Since Our last update regarding the J.F.I., and its three phase plan to magnify the genocidal practices, policies and procedures ever present within the Amerikan criminal justice system, there has been slight progress in our phase two, or the national phase of this campaign.
Namely, the U.$. DOJ has begun to respond to the hundreds of grievance petitions and testimonials sent to them last year. U.$. DOJ has shown interest in further investigating incidents of excessive use of force, and lack of staff. This is only what has been reported from Texas comrades, and We hope to hear more from others around the country as responses pour in.
Along these same lines, We have recently begun corresponding with a legal aid organization who has reached out to us, interested in representing prisoner’s litigation efforts which are socio-politically motivated in nature. They’ve expressed interest in assisting us in the J.F.I. campaign going forward, as this partnership develops We’ll keep you all informed.
An Update on Legislation Efforts in Texas
Through the last 180 days a lot of time and energy has been refocused in support efforts regarding legislation beneficial to the Texas prisoner class.
We have been focused on the following bills and resolutions:
HB 2834, relating to minimum wage for inmates in certain work programs.
HB 782, gives authority to trial court to modify a defendants sentence.
HB 812, regarding limitation on use of Administrative segregation.
HB 1362, relating to the use of the death penalty and life without parole in capital crimes for people younger than 21 years old.
HB 1736, relating to conspiracy and law of parties and criminal responsibility in capital cases.
House Joint Resolution 63, regarding the explicit outlawing of slavery and servitude.
In Our efforts to abolish Ad-Seg, there was a book released and passed around to current legislators at the beginning of the session in January. The book, Texas Letters Volume 1, is an anthology consisting of prisoners first hand accounts of their experiences in long term solitary confinement in Texas. Despite these and other efforts it seems as though HB 812 will not pass this session.
In Our efforts to magnify HB 1362 and HB 1736, there is a current publication in the works specifically dedicated to telling the stories of those affected by the Law of Parties and the death penalty and life w/o parole at the ages below 21. Surprisingly, this is a bi-partisan effort. Despite this it has not yet been passed. People on the ground are developing different ways to get the information about this issue disseminated more widely to the public.
On Other Efforts in Texas
Seeing that Our efforts in the legislation campaign have not been fruitful, We’ve channeled Our energy toward more cadre building through establishing Authentic In Manhood, Masculinity and Maturity (A.I.M) and its sub section Political Education 101, a series of seminars giving insight into the basic essentials of revolutionary political and social theory. We hope these efforts bear more fruit in the near future.
An Update on the Forever Protecting Our Community Organization
Since the introductory article presenting FPC to the ULK audience, i would like to inform you that the FPC organization has established a local community garden, promoting food sovereignty, and has begun to launch a program designed to combat open air sex and human trafficking in the local area. FPC has also taken part with other organizations in a memorial for people who’ve lost their lives to police terrorism and gang violence, members of the FPC have been active in mentoring youth in anti-drug and anti-gang counseling providing school supplies, and feeding the people. The organization’s political line continues to mature, and we continue to observe this movement closely.
On 10 January 2023, a new legislative session convenes.
Several state representatives have committed to utilizing proposals from Texas prisoners to implement reforms. Rep. T. Meza has stood out with her zeal to end solitary confinement throughout Texas’ prisons and jails. She previously introduced a bill along those lines that didn’t make the floor. However, this session with more support from her colleagues, and with a litany of Texas citizens concerned about this, things look to possibly end differently.
In conjunction with the efforts of state politicians on the 10th of January, supporters of this campaign will be protesting on both sides of the walls. Around the state prisoners are showing their support by hunger striking. People on the outside will protest in Austin at the state Capitol.
Lastly, there continues to be civil lawsuits filed against TDCJ and its practice of indefinite solitary confinement. One of Our comrades has filed suit and that’s been reported on in previous ULK’s.(1) There is also Hanson v. Barnett, CA No. 1:21-cv-629-RP-DH, an extensively detailed complaint filed in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.
We encourage all similarly situated people to file 1983 lawsuits, and if you need advice or assistance the address to Tx Team One’s legal representative is: 113 Stockholm #1A, Brooklyn, NY 1121
UPDATE As we go to press prisoners are wrapping up week 2 of the hunger strike. The TDCJ has verified 72 participants, while supporters say at least twice that number are on strike across the state prison system. In their defense the state also says that the number of prisoners in isolation has decreased from 9,186 in 2007 to 3,172 in 2022.(2) We say that is still too much torture!
Texas Prison Reform, the prisoner organization, gave the state 90 days notice before initiating this latest action in their campaign. In that statement they mirror their demands off the infamous Ashker v. Governor of California case, which settled for some minor reforms in how people are put in the Security Housing Units rather than abolishing the practice altogether. Abolishing torture is a winnable battle, that continues to gain attention and support. Anything less than a complete ban on solitary confinement across Texas prisons and jails is a failure of basic humyn rights.
In previous writings we’ve utilized the principle of self-criticism to critique the communications operations that We, Team One, previously had. Therefore, we’re enthused to announce not only new tactical methods of communication, but a new address as well.
Tx Team One PO Box 720597 Houston, TX 77272
Also, in conjunction with the JFI campaign and in partnership with outside supporters, We’re presently soliciting contributors for a book project. This project will be a collection of personal experiences of prisoners who are working or have previously worked an industrial job in Texas prisons (TDCJ).
This work contributes to the portion of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative that deals with prisoner workers’ lack of payment and the practice of state coercion. Any and all prisoners who would like to contribute their personal experience via written word should write tot he above address. Those considered for publication will receive a reply.
Those committees and individuals who’ve written us in the past, but did not receive a reply, should write to our new address with your contact info.
[UPDATE: In late December we got confirmation that the fees for the suit were paid by a comrade in Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support. We no longer need people to contact the judge, but are still collecting postcard signatures and can use your help.]
[NOTE: At the end of this article the author asks you, the reader, to contact the Judge about the TDCJ blocking court fees for a prisoner’s lawsuit to fight censorship. This is part of an ongoing campaign. We are also asking people to print and gather signatures on postcards that you can download from the campaign page along with fliers to use in outreach around this campaign to oppose political censorship in Texas.]
When i initiated the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative (JFI), and the fliers for that action began to find their way into every prison in Texas, Allred Unit’s Warden Jimmy Smith commanded the unit mailroom supervisor to place me on a ‘watchlist’ – purportedly to provide a greater level of scrutiny to my outgoing mail.
This measure first began to disrupt communication between cadres and myself throughout the state. The state has policies and courts have upheld bans on such communications under the cloak of a fear of gang organizing.
The watchlist measure intensified and all reading materials were made to go through a months long process of scrutiny. Texas has a part of its Mailroom Operations policy that they need not announce to a prisoner when a publication has arrived at the unit, even when it is subject to further review. This results in reading material being sent and one not knowing of its existence until it is officially denied. At the point of denial, We’re supposed to be allowed to appeal through the grievance procedure. What i’ve experienced , however, is that the unit grievance investigators don’t allow me to grieve a Director’s Review Committee decision. My battle with the UGI subsequently slows up the exhaustion of administrative remedies.
Eventually, the watchlist measure intensified to the point that ANY material from MIM(Prisons) was purportedly denied at the command of the DRC in Huntsville. This political police tactic is what led to the state-wide censorship of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program. The 12 steps is an anti-drug abuse and anti-reactionary program that is definitely needed in the Texas prison system. The state has upheld this censorship with the vague statement, ‘may incite inmate disruption’.
In recent times Texas has made national headlines due to the governor’s reactionary policies that repress social and political narratives that counter dominant narratives and positions. This trend, which tarnishes the First Amendment so-called rights, has made its way into the Texas prison system.
To understand how this has occurred one must have knowledge of connection, the family tree of repression if you will, that connects Jimmy Smith(Allred Warden), Brenda Kelley(Allred mailroom supervisor), Tammy Shelby(Mailroom system coordinator’s panel-chair), and the DRC, to Texas’ highest levels of government.
When a governor is elected in Texas they appoint people to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. The TBCJ is charged with making Board policies, revising them, and thus make the overreaching rules and regulation that determine the day-to-day lives of over a hundred thousand captives.
The Governor also appoints the Director’s Review Committee (DRC), which is charged with, among other things, determining the content that can/cannot enter or leave prisons. The DRC is the ultimate authority on matters regarding denials of mail, publication, visitation.
We should be asking the questions: where is the transparency, and democratic decision making in the selection of TBCJ and DRC officials? These positions are handed down to careerist politicians who’ve made their living on the backs and misery of the prisoner class and Our families. In the future comrades must organize an outside force to force Texas to remove the veil between these backdoor chambers of power and the common public. We need readily accessible information on these so called public officials and representatives of the people.
So We have a clearly reactionary governor who’s appointed a clearly reactionary Board and review committee. In Texas the only way to overturn a DRC decision is through litigation, and therefore most censorship bans last indefinitely.
While Jimmy Smith and the other prison careerists play prison politics, in an effort to quell dissenters and self-determination of the prisoners, there is a fatal drug wave crushing Allred Unit. As i write this in late October 2022, 7 prisoners have died this month due to overdose.
The Revolutionary 12 Step Program is currently at the point of training cadres to be able to facilitate the program at their locale. The censorship of this program, in conjunction with the indefinite solitary confinement of many cadres, act to circumvent what could otherwise be a highly effective and influential peoples’ initiative. And therein lays the problem, at least from the administrator’s perspective, they seek to circumvent the rise of any influence among the prison population. Instead of differentiating between types of influence, their practices put a blanket on ALL influence and influential people or initiatives among the prisoners, and seeks to disrupt them.
Of course this can’t be done totally, and what results (as what resulted in previous generations of the Prison Movement) is that the mass influence of the prisons and prisoners falls in the hands of the most reactionary prisoner forces. The admin elects to deal with the lesser of two ‘evils’. It has seen that the reactionary forces are easier to contain, to appease, to divide and conquer, in contrast to an awakened, drug free, unified and determined population.
Active political prisoners and prisoners of war are the exemplary prisoners among the masses. They are leaders. Texas’ desire to conserve ideological, and social hegemony over the population has and will continue to cost people their lives.
In the civil case, Owolabi V. TDCJ Allred Unit, et al., 7;22-cv-00094-0, one such political prisoner has challenged political censorship of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program, and other communist, revolutionary nationalist, anarchist, and abolitionist materials.
The sitting Judge, a George W. Bush appointee, for the US District Court of the Northern District of Texas is Reed O’Conner, who has a reputation as a highly conservative Republican reactionary. O’Conner has moved to dismiss the case, not on the basis of the case alone, but due to prison officials withholding and delaying the processing of the check for court fees. Unit prison officials have ignored the plaintiff’s request to have the check processed. The Plaintiff has informed Judge O’Conner of this problem, and filed a motion for extension. The court has yet to respond to the plaintiff’s motion.
We’re asking all those among the public who have an interest in stopping political censorship in Texas, to contact the Court, inform Judge O’Conner and the Clerk of the Court that the Allred Unit is refusing to process the check for court fees.
Contact info for the court is here: https://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/judge/district-judge-reed-oconnor
Texas prisoners face some of the harshest conditions in the kkkountry mainly due to neglect from prison staff, and disregard for prisoners’ health, safety and rights. For example recently in Estelle High Security we had received a report from one of our readers on dialysis, and a copy of eir grievance,
On 15 August 22 at 5:45PM-7:10PM 11 Dialysis patients were put in a van with NO Rear A/C. We got to the rear gate of high security at 6:10pm our officer driving the van told Lt. Phillips:
“Hey there’s Dialysis in the van and it’s hot for them.”
Lt. Phillips said ,“I don’t give a fuck, I’m crossing my kitchen crew to the main building. They can fucken wait.”
It was about 90 outside. Our officer driving the van told her again, “They just got off dialysis.”
This year has seen an increase in reports (at least 135 recorded by Texas Dept. of Criminal Injustice (TDCJ)) of censorship of mail from MIM(Prisons) across Texas, since the start of the J.F.I. As stated in the last 2 issues of ULK, the J.F.I. is simply organizing for prisoners’ legal rights as stated by the imperialist’s own laws (peacefully advocating for legal rights is not inciting a disturbance). Massive censorship continues in the Allred and Hughes Units, among many others, where conditions are some of the worst in the state. The reason behind this as stated before is to prevent organizing and political education from prisoners, and to limit their knowledge of their legal rights. The state’s interest are of population control, and torture (Restricted housing for decades is unconstitutional torture) along with the many cases of neglect beyond what’s referenced here.
"MIM Distributors and our subscribers within the TDCJ have exhausted all administrative remedies with our appeals, letters and grievances. The TDCJ is not interested in following the law on it’s own accord. Therefore we have begun to step up outside pressure on two fronts.
the legal front by filing a lawsuit
the public opinion front via our postcard campaign"
“A prisoner’s administrative remedies are exhausted when prison officials fail to timely respond to a properly filed grievance.” (Haight v. Thompson 763 F. 3d 554 (6th Cir 2014)) According to this, if they do not respond to our grievances we can go on to a §1983 Civil Action.
Anti-imperialist Prisoner support (AIPS) has been hitting the streets with ULK, J.F.I. Flyers, and postcards to be mailed to TDCJ’s Director’s Review Committee office and Jimmy Smith’s (Warden of Allred) office, collecting donations and educating those on the outside. We can always use more feet on the ground, and legal funds from those on the outside, more support in general.
This short summary of some of the conditions recently faced by Texas prisoners is a call to unite against all oppression, primarily against the United Snakes of Amerikkka, and to unify under the common banner of Anti-imperialism. Don’t let the divide and conquer tactics work as intended, this political oppression cannot and will not go unanswered. We need the people on the outside to support those on the inside in their efforts to further organize, rehabilitate, and educate in the United Struggle from Within in Texas. We need public opinion to shift, so keep on the pressure from both sides. The more they censor and oppress, bigger our fight gets!
Dillard v. Davis, et al. Civil Action No. 7:19-cv-00081-M-BP News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E.-Legal Representative 113 Stockholm, #1A Brooklyn, NY. 11221 #endrestrictivehousinginTDCJ more about Plaintiff at https://wireofhope.com/prison-penpal-daniel-dillard/
TDCJ Officials DENIED Summary Judgment in fight to END restrictive housing in Texas
On 2 August 2022, Chief Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn rendered an Order Accepting Findings, conclusions and recommendations of the United States Magistrate Judge.
The Honorable Magistrate Judge Hal R. Ray Jr. submitted the findings, conclusions and recommendations on 17 June 2022, effectively denying TDCJ’s officials qualified immunity defense and finding that continuous confinement in TDCJ’s version of solitary confinement is INDEFINITE under the unconstitutional Restrictive Housing Plan. A date for trial has not been set though it was also recommended by Magistrate Judge Ray Jr.
The time is now for pre-trial preparations and the Plaintiff and Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E. are requesting that individuals that are being held in TDCJ’s Restrictive Housing please submit their testimony, artwork, poems and writings to the contact info above. We want to hear your stories about what you have suffered in TDCJ’s Restrictive Housing. Anyone who wishes to participate in the trial must first submit their testimony to Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E. first. Serious inquiries ONLY! Secondly you must be willing to have your background checked thoroughly. So once again, Serious Inquiries ONLY!
*** ATTENTION *** ATTENTION ***
Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E. is putting together a scrapbook about solitary. Submissions would go to the above address also, along with permission to publish your material. Submission should be turned in NO later than November 30th 2022.
Texas Together Ending All Mass Oppression aNd Exploitations
MIM(Prisons) adds: We have distributed copies of this press release to a number of prisoners in Texas, but need help doing so. If you know someone suffering in RHU, please share this information with them ASAP.
The campaign against long-term solitary confinement is a campaign against torture and a campaign against political repression. It is perhaps the most important struggle in the U.$. prison movement. Texas has an opportunity to do what California failed to do. In California, an alliance of lumpen leaders and reformist organizations settled the Ashker suit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.(1) Texas T.E.A.M. O.N.E. will not be following suit, and will be taking this battle to trial with the goal of ending, not reforming, long-term solitary confinement in Texas.
As the Texas prison movement continues to grow, we must build broader awareness and support for this battle, especially among the most affected masses who are willing to dig in and fight for this. The largest prison strikes in history precluded the battle against the Security Housing Units in California, and yet the battle was lost. We must put politics in command and rally the prisoners and people of Texas to put an end to torture.
Notes: 1. Wiawimawo, September 2015, Torture Continues: CDCR Settlement Screws Prisoners, Under Lock & Key No. 46.
UPDATE FOR AUGUST 2022: Now that Juneteenth 2022 has passed, please use this updated flyer and these updated postcards now address the censorship across the state of Texas in recent months. We need your support to keep increasing the pressure to fight this censorship of political speech.
Download and print this flyer to hang or hand out.
We are also asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and activists in Allred to freely communicate. There has been a rise in mail censorship as organizing has progressed.
download PDF below
print 2-sided on cardstock
cut into 4
add $0.40 stamp (or more)
go to event or public space and ask people to sign their name, city and state
explain the Junteenth Freedom Initiative to them
hand them a flyer (above) or Under Lock & Key
ask for a donation to pay for postage & printing
drop postcards in mail box (don’t mail them all at once we want a consistent stream of cards coming in)
Revolutionary greetings to u all! We hope everyone is prepping for the upcoming action(s) of Juneteenth, and otherwise doing well. Comrade FireWater posed a question, “How can i help Tx TeamOne with a class action suit to have Our grievances heard or to get independent oversight of the grievance system?” i’ve decided to share Our answer with all of you as it may be helpful to the Tx lumpen populace at large.
In the past few months, Tx TeamOne’s founding committee has been forming working relations with a few liberal and petty bourgeois groups for progressive improvements within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). These groups include some elected officials, christian sympathizers, lawyers, radio personalities, and policy groups.
One such group is Tx Prison Reform (TPR), with whom one of Our founding committee members was able to conduct an extensive interview, establishing the basis of Our and the prison masses possible working relationship with this group. The interview will be published in their monthly newsletter and We hope to share it with u all as well. TPR is focused on the destruction of Restricted Housing Units (RHU), but is also collecting grievances and other forms of documentation to showcase the foul nature of TDCJ.
Many of u may be familiar with Tx CURE. If so you’ll know the Tx branch has been M.I.A. for awhile, but now has been reorganized by a recently released TDCJ ex-prisoner. This persyn was a leading figure behind the RACK II air conditioning lawsuit. Ey hasn’t established an actual mailing address but we have the help of a family law attorney who’ll send mailings to the head of Tx CURE. Right now, We’re looking for documented complaints regarding major issues in TDCJ. These grievances will be read in front of and by the Tx legislator at the next session. The persyn from Tx CURE will be persynally speaking on behalf of Tx inmates.
The issue of the grievance process is not a new one to us nor the state officials. The grievance system in Tx and in fact many prison systems around the country were the direct result of the Ruiz Litigation (Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp. 2d 855 (S.D. Tex. 1999)), and since it was instated the same issues have been present. Accompanied with your grievances you should write an official statement which may also be read for/by the legislators and others. This statement should articulate the need for independent oversight of TDCJ grievance system, and make specific reference to Representative Jarvis Johnson’s 2019 House Bill which called for said oversight but has never been heard by the House. We want the 2019 House Bill 363 heard and approved by the Texas House of Representatives.
For those who don’t know the demographics are slowly but surely shifting. Due to national gentrification, the thriving industries in the state, and no state income tax, among other things, Texas is becoming younger, darker, richer, and slightly more progressive, particularly among youthful citizens. An essential contradiction in Tx is that of the rural vs. urban population and the culture wars, and fight for resources this intensifies. Urban populations tend to be darker, more liberal/progressive (not revolutionary though) and lean left of center on prison issues among others. Bernie Sanders’ organization “Our Revolution” has been pushing campaigns by petty bourgeois, Democratic Socialist elements around the country for the last several years and now this present election cycle they have several candidates who’re challenging the districts of the old guard Democratic Party establishment. These districts are in both rural and urban areas but mostly rural, which if successful will shift state electoral bourgeois politics for the next decade or so.
A key point of emphasis for these so-called New Left Democrats is Prison Reform. This will open organizing doors for revolutionaries within the walls and those who support us.
i share all this because elements from the New Left Democrats and some from a more moderate approach have championed and made possible a new committee to ‘Study Tx Criminal Justice Issues.’ They’re excepting documentary information from now until October on a wide range of issues covering initial interaction with police, to jail policies & conditions, Grand Jury issues, sentencing, and finally prison conditions. Below i will include their addresses along with those of the lawyer, and the groups i mentioned have been establishing working relationships with.
p.s. We’re also happy to announce the present development of a Tx TEAMONE committee in Smith Unit.
Jerney Coe Law Office/423 S. Spring Ave/ Tyler, TX 75702 Tx Prison Reform/ Box #671/ Kaukana, WI 54130 Fairchanges/2407 S. Congress Ave, Ste E-434/ Austin, TX 78704 (send reports on current conditions, at least 3 recommendations for change, deadline 7/4/2022) RealLife Ministries/ Box #328/ Forney, TX 75126 (also does RealLife Radio, write to find out where you can tune in) Dist. 141 - Senfronia Thompson/ 10527 Homestead Rd/ Houston, TX 77016 (Interim Study Committee on Criminal Justice reform ahead of legislation)
i hope this information is useful.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with Triumphant that a shift in demographics and elected officials could create more space for prison organizing. In theory an independent review board could create space for organizing as well. However, there is no historical example of such in the United $tates. Police review boards have never been effective nor independent. How could they be? The point of the criminal injustice system is to leverage the force of the state against those that pose a threat to the bourgeoisie’s and the state’s interests. This is a bourgeois dictatorship afterall, just like the rest of the world today.
Revolutionaries should campaign on the issues. If petty bourgeois reformers are willing to do the work to set up review boards and oversight and change rules, good for them. We should support them in doing so by campaigning on the issues that matter to us. As Triumphant mentioned, censorship and torture units (RHU) are among these issues. If we can campaign on these issues in ways that align with and support the bourgeois reformers that is a good thing. If revolutionaries take up the mantle of electoral politics and bourgeois reform, that is a very bad thing that leads to a never-ending cycle of oppression.
Within the prison movement there is much talk about ‘political education’ and ‘raising consciousness’. Truthfully, even when We reflect on recent and distant episodes in Our collective struggles against the bourgeoisie, many of us often lament upon the fact that a key ingredient that has always been lacking from Our movements, parties, organizations, and the unorganized masses, is the lack of a systemic and organized framework to political education. Assata Shakur expressed her criticism of the Black Panther Party for the same reason. Veterans of the Chican@ movement i’ve spoke with have expressed the same criticisms, stating that had more deliberate, organized approaches been given back in the days it may have progressively altered the cultural nationalist tendencies of the movement towards a revolutionary nationalist praxis. Yet and still, today We’re still stressing, and rightly so, the paramount importance of political education. However, the question has become, must become, what is political education, how do we apply it, and why is it so important?
Political education takes many forms, and phases, and the correct application of it, or what is paramount for a persyn to know is dependent upon the conditions one finds themselves in. Thus i begin with Fanon,
“It is commonly thought with criminal flippancy that to politicize the masses means from time to time haranguing them with a major political speech…But political education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world…To politicize the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands and their hands alone.” (1)
Now as i was saying conditions will determine quite alot. So it is the line of USW, and many others, that amerika is a settler-neo colonial imperialist empire, and as such holds actual nations of people subjugated, meaning their/our self-development is thwarted, within its borders as well as in the Third World.
Hystory indicated that this line is right and exact. When We recall the process of how amerika was established we understand that it (nation of euro amerikan settlers) settled upon this land, removed, and committed genocide against the native nations of people, some of which are still among us today. So those (the indigenous) are just one group of nations within the borders of amerika, which We call the First Nations. Of course We all know about the forced migration of millions of Africans, and We know they underwent slavery at the hands of those same settlers, as did some Natives. What We often fail to analyze is that slavery, is only an economic system, it is a mode of producing social value, however, to describe the plight of the African people in amerika by mere economic lingo alone is highly insufficient. What is the term that would encapsulate the experience of the economic exploitation, social and political repression that the African people in amerika eventually triumphed over? Slavery? No, servitude? No. That one word which encapsulates that struggle is COLONIALISM.
Well, what the heck is colonialism? Quoting from the Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary;
Colonialism - foreign domination of a country or a people, where the economic, political and military structure is controlled and run by the occupying force. (2)
So African people residing in the United $tates are not merely the offspring of enslaved people, but a colonized people, and because of that diametrically opposed nature of a colonized people to its colonizer, the African people residing in amerika developed organically into a nation, that is a people distinct from the settler by its culture, its language, its land, and thus We call this nation today New Afrika, but others call it Black Amerika, or Black nation, or a host of other titles. No matter the title New Afrikan people are deep down aware that they’re distinct and separate, but the reality of a nation within an empire doesn’t register to some, to most, after a substantial time frame of this reality being obscured from the public consciousness.
Having roots in, but eventually developing distinct from the First Nations, there is the Chican@, and Puerto Rican nations/colonies. Overtime all these domestic colonies subjugated by the settler amerikan empire have developed thru struggle, and have reached a new and different phase of colonialism, called neo-colonialism, which can be characterized by the power structure now formally allowing representatives of these oppressed peoples to integrate into the economic, political and military structures, and in many ways act as a buffer between the ruling class and the masses of neo-colonized people.
This brings me back to Our discussion on organizing, and political education. See, depending on what We organizing for, one will require different political understanding. Fanon says,
“A political informed [person in a colonial situation] is someone who knows that a local dispute is not a crucial confrontation between [them] and [the system]”
“It is the repeated demonstrations for their rights and the repeated labor disputes that politicize the masses.” (3)
So basically what Frantz Fanon is saying here is that first one must understand they are indeed colonized, and this understanding disallows them from settling for any ol’ concession that can come from a ‘local dispute’. And here when he says local, We can put it in Our immediate context and understand it to mean, ‘prison struggles’.
What does this mean? It essentially means that We utilize, and in fact manufacture these ‘repeated demonstrations for their/our rights’ as a means to politicize the masses. However, if We are organizing the masses utilizing such demonstration alone We run into a few pitfalls. The one which i’ll deal with here can be understood by the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for you just might get it.” So in Our context, in the prison movement, what happens to the momentum of the masses, of the people as a whole if We as organizers manufacture a or a few demonstrations and the administration actually concedes? If the masses don’t understand the complexity of Our situation, that We’re colonized, dehumanized, an alienated sub-class, the dregs of the society, and that not only must these realities change, We must change within Ourselves, and We must take part in changing these realities, then the masses the people will quit the struggle after what they’ve perceived to be success, and they’ll resume their normal ways of existence. This pattern is counter-productive to the cause of revolution. We must at all times possible keep the masses active, and that activity pertaining to the struggle. Fanon said, “The colonized subject is at constant risk of being disarmed by any sort of concession.”(4)
So an understanding of what Our issues are, colonialism, neo-colonialism or racism, or individual wrong decision making, will determine the strategies and tactics We take moving forward. If We begin Our study of literature proceeding from the perspective that We’re colonized nations of people, We study how anti-colonial struggles have developed, failed and triumphed around the world. Furthermore We realize that unless an action fundamentally eradicates Our colonial existence than it is only a reform and does not solve Our fundamental problem(s) which stem from Our thwarted development under neo-colonialism. Thus We don’t even seek certain reforms, or concessions, and the ones We do are to advance Our strategic goal.
The question now becomes again HOW to maintain the masses attention before, during, and after demonstrations? The answer leads us to ORGANIZATION. Those who have a study level of political vision must take the initiative in forming real organized organizations. Within these organizations leaders should allow for activities to be carried out by the rank & file and must be sure that activities assigned to a comrade are in alignment with the talents, interests, and abilities of said comrade. In this way one keeps the masses involved and engaged. If able weekly or bi-weekly meetings should be established. Minutes should be kept of the meetings, meaning, write down what you’re doing, what you’re talking about, what are the plans going forward, etc. At said meetings each comrade should have a progress report, which entails what they’ve been doing since the previous meeting.
If a comrade can draw, they should be assigned something to draw. If a comrade can write, they should be assigned something to write. If a comrade has a typewrite they should be tasked with typing up the documents of the group. In fact it is good to take up one project that the entire collective can attribute to. Say a pamphlet, of course you need writers, We need art work, and We’ll need a typist, We’ll need some donations of stamps to circulate it to publishers, and in this way every one not only feels involved, but more importantly feels that immeasurable feeling of accomplishment. In understanding the complexities of Our class (lumpen) We must understand a lot of us have not accomplished much of anything in the way of real world accomplishments. A lot of us have been caged, stagnated in a state of arrested development, since Our pre-teen and teen years, and thus are persynally under-developed in many ways. This feeling of accomplishment motivates and inspires one to continue to chase that good feeling, and particularly when the feeling is derived from doing something productive, it overtime alters a persyn internally, and this is what We, as revolutionaries especially within the lumpen class want most.
Organizations in their many varieties are the vehicles of the people and their struggle. Vanguard elements must seek to organize all aspects of the people’s struggle, all aspects of the people’s lives under their leadership and influence. This doesn’t mean everyone has to or will be a member of a particular leading organizational body. What it means is that organization must make itself seen & heard & felt in each aspect of the people’s lives. The musician they listen to should be expressing some theme derived from the organization. The farmer should have the organization’s line on collectivizing agriculture and land. The prisoner and their family should know that the prisoner, if deemed capable can/will have a place of refuge, work, and re-humanization with the organization. The womyn must know she has a group trustworthy and capable to care for her kids collectively, and ensure her access to safe abortion if necessary. Those in the LGBTQ community must feel at one with the organization, enabled and empowered.
In a nutshell the proper organization will galvanize the popular masses of the people, educating and organizing the most capable from every and all sectors, and from there synthesize the aspirations, and ambitions of the people’s struggle with practical and concrete measures to realize these objectives.
With the formation of Texas T.E.A.M.O.N.E., the Texas USW re-branded, We have formed the vehicle for the Texas prisoner’s struggle. We have thus far established multiple wings which can/will be used to activate the stored away genius of the masses. We have the legal wing for those writ-writing jailhouse lawyers, a space for like minded cats to put their heads together to attack certain aspects of the system that can help us better build the movement. We have established, in its early stages, a wimmins & LGBTQ wing, which is again an avenue for certain people to step up and utilize what they already know how to do, in concert with the rest of the organized body to get what We want. We’ve established the Worker’s wing a lane where people around the state can collectively struggle for worker’s rights, and incorporate those struggles with the others and in combination gain bigger gains…We’ve established and/or influenced the establishment of numerous committees with the members therein playing roles in the ‘wings’ mentioned above. In all this We’ve done well in applying lessons learned from MIM(Prisons), and some of Our own experiences, thus synthesizing theory & practice.
It must be said however that We have made many mistakes. We began organizing as Fanon said, around demonstrations. We learned in practice, some of us without ever having read Fanon, that the masses, and Ourselves could easily get complacent after concessions are made. The mistake came by not initially focusing on ideo-theoretical questions. We had to learn that the truth of the matter that prior to any organization the people in question must sit down and individually intake information, after a certain amount of information has been accumulated they must come together and discuss their findings and thoughts, establish their points of unity, modes of organization, and other such matters. Of course this isn’t to say that all organizations come together like this. Many take on a more spontaneous approach to development and this approach is observed in their style of work.
The re-occurring theme will always be political education, the need for it will never cease, and the need to bring all the people to an active level of consciousness, that is a level where they can be/are active in the struggle.
In Our campaign to end RHU, it was selectively chosen for a multitude of reasons. One of which is to show & prove We can shut it down if & when We organize Ourselves and the people correctly. Because of conditions that prevail in long-term isolation, many of the most radical and politically astute people are in or have been in long-term isolation, if We could multiply those types of elements, and then get them out on the pop city We can make conditions more conductive to politicizing more and more prisoners sending more and more of these to the outside. To illustrate the contradiction that despite the various levels of illegality present within the solitary confinement apparatus, it still continues, and yet We’re the so-called criminals. There is of course the fact that if We can eliminate the punitive answer for dissent then We leave the enemy with little recourse once Our collective resistance picks up. In this way We take a tool out of their tool kit. However, the underlying goal is simply to shut seg down, what if they just capitulated and gave us what We wanted? What becomes of the struggle then? IF that was Our actual GOAL and not a MEANS TO AN END, then Our entire struggle would have been defeated, at least temporarily, not by bullets, or bombs, but by sugar-coated bullets, by concessions, by reforms, which weaken the intensity of contradictions rather than increase them. Mastering this delicate balance will determine the successes and failures of Our organizing methods.
“At first disconcerted, they then realize the need to explain and ensure the colonized’s consciousness does not get bogged down. In the meantime the war goes on, the enemy organizes itself, gathers strength and preempts the strategy of the colonized. The struggle for national liberation is not a question of bridging the gap in one giant stride. The epic is played out on a difficult, day-to-day basis and the suffering endured far exceeds that of the colonial period. Down in the towns the colonists have apparently changed. Our people are happier. They are respected. A daily routine sets in, and the colonized engaged in struggle, the people who must continue to give it their support, cannot afford to give in. They must not think the objective has already been achieved. When the actual objectives of the struggle are described, they must not think they are impossible. Once again, clarification is needed and the people have to realize where they are going and how to get there. The war is not one battle but a succession of local struggles, none of which, in fact, is decisive.” (5)
An Ongoing Discussion
We’ve picked this discussion back up, as some of us felt that somethings were still left unsaid or unclear.
We’ve articulated previously that one’s method to organization is logically dependent upon one’s goals, and also one’s circumstances or conditions. It is Our view that the conditions and circumstances being what they currently are in North amerika, the lumpen-prisoner class is a highly dynamic entity. This class, Our class is also a vacillating class, meaning its members can be like see-saws, moving from one side (revolutionary) to another (reactionary) as their emotions and whims take them. However, We assert that the other classes of North amerika have become so bourgeoisified that the social vehicles for social revolution are so slim to none that the last objectively repressed class in amerika, the class that still has little to no stake in the bourgeois democracy, is the lumpen.
We’ve reached this conclusion by analyzing the social forces and classes within North amerikan society. Observing their material benefits of being cozied up to their bourgeoisie. We’ve observed how and why social movements only advance so far, being largely unwilling, or sometimes unable to carry the struggle to higher levels, due to a certain level of comfort in the status quo. And We logically look to Our own class and see that these factors, though still present are vastly diminished. Therefore, arriving at this class analysis We say that it is most conductive to Our goal of social revolution to invest time and resources into the lumpen in order to politicize them, and that investment should be in proportion to the classes potential to lean towards a revolutionary line and practice.
Now We reach the basic question, how do we maximize the dynamic potential of this vacillating lumpen class? How do We ensure that the majority of lumpen are progressive, neutral, or all the way revolutionary and not objective enemies of the people? The answer again points to ORGANIZATION. The only way to maximize the people’s initiative in general and the lumpen in particular is to formulate them into tightly organized units/groups. The lumpen struggle is a class struggle, and thus We must organize the First World Lumpen on a class basis.
What does this mean, what does this look like? What is a class? There is often mention of the prisoner class, or a particular class of prisoners. However, very rarely do comrades utilize class in a Communist framework.
A ‘Class’ 1) shares a common position in their relation to the means of production; common economic conditions, relative to their labor and appropriation of the social surplus; 2) that they must share a separate way of life and cultural existence; 3) that they must share a set of interests which are antagonistic to other classes; 4) that they must share a set of social relations,;i.e. a sense of unity which extends beyond local boundaries, and constitutes a national bond; 5) that they must share a corresponding collective consciousness of themselves as a ‘class’, and; 6) they must create their own political organizations, and pursue their interests as a ‘class’ (6)
We must also clarify that Marx differentiated between a ‘class in itself’ and a ‘class for itself’. The difference between the two can be summarized by saying that a class in itself simply shares a common economic position but lacks the other listed criteria. Whereas a class for itself is an entity fully organized and meeting all listed criteria.
Therefore, what We are saying here is that We must organize in a manner that will bring the lumpen from the level of class in itself, to the elevated level of a class for itself. Our organization should be modeled in a way to obtain the collective mobility, ingenuity, and potential of the lumpen as a whole. We must ‘nationalize’ these structures, meaning expand them state-to-state, with each one developing its own relative strength locally.
The next question is how do We get there? How do we reach this point of mass participation and organization? We’ll quote Fanon here:
“The duty of a leadership is to have the masses on their side. Any commitment, however, presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission to be accomplished, in short a rational analysis, no matter how embryonic.” (7)
Here he stresses the basic conscious political education of the people. We continue:
“The people should not be mesmerized, swayed by emotion or confusion. Only [under-developed people] led by a revolutionary elite emanating from the people can today empower the masses to step out onto the stage of history.” (8)
I’ve put the above in bold to illuminate certain mistakes We often make. We often capitulate to the weaknesses of the masses in Our good intended desire to win them over. One of the weaknesses of this sort is the masses never-ending desire to be entertained. This desire almost always precedes from a desire to escape reality, and when done too much establishes a state of complacency with oppression and exploitation and undermines revolutionary or productive/progressive activity. When We reach out to the masses We often make the mistake of trying to move them into immediate action with a fiery speech, with the showing of the video of the latest police killing, or whatever We believe may move them. Although We have good intentions this method has hystorically proven inadequate for carrying out revolution. Instead, because it relies on emotions, which fluctuate, the activity it renders, if it renders activity at all, is necessarily fluctuating, and vacillating.
We can see this in real time if We observe the ebbs and flows of social movements in North amerika. George Floyd’s taped murder shook people emotionally. It awakened pent up anger and frustration from many sectors. People took that, and nothing else, no political education, no political organization, no political vision, only anger and frustration into their protests, and rebellions, and uprisings. Soon, the only people left in the streets were politicized people. Anarchists, Socialists, Abolitionists, and this sort. The masses however, had long since retreated back into the comforts of their amerikan life of escape, and leisure, isolating what was then allowed to be percieved as extremist/terrorist elements.
This what Fanon calls the ‘weakness of spontaneity’ showed its face. We must learn from this. In the quote above the ‘under-developed people’ are those masses of North amerikans. They reside in the land of excess, material excess, but the land of political sleep-walkers. These are the people Fanon says must be led by a REVOLUTIONARY elite. Now what does he mean by this? Because of the under-developed state of the people’s sociopolitical consciousness, those cadre elements who’ve struggled to grasp the complex concepts of political-economy, and revolutionary theory, although not desiring to be perceived as an elite, meaning above the rest, they actually do represent a higher stage of development, and in that context ONLY are they ‘elite’. The key phrase of the quote is the necessity that these ‘elite’ emanate from the people, meaning they must be one of their own, or perceived as such. The cadre-organizer must take care to balance its level of understanding with the level of the masses. There will be a contradiction between these masses and the politicized persyn, there should be, but this should not be an antagonistic contradiction. The people should be able to look to you for example, not look at you in disdain. As one might do to someone who thinks their shit don’t stink. Now we move to exactly HOW does these cadres, EMPOWER THE MASSES,
“…On the condition that We vigorously and decisively reject the formation of a national bourgeoisie, a caste of privileged individuals. To politicize the masses is to make the nation (or class) in its totality a reality for every citizen. To make the experience of the nation (or class) the experience of every citizen.” (9)
“Only the massive commitment by men and wimmin to judicious and productive tasks gives form and substance to this consciousness.” (10)
“No leader, whatever their worth, can replace the will of the people, and the national government, before concerning itself with international prestige, must first restore dignity to all citizens, furnish their minds, fill their eyes with human things and develop a human landscape for the sake of its enlightened and sovereign inhabitants.” (11)
It is Our intention as USW leaders in Texas, as Tx T.E.A.M.O.N.E. cadre, to have Our organization act as a vehicle to organize and mobilize and educate the masses of lumpen in North amerika. We hope you will be inspired to join us.
1) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.138, chapt.3
2) Black Liberation Army Political Dictionary, pg.4
3) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.63 chapt.2
4) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
5) ibid, pg.90, chapt.2
6) see; Karl Marx, The 18th Brumaire; also Karl Marx, The Holy Family;also, Meditations On Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, James Yaki Sayles, pg. 286
7) Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon, pg.140, chapt.3
I am the same “Xinachtli” mentioned by my beloved comrade Triumphant of Texas T.E.A.M. O.N.E. at page 8 of your MIM newsletter, Under Lock & Key No. 76, Winter 2022.
The prison assigns me to psychiatric-ward-like cellblocks, filled with prisoners under ‘psychotropic medications’ so removed from these realities that one cannot engage them in a rational conversation much less get them involved in the Texas Prisoners’ Human Rights Movement. Other times, they place me in the middle of viper nests of racist, white supremacist inmates. In any event, I continue the struggle as a “one man army” continuing to expose the realities of these racist, horrendous conditions that violate all norms of human decency and civilized society. This prison is a genocidal one, not only sitting on stolen land, but the majority of its cages are occupied by Black, Chicano, and Native American tribes, the mass incarceration that makes up the entire U.S. prison industrial complex.
We, the ‘prisoner class’, have won many legal victories in our struggle, such as in the Ruiz v. Estelle Litigation, 503 F.Supp. 1265, but conditions continue to be the same in violation of civil and human rights standards and laws. Recently, a Scottish Court in the extradition case of Daniel Magee, refused the government’s petition to extradite Magee to Texas for criminal prosecution for allegedly shooting a security guard in Austin, TX, giving as reasons for its decision to continue the ongoing inhumane conditions existing in Texas prisons that violate international human rights laws and standards. (see article by Keri Blackinger, 17 March 2022, The Marshall Project)
Like Russian imperialist President Putin, the same blood drips from the genocidal claws of U.S. imperialism, in the hidden genocidal, extermination of the Mexicano, Chicano, indigenous tribes during their repeated colonial settler wars of annexation and plunder in the war crimes, crimes against humanity, committed by U.S. colonial, imperialists in 1830 through 1848 and ongoing today along the illegal U.S./Mexico military border. The Ukraine and Chicano masses are victims of a same, genocidal, war criminal governments that seek global domination of the world. We, the oppressed, must turn such imperialist wars into wars against world imperialism, and free all oppressed nations and peoples, to make their own destiny.
Please extend my revolutionary greetings to others in TEAM ONE, especially Comrade Triumphant.
Build the National Prisoners’ United Front!
All Power to the Oppressed!
Free the Occupied Territories of U.S. Southwest Aztlan!
Convert the Ongoing Russian/U.S. Imperialist War in Ukraine Into a War Against Imperialism!