The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Postage is one of our biggest expenses. Why not send a book of stamps or two to POB 40799 SF, CA 94140 next time you're at the post office? help out
[Control Units] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 43]
expand

Control Units: Social Control for Semi-Colonies in the United $tates

Comrades living outside of the First World, and specifically outside of United Snakes borders, may be surprised at the social reality of this prison house of nations. The methods employed on the internal semi-colonies are in ways like what is seen in the Third World. The concentration kamps in the United $tates are renamed control units and (CUs) and in most cases the CU population are from oppressed nations. Although the names of these torture centers change, the purpose is the same. The CUs are the centers of neutralization.

Amerikkka attempts to bribe the population living under its heel, and for those who cannot be bought off with luxury items, it tries hard to isolate and dehumynize us lest we influence others. The state understands that even a bribed population may be concerned with humyns being housed in dog kennels without sunlight for decades, so they created the "gang" boogeyman. Just like Nixon created the "war on drugs" in order to criminalize the oppressed nations in the United $tates, today the war on the oppressed continues and rages on, only the CU is the contemporary "final solution."

Understand the Enemy's Control Units

Although most of us held in CUs think of ourselves as strong-minded warriors and soldados, sometimes we underestimate the effects that CUs have on us as people. Sure we are strong-minded, it is why we were kidnapped from the mainlines and stuffed in here. But it's important that we understand the nature of the CU so that we can find ways to combat its effects.

The Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said in an interview about a year ago, about whistle blower Edward Snowden and his current circumstances,

"Snowden is not a trained intelligence agent. But those who are can tell you, if you live in a controlled environment, you cease to be truly independent-minded because everyone and everything around you is also controlled."(1)

If lumpen are "independent-minded" compared to most of the bought-off populations in U.S. borders, then as the above journalist noted, a controlled environment works to crush this independence. CUs can thus be seen as a bigger tool than many realize. This is not saying that all prisoners held in CUs are not or cannot be independent-minded, but it does mean that we need to guard against this because CUs do attack our independence.

Those of us who are held in CUs are those who threaten Amerikkka the most; it is why we are buried alive in these tombs. Our methods of social organization are outside the influence of the oppressor nation, and this scares them. This fear to protect their privilege compels Amerika to find new ways of neutralizing their enemies, and under the guise of the war on "gangs" it can and does use torture by control units with little notice from the majority of the U.S. population.

Bush 2's legal mouthpiece John Yoo said abuse becomes torture if it inflicts severe pain, and if the interrogator intends to inflict severe pain or suffering. Yoo defined severe pain as necessarily being associated with death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions. And abuse isn't considered torture unless there is "prolonged mental harm," with "prolonged" defined as over months or years.(2)

This gave the United $tates and its agencies unfettered reign to dive deep into all of its torture projects and unleash them on oppressed people in and outside of U.S. borders. Anything short of organ failure can be used on prisoners. CUs are used by "interrogators," because before we are released from CUs the state wants us to debrief or do journals. The state is also pushing profile requests, sometimes called "compass" in order to build its intelligence on imprisoned lumpen. This helps them repackage our oppression in the name of "corrections."

Control units are tied to our colonization process. They are but physical manifestations of colonization in the 21st century. So theory that forms in response to CUs, and which attempts to give us ways to not just cope but combat these torture centers, must keep in mind that colonization is at the root of our current battle.

One author put it this way:

"It is my contention that any theory must take into account the fact of colonization of Chicanos. This is not to suggest that colonialism is the only or the 'correct' perspective, but rather that colonization is an essential historical fact that cannot be ignored. Just as any theory of black oppression must consider the legacy of slavery, so any perspective on the Chicano must be cognizant of its colonial legacy."(2)

Our theories revolving around the internal semi-colonies in U.$. borders must take into account the reality of us as a colonized people. For Aztlán, the First Nations, New Afrika and Boriqua, we are NOT Amerikkkans. We are nations that are colonized by Amerika, and control units are tools used in this colonization process.

What Good Can be Made of the Control Units?

Looking at it from a dialectical approach, yes control units are horrific designs which I have seen suck the mental capacities out of brilliant thinkers for years, but there is some promise for those held in the kamps. Control units provide us with concrete examples of our oppression so that we can teach people on both sides of the prison walls exactly what national oppression entails. Another nugget that we can glean from control units is that they concentrate the most rebellious sectors of the prison mass. Those held in control units have an audience and are in many ways leaders in their own right already, within their own circles of influence. So it is from here where the seeds of revolution will be sown to spread throughout the prison system.

The lumpen within control units, and those being released to the general populations across the United $tates, often struggle against the state and its oppression. This is good. But unorganized forms of struggle must be transformed into organized forms of struggle. In order for this to happen, conscious prisoners must exert a revolutionary influence on our fellow prisoners.

Prisoners tortured in control units, no matter how long, are "baptized" into the social reality of life in the United Snakes. It is a wake-up call where lumpen of all nations are given a reality check. It is a place where all bribes are stripped away and the mask of U.$. imperialism is finally discarded. Although it is a painful process, the flip side is that control unit prisoners are more open to revolution, perhaps more so than any other sector of the U.$. prison system, and it is from the control units that we will harvest the next generation of revolutionaries.


Notes:
1. Janet Reitman, "The Men who Leaked the Secrets," Rolling Stone, issue 1198/1199, December 19, 2013 - January 2, 2014, p. 89.
2. Wikipedia page for Torture Memos.
3. Alfredo Mirande, "Gringo Justice", University of Notre Dame Press, 1987, p. 222.

chain
[Organizing] [ULK Issue 42]
expand

Building Peace with the United Front

Together we can break the chains
Building a united front within prisons is not easy to do. It is a struggle that ebbs and flows. Sometimes one can be in a facility or yard where this work is easy and other times it may seem impossible. Like everything else in life that benefits the people, it is challenging to say the least. But the United Front for Peace in Prisons is a goal that is within our ability to obtain so we must make it happen.

As prisoners of the state we are all imprisoned by the same ruling class, so in that sense we are all on the same oppressed side in the U.S. dungeons. The class oppressors who construct these torture facilities are the real enemies. Amerikkka is what has had us, our parents, grandparents and ancestors colonized for so many years. It is the source of all our oppression. No prisoner should be in the dark when it comes to the true identity of oppressed people around the globe. In the world there are two sides, the enemies and us; everything else is trivial and must be ironed out.

Prisoners are not the only ones who struggle with understanding this elementary factor. Mao advised us of these two sides by saying:


"Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution. The basic reason why all previous revolutionary struggles in China achieved so little was their failure to unite with real friends in order to attack real enemies. A revolutionary party is the guide of the masses, and no revolution ever succeeds when the revolutionary party leads them astray. To ensure that we will definitely achieve success in our revolution and will not lead the masses astray, we must pay attention to uniting with our real friends in order to attack our real enemies. To distinguish real friends from real enemies, we must make a general analysis of the economic status of the various classes in Chinese society and of their respective attitudes towards the revolution."(1)

Mao described the conditions surrounding the Chinese revolution, yet like most lessons in Maoism, we can learn and apply them to our situation here in U.S. prisons. Our "revolution" at this time is transforming our environment and oppressive conditions, and bettering our way of life in these dungeons. But in order to do this we need to know our enemies from our friends. In our case, prisoners are our friends and the state is our enemy. The United Front for Peace in Prisons manifests our understanding of our friends and enemies in the material world.

How do we spread peace in prisons?

MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within created the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a basis for spreading peace. Although they provided the framework which later led to the peace accords that have spread within California prisons, they simply presented it to us prisoners with the understanding that it would depend on us to find a way to put this theory into practice. But peace cannot come from words alone. Growing peace in these hot houses will not arrive miraculously, it must be fertilized and fed, cultivated and harvested. That means revolutionary prisoners need to put in work for peace and get our hands dirty, stick them in the dirt and put our back into it.

Many times peace in prison is spread through people-to-people interactions. Creating relations with prisoners outside our nation and outside our circles or collectives helps spread peace. This builds bridges of communication with others. Of course peace should first be created amongst one's own circles, because it's hard to spread peace with other groups if you don't have peace amongst those closest to you.

Ensuring that peace takes root is largely dependent on educating the people. So many do not even know who their real enemy is and this is because political educators are in short supply within prisons. Passing someone a book is not the same as discussing what is in that book after the persyn has read it.

Peace means that people get used to the idea of us having the same captor and facing the same monster. People need to look at the big picture. When we look at the big picture and our young homies are taught to look at the big picture it alleviates many of the petty squabbles that are bound to arise in an intense prison environment.

Building peace really comes down to working together in ways which tackle our horrible conditions. As leaders, we can organize appeal events, spread information and publications on prison struggles, and help others who may need a helping hand whether it's a bar of soap, a stamped envelope or something to eat. Do what you can to help your fellow prisoner. Peace means thinking of other prisoners and extending humynity to one another.

What are the challenges of spreading peace?

We are deprived of peace by internal and external factors, and there are many things that get in our way. Sometimes those who are uneducated act or react in ways which are not conducive to propelling their own struggles forward. These behaviors often result from a colonial mentality which has been embedded in so many minds for so many generations.

So there is a combination of challenges which prevent peace. One main obstacle is of course that the state opposes peace, as a Georgia prisoner said in ULK 36:


"As of now, most of the leaders and the more influential participants are locked down in Ad-Seg and I don't find this a coincidence. The pigs hate the idea of us uniting in peace and not killing each other."(2)

This writer was describing a very real process of repression where those prisoners who are most influential and conscious and who have the ability and sway to enact peace are the very ones locked down in solitary confinement. This is a common tactic of the state. COINTELPRO used the same method, which we can study in books like FBI Files of Malcolm X, War Against the Panthers, and Agents of Repression, to name a few. Those who can electrify the movement or their people are targeted to be neutralized. Neutralizing something or someone means putting it out of commission, which can include death, prison or solitary.

The state creates these obstructions by watching the imprisoned captives, and when leaders arrive to a yard they kidnap them so that peace cannot be realized. They leave knuckleheads to create chaos because chaos between the captives means our captors can keep repressing us. Peace between the captives means the oppressor is in trouble.

Another challenge that we face is concealed in the crypto-Toms. These are the Uncle Toms of all nationalities who secretly work for the state, either in alerting the state when the masses are attempting to struggle against repression or in sabotaging peace efforts by stirring shit up and sparking crimes between prisoners. These inter-oppressed wars help strengthen the state, while setting back prisoner struggles by forcing us to spend years attempting to repair this chaos.

We should learn to identify these crypto-Toms who work for the pigs rather than for their nation. It's not just those who kick off anti-peace bullshit, but also those who partake in Tom language by spreading the ideas of anti-peace who are obstructionists.

Peace in California has been pushed by those who have been doing time for decades. It was not just a spontaneous event; this had been talked about for years. Building a united front for peace against a common enemy is the most logical action between any oppressed peoples anywhere in the world.

How should we proceed?

Peace between prisoners should not just be something that we read about or something prison intellectuals write about. Peace should be something that we live in our everyday lives. Individualism threatens peace the most because individualism keeps us blind to those who threaten peace ("it doesn't affect me, so i don't care"). We can only change our conditions for the better by struggling together.

The first step is in having the ability to think outside of ourselves and to realize what is best for us, our people, and our future homies that will be filling up these cells. Peace does not mean we have the same beliefs, it just means that we have the understanding that people with different beliefs do have shared interests and that the oppression that I face is faced by all U.$. prisoners in various forms by the same captor whose face changes from prison to prison, but whose actions for the most part do not.

chain
[Police Brutality] [National Oppression]
expand

Amerikan Police Brutality and Torturous Prisons are the Same Issue

The decision not to try the pig in Ferguson, Missouri for the killing of Mike Brown has set the people off, and rightly so. It is a broken record of this injustice system and its real intention.

When i woke up and turned on the news that first morning and saw the reaction to the courts not charging the killer cop i was glad that the people were expressing their dissatisfaction with this system. i say this system because it is really this system that upholds the ability of the state to keep on slaughtering the people.

Then i saw that same killer cop in an interview and he straight up says that he regrets nothing. He is content with shooting a young man in the face and head who was simply resisting being murdered, resisting the killer. He was the face of Amerikkka and he offered a real portrait of what Amerikkka is all about.

The neighborhood that Mike Brown was murdered in was like the neighborhoods that prisoners come from, it is where most poor people in the United $tates come from. This is what we experience when we interact with the state.

There is no excuse for what is occurring in the poor people's streets. It is a never ending fusillade of despair unleashed on oppressed people. And yet we still have so many prisoners who are oblivious to what is occurring, even though it is occurring in their streets. It's almost like folks have blinders on and do not see what is occurring all around them, not once or twice but daily throughout the United $tates.

Prisoners need to connect the dots and realize that what occurs out in those streets does pertain to you because these are your people out there being slaughtered, this is a one sided war that needs to be turned around. The uprising in Furguson is a response to this and it's a good response but people need to respond in so many different ways in order to declare that these killer cops must stop slaughtering the people.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We join this comrade's call for more uprisings like in Ferguson. The people have a right to be outraged at the system of national oppression in the United $tates. And we must call out this system clearly for what it is: there is not just a mass of generic poor people in this country, the poor are disproportionately concentrated in the oppressed nations. These groups, New Afrikans, [email protected], First Nations, along with national minorities like [email protected], live in a country where their neighborhoods are occupied by the imperialist police force and where they can face death for the crime of walking down the street.

Connecting the dots for prisoners includes recognizing that it is the same criminal injustice system that locks up oppressed nations that is killing people in the streets. The cops, the courts, and the prisons are all part of this same systematic social control. And so prisoner's protesting abuses behind the bars are a part of the larger struggle against imperialism on the streets. We must make these connections and keep in mind the broader goals while we fight against day-to-day oppression behind bars.

chain
[National Oppression] [Jamaica] [Africa]
expand

Book Review: Marcus Garvey Falls Short of Revolutionary Nationalism


Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist Leader
by Mary Lawler
Holloway House Books 1990

I had the chance to borrow this book from a New Afrikan prisoner in order to check out this cat who many believe to have been a main influence to the Black liberation struggle of the 20th century. One thing that stood out is almost every other page had a photograph, including everything from Jamaican slaves, "race riots," the klan and Malcolm X.

This book traces the life of Marcus Garvey from his birth on August 17, 1887 in Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Out of 11 brothers and sisters, only he and a sister lived past childhood. His stonemason father was known to be a voracious reader and well respected in the village; his mother was a farmer who sold what she grew along with baked goods to contribute to the family. Early on the family owned several properties, but after legal disputes the family was left with the single property they lived in.

Garvey's father was what Lawler described as "A descendant of the maroons, escaped Jamaican slaves who banded together during the 17th and 18th centuries to fight the island's British colonial rulers."(p. 23)

Garvey descended from a line of anti-colonial struggle. The British slaves killed off all the indigenous Arawak natives and then kidnapped Africans and used them as slave labor in their plantations all over Jamaica. Garvey's relatives were among those who resisted the oppressor.

Because of his father's profession and his family being landowners, Garvey was educated in public school as well as by tutors, and took advantage of his father's private library which was well stocked with books, newspapers, and magazines. This was at a time when most Black people in Jamaica received little to no education. At the age of 15 Garvey went on to work as a printer's apprentice, and by age 20 he was a master printer, a skill which he would put to use later in his propaganda efforts.

Garvey became politicized after moving to Kingston and seeing the inequality and oppression of Blacks. It was in Kingston where he joined his first workers' strike at the print shop where he worked to protest low wages. At age 22 Garvey joined a group called the "National Club" that strove for better treatment of Blacks and agitated against British colonialism. He immediately began working on the national club's organ Our Own, which led him to launch his own publication called Garvey's Watchman. Garvey's Watchman didn't last very long, but made clear his real purpose and increased his interest in political organizing.

With big plans and little money Garvey became a migrant worker and set off for Costa Rica in 1910. Garvey's thoughts were on Blacks in Jamaica, but in Costa Rica he saw horrible treatment of Black workers in his first job for United Fruit. United Fruit is a U.$.-controlled company that has long wreaked havoc on Latin America. It has left a bloody trail in its support of brutal dictators while ensuring workers' rights are silenced with often deadly results.

The book explains how Garvey's first job at a banana plantation quickly led him to fight for workers, even launching a newspaper called La Nacionale (The National) that expressed workers' rights. It wasn't too effective as most of the workers were illiterate, so these efforts did not get very far.

After traveling to several Latin American nations and returning to Jamaica, at age 23, Garvey set sail to England. In England, he again faced poor work conditions and discrimination. Garvey finally realized that everywhere he went, regardless of the country, Blacks experienced oppression. In England he attended college where he met other Blacks who promoted Pan-Africanism. The Pan-African Movement was created in the 1800s. This was a time when British colonialism held many Black nations as colonies and the Pan-African movement sought to create Black nations that were governed by Blacks. The idea was to take Africa back for Africans.

In 1913 Garvey began work for Duse Mohammed Ali, publisher of African Times which promoted the rights of Black people. This, Lawler explains, allowed Garvey to mingle with the movers and shakers of the Pan-African movement, as most of them wrote for African Times.

The author writes that after reading Booker T. Washington's book Up From Slavery Garvey "found his purpose." Washington was a known integrationist who believed Black people should not protest racism, and instead that eventually the white nation would accept Black people. Many of the more progressive Black leaders of this period denounced Booker T. as an Uncle Tom.

In this book we read about Garvey creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. UNIA was to work to unite and improve Jamaican Black people's socio-economic conditions while promoting the anti-colonial struggles of Africa.

The author states about Garvey, "Like Booker T. Washington, he believed that until the Black workers became committed to self improvement, they would be looked down upon by whites."(p. 57)

The author implies that Black people can work within the oppressor nation's systems, and claims this will resolve racism from the oppressor. This system of thinking misses identifying the root of one's oppression. To blame the oppressed is to be an apologist for the oppressor nation and this thinking will never lead to the liberation that Garvey was lookiing for.

I also found it surprising that Garvey seemed to rely on religion as a savior. For instance, the author quotes Garvey as speaking on what helped to better himself, "Nobody helped me toward that objective except my own mind and God's good will."(p. 59) Garvey was also known to organize religious meetings as the author reminds us. The book suffers in that the author offers many quotes from Garvey and others but gives no footnotes as to where these quotes are coming from; this makes many of the quotes seem suspect.

In 1916 Garvey arrived in Amerika and found in Harlem a more receptive audience to UNIA than in Jamaica where UNIA only gained under 100 members and financially was unable to launch any independent institutions.

Garvey soon helped form a New York chapter of UNIA along with a newspaper Negro World, which served as UNIA's platform. The UNIA's motto was "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," thus it was steeped in a metaphysical approach about what would free Black people.

In 1919 Garvey founded a shipping company called "Black Star Line." This was created with the intent to obtain Black "economic independence." Garvey said, with regard to the Black Star line, "Our economic condition seems, to a great extent, to affect our general status... be not deceived wealth is strength, wealth is power, wealth is justice, is liberty, is real human rights."(p. 112) Spoken like a true capitalist.

It becomes apparent in this book that Garvey believed Black capitalism would liberate Black people from the hardships he had witnessed worldwide. He believed creating and then monopolizing on "Black industries," UNIA could supply Black people with furniture and other goods in South and Central America, as well as the West Indies and beyond. Garvey encouraged all Black people to invest in UNIA as a step toward liberating themselves from racism.

In 1922 Garvey was arrested for mail fraud in soliciting investors for the Black Star Line which had begun to lose business as ships were lost and investors became suspicious. Garvey was convicted and sent to prison for a couple of years. Upon release he was deported back to Jamaica where he attempted to rebuild UNIA. After poor results he moved back to England to start up a UNIA chapter and it was during this time that a rift was created between the New York chapter and Garvey himself, which helped to tarnish UNIA more. Garvey died in England on June 10, 1940 at age 53. Although he died in poverty his death would bring him a renewed notoriety in Jamaica and worldwide.

Throughout the book neither socialism nor communism was mentioned once! I found this odd as this was a time when Russia had just been liberated under Lenin's leadership, but then Garvey was not a socialist. Without socialism a people will continue to be oppressed even if governed by one's own people. The masses of people will simply be people oppressed by their own bourgeoisie. This is bourgeois nationalism, or as Huey Newton coined it, pork chop nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism which install socialism once a nation is liberated, thus ensuring the bourgeois and other capitalist roaders do not get the chance to derail the revolution.

Garvey did leave a lasting impression on the Black nation in Amerika. Malcolm X's father was a Garveyite so Malcolm obviously grew up in Garvey thought. On the end it can be said Garvey helped to develop more progressive thought than his own. This book is worth reading as a basic intro to Marcus Garvey's political work, but it is important to note it does not include Garvey's own writings. Those researching the historical development of New Afrikans will find some value in this book.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Aztlan/Chicano] [Culture]
expand

Book Review: The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control

The Cristal Experiment: A Chicano Struggle for Community Control
by Armando Navarro
377 pages
University of Wisconsin Press
1998


Cristal Experiment

This book discusses two occasions where [email protected] struggled to control local politics. The first occasion was in 1963 at a time when the "Civil Rights Movement" was in full swing and the second was in 1970 when the slogan "Chicano Power" was popular. The "Cristal Experiment" occurred in Cristal City, Texas. "Cristal" was the Spanish name that [email protected] gave to this city. There were different methods employed in the struggle for community control. What was interesting in the 1963 struggle was that it highlighted the class struggle within Aztlan. When the [email protected] candidates were campaigning, the [email protected] middle class did not take part, or if they did vote they voted for the white politician. So here was a situation where [email protected] from the barrios were for the first time attempting to take community control and control the city council and yet the Chicano petty bourgeoisie sided with the oppressor. This is a lesson for those seeking real transformation that goes deeper than reforms: if the petty bourgeoisie are in a similar future position, many would side with the oppressors because their class interests are firmly in imperialism's pocket.

There was also a distinction in the two "electoral revolts" in that the 1963 struggle was spearheaded by the Chicano leader Juan Cornejo who, with an 8th grade education, mostly used his local popularity. His goals were to get elected and help Raza, but this struggle was limited and reformist at best. The second "electoral revolt" was spearheaded by the politically conscious Jose Angel Guitierrez who, at the time of the 1970 struggle for community control, was studying for his doctoral degree in political science.

Guitierrez displays some of his erroneous ideology when he likens colonialism to communism. Specifically he is quoted by the author as stating: "colonialism is there in South Texas and it's comparable to some of the stable dictatorships of Latin America such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic and pre-Castro Cuba... That's what we're trying to fight because colonialism, like communism, is the control of many by a few."(p. 75)

This comparison highlights the fact that although Gutierrez was an anti-colonialist, in many ways he took on colonial beliefs when it came to external belief systems outside of U.$. academia. He displays the effects of U.S. Anti-communist propaganda where the ridiculous notion is put forward that colonialism and communism are seen as the same. If Guitierrez had done as much studying of communism as he did of Amerikan political science he would have learned that communism is a stage of social development where there is no more "control" of one group over another. Communism has never been reached yet in the world, although there have been socialist governments throughout the years. But his comment defines not only his thought – because he was a leading factor of the struggle for community control in Cristal – but that of La Raza Unida Party (RUP) and what was being pushed in 1970 during this "electoral revolt." It was reformist at heart and did not strive to overthrow U.$. imperialism or capitalism per se. It appeared to be fine with capitalism so long as brown dollars stayed in brown hands. This is bourgeois nationalism; a dead end which merely replaces a white exploiter with a brown one.

There were some positive aspects to [email protected] taking control of Cristal's city politics. One example that was subjectively pleasing was when in 1971 the city's exclusively white country club was shut down by the [email protected] city council citing discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights act. When the white country club members won in court, however the city then exercised eminent domain to confiscate the land of the country club and convert it to public housing among other things. This is something that [email protected] have been dealing with since 1836 in Texas, and 1848 throughout Aztlan, when our nation became occupied by Amerika, only it was [email protected] always struggling against the city. So it was pleasing to see [email protected] acquiring small forms of justice, if only temporarily.

I did enjoy the change in curriculum that occurred as a result of the RUP's "peaceful revolution." Full [email protected] studies were incorporated into the school curriculum, things like history, politics, and art were all [email protected] or taught from the [email protected] experience. Even the music used by the high school band was changed to include corridos and ranchera music. In this way the schools were guiding the youth toward the [email protected] nation, rather than away from the nation as it is today in Amerikan schools. The author describes how the band members would, in formation, use a clenched fist salute. Football players in the high school would also raise a clenched fist whenever they scored a touchdown.(p. 232) The youth were being revolutionized.

The way the author sums up 1980 could be describing 2014 when he said: "The bottom line was that in 1980 Mexicanos still suffered an internal-colonial status dependent on state and federal mechanisms, which were controlled by whites. The Mexicano community essentially was left to fend for itself. People were increasingly alienated, disorganized, and lacking leadership." Although today's conditions still have the [email protected] nation existing as an internal semi-colony and the mechanisms Navarro discusses are controlled by Amerikans, I don't believe simply putting [email protected] in control of U.$. "mechanisms" will solve things. Socialism which puts people before profits will be what helps resolve our situation.

Today Cristal has been left to the capitalist wolves. As of 1990, 40% of the homes in Cristal did not have proper plumbing, almost half of the population was on food stamps, and [email protected] studies was replaced with "American studies."

The author makes clear that [email protected] exist as an internal colony and that we do need to pick up where the past [email protected] movement left off. He says we need a new movement and I agree. Let us begin to rebuild the [email protected] nation in our quest for independence. But this will take more than creating community control within U.$. imperialism; it means smashing capitalism-imperialism and replacing it with socialism. Only then can we be free.

chain
[Aztlan/Chicano] [Gender]
expand

[email protected] Must Fight Gender Oppression

Free Aztlan Sunglasses
As a prisoner who has been studying revolution and theory for some years now I must admit that even for the most politically conscious prisoner, the issue of gender oppression is not as clear as it should be. Part of the problem, at least in my opinion, is that gender issues are largely taboo topics within prisons and this is a reflection of the grip of patriarchal culture and backwardness which plagues these dungeons.

For those of us attempting to de-colonize not just our own minds but also the minds of our fellow prisoners, it is necessary to understand what gender oppression entails. It seems ridiculous to learn about uprisings and liberation struggles without learning who was liberated. Our aim should be to discover how all of society was freed, not just how men were freed, or how a certain gender was freed. Consciousness means we become educated in more than gun battles or our people's history. It means we understand people and the struggles they go through because in one way or another we are part of this struggle.

There should be no part of society that we do not understand. Gender issues are a part of our society so we should understand them fully. But this takes us going outside our comfort zone.

Homosexuals and trans people will continue to exist even if some don't like it or people don't talk about it. Just like biological wimmin will continue to exist, or men for that matter. Not understanding a phenomenon will not make it change or disappear. Rather by not understanding something we usually only react to it in the wrong way, which only helps the oppressor.

Having been born and raised in a colonial-patriarchal-capitalist society, like most other prisoners I have gone about my life unaware of the realities of gender issues. An oppressive society works hard to keep our minds off the tough issues and even shapes the gender roles the way they want people to follow them to reinforce their hold on power. If we don't make an effort to understand our social training, we simply grow up lining up to the role capitalist society has laid out for us; what they say is right.

There are many elements of gender oppression, for example "male chauvinism." There is such a thing as "gender chauvinism" where one gender believes it is above another and as a result it will deny other genders of their rights. Gender oppression has existed since the birth of classes. Males took control of capital ownership from the beginning and the institution of patriarchy has simply been strengthened with heterosexual males at the top ever since. It is a social structure built on oppression just as vile as racism.

As I researched the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 70s I saw two things that were tied to one another. One was how there was a large current within the movements which was stuck in bourgeois nationalism, meaning it was all for the Chicano movement but was not anti-imperialist or even anti-capitalist. This was a shortcoming. But the other thing was many back then were homophobic and male chauvinist, and these two things fed off each other and served as a host for the other to exist and thrive.

The interconnections between gender oppression and class oppression are extensive. They, along with national oppression, are what keeps Amerikkka existing. Today's [email protected] movement learns from the past and we move forward combating gender oppression any way we can. Aztlán will not be freed without all [email protected] being free, including those oppressed because of their gender.

Gender is tied to the social reality in which we exist and I agree with those who argue that to snip the cord between gender and social reality is a metaphysical notion. We cannot expect to transform gender oppression without transforming society.

As prisoners we need to change the perception of male-dominated struggle. Even in the prison movement, which is struggling for prisoners/humyn rights, many believe it is a male prisoner thing. In reality, other genders are untapped and yet to be harnessed and set free to help lead our efforts within U.$. prisons.

If we look to the history of governments we find that nowhere was it possible to combat gender oppression with quicker results than in Mao's China. In 1976 when Mao died wimmin were about 22% of the deputies and about 25% of the standing committee of the National People's Congress which was the highest governmental body at the time in China. After Mao's death these numbers were reduced greatly. This was a period when wimmin in the U.S. Congress were about 1%!

When taking all this into account, with gender oppression existing in the United Snakes, it's important that we also understand that there is also a First World gender privilege which, like the worker elites, benefit just by living within U.S. borders. Wimmin in the First World, of all nationalities, enjoy a privilege that does not exist in the Third World. But of all First World wimmin, white Amerikans still enjoy the most privilege in the First World, just like their white worker counterparts. Complete gender equality will come when we reach communism, and until then we need to make a conscious effort to combat gender oppression within our struggles for liberation.

chain
[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 41]
expand

(Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs

Pelican Bay Validation
One of the most damaging aspects of U.S. prisons today is the control units. Control units and solitary confinement are the state's biggest guns in their torturous arsenal. Control units are called SHU, SMU, CMU and a variety of other names depending on what state one is in, but they all work to employ torture on the captives held therein.

When we look to the history of the U.S. prison system we find that the oppressed nations held within have always suffered greatly at the hands of Amerikkka. Prisoners in the United $tates have suffered unpaid labor, lynchings, beatings, floggings and assassinations to name a few. Although much of this still continues — at times more concealed and shrouded than in the past — there are other new methods of national oppression which are employed in this new era of United States domination. I suspect that post-Obama (so-called "post-racial Amerikkka") we will continue to see more of these concealed forms of oppression which inflict the same harm, but which slip through under the radar of the average First World citizen. This makes liberals feel warm and cozy and allows them to believe "progress" is obtainable in the imperialist center.

One such method employed on prisoners in dungeons within the United Snakes is the use of the control unit. The control unit is a modern-day torture chamber, but it cannot be advertised as a lethal killer of mostly Brown or Black minds because the liberals might even turn their noses up at such a revelation. Instead the public must be told that control units are only used on incorrigibles, savages, foreigners, gang members or the sensationalized terrorists.

Who is Locked in Control Units?

Like our ancestors who may have been asked what got the shackle around their ankle, what got them branded with their owner's name on their face, or what got that noose wrapped around their necks, our answer, like theirs, is that it is the nature of our oppressor to seek to eliminate all rebels and revolutionaries who oppose the oppressor nation. This is ultimately what places one in a control unit.

Of course we are up against a sophisticated oppressor nation and the placement of prisoners in control units is wrapped in flowery language. We are told it is for "gang activity" or a "threat to the safety and security of the institution." I am sometimes given a chrono stating I'm "actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy that threatens the institution, staff and other prisoners." This to the untrained mind may sound like justification for torture. Not only is this character assassination not true, but nothing justifies torture, absolutely nothing!

It was only after I began to write articles that spoke up for prisoners, and began filing appeals and lawsuits on behalf of all prisoners, that I was targeted for placement in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU). In short, when I began to resist state repression was when I was isolated in solitary confinement. I was allowed by the state to commit minor crimes and fight other prisoners, until I started to become politically conscious. I am not alone.

Most who work to advance and organize their nation, speak up on behalf of others, or engage in jailhouse lawyering will end up in a control unit. This is a common practice in colonized society: those who resist and who are politically influential are imprisoned under a colonial oppressor.

Why Does the State Have a Validation Process?

Our oppressor must devise ways of placing us in control units, and in California it uses the validation process. The validation process attempts to lend a legal aura to torture and national oppression by claiming to undergo a fair and unbiased process to validate someone as a "gang affiliate." This process is about as unbiased as asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The fact that the validation process continues to use things as ridiculous as a birthday card, an Aztec drawing, or a book written by George Jackson as evidence of gang activity proves that there is nothing unbiased about this validation process. The kourt cases which supposedly stopped the prison from using these items show how much of a joke the injustice system is and how much it really is an extension of an oppressive state. Our victories will never come from massa's kourthouse.

The validation system helps pacify prisoners into thinking that there is a legitimate process they are undergoing to end the torture. That somehow if we are patient and do as we are told that we might get out of the SHU. This of course is ludicrous. We will stay in SHU until our oppressor feels we no longer resist, until they feel we are broken. Sometimes they want to train their agents and attempt to capture all who associate with us out on the mainline, as if we were live bait. But so long as we remain resistant to their oppression, we will not be allowed to freely associate with others. The validation process only works to uphold our national oppression.

The Step Down Program is More Repression

When we go to committee in California SHUs we are given a form called the "CDCR Advisement of Expectations." This form gives a list of supposed STG behavior which includes "participating in STG group exercise, using gestures, handshakes, possession of artwork with STG symbols." Note that we are not informed what STG symbols are.

We basically cannot socialize with anyone, or we might be accused of STG behavior. We are not told who is validated as part of a STG or given any information about STG behavior. We are simply told we better not associate with STGs or engage in their behavior. The state will decide if we are behaving properly and allowed to proceed in the Step Down Program. They claim they are the experts.

I have heard of some being put on this "Step Down" Program, but the state is picking and choosing who they put in the program. In my opinion it is a pacification program and I am not going to participate in it. Participation masks the oppression of the state while also allowing them to attempt to coerce me and any participants of being guilty, of confessing guilt, even if only guilty of what they deem to be incorrect thoughts.

Recent news of a federal class action lawsuit challenging policies and conditions at the Pelican Bay SHU is welcome and something we all should be following. Ashker et al. v. Governor of California et al., No. C 09-05796 claims that being held for more than ten years in SHU is cruel and unusual punishment and that the validation process is a violation of due process.(1) But here's the kicker: if you have joined the Step Down Program you are not included in this class action. So already we see how the new Step Down Program is serving the state by making it more difficult for prisoners to challenge their conditions.

My behavior is no more incorrect today than it was the first day I was captured and housed in the SHU. The state will not be let off the hook and I refuse to step down from resisting oppression. The Step Down Program continues the same oppression that the validation process started: it attempts to justify what the state is doing to the oppressed nations.

What will End the Validation/Step Down Program?

The Step Down Program is not only similar to the validation process, but here in California many prisons are still using both methods, so we need to end them both.

From the beginning I saw the need to struggle for closing the SHU. From the first hunger strike I knew that if we don't close the SHU altogether, the state will just have us fighting the same problem under new names for decades via strikes/lawsuits. This will never accomplish our goal. We need to keep all justifications for the use of solitary confinement in our scope. No matter why someone is held in solitary confinement, it is always torture and it should always be opposed.

At the same time we have made improvements in many prisoners' lives and some have gotten out of SHU, and I am happy for this. However validation and Step Down Programs will keep us locked in the SHUs until we can make resistance to oppression a hip and common thing. When hunger strikes occur more often than once every ten years, and peaceful protests are as frequent as spring cleaning, then maybe we will finally end validation/step down programs.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Most civilians would say that controlling gang violence is a good thing, and that perspective is exactly what the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is relying on for its gang validation and Step Down Programs. The assumption is that all groups classified as gangs are engaged in criminal activity, and anyone in contact with the gang must be a member.

Let's put aside for now the reality that the U.$. military and police force is the biggest gang in world history. If anyone is organized in criminal activity and terrorism, it's them. That any U.$. government agency claims to be against gang activity without being critical of itself is just a joke.

The entities identified as gangs by the CDCR include correspondence study groups such as the William L. Nolen Mentorship Program. In Texas, Under Lock & Key is cited as a security threat group, despite actually being a newspaper. The National Gang Crime Research Center recently published a report which included the Maoist Internationalist Movement as a potential threat to prison security. It is obvious that the gang label is not used for criminal, but instead political, reasons.

Lumpen organizations that are not necessarily revolutionary are also targeted as gangs, whether or not they break U.$. laws. The real threat is not the activities that the lumpen are engaged in, but that they have any level of unity and organization. STG labels and Step Down Programs criminialize the association, not actual crime.

The U.$. government will do everything it can to protect its international hegemony. Controlling any potentially subversive population within its borders, especially the internal semi-colonies, is a high priority, no matter how much they dress it up with fancy titles and administrative process.


1. to receive updates on the class action lawsuit write to:
Pelican Bay Class Action
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
201 Redwood Shores Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065-1134

chain
[Middle East] [Militarism]
expand

Viva Palestine Libre: Fight I$raeli Terrorism

The bombing taking place in Palestine is beyond words and has changed my view of Israel forever, from a settler state to a terroristic state. As of today over 1,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel. The majority of those being blown to pieces have been civilians and children as well as the elderly. This atrocity has gone on without a peep from the U.S. imperialist state media mouthpieces, and criticism about these acts have been slim in the corporate media, but this is no surprise.

I have been following, as best as I could, the Israeli war on Palestine from this death kamp called Pelican Bay SHU, and what I have found is that Israel has been targeting children and hospitals. People are literally buried in their homes and then the Israelis watch and wait until other people come out to help dig these children out of the rubble and they are shot by snipers. The Israeli military is turning Palestinian homes into sniper nests as the Palestinians are driven out. They are sniping wimmin and children in order to inflict terror into the lives of the Palestinians who refuse to give up their struggle for liberation.

I have drawn much strength from the Palestinians and I learn from their concrete examples of what struggling against an occupier, a terroristic settler state, really looks like. I think that the whole world is learning what resistance really looks like, the Palestinians today are the example we can learn from. They are cut off economically and yet they find ways to fight against tanks and missiles, while starving and barefoot with nothing more than an AK and a clenched fist.

The terroristic state of Israel is a bold example of settlerism which needs to be excised from humynity. People in Palestine are being held hostage and bombed at will. But the majority who are being slaughtered are civilians and yet the Amerikkkan parasites remain silent. They are mostly silent because in many ways the terroristic state of Israel is a mirror reflection of the terroristic state of Amerikkka. We are not yet attacked on this scale in the U.S., but the internal semi-colonies are having their lands occupied and we are being assassinated selectively. Amerikkka uses soft terror by SHU torture, death row and the pigs, while in Palestine it is the missile, tanks and drones slaughtering the people.

These terrorist acts unleashed by Israeli dogs are what inspires me to help spread the word that Palestine must be free. This onslaught has educated me in ways that my years of study has been unable to accomplish. After seeing the Israeli's barbaric treatment of Palestine all I have to say is never again will Palestine stand alone in fighting settlerism.

Viva Palestine Libre!

chain
[Organizing] [Theory] [ULK Issue 38]
expand

Resolving Contradictions, Developing Cadre for a Protracted Struggle

I had some thoughts on an article that i read in ULK 37 entitled "Elevate the Prison Struggle Beyond Day to Day Goals". In this article a comrade voiced the frustration of the disarray or disfuction of the movement. I fully understand this.

There are times when i get frustrated at those who just don't get it. What seems like it is crystal clear to me is not grasped by so many. But remember this is what separates levels of consciousness. We have to remember most of us were knuckleheads at one time; at least i was. And i'm sure those wiser than me were stressed out about me as well. We don't have to like it, but we do have to understand it if we ever seek to change it. I must know that what i understand and grasp may not be the same for others, but people develop consciously at different rates, even two cellmates will not be totally on the same level.

A protracted struggle is not simply performing and being victorious, rather it is a long drawn out struggle. It does not matter what one is struggling for. If i am trying to get better health care or healthier food to eat and i am up against a medical corporation or a prison policy that prevents me from getting what i want, it will be a struggle. We are not talking about just filing a grievance or refusing to go back in my cell, we are talking about possibly YEARS of struggle.

One of the things a protracted struggle means is that it will be long and rough. Not only that but it is a stop and go struggle where, in between efforts for human rights when there is "down time," the people use this time to sharpen up educationally and learn more about the human rights they are shooting for by studying similar historical struggles. A protracted struggle then is struggle first in the physical realm THEN in the ideological realm so that the people are struggling - preparing - struggling.

Disarray and disfunction are signs of a lack of political education and nothing more. This is why there is a great important necessity for political education and building cadre. The lack of cadre in any group, prison or organization will be the difference between obtaining human rights or settling for a bigger variety of cookies on commissary; of the revolution moving closer to reality or being extinguished.

Mao spoke of cadre and summed it up as follows:

"In order to guarantee that our party and country do not change their color, we must not only have a correct line and correct policies but must train and bring up millions of successors who will carry on the cause of proletarian revolution.

"In the final analysis, the question of training successors for the revolutionary cause of the proletariat is one of whether or not there will be people who can carry on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary cause started by the older generation of proletarian revolutionaries, whether or not the leadership of our party and state will remain in the hands of proletarian revolutionaries, whether or not our descendents will continue to march along the correct road laid down by Marxism-Leninism, or, in other words, whether or not we can successfully prevent the emergence of Kruschev's revisionism in China. In short, it is an extremely important question, a matter of life and death for our party and our country. It is a question of fundamental importance to the proletarian revolutionary cause for a hundred, a thousand, nay ten thousand years. Basing themselves on the changes in the Soviet Union, the imperialist prophets are pinning their hopes of "peaceful evolution" on the third or fourth generation of the Chinese party. We must shatter these imperialist prophecies. From our highest organizations down to the grass-roots, we must everywhere give constant attention to the training and upbringing of sucessors to the revolutionary cause."(1)

Here Mao is referring to how a bourgeoisie arose within the Bolshevik Party, taking the Soviet Union down the revisionist road after Stalin's death. The younger generations, not having a deep enough understanding of revolutionary science allowed such preposterous ideas as a peaceful evolution from capitalism to communism to be promoted and accepted as guiding principles. Mao's solution to this was the Cultural Revolution, which advanced socialism to its furthest stage of development to date. It is not good enough for the wise, the vets, the double O.G.s to be up on game as far as what it means to come together in peace and struggling for human rights. It's important that the young buck must also be educated on the importance of peace and the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Young people must be taught why human rights are important and what ways to acquire human rights.

What many forget is education comes in many forms, conversing with someone about social justice can be just as effective as passing a political newsletter down the tier. Sharing an article one tailored for a specific bunch can be just as effective as giving a fiery speech on the tier and, well, doing all of the above is good too. Without one studying him/herself one is unable to learn ways to improve one's environment and instead is left in a chaotic atmosphere which never moves forward.

Educating those who never listened to anyone in their life is no walk in the park. I get this. The thing is i know it must be done.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This essay is a good introduction to the focus of this issue of Under Lock & Key, which is an update on the theory and practice of building the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Cipactli gives us some good theory to chew on here, but we would not go so far as to say that problems in the movement are "signs of a lack of political education and nothing more." While every prisoner is oppressed by the same state, there are contradictions within the imprisoned lumpen that contribute to disorder and conflict. Some of these contradictions may not be resolved by education. These contradictions must be recognized, it must be determined whether or not they are contradictions among the people and they must be pushed to resolution. Hashing this out is a big part of the process of building an effective united front. These are tasks that we are working with USW leaders to take on in addition to outreach and education work. At the same time these tasks will serve to train and develop leaders within USW.


Notes: 1. Mao Zedong, "On Kruschev's Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons for the World" (14 July 1964).

chain
[Organizing] [United Front] [California] [ULK Issue 38]
expand

Planning for September 9 Solidarity Day

Like in past years, I will begin to plan a few months ahead of time for the revolutionary festival of September 9. This day is a special one which marks the day when the United Front for Peace in Prisons was given its first concrete example in these dungeons. I attempt to have educational study materials available on this day, which usually includes poetry, short stories or articles, and of course some art if possible.

In the past I helped read articles and poetry on the tier which reflected on prisons and what it means to be prisoners. So many times people forget that what we experience is unbridled oppression and instead think that we somehow brought it upon ourselves. This backwards thinking only helps to solidify our own mental captivity! This day helps to refocus our attention of who we are as people and what is the path forward for the next year in our struggle for humyn rights in these dungeons.

I have heard different ways of observing this day, from having an open line on the tier where folks get a certain "air time" to share their ideas on what they feel will move the humyn rights struggle forward. Others talk about creating conscious rap to be performed on the tier. The main thing I hear is folks being ready to promote peace in prison. It is a time to help to heal the people outside of state influence.


MIM(Prisons) adds: September 9 will be the third annual United Front for Peace in Prisons solidarity demonstration. This demonstration coincides with the anniversary of the Attica uprising. On this day prisoners should create ways to work towards greater peace among the prison population. We will cease all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities regardless of set, race, custody, gender, religion or other division. Some will fast, engage in solidarity organizing, and carry out educational work. Start planning now for your September 9 solidarity day.

chain