This will be the official statement of the North Carolina United Front for Peace in Prisons. We will contribute to accomplishing these goals:
Peace. We must first find peace within, then help those around us to understand the tactics of divide and conquer; the true reason they’re in the system and how and why making peace within thy-self and with those around us is what real men/wimmin & L.O.’s represent.
Unity. Unite to achieve common interests; justice & peace and safeguarding our communities. Brothers of the faithful will continue efforts to restore peace among NC L.O.’s. All within the USW may join our branch of the UFPP.
Growth. Study MIM Assignment 1 on dialectical materialism & MIM structure & organization study pack. Then continue to study in whatever fields are appealing. To be successful we must learn to organize and (in certain matters) learn from the past (dialectical materialism). We spread our message and ULK to interested convicts and outside supporters. Books will be cyphered among comrades.
Internationalism. We will support the liberation programs of the oppressed nations internationally.
Independence. We plan to use a clothing company to promote political art. Some of us will also learn to become independent from government, which allows you to also make citizens arrest. Further abolishment.
The AQLA is a radical group of anarchists who promote the school of thought that advocates anarchism and social revolution as the means to queer liberation and abolition of hierarchies such as homophobia, lesbophobia, transmisogyny, biphobia, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. In the Tennessee prison system there were no type of groups that were geared at the LGBTQ+ community. In this system, we are the minority and the oppressed of the oppressed. Often times people in the LGBTQ+ community are harassed not only by the pigs but other prisoners as well.
As a self-identified Queer person i see all this going on and it disgusted and outraged me so i felt the need to start a group that not only unified the community but would also serve as a means of educating our members and providing them with a level of political consciousness and get them to see who our enemy is. Our aim is to destigmatize the LGBTQ+ community in regards to other prisoners and lumpen organizations and to hopefully build unity with these other organizations around a common enemy.
The oppression and marginalization of queer and trans people in prison is all too prevalent and for the most part we’re left to suffer at the hands of pigs and inmates alike. But it’s my aim in forming this organization to see that we are seen as humyns who are worthy of respect in this environment. We have a rich hystory of courageous revolutionary comrades who struggled for our freedom all throughout the Gay Liberation Movement. We want to build alliances with other prisoners and L.O.s and hope to educate them and get them to put aside their insecurities or prejudice towards us and build unity to overthrow the common enemy. We hope for fellow captives to gain security in themselves and therefore have respect for our struggle seeing that we are an oppressed people. We implore them not to use racist or prejudiced attitudes toward us. We are NOT a threat to them. We have a right to be free from violence and oppression just like any other group. But we are determined to fight for our respect and freedom. Here’s what the 5 principles of the UFPP mean to us:
Peace: We strive to cease the endless drama and animosity that is prevalent within the u$ penal colony. We are divided enough already by the oppressive pigs and prisoners so we do not need to fight against ourselves over petty prison politics and macho/alpha-male foolishness. We need to stand together and defend ourselves from oppression.
Unity: We seek to unite with those facing the same struggle as us for common interest. To accomplish this, we must have open lines of communication and learn to talk civilly. We know the pigs will use “Divide & Conquer” strategies any chance they can and will gain control if we’re not unified.
Growth: Education and the freedom to grow is crucial when building unity. As revolutionaries, we must always strive to get our politics as flawless as possible and bring the level of political consciousness to the highest possible point.
Internationalism: We must seek the collective liberation of ALL oppressed people. We all are victims of the oppressors but we must go from victims to victors. We must all unite against the common enemy because we can’t liberate ourselves if we’re participating in the oppression of others.
Independence: We must have organizations that are fully independent from the u$ government and all its branches, even down to the police. The racist, capitalist, imperialist system does not serve us or have our best interests in mind. If able, they will co-opt our groups and water down anything we’re trying to do. By instituting independent power we won’t have to compromise our political goals.
As a group we fully pledge ourselves to the United Front and will work to abolish the imperialist u$ empire. We will gladly unite with any group who promotes an end to capitalism, imperialism, fascism, patriarchy, etc., etc., and I want to thank you at MIM for helping to bring the people to a place of constructive revolutionary purpose.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome the newly formed AQLA as an ally in the anti-imperialist prison movement. Gender is one line of division used by the oppressors against the imprisoned lumpen, and we support their efforts to counter that through outreach and alliances with other lumpen organizations.
Anarchists differ from communists, in short, by disagreeing with point 2 of MIM(Prisons)’s six main points. While we share in our end goals, we differ on the strategy on getting there. This is a difference that would prevent comrades from joining MIM(Prisons) or the organizations it leads, such as United Struggle from Within. The function of the united front is for organizations like ours to join forces for a common cause, without giving up our differences on other key points such as this.
Upon reading and re-reading the most recent ULK (72) as i usually do, i ran across a segment of an article that i believe to be homo/transphobic and therefore deserves criticism in the spirit of unity-struggle-unity.
The segment in question is on pg. 7, #5 of the demands reads as follows:
Every prison in the state of Pennsylvania allow gay prisoners inside each prison block to hold hands/hold each other, have make-out sessions and have intercourse. The department of corrections of Pennsylvania even sell bras/panties, makeup, provide hormone injections and sex changes.
Now, I said “i believe” this was homo/trans phobic, because I acknowledge that some may not feel that way. Additionally, i’ll say that for the sake of organizing, it should be removed, as regardless of possible ill intent it serves to alienate people who’re not your enemy and can be allies.
Now i hold my belief that the comment was a homo/transphobic slight because the previous four demands the authors’ wrote down in question form, while #5 was listed as a statement and was entirely unnecessary if we look to the sub-points (a) and (b), which clearly articulate the point the authors wished to make, without the slight.
Comrades, i’m a heterosexual, cis-gendered male, who’s struggled here at my place of captivity against the gendered oppression of LGBT people, by inmate and pig oppressors alike. In the midst of this struggle what i’ve attempted to get cats to understand is, for one there are three strands of oppression: nation, class and gender. In the context of gender, i’ve had to humble myself to learn, or re-learn sometimes from a trans womyn comrade, things i thought i knew. One key piece of information i learned from her was also articulated by MIM(Prisons) in ULK47, pg. 4, attacking the myth of binary biology:
“Humyn biology has never been entirely binary, with relation to sex characteristics. There are a range of interactions between chromosomes, hormone expressions and sexual organ development. The resulting variation in anatomical and reproductive characteristics includes a lot of people who do not fit the standard binary expectation… as many as 1 in 100 births deviate from the standard physical expectations of sex biology.”
i’ve included this quote to suggest that cats look in depth into the material reality and internal development of things in order to get a clearer understanding instead of demonizing people and behavior.
The second point i’ve stressed here at this prison and now extend to the Pennsylvania prisoners, is that being that there are 3 strands of oppression, and we are in the business of eradicating oppression, then we are in error whenever we condemn national and class oppression while upholding gender oppression.
While the authors of the demands did not advocate gender oppression, eir language suggests that ey would rather the behavior listed in Point #5 be eradicated, which in turn would be oppressive to those who engage in said behaviors.
Additionally, i think you cats in PA could benefit from gaining some form of insight from those LGBT prisoners as to how to solve y’alls problems. i’ll have you realize that your Points 1-4 apply to LGBT prisoners as well along with points a and b. and 6 … or do they? My point is that the behavior which you seem to dislike was not always a reality. Around the empire, state-by-state, for decades, LGBT prisoners have struggled in court and through other avenues to gain the ability to express themselves freely.
If you would seek an ally in those near you, y’all may gain some insight on your own concerns, but viewing the LGBT populace as ‘other’ than yourselves only serves the interests of the badge, and stunts your own development as a revolutionary freedom fighter.
The key is to look at your situation in a dialectical materialist perspective. First, identify the fundamental contradiction, which in any and every prison is badge versus captives. The lumpen class must become united. Now within the lumpen class there are internal contradictions, only one of which is the contradiction between non-LGBT versus LGBT prisoners. This is a secondary contradiction, and it must be resolved because like all contradictions, it will develop into an antagonistic stage and an internal antagonistic/contradictory struggle is not beneficial in this context if y’all are to accomplish your goals, and moreso, advance the captive’s aspect of the fundamental contradiction against the badge/state.
In conclusion, i wanna articulate the fact that we can not eliminate oppression if we are ourselves oppressors. We have no right to condemn our own oppression yet turn a blind eye to the oppression of others. Practice PEACE and UNITY sisters and brothers, as articulated in the UFPP principles … unite, don’t split!
Internationalism - A policy of cooperation among nations, esp. in politics and economy. (Webster’s New Basic Dictionary)
Internationalism is the basis of building a United Front with all concerning the same political & ideological line that is relevant to the People; social, political, military, and economic needs to produce equality, independence and land. Internationalism is mainly pushed to build a strategy within theory & practice against the oppressor and to stretch its resources of economics, military and allies out to the point of weakness to either attack or defend in order to control and secure its power.
If everyone is on the same accord politically & ideologically within a true socialist/communist aspect, while really practicing the theories and strategies given through history and philosophy within their conditions NOW to further design solutions in socialist/communist theory & practice to accommodate betterment of our existence through the stages to lead to the weakness of capitalism/imperialism nationally (locally & regionally) & internationally (other countries).
When we tend to practice nationalism in an aspect of Mao [editor: revolutionary nationalism] it shows a sense of commonality to others that are nationally oppressed and helps them understand the true scientific socialist way/dialectical materialist way. This observation is a common point of the same struggles against capitalism/imperialism oppressors where the oppressed is just of different nationalities but concerns the same fight of human rights being violated socially, politically, militarily & economically. That’s why internationalism is a bridge to a strenuous fight towards ending capitalism/imperialism and also helping with resources needed to continue our survival now, during, and after the time is here, seized and power is taken to rebuild land, necessities and socialist government structure until a communist way of life can be obtained.
Once the capitalist/imperialist oppressors and its allies have been stretched over the world, thinning out it’s security & structure, then would be a time to take action militarily due to no proper defense system. It is our job to ensure that the People everywhere are at a conscious state at that time through revolutionary stages to properly prepare & plan it’s strategic tactics within a People’s War.
Here in Freedom, Love & Prosperity we promote unity and love. With the freedom to be ourselves and stop the oppression of all peoples including those in the LGBT community. We believe we are all one! We believe every one has the potential to prosper and beat oppression. We do not promote violence but awareness through group and social activities. We believe love is the ultimate goal in order to achieve unity of all minds, souls and spirits.
This is a statement of unity issued by Dead Man Incorporated(DMI) to inform all concerned of our alignment to and full co-operation with the United Front for Peace in Prisons.
After discussion we have come to the general consensus that a unity amongst us and other oppressed peoples caught up in the struggle would best suit all involved in the interest of our common goal of ending the tyranny of the imperialist states.
The maintaining of the principles of the UFPP are critical and imperative in our mission. We, as DMI, value Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism and Independence. From henceforth each of us promise to uphold those principles; mind, body and spirit.
Furthermore, let it be known that We as DMI stand in alliance with the UNited Struggle from Within.
I will just hit on the one that seems to echo No. 70: Unity. People must realize We are inherently the same; when I am hungry I want to eat; moms in every country around the world love their babies; people want to live productive, peaceful, happy lives the world over.
Through the five pillars of the United Front, these kinds of universal needs and wants of people should be stressed with the added ingredient: I care about you.
Unity is: I care about you, you care about me; We work together for Our mutual well-being, happiness and development. We are not the same, yet have fundamentally the same fears, hopes, needs, wants and dreams and the reality is that We can only achieve them when We live and work together in Unity. Unity is not being in relationship; it is more being in fellowship; not just co-workers but comrades.
One thing we hear the staff or guards say all the time is “I don’t care.” All of their actions, policies and procedures prove it is absolutely true; they do not see us as people any more. This is an extension of the imperialist view of the rest of the world’s population. “They don’t care” whether this or those people live or die, have a decent standard of living, live free of famine or war, or free from social instability, mass discrimination, incarceration or class stratification.
They don’t care – the target is not a person with thoughts, feelings, needs or dreams. It is an insanity that plagues mankind: people treating others as things, objects, property, chattel or goods; to be used, abused or destroyed at will.
As the article Individualism Equals Hunger pointed out greedy people just do not care about others to the point of allowing millions of people worldwide to either starve or at the least live malnourished. Especially here in America, individualism is a key component of “I don’t care.” Even in prisons, huge amounts of food are thrown away daily, it is really crazy when one sits back and thinks about it all.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2020 permalink
Comrade Tag: I fasted from 7PM on 8 September 2020 until 5PM on 9 September 2020. I did drink water though. It was intense, it was the first time I’ve ever intentionally fasted. In the streets I wouldn’t eat for a day or 2, but I had alcohol, weed, etc. to sustain me.
It was eye-opening for me. Like, “Damn, people go through this for the cause all the time!” I need to tighten up. Self discipline for me and food is poor. I write, stand up against oppression, and help educate people, but food is so essential to survival. Not eating for me is like not living. That’s why I decided to fast.
My stomach complained a lot at first, but after awhile it stopped. I had a goal in mind, so it followed my lead. My thoughts tried to scatter, but I focused on explaining to guys why I fasted. Also, more causes were brung to my attention.
All in all the day was a success! The feast with Comrade L was supportive. Ey is new to being aware and learning about the struggle. I explained my appreciation for eir support. Thank you for sending ULK No. 57, it was a great read and perfect timing. Thanks again for your time and support.
Comrade L: Hello, my name is [Comrade L] and I participated in the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. This is the first time I’ve fasted in relation to prisoner awareness. I did this to show my support and to have something to do.
I’ve done a few things this year to further our causes here at Avery/Mitchell Correctional Institution. This 11 hours (6AM - 5PM) helped me to think about what I do. I feel a little more aware of what others have had to go through so prison could be better.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Also, I feel good when I broke the fast with Tag NC. Ey said I should write my feelings so ey could send it with this letter today. I hope you are happy with my support.
First of all I would like to say that I truly admire the work that you all are doing. Even though I am somewhat new to the cause, I know that I am definitely headed in the right direction. At this point, I don’t feel qualified to contribute any articles that would be worth publication. There is so much that I would like to learn from you so that I will be in a better position to write for ULK. I am a teacher and a writer at heart and I definitely plan on providing you with work contributions in the future. In the meantime, I will offer a few comments on an article found in ULK 56. The article is titled “Building Unity Through Talk”, by Soso of MIM(Prisons).
Being incarcerated for over 13 years, I have seen what hatred and division does to prisoners. What I love about MIM(Prisons) is the fact that you all not only encourage peace & unity among prisoners, but you also labor to help them to see the bigger picture of what’s going on “behind the scenes.” Oppressed nations are frustrated and they don’t realize why they are so upset. MIM(Prisons) helps us to see that the real problem is found in the overarching imperialist system rooted in capitalism, not each other.
The article speaks about contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people, and it goes on to describe the best way to deal with both. “When we run into problems with people who should be our allies,” the article states, “we need to start from [the] desire for unity.” If oppressed nations would stop and take a moment to see that the system is designed to bring disunity among the people, and that this is really a divide-and-conquer strategy used by the bourgeoisie to ensure their continued ability to exploit the proletariat, only then will we see how important maintaining unity is when it comes to revolutionary struggle.
As a bisexual man in prison, I see other oppressed nations attacking the LGBTQ community (verbally and physically) as if we are the enemy. But as this article rightly points out, the marginalization of queer and trans folk is actually characteristic of imperialist oppressors and the patriarchy. The more oppressed nations are able to see that there are certain mindsets that are counterproductive to revolutionary struggle, the more they will be able to channel their energies in a positive direction that will lead to true change. I believe the greatest strength of MIM(Prisons) lies in its push for unity, peace, growth, internationalism, and independence (otherwise known as the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons).
I can’t help but to notice that this country is slowly moving in a more socialist direction, and I believe that is because people are starting to become disillusioned with the imperialist agenda. Unity and education is the key to keeping the momentum going, and anything that undermines that unity needs to be identified and exposed for what it is (which I believe MIM(Prisons) does a good job at). Thank you for the work that you do and I look forward to studying and struggling with you all.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade demonstrates that it doesn’t take special training to contribute articles that are worthwhile. By analyzing the conditions where ey is at, ey offers some universal observations around the topic of unity.
While we certainly hope the efforts of building public opinion for socialism are paying off, we think it’s unlikely that this country is actually moving in a socialist direction economically, as this author states above. With the coronavirus having an undeniable impact on capitalism’s status quo, it is a good opportunity to continue pushing for socialist change.
History shows us that to put an end to capitalism we will need a revolution. It won’t be a slow move towards socialism, but rather a violent revolution to overthrow capitalism. The capitalists won’t give up without a fight!
One thing we want to clarify about this article is who is the proletariat and who is exploited, because this is a very common point of confusion especially among our new subscribers. Where this author is discussing oppressed nations in prison succumbing to divide-and-conquer tactics, and helping oppressed nations realize capitalism’s main interests is in exploiting the proletariat, we want to clarify who is the proletariat. For the most part the oppressed nations within U.$. borders are not exploited and not proletarian. Many people in oppressed nations belong to the lumpen (that’s who is locked up in prison and hustling on the streets), labor aristocracy, and even the bourgeoisie. Some migrants are in the proletarian class, and some people are in the semi-proletariat. For the most part people in oppressed nations in U.S. borders are not proletarian and are not economically exploited.
We have a lot of study materials about different classes and their roles in capitalism and imperialism. Simply send us a work-trade and a request and we’ll get something out to you about it!
We also look forward to continuing to develop with our newer comrades! We’re inspired by letters like this every day.
In ULK 68 we were asked to submit articles for the next five issues devoted to each of the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). One question asked "How can we build institutions of the oppressed behind bars?"
One sure way to achieve this is by direct exposure. As prisoners, we are all suffering under the same roof. Although there seems to be some issue concerning whites as not being considered as lumpen, this is surely just yet another example of the imperialists' subliminal divide-and-conquer tactic, set aside color, we are a race of inmates. But I digress, direct exposure: One of the easiest ways to build unity, and this does tie in to the statement above, is to universally teach.
And one way to do this is to sign up your fellow oppressed to receive information and education. Regardless if they read the material or not, by signing your brothers and sisters up to receive this publication, you are planting a seed. And the choice to water that seed lies in the receiver of the gift.
And by doing this, not only are you building the subscription list, you are also opening the door for people who may not have known of the possibilities of unity that UFPP can bring about. Although there are sure to be some that will not adhere to the education, there will be many that will. Being as we are all suffering, even the most hard-headed or ignorant still wants and needs solidarity, and can find this in Under Lock & Key.
The next question was "Why shouldn’t we just use the programs run by the U.$. government/police/prisons?" I may be interpreting this question wrong, but to me, in an effort of re-education, it is most beneficial to actually utilize programs run by the oppressors against them. We are at a distinct disadvantage here as prisoners, we lack funding, organization, means of communication, and sadly, education availability at large. This imperialist system of oppression has been deeply ingrained into society and has even bled into the foundations of our own prisons.
But by educating ourselves on the Rules & Regulations, and the Civil Rights and Constitutional Laws, we can effectively use their own words for our benefit. I personally have been raising lawsuits against the DOC in my prison for not following its own policies. My most recent success was in changing how the DOC's policy for "Step-Down Management Program" (SDMP) was operated.
SDMP for a long while was basically an extended disciplinary segregation sentence, served after completion of your actual discipline sentence. In Minnesota, the law had been that no prisoner could be subjected to more than 90 days of loss of good time for a single disciplinary offense, and the court ruled this to also mean that a single disciplinary offense could not result in a sentence of more than 90 days of disciplinary segregation.
The Minnesota DOC retaliated by the implementation of a program that they claimed "is not punishment," keeping prisoners in disciplinary segregation-like environments years after their actual discipline sentence was completed.
As a right of the U.$. Constitution, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law. And this program sought to deprive prisoners of property and liberty, with no due process. This was illegal. Thankfully, prison officials made placement on the program ungrievable, so there was no need to exhaust grievance remedies at all, and we could file suit directly according to Prison Litigation Reform Act standards.
Now, if you are on this SDMP, you actually get Ad-Seg privileges. The next step is fighting for no SDMP at all.
The last question was "What should be our priority for new independent programs?"
First and foremost: Education. It has been long proven that by forced ignorance of the majority, the minority can safely rule. By educating ourselves, we can defend ourselves.
Second: Promotion. By spreading the message of Unity to all available ears, we will find those who will listen. The pigs seek to silence us, so the more of us who hear the truth of peace and solidarity, the more our message will spread.
Third: Solidarity. We need to acknowledge that there is no other race in reality other than the human race. To accept and use other imperialistic-created class names or distinctions serves only to take away from our true mission. By this I do not mean to disparage your ancestry, or your own personal heritage or ethnicity. I mean only to convey the truth our universal brotherhood of humanity, by washing away castes, sets, class, etc. We are all in this together, all for one, and one for all.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade calls for unity of all behind bars. And we echo that call in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and all of our organizing work. We want to encourage this comrade to go deeper in eir analysis around distinctions of class and nation. We vehemently agree that race is a made-up concept that only serves the interests of imperialists to keep us divided from each other. At the same time, in looking at material reality through the lens of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we see oppressed and oppressor nations, and we see exploiter and exploited classes. Talking about these distinctions isn't a problem for our work. It's when people take on these distinctions as part of their identity and in an chauvinistic manner that it's a problem.
So for example we wouldn't call for unity with the imperialist bourgeoisie because we know they have no basis for uniting with us. Similarly, while we call on all prisoners to unite against the criminal injustice system, we recognize that there is a very real historical basis for the vastly disproportionate number of First Nation, New Afrikan and [email protected] prisoners. And this national oppression provides a material basis for national unity to fight against the oppressor nation which has benefited from imperialism and national oppression. We can't just wish away these distinctions because they exist with years of reinforcement through economic, educational, and cultural oppression. So we must consciously address this reality. Only with this honest assessment of conditions can we build unity across nations and classes behind bars.