika which leads to racist stereotypes of Blacks (and other nationalities) that results in racial profiling and police brutality targeting these groups.(1)

The reader concludes with some good points about the criminal injustice system, "After being railroaded into prison for a crime the police committed, I've learned that nearly a third of my fellow prisoners are innocent, with another third convicted by unlawful police and prosecutorial tactics. All of you out there are just one arrest away from the horror show that is justice in America. You don't have to do anything, except be in the wrong place at the wrong time and, then, even white privilege won't save your ass!" But the reality is, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and you are Black you are significantly more likely to get thrown in prison or killed. A recent report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement cited at least 110 Black people killed by Amerikan cops and security in the first half of 2012.(2) This is in a country where the FBI reports around 400 police killings each year, total!(3) Just as Blacks are about half the prison population in a country where they make up 12% of the population, they appear to also be about half the police killings. So in fact white privilege is alive and well. It doesn't work for everyone, the injustice system rounds up plenty of whites, but disproportionately Blacks, Latinos and First Nations are victims. This is a statistical truth that is not disproved by individual incidents that are exceptions to the rule. Statistics and thinking at the group level are important requirements for a scientific analysis of society, which in turn is necessary to transform our reality.


2. Report on Black People Executed without Trial by Police, Security Guards and Self-Appointed Law Enforcers January 1 – June 30, 2012. Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
3. Kevin Johnson. FBI: Justifiable homicides at highest in more than a decade, 15 October 2008. USA Today.

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