Under Lock & Key Issue 6 - January 2009

Under Lock & Key

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[Police Brutality] [Oscar Grant] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Oakland Stands Up

At night I see your light through my bedroom window
But I ain't got shit but the pad and pencil
I can't wait till I hear you say, " I'm going down, mayday, mayday"
I'm gonna clown 'cause every time that the pigs have got me
—from Ghetto Bird by Ice Cube

Oakland, California is not quite like Los Angeles. Having to fall asleep to the sound of helicopters overhead night after night is not routine. But in the last week that changed with three nights of uprisings and demonstrations in response to the murder of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old Black man who was shot in the back by a cop while face down on the ground.

Chemical warfare, tasers, armored vehicles with mounted guns and numerous helicopters were used by the city of Oakland against its residents the first night of the uprising. Over 100 people were arrested for various trumped up charges. Those who were not bailed out have already been given hearings where 21 of 24 people had their charges dismissed. One of the 3 remaining charges is a felony arson charge against JR, the Minister of Information for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, indicating clear political motivations behind these arrests. Last night another couple dozen people were arrested. It took 2 weeks to arrest someone who shot a man in the back, but the OPD saw it as appropriate to jail over 130 people, most, if not all, of whom have no substantiated charges.

Just as they tried to do the night of the murder, Oakland pigs confiscated all cameras and cell phones from those arrested. Some who were arrested have not got their cameras back and others have gotten theirs back with the material erased from them. Numerous people videotaped the shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve, leading pigs to go around seizing peoples' cell phones in an attempt to destroy evidence.

JR is one of many who reported being rushed and tackled by police while merely standing on a downtown street during the demonstrations. In another instance, a group of pigs marched across the street towards a group of protestors when one of the thugs approached a Black youth and shoved him in the chest. The pigs waited for a response and then seized the kid, leading to a scuffle between the two groups followed by the youth running away.

After the roundups the first night, JR reported, "Behind enemy lines, the inmates at Santa Rita put their fists in the air, smiled, cheered and gave us dap when we told them that we were being held captive because we were in the streets during the rebellion. Mexicans were congratulating Blacks, Blacks were congratulating whites, Norteños (a Latino street organization) were congratulating Bloods (a Southern Cali street organization), who are their rivals, for their participation in fighting the police and the city for justice against police terrorism."(1) In our next issue of Under Lock & Key we will focus on the question of peace between lumpen organizations. Practice demonstrates that great injustice is often the only thing that can undo the work the pigs do to keep oppressed youth at each others' throats.

As many have pointed out, this case has gotten so much attention because it was so blatant and it was videotaped by numerous people. The sick part is that many people are still saying things like, "you don't know what you'd do in a high pressure situation like that" and that the cop "has already suffered enough." The guy shot an unarmed persyn in the back while he was on the ground!

The only way to do justice to Oscar Grant is to prevent incidents like this again in the future, which requires eliminating the biggest and deadliest gang plaguing the streets of cities across the united $tates - the pigs. While this was going on in Oakland, comrades in New York were organizing a demonstration for Justice for Imam Morales, who was killed by the NYPD on September 24th, 2008. Two other Black men were killed by the pigs on New Year's Eve, the night Oscar was shot in cold blood. We can keep adding to the list of names, or we can stop the perpetrators.

The movement for justice for Oscar Grant has demonstrated the pitfalls of coalition based organizing and the need for a vanguard organization to provide leadership.(2) There has been a lot of talk about the Panthers in the last couple weeks, and their presence is missed. Without the vanguard party, a coalition of interested parties have decided to work together. To do so requires reducing the coalition to the lowest common denominator, and in this country in this time, that's not very good. One of the leaders of the the coalition linked the recent murder charges brought against the cop who shot Oscar to the new hope that comes with a Black man in the white house. Such hopefulness ignores the real reason why the police exist, and why their presence is so strong in certain communities.

MIM(Prisons) joins in the demand for criminal prosecution of the pig who killed Oscar Grant. But we don't have to sit down with the state to make this demand. The city is clearly responding to the demonstrations in the street, first when it made a statement to quell the first uprising after a week of silence and then when it arrested the shooter the night before the last demonstration. Lesson 1: The people can exert power independent of the state.

Ain't shit changed cuz Obama in the house.
O P D had 15 murders, man
that's all we know about
cuz that's all that we heard of
all the peckerwoods better hide tonight,
cuz my city frustrated, they 'gon riot tonight.
I don't condone the riots
cuz we burnin' down our own shit.
But I ain't mad at them cop cars that they hit.
—from My Life, a tribute to Oscar Grant by Mistah F.A.B.

As all this goes down, there has been much debate in the streets about what is OK to smash and burn, if anything. The smashed windows and burning cars are only the expression of anger towards the pigs. It is out of fear and a sense of powerlessness that people cannot attack the object of their anger and lash out on inanimate objects instead. We don't condone random property destruction as a tactic for change, but if a real solution is to come of all this, it is not going to come from those who are working within the capitalist state. Anarchists want to expand the actions of the more radical sections of the demonstrations, while focusing on more "corporate" targets. But nights of Black youth roving the streets among groups of riot cops, being videotaped and snatched to prison cannot continue much longer. Lesson 2: The spontaneous youth must come together and exert their power in more meaningful ways, within the context of national liberation struggles and anti-imperialism.

They discover that the success of the struggle presupposes clear objectives, a definite methodology and above all the need for the mass of the people to realize that their unorganized efforts can only be a temporary dynamic... you'll never overthrow the terrible enemy machine, and you won't change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough.
—from Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

notes: (1) Oakland rebellion: Eyewitness report by POCC Minister of Information JR. http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/oakland-rebellion-eyewitness-report-by-pocc-minister-of-information-jr/, see sfbayview.com to donate to JR's legal defense
(2) see MIM Theory 14: United Front and What is MIM?

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
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ULK6 Intro: The Gender Issue

This issue of Under Lock and Key focuses on the topic of gender. Usually when people think about gender oppression they think in the black and white terms of wimmin being oppressed and men being in power. But the reality is a lot more complex. For instance, in prisons, which overwhelmingly house men, gender oppression takes on a special form where men experience gender oppression regularly at the hands of male and female guards and at the hands of other prisoners.

Gender oppression is one component of imperialism, and it is a particularly difficult topic for those living in the First World where the majority enjoy gender privilege but also experience gender oppression. Overall MIM(Prisons) sees First World wimmin and men as mainly oppressors, not oppressed, when it comes to gender. Globally we find gender privilege in the Amerikan men who buy wives/prostitutes in other countries. This leisure time privilege is connected to economics, with men’s greater access to jobs and positions of power around the world. With First World wimmin we see gender privilege in the form of contraceptive testing on Third World wimmin and nannies who allow First World wimmin to raise healthy children while experiencing great leisure time. In addition, gender and economics intersect creating the ho relationship where First World wimmin benefit from their access to rich men thanks to closed borders. Pornography that elevates the white womyn also allows, what we call the “gender aristocracy,” to benefit from leisure time financially through the entertainment industry. While it’s clear that First World men have more gender privilege and power than First World wimmin, overall both are oppressors on a global scale relative to Third World men and wimmin. As a group, the First World of all genders are more united than ever in their exploitation of the rest of the world.

Yet, even within the U.$., there are groups that fall closer to the gender oppressed including those without citizenship, children and prisoners. In prisons, guards use their power to gain sexual access to prisoners (both male and female). And among prisoners there are some, generally sanctioned by the guards, who also enjoy sexual access to other prisoners. This sex between prisoners comes with a significant power differential because of the nature of imprisonment. That’s not to say that sex outside of prison is free of power. MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM position that no sex under the patriarchy can be fully consensual as long as there are power differentials between people. In other words, all sex is rape under patriarchy. There may be different types of coercion - the overt physical overpowering of someone is a very different kind of rape than the couple who both want to have sex. However, we can not downplay the importance of things like money, looks, education, political power, and other things which lead someone to “consent” to sex. Desire is fucked up under capitalism and we can’t pretend things are equal when they are not.

An article in Under Lock and Key #1 took an in depth look at gender and rape in prisons:
“To help sort out the gender status of biomale prisoners, a recent Department of Justice report gives us the surprising statistics that, “In State and Federal prisons, 65% of inmate victims of staff sexual misconduct and harassment were male, while 58% of staff perpetrators were female”. (Here we are discussing the 52% of reported sexual violence in prisons where the captor assaulted captive. The rest were inmate-on-inmate assaults, addressed more below.) (1) In the general population 97% of sexual violence reports are wimmin victims and the perpetrator is generally male (around 98%). The instance of female perpetrators is actually a higher rate in instances of assaults on males, estimated at around 14%. (2) Much higher than female assaults on wimmin, but nowhere near the 58% of assaults on prisoners of any biology.

“With 93% of the u.$. prison population being male, we would expect a much higher percentage of assaults to be against males than females, even if rates of assault for wimmin was higher. But assuming 97% of victimization is of bio-wimmin as it is on the street, you’d only get 29% of the absolute number of assaults being against men in prison. So we’re seeing a ratio of male to female victims on the order of 2 times the general population. In other words, if wimmin are five times as likely to be assaulted in prison than they are on the street, then men are 10 times as likely.

“Unfortunately, the study does not breakdown the statistics of female on male vs. female on female assaults. But even if we assume that all of the 35% of staff sexual assaults on wimmin in state and federal prisons are perpetrated by wimmin, that leaves another 23% of the perpetrators who are females attacking males (assuming one-to-one incidents, which was the vast majority). Even if you want to argue that no male guards ever sexually assault female prisoners, you see a significantly greater rate of bio-wimmin engaging in sexual violence against males in prison compared to the general population. Since female assaults on males in the general population are much higher than female assaults on females, we would be better off assuming the opposite. If we assume a proportional breakdown you’d be comparing 58% female perpetrators against bio-men in prison against the 14% on the street. If that weren’t bad enough, we must factor in that females are still only a minority of prison staff, accounting for 22% in the federal system. (3) So that 58% of assailants is coming from maybe a quarter of the staff that happen to be bio-wimmin. These are the statistics that back up our line on Lynndie England that it could have been any amerikkkan womyn sexually assaulting Iraqi bio-men. And if we acknowledge that Iraqis under occupation are much more powerless and oppressed than amerikan citizens, then these statistics speak even louder to say that amerikan bio-wimmin are the enemies of the oppressed.”

Just as the labor aristocracy usually outdoes the imperialists in its racist oppression, here we see an extreme example of the gender aristocracy outdoing men in gender oppression.

While discussing how to define gender that same article went on: “.....Prisoners (of both genders) and youth (of both genders) are reporting more sexual assaults than wimmin over all. If being young or incarcerated is really twice as risky as having female genitalia as the report rates suggest, then not only are there other considerations to determine someone’s gender status, but there are factors that are much more important than what genitalia a persyn is born with. Below we will see how age and incarceration intersect to create one of the most gender oppressed groups in the united $tates.

“MIM has established the basis for gender as purely gender in a persyn’s physical development, age and health status. Therefore, when nation and class are not major complicating factors, such as within the amerikan labor aristocracy, these are the basis for gender differences.

“However, the greatest differences in gender are found between the imperialist nations and the Third World people. Therefore when we talk about the spectrum of gender oppression we place most First Worlders on the male end of the spectrum, regardless of biology. We have demonstrated how First World bio-wimmin benefit by the patriarchy elsewhere. (4) The picture of bio-wimmin as sexual assailants in prisons above only adds to this argument....”

The fight against gender oppression must be waged directly in a battle against sexual assault and psycho-sexual warfare, and also as a part of the larger fight against imperialism because the patriarchy is intimately tied up with the capitalist system. In this issue we have an article about pornography in prison and why we oppose its censorship but at the same time we also oppose pornography in general. We take a global view comparing what some called the “feminism” of Sarah Palin with the real world slaughter of children in Gaza this month. We also have several responses to an article on psycho-sexual warfare in prisons that was printed in ULK4. That article inspired a lot of prisoners to write in about their experiences with the various ways that sex is used as an oppressive tool in the context of the prison system: guards paying for access to prisoners sexuality in various ways, guards manipulating prisoners by offering sex, guards using sex to pit prisoners against each other, and guards just using sex to straight up harass prisoners. Some of those stories appear in this issue.

The lumpen get a bad rap when it comes to gender for not fitting into pc-white cultural norms, which is exacerbated by white-owned entertainment companies that make their money selling images of the oppressed nations that exaggerate the negative to white consumers. The experiences of gender oppression faced by millions of oppressed nation men are an educational opportunity that we see far more potential in than a college course in so-called feminism or a “Take back the Night” rally. We welcome further responses and analysis on this topic and encourage our comrades who want to study this issue in depth to get a copy of the MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism.

Notes:
(1) U.S. Department of Justice. Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2006. August 2007. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/svrca06.htm
(2) Whealin Ph.D., Julia M. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet: Men and Sexual Trauma. http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/fs_male_sexual_assault.html?opm=1&rr=rr88&srt=d&echorr=true
(3) http://www.bop.gov/news/quick.jsp
(4) How does the gender aristocracy benefit? http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/gender/garistocracybenefits.html

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[Gender] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 6]
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Sexual harassment at women's prison in Missouri

I am writing you to report a misuse of power within the walls of the DOC. A tragedy between a woman of power and a woman without power.

I'm being held captive for 20 years at 85% in an institution where our biggest fear of sexual harassment not only lies at the feet of the male officers but also at the feet of a female officer. I'll admit we've had a few male officers disappear in my time due to sexual harassment, but nothing has ever been done to right the wrongs of this particular officer I'm speaking of, for fear of being locked in the hole for a long period of time for a formal investigation. Therefore no one has ever filed suit against her for her actions.

I recall my friend being searched one night after leaving the chow hall. No big deal except this officer ran her hands across my friend's very petite breasts. My friend told the officer what she had done and the officer laughed and said "you don't have any to touch."

Later that same evening, the officer caught my friend in the bathroom and used the fact that my friend was on room restriction for an excuse to make my friend strip out. The officer didn't follow the normal procedure and make my friend cough and squat. She just wanted to see her breasts. The officer has my friend grab her own nipples while the officer placed her hands over my friends hands to lift her breasts up, supposedly searching her for a cigarette or lighter. The whole ordeal was demeaning.

We brought the situation to the attention of the Sgt who was on duty and we were told that if we wanted to file charges against the officer she was going to file charges against my friend for assault because when my friend reenacted what had happened for the Sgt, my friend touched the Sgt's hand in the process, therefore end of story.

Both officers still work here and misuse their power. Someone has to do something or I fear it will never stop. I myself am risking hole time just by writing this letter to you but my outrage concerning this matter outweighs my fear of the hole so let my story be known.

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[Elections] [Texas] [ULK Issue 6]
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Response to ULK Obama article

Thank you for responding to my letter and sending me the copy of your newsletter. I found the articles very informative and inspiring. I also enjoyed the many letters from the various prisons around and was surprised how many of them spoke to issues I myself am concerned with.

I would like to point out here my agreement with the article about Barack Obama. I think the very prophesy of that article is already coming true. He promised "change" for Amerika, but look at the people he surrounds himself with. Look at the cabinet posts he has appointed. It is the same old inside Washington D.C. bunch, the same powers behind the scene supporting the same oppressive imperialism that keep the poor poor and abused. The hope that many felt would come by the election of a Black man to the presidency is raped by the realization that Amerika actually elected a "half-white man" to the presidency.

I am new to Marxist, Maoist philosophy, but I feel in my gut what these stand for, and I consider myself a thinking man. I am starved for information, so please keep me on your mailing list. And any books or literature you could send to help me understand more, will be greatly appreciated.

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[Control Units] [State Correctional Institution Camp Hill] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 6]
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Oppression at Pennsylvania's SMU

Oppression in Pennsylvania's plantation "Special Management Unit" is at an all time high. This is where the so-called worst of the worst convicts are sent, but it's not for any form of rehabilitation but rather to be abused. A lot of strong brothers are being physically and mentally abused in an attempt to break their fighting spirit. Note: the oppressors fear what they can not conquer.

It is said that all those of us who have the mental ability to organize the masses and structure any type of movement for the betterment of the oppressed peoples movement "need" to be locked down.

The abuse at SCI Camp Hill runs deep, to the point where it'll drive the weak crazy. The other day a brother (new arrival) split his own forehead open in an attempt to get transferred. He was taken to medical for 3 days and brought right back to the SMU. I personally have been experiencing a lot of abuse. I'm labeled by central office, under the Security Threat Group as a high ranking New York Blood. Officers use this to confiscate my literature, mail, photos and legal materials (all is labeled gang related).

We are not allowed to buy soap, deodorant, toothpaste, or lotion off of the commissary even if we have the proper funds in our accounts. Every time we request copies of any policies that tell us what we're allowed to have, we're told, 'oh you can't have that in the SMU.' Everything is considered a security risk at this concentration camp.

All other facilities allowed me to have MIM Notes except here. Officials don't follow publication procedures and take it upon themselves to determine what is and isn't allowed. I've filed a grievance on this and a number of violations here including health risks and I'm currently planning to file a class action suit with a few other comrades. Our ultimate goal is to get this concentration camp shut down.

We are currently working with a number of organizations who've been very supportive. I write so that everyone may know the seriousness of the situation. Officers beat brothers senseless in this control unit even if we're completely restrained, wearing cuffs, tether, shackles and restraint belt. This isn't rehabilitation at all but it sure is oppression at its worst! Still in all, we remain strong and focused on shutting this joint down!

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[Education] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Responses to ULK5

To my loyal solid freedom fighters. ULK5 has reached its destination safe and sound (to my hands). I must say this one really caught my eye. It's contents are enjoyable and very inspiring to say the least. First, I'd like to extend my thanks and appreciation to MIM for their unending support and dedication. You never fail to teach or elighten me on so many different levels. I can't wait to be set free and given my opportunitity to help and shine a light on the injustices of this corrupt system.

I'm pending validation right now so I can really identify with what was said in ULK. Obama changes nothing, Amerika can't see this point of view. I mean are they blind, in denial, or what? Especially when rappers, musicians, go out of their way to show support. I understand the dire need for change. But changing the face is not going to change the system. The comrade who wrote this article couldn't have said it better: "why is it that if Barrack Obama starts talking about the empowering of oppressed people in this country, he wouldn't stand a chance of becoming President?" Because that's the truth and a lot of people can't handle the truth.

And to CDC's name change, it's ridiculous, nothing but a lie. I'm up for parole in a matter of months. I've been down 10 years. What are they doing to help me prepare for society? Not a damn thing. Except find a way to oppress me even more by labeling me an active gang member and validating me as a prison gang member. All in an attempt to further hinder my so-called freedom once I depart from these gates.

Now I'd like to take a minute and respond to a New York prisoner's words. His is a response to ULK4. He sees the great need for struggle, this can't be stressed enough. We must be patient and humble. Do not let others actions or words disturb our peace and harmony. We need to stay focused on the big picture which would be true liberation. We must educate ourselves and learn rules, laws, and regulations. Even CDC's appeal system. I know it sounds crazy. The system sets up a system to hear their own grievances against them. I have no faith in it either from personal experience.

There is a way to work it, however, and that is get an outside organization to assist you. Send them copies and have them send them into wardens or overseers. You must have patience, build a paper trail, and document everything pertaining to said incident. My last citizen complaint took 4 months just to hear it on an informal level. The stalling in time is just a tactic CDC uses but don't be discouraged. Assist one another, teach and guide one another.

And to a Mississippi prisoner's Combatting Liberalism: very well spoke comrade. I aspire to put words together as you have. They truly inspired me. Reading this whole ULK was inspiring. It's words such as these that keeps that fire burning within to the fullest. I awake everyday eager to learn or teach somebody something new.

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[Abuse] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 6]
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Brutality in Pennsylvania

I was recently sent to the suicide observation cell due to a renegade C.O. I've always had problems with telling lies about me being suicidal. After 2 days of telling the proper people I wasn't suicidal, they called for a "cell entry team" to remove me from my cell by saying that I was still a danger to myself as well as others. The "cell entry team" was getting ready to enter my cell without cuffing me first (which is against policy) and I just so happened to look at the officer holding the camera and he mumbles the words "they are gonna fuck you up!." Later I found out that that wasn't a warning at all, that was for me to have knowledge before hand that I was about to have my brains beat in. Upon hearing that message I thought was a warning, I went to the door and looked into the camera and stated, "I am not refusing to come out, I am also willing to comply with being cuffed and moved to another cell without any problems." Once that was done that messed their whole game plan up to try to assault me.

Once I got cuffed I was ordered to get on my knees, to which I complied. Then once the door was buzzed open I was kicked in my back so hard I went face first towards the marble floor. Once they completely entered my cell I had one officer who made his way over top of my head and repeatedly used his knee to assault the back of my head. Once all that was over, instead of putting me in another cell as I was told, they put me in 5 point restraint chair for an unbelievably painful 8 hours. The straps across my upper body were the worst, they were pulled so tight I passed out after about 2 hours and when I woke up my whole eight hours was finished. I had to get medical attention due to cuts and bruises from the straps.

I filed a grievance on it and now I'm waiting for the first response. We all know that even though I have this whole incident on video it's still gonna get shot down by the DOC to try to discourage me from going all the way with it. I'm filing a lawsuit and I will not settle until justice is met.

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[Spanish] [Texas] [ULK Issue 6]
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Pornografia y su censura

En general la pornografía es censurada en prisiones para mantener el control en las prisiones con el propósito de ejercer poder. La pornografía ciertamente no lleva a ningun problema de seguridad en las prisiones, ni de ningun modo pone en peligro el poder de la estructura. Y todos sabemos que los guardias, tanto como hombres y mujeres, usan la sexualidad para presionar a los prisioneros. En respuesta a nuestro articulo ULK4, sobre este tema, demasiados prisioneros respondieron describiendo muchos casos donde los guardias usan la sexualidad para controlar a los prisioneros. Pero de ninguna manera quiere decir que la pornografía sirve como un proposito progresivo para los prisioneros.

Nosotros nos oponemos a la pornografia porque se trata de re-enforzar la opresión de genero. Pornografía del romance capitalistico donde las condiciones de la cultura hace que las personas tengan relaciones enfermas de genero. De la theoría MIM 2/3 Genero y Revolución Feminista, "Una de las maneras que la sexualidad del hombre es instituida es por medio de la pornografía. Robin Morgan dijo: 'Pornografía es la theoría, violación es la practica.' Pornografía es el medio de justificación sexual y violencia contra la mujer. Su mensaje es 'Una mentira contra la mujer, que vivimos para satisfacer y servir al hombre, y que nuestro placer profundo se encuentra en esclavitud y sobornación..."

También en MT2/3 "Los que apoyan el derecho de pornografía son los que apoyan el derecho para degradar a la mujer y venderlas de tal manera. En otras palabras la pornografía no tiene valor si muestra a la mujer haciendo cosas poderosas, importante, y cosas sin valor. Su valor esta en connección con enseñar a una prostituta lista para ser violada. MCO suguiere que estas personas que apoyan estos derechos son las mismas personas que argumentan que las prisiones muestran tratos humanos y su rehabilitación trabaja."

Aun si la pornografía esta prohibida en prisión, la pornografía seguira estando presente afuera de las prisiones, perpetuando, y re-enforzando la opresión de genero en nuestra sociedad. MIM(Prisiones) se opone a la pornografía en esta sociedad, pero en este momento nos oponemos a la censura que a la pornografía. Ni la pornografía ni la literatura de politica debería ser prohibida por los trabajadores de prisión, que son empleados como armas del estado. Por esta razón estamos dispuestos a unirnos con los que producen pornografía que estan en contra de las censuras en prisiones, mientras nuestro punto sigue firme la pornografía no debería ser protegida por la constitución sobre un dictador de una sociedad baja donde el habla esta protegida para servir los intereses de la mayoría de la gente en este mundo. Estamos peleando en contra de la censura en prisión, no a favor de asegurar la entrada de pornografía en prisión.

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[Censorship] [Florida] [ULK Issue 6]
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More Vibe, King, XXL Subscriptions cancelled

Last night at dinnertime they served what you call "baked chicken" and it had blood running out of it. It had a stink to it. You can catch salmonella this way and it can kill you. The canned greens had sand all in them, the carrots had mud stains on them and the rice was raw. None of these foods were washed or cooked properly. This is done regularly. I've written grievances and complaints to no avail. This is just inhuman, we are human beings not pigs out in a barn.

I canceled my XXL Magazine subscription. My Vibe and King subs should be about up too. They rejected Vibe November 2008 for so-called "gang signs" as well as my first issue of King. I'm sending you the copies of both of the censorship notices so you can contact them for me. I sent grievances (formal and informal) out about my Vibe magazine and never saw a response- it's December now, this is ridiculous.

MIM responds: We have also attempted to contact Harris Publications a number of times regarding racist censorship of their publications, but we have not received a response either. This is just one of an increasing number of reports we are receiving regarding the censorship of these three publications in prisons across the country. So far, they seem unconcerned with the subscription cancellations. We encourage prisoners to change to an Under Lock & Key subscription and support a publication that will stand up for your basic constitutional rights. Even though we offer free subscriptions to prisoners, anyone who can afford to should be contributing to our printing and postage costs. We are a 100% self-funded by comrades in the movement.

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[Theory] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 6]
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Gender Privilege under Capitalism

Gender relations in Amerika are based on the ill effects of the capitalist state. It's a fact (that goes unheard) that the capitalist-materialist drive gives birth to "force", "low morale" and in turn, the "demoralization of life." On a large level, of that of a nation-state, the materialization of the "birth effects" of capitalism is militarism, imperialism, colonialism, oppression, and gender inequality. Plainly put, when one nation-state "rapes" another less developed nation for its labor and natural resources, going unabated by both inside and outside influence, this same train of thought and action is transferred to each individual of the oppressor nation, who not only thinks and acts in an oppressive manner, but fabricates their own level of morality.

This is seen in three "justifiable reasons" to exploit, oppress, and repress "minorities" or any other "weaker class of people". The gender relations aspect in the capitalist system has downgraded the female gender into a commodity. There is an "open market" as well as a more "hidden market" for the female to sell her body. Examples of the open are pornography, institutions of prostitution and the whole media at large. Examples of the hidden are such as when women vie with one another for "the right catch" (a man for marriage) - in which she attempts to sell herself for a higher price than other women, which may be from the inequality of opportunities for women in the work-force versus men in Amerika or other nations. Even in homosexuality - it's "allowed" on television and other media outlets, but, by law, as we witness today, it is not allowed as lawful unions.

As we see, everything and everyone is lowered to a monetary value, negated their freedom of expression and subordinated to the dictates of the ruling capitalist class. For the proletariat we must never take on the perspectives of the oppressor capitalist class. When issues arise, we must research, investigate, and question to come to a conclusion most fit to our class. Hence, MIM sets down the most productive line of thought/action for the oppressed nations and class, viz. the international proletariat.

-Ohio USW comrade

MIM(Prisons) responds: There is a lot of good analysis in this article but we make a point to distinguish class, nation and gender oppression while this comrade puts them all together as if they were interchangeable. There are, no doubt, many aspects of gender oppression that are very tightly intertwined with class and nation. But gender oppression is not just the result of commoditization from capitalism. There are aspects of gender oppression that could continue to exist even after the elimination of class and national oppression if they are not tackled head-on. For instance, much of gender privilege and oppression falls into leisure time activities. It is not just monetary value that determines the oppression of wimmin.

On the flip side, when we talk about how intertwined class, nation and gender are, we would go further than this comrade does in his/her discussion of First World wimmin, to point out that an analysis of gender is incomplete without mention of the relative privilege of First World biological wimmin and men compared to Third World wimmin and men. This is not to say men and wimmin in the First World are equal, but class and nation have so impacted gender oppression as to benefit First World wimmin with gender privilege relative to the rest of the world.

Check out MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender for a more in depth analysis of these issues.

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[Elections] [National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Misplaced rejoicing in prisons over Obama victory

A few weeks ago during the presidential election, towards the end of the evening, once it became apparent that Barack Obama would become the heir to the throne of U.S. imperialism an eruption of applause and of hooting and hollering took hold of the dungeon I am housed in. With all of the damn racket going on, I would have thought that the "three strikers" law had finally been defeated, but no, instead the source of all the ruckus was the materialization of an almost unfathomable dream for so many of my Black brothers and sisters, a Black man becoming president of the United States of Oppression. The night's celebrations almost seemed dignified. However, to quote another former member of the ruling class "what does it matter what color the cat is?" "what does it matter if the cat is black or white?" "what matters is if the cat will catch mice." (Deng Xiaoping)

In a way, I welcomed the mighty cheering and truly undue attention, it provided me with yet another opportunity to engage my fellow prisoners. The following morning during morning chow I just happened to sit with three of my Black brothers. During the course of our meal my fellow prisoners were ecstatic with almost an euphoric glow of pride and accomplishment. They went on and on with how "it's on now" and talk of how things were going to be different now that Obama's the new Pres. elect. I asked them what, that besides the obvious (a Black man becoming president), is there really to be happy about? I asked them what would Obama really be doing for them? What would Obama be doing for me? Would Obama be doing something for our families and the people of the U.S. internal colonies? What would Obama be doing for the people of the Third World, the truly oppressed, the people? Absolutely nothing at all. Obama will not open the prisons. Obama will not help me get out. Will Obama help my proletarian mother with free health care, or even affordable health care for that matter? Will Obama pay my mother's rent to the slum lord? Is Obama going to provide me with a free and real education? Will he help me to help myself to better serve the people? Will Obama begin to steer the U.S. away from its decadent, exploitative, capitalist, imperialist, war mongering ways?

No, Obama's not gonna do a motherfucking thing but sit his ass in that Oval Office and continue the U.S. dangerous and destructive quest in its search for capital. So what the hell is everybody so happy about? Now, for a second there I thought my ass was toast being that I'm a Mexican. They might have just looked at me as being racist or that I was simply talking out of my neck. However, to my complete amazement, they did nothing but sit there and think about the words that we're coming out of my mouth. This gave me some semblance of joy, because at the very least, I think I gave them something to think about. However, a few seconds later they continued with their praises for Obama.

Even if I didn't completely get through to them, I think that at least I gave them something to think about, even if they initially rejected what I had to say I will continue to engage my fellow prisoners into deeper thought.

It is truly unfortunate that so many and so much of our potential revolutionary base is so blinded and so distracted by the razzle dazzle and lies of our oppressive system.

For those of us who are somewhat educated and informed concerning the truth about socialism and communism and of the climes of capitalism it is our duty and our obligation to voice the real and engage our fellow prisoners into deeper thought, theory and practice. If the groundwork is never done and the ground is never broken, then how can there be a base for a foundation of a socialist and communist movement? How can there be real change if the system is never changed, only its leaders? For those of us who are convinced that we are 'soldiers' ask yourself, who's soldier are you? Are you some common criminal's soldier? Do you fight and work for greed, power and lust of recognition? Or will you be the People's soldier? Will you fight for the peasantry and the proletariat, the People?

Like MIM likes to say "MIM can't do it all," and reading MIM Notes or Under Lock and Key isn't enough. We must help ourselves and find ways to make things better.

So will you become a true soldier and wave that red banner of revolution? Become the People's soldier, become the vanguard. Away with this oppressive system and all that it entails. Away with capitalism, imperialism and stupid petty divisional differences such as gang rivalries and race riots. It is time for the proletarians of our world to unite. Lay waste to the oppressor and all its minions.

MIM adds: In addition to the questions about what Obama will do for prisoners and oppressed nations within U.$. borders, we have to always ask the bigger question: will he change the militarist imperialist nature of Amerika? If not, even small reforms within U.$. borders will not represent any kind of victory over capitalism and global oppression.

This article referenced in:
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[Organizing] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 6]
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Organizing a strike in Ohio

I'm an incarcerated comrade in the Maximum Security Prison of Ohio. Currently I'm in a specialized isolation unit on 23 hour lockdown called "4B". At the present moment our cell block is on a hunger strike/activities strike where we have pulled our collective minds and initiative to express our dissatisfaction at the treatment that has been administered by the prison officer of 2nd shift (2pm to 10pm).

Now, this was not organized by me, nor was I involved in the nucleus of organizing and planning this act. But, being bound by my imprisonment, I, as well as every other prisoner on this cell block, are obligated to come together and stand up against the oppressive actions administered by this reactionary, police-system in all its many forms.

What we are striking about is that the second shift officer has repeatedly neglected his duties by not picking up our outgoing mail; he has repeatedly passed mail to the wrong cell/prisoner; he has repeatedly denied to pass out kites, write-ups/informals and other institutional forms of communication (being we're on isolated blocks, these are our only means of communications). This same CO has not taken the meal list for days at a time: since I'm Muslim, I do not eat prison meat, along with other dietary preferences, we have missed meals without a choice in the matter, and this has spurred even more outrage.

This same C/O (officer) has attempted to spark a "race" conflict between the Blacks and whites by saying racial statements and joking trying to cause division. (This prison is far from an urban area where many prison staff are not accustomed to diverse cultures and skin tones. Here, the white supremacist prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood, is backed by the prison staff.) For the last few days, prisoners on this cell block have put in work; but, these activities are not new to this prison nor to prison in general.

In trying to speak to higher prison officials to unveil our discontent of the actions administered by this officer (which, in reality, is only a representation of the nature of the prison-system, and in turn, the Amerikan system), this battle of ours will not cease, Blacks and whites shall continue to uphold the struggle in the face of the slobbing Pig. Thus far no one has backed down, even in the midst of opposition - which is coming in many forms. For example, a C/O sprayed mace in the ceiling vents which are connected to all the cells on this block. His excuse was that it "came from another cell block."

All in all, my intentions for writing this was to point out the fact that this system of oppression does not comprehend anything less than revolutionary united struggle. They only understand aggression and asserted action (viz the organized power of the proletariat) so long as we do not realize our power through concerted effort the oppressors will continue to win! We must play the game they play! Think about that!

- Ohio USW leader

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 6]
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Truth


Illusion of justice tried
to convict me
I can't tell a lie for
you to believe me
Perjure my dignity
Alienate my self respect
truth isn't a coward, truth
sets me free, respect that
Give me liberty or give me death
Truth is I'm still being me

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
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Prop 8 - gay marriage, gender oppression and political confusion

For communists, the gay marriage issue is a no brainer, but not really useful. Opposing oppression means we oppose restricting marriage and the rights that go along with it to certain groups of people. But it's not an issue communists will focus on to organize around as a reform for the petit-bourgeoisie. However, we do want to talk to people about this struggle because the pro-gay rights movement is not effectively attacking gender oppression, while the most oppressed have largely opposed the movement, often for the wrong reasons. A discussion is useful to win over those radicals who are in the gay-rights movement for the right reasons, while discouraging incorrect reactions by the oppressed.

Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in California that amended the state constitution to ban same sex marriage this year, is a fundamentally reactionary initiative that takes away rights from a group of people based on gender. While we can clearly say that Prop 8 is wrong, we did not spend time campaigning against it because our priorities right now are around fighting for rights for the oppressed, and as a group overall we do not count queer Amerikans as part of the world's oppressed. And the campaign against Prop 8 was so focused on what is necessary to rally a majority of Amerikan citizens against this proposition, they avoided useful education about gender oppression (because that is what was necessary to win over as many Amerikans as possible). We are pleased to see so many people without much previous political experience taking to the streets and the churches to protest passage of Proposition 8, as it is good to have people getting involved in political actions, speaking out against mis-education, and learning from this activism. As an exposure of religious anti-science and religious influence on politics, Prop 8 has been serving a good educational purpose for the public.

MIM has long talked about sexuality as a part of gender, and oppression against people based on sexual orientation as a part of gender oppression. But we are also clear that in imperialist countries, citizens enjoy gender privilege relative to the rest of the world. This is partly because gender is so tied up with class and nation privilege, and partly because of the gender strand of oppression that grants First World men and wimmin things like access to contraceptive devices tested on Third World men and wimmin, among other privileges. Further, marriage is not a matter of life or death for most people. The exception is for immigrants seeking legal residence in the U.$., ironically the one of only two rights associated with marriage that state-sanctioned civil unions can not offer (the other is the ability to file federal taxes jointly). Since marriage is not a question of economics or survival for most people, this is more about shuffling around rights within the labor aristocracy and petit-bourgeoisie.

The attention that Proposition 8 has received across the country relative to other propositions is telling. While marriage rights are not a matter of life and death, or even a significant quality of life question for most people, there were two ballot initiatives in California related to prisons that are far more immediate to the freedom and rights of the oppressed in the state. Proposition 5 would have provided expanded and improved drug treatment for people convicted of drug offenses, reducing the prison population and helping people with drug problems. It failed overwhelmingly. This proposition was demonstrably cheaper and healthier for people than prisons. But there has been no public outcry against its failure. Conversely, Proposition 9 passed, taking away prisoners rights to parole hearings and decreasing opportunities for early release. Again, an expensive proposition for the state, and demonstrably bad for the people as longer prison terms do not result in better citizens on the streets.

The prison initiatives have an impact on national oppression while the marriage ban impacts gender. It is important that we not ignore gender oppression when focusing on national oppression. But we do need to recognize that national oppression is the principal contradiction in the U.$. And the effects of this oppression are much more pressing than marriage. They relate to family livelihood, education, and fundamental freedom as more and more Blacks and Latinos are locked up in prison.

Our criticism of the No-on-8 campaign comes back to their goal. Right now the vast majority of Amerikans oppose gay marriage. So by focusing on this one reform within the imperialist system, the No-on-8 people had to pander to this majority by avoiding discussion of real issues of gender oppression or making any connections to national oppression. A campaign that provided people with more correct and useful educational material might have had an even lesser chance of winning, but at least it would have been a progressive use of the millions of dollars spent on this campaign.

Religion is anti-science

Prop 8 does give us the opportunity to point out clearly why it is not always good to be on the side of the majority. As with the case of the economic interests of Amerikan citizens, currently the gender interests of Amerikan citizens related to gay marriage are reactionary for the majority. In fact, California is unusually progressive on this issue - virtually every other state except Massachusetts would have passed this ballot initiative without a fight. And other states did pass even more restrictive bans on gay people without the public backlash now being seen in California. This means that we don't currently have the majority on the right side of this question. For an issue like this that is about rights within the petit-bourgeoisie we expect that in the long term it will be resolved correctly. But this issue does clearly demonstrate some problems with political education under imperialism, most notably the role played by religion in promoting mysticism and anti-science.

Religion plays a big role in why Amerikans care so much about gay marriage. The Mormon church convinced its members to donate millions of dollars to the campaign for Prop 8. Other churches joined the alliance for Prop 8 and also worked hard to get it passed. It is the irrationality of religion that pushes ridiculous political positions like teaching creationism in schools, condemning gay people to hell and denying them the ability to get married, and continuing assertions about the supremacy of white people, men, and just about any religion but Islam.

No one can really articulate a good reason why marriage should be reserved for only certain people. Some religious people try to tie it to procreation, but if that were really the case then we should have tests for fertility before allowing anyone to get married, and perhaps should require couples to get divorced if they don't produce children. We'd also have to deny adoptive parents access to marriage, even if they are straight. Some religious zealots claim that gay marriage will threaten their marriage, though no one seems to be able to point to any disasters for straight families in Massachusetts where gay couples have been marrying for a few years now. Fundamentally this debate about marriage is about religious people's feelings. They don't feel comfortable with gay marriage and they feel it would denigrate their marriage. Hopefully all those No-on-8 activists are seeing clearly why feelings should not be a part of politics.

It is one's subjective feelings that lead a gay amerikan to see Prop 8 as the most important issue. By putting this as their top priority, they are saying they are willing to do what it takes to win, like even go to war with a Third World country. And unfortunately, what is essentially a fight for equality, easily slides into a fight against the oppressed because of the context in which the battle is going on. While wimmins' rights has been a much more common cry of the anti-Islam movement, there are many examples of rabid pro-gay, pro-imperialist invasion propaganda.

The Mormon church is holding back progress with their mysticism, the Taliban is hacking away at imperialism with theirs and the difference is nationality. Really it is a scientific approach to organizing and military strategy that is behind the Taliban's success, but the mysticism is still there, and the gender aristocracy has been attacking it for a decade. This is why we call on the gay rights movement to take up dialectical materialism, before they do more to mobilize the already rabid anti-Islam movement in this country.

As we stated, the no-on-prop 8 movement not only got the national question wrong, but they messed up on gender too by pandering to gender aristocracy paternalism. The Prop 8 supporters ran a lot of TV ads claiming that kids were going to be taught about gay marriage in elementary school if gay marriage was not banned. This scare tactic apparently worked as polls showed public opinion shifted to support Prop 8 after the TV ads started running. Rather than counter this with ads that deny children will learn about gay marriage as the No-on-8 campaign did, we would say that it would not be a bad thing for kids to learn about gay marriage in school at least to the extent that they learn anything about marriage. Not only will the no-on-prop 8 movement sacrifice the oppressed nations in California or the Middle East, but they bolster the patriarchal systems of oppression against their own children in order to win this privilege for a small elite group.

Demographics of the majority

Another important aspect of Prop 8 and the institution of marriage is the position of President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. The Palin/Biden Vice Presidential debate saw the two candidates sharing a few moments of unity, the most notable around their shared conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. In reality younger politicians like Barack Obama probably don't care about the definition of marriage, but mainstream political parties have to take positions on issues like this that a majority of Amerikans will support. And a vast majority of Amerikans oppose gay marriage.

This put a lot of Obama supporters in an awkward position when the Prop 8 campaign started robo-calling voters playing a recording of Obama stating that he believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman. Obama did come out against Prop 8 in the end, but for technical reasons, not because he supports gay marriage. All those California democrats who went for Obama clearly did not vote against Prop 8.

In fact exit poll results and studies on who voted for Proposition 8 show that some traditionally "progressive" (read: voting democrat) parts of the city of San Francisco voted for Prop 8 while some areas that are more traditionally "conservative" (read: voting republican) overwhelmingly opposed Prop 8. This should be no surprise when we realize that class and nation are far more important considerations in general in people's political views under imperialism today. Wealthy white people don't mind giving marriage rights to gay Amerikan citizens, but they are not going to let those Black drug users out of prison. The flip side of this is that oppressed nations in Amerika had a hard time seeing the importance of opposing Prop 8 and generally voted in favor of the marriage ban.

Many oppressed people even take a reactionary approach to the issue. "If rich white people are cool with this, it must just be another attempt by them to corrupt our youth." This negates the progressive character of this battle in our given context. So, while we must defend the right to marry for gays to counter this confusion among the oppressed, it is not a campaign that will make any serious blows against oppression at this time.

Gender oppression is part of imperialism

The anti-imperialist struggle involves fighting against class, nation and gender oppression. We have to pick our battles to have the greatest impact on ending oppression and avoid inadvertently promoting white nationalism or supporting causes just because they sound progressive. In the case of Proposition 8, greater gender equality under imperialism is generally a progressive goal. But it is not something that will get us closer to an end to all class, nation and gender oppression at this time.

When we fight for reforms within imperialism, like the battle to end censorship of mail we send to prisoners, we do so for two reasons: 1. Education by exposing the reactionary policies of the imperialists, and 2. gaining some room for the oppressed to survive and/or organize. Only the overthrow of imperialism and establishment of socialism under a dictatorship of the proletariat will move us significantly towards the end of class, nation and gender oppression.

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[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
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Pornography and censorship

In general pornography is censored in prison as a means of exercising control over prisoners for no purpose other than the exercise of power. Porn certainly doesn’t lead to any security problems in prisons nor does it threaten the power structure in any way. And we know that prison guards of both male and female sex use gender and sexuality to oppress prisoners. In response to our article in ULK 4 on this topic we’ve received overwhelming response from prisoners describing many cases of guards using sexuality to control prisoners. But this doesn’t mean that porn serves any progressive purpose for prisoners.

We oppose pornography because it is all about reinforcing gender oppression. Pornography is part of the capitalist romance culture which conditions people to have sick gender relations. From MIM Theory 2/3 Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, “One of the ways that the sexuality of male supremacy is institutionalized is through pornography. Robin Morgan has said, ‘Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.’ Pornography is the media of sexual objectification and violence against women. Its message is ‘a lie about women, that we exist to pleasure and service men and that our deepest pleasure lies in enslavement and subordination…’”

Also from MT 2/3, “The supporters of the right to pornography are the advocates of the right to degrade women and sell them as such. In other words, pornography has no value if it shows women doing empowering, important, meaningful things. Its value is tied to portraying a bitch ready to be raped. MC0 suggests that those who uphold this 'right' are the same people that argue prison is humane and rehabilitation works.”

Even if pornography is censored in prison, pornography will still be present outside of prison, perpetuating and reinforcing the gender oppression in our society. MIM(Prisons) opposes porn in society at large, but right now we oppose censorship even more than we oppose porn. Neither pornography nor political literature should be allowed to be censored by the prison staff, who are employed as arms of the state. For this reason we are willing to ally with porn manufacturers against censorship in prison while holding that pornography should not be protected by the First Amendment under a Dictatorship of the Proletariat where speech is protected to serve the interests of the majority of the world’s people. We are fighting against censorship in prison, not in favor of ensuring access to pornography.

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[National Oppression] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Former drug dealer takes up anti-imperialist struggle

This week I've been fortunate to be passed on information about the MIM organization and learn of your commitment to the oppressed of all colors. I'm a New Afrikan and the light bulb just came on for me, as I'm steadily evolving mentally and being enlightened with our past struggles, our current struggles and it's a fight one must put up to the very end.

As I sit in prison for the first time I vividly see the conspiracy on Black and Latino men. Miseducation and poverty, we're set up to fail and become a profit for white supremacists. This ordeal is beyond huge. As a reformed drug dealer from South Central, I see how I added to the problem, and I'm forever done with poisoning my folks.

What I like about this organization is, it's not about the individual but about the collective.

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[Political Repression] [Kinross Correctional Facility] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
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Punitive transfers in Michigan

My transfer was the inevitable response of Kinross Correctional Facility's (KCF) administration to my aggressive pro-prisoner stance as an elected prisoner representative. Apparently, the KCF administration felt threatened by the performance of my duty, as a member of the Prisoner Benefit Fund (PBF) Committee, by addressing the removal and destruction of PBF purchased books from the KCF library by Librarian Debra Herbig and the theft of several large spools of cable and numerous cable junction boxes, intended for the upgrade of our cable TV system, by the head of maintenance.

I was not alone in this as my fellow prisoner rep and PBF Committee member was similarly transferred. Said transfers were retaliatory and punitive, as the prisons we were transferred to are notoriously rotten prisons. Moreover, the KCF administration did not want to deal with the other issues we raised, such as the flagrant exploitation of our labor power (we paraphrased the similar demand of the Attica State Prison rebellion), the horrifying conditions in KCFs segregation unit, which clearly constitute torture, and the purposed scheduling of our PBF fundraiser during the Ramadan fast.

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[Gender] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 6]
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Rising incarceration rates of women and the destruction of family and community in Amerika

In the midst of Amerika's soaring prison and jail population, quite possibly the country's only real growth industry, what is often overlooked is the destruction it is wreaking on family and community. For all their polemics about "family values," no Republican or Democratic presidential candidate bothered to address, or even "spin" the subject on any level. This alone should be enough to alert any person of good conscience to the fact that something is afoot and to the distinct probability that these acts of omissions add up to a purposed agenda of the state and the powers it represents.

As of June 30, 2006, there were 2,245,189 persons incarcerated in the united $tates. That is 1 out of every 133 Amerikans and the highest per capita incarceration rates in history. This is a 2.8% increase over the previous year, and this rising incarceration rate has been rapidly accelerating since the 1960s. This trend is accompanied by an increasing racial disparity, with 4.8% of all Black men, 1.8% of all Hispanic men, and .7% of all white men in the united $tates incarcerated. Most alarming, however, is the 4.8% increase in the incarceration rate of women, as compared to 2.7% for men, for a total of 111,403 in prison as of June 30, 2006, with Black women incarcerated at nearly 4 times the rate of white women and more than twice the rate of Hispanic women. (See Bureau of Justice Statistics, [ul]Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006[/ul], NCJ217675 (June 2007)).

Moreover, the Washington DC-based Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP) statistically analyzed prison population trends in all 50 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and projected the total prison population, not including jail, will increase by 192,023 to 1.7 million between 2007 and 2011. That's three times the growth of the u$ population and an overall increase of 13%, comprised of 12% for men and 16% for women. (See PSPP, [ul]Public Safety, Public Spending, Forecasting Amerika's Prison Population 2007-2011[/ul]).

As shown by these statistics and projections, '07 through '11 are going to be lucky years for the prison industry but not for the persons included in and affected by them, particularly, women and their families. To argue that these numbers point to some accidental anomaly would strain the bonds of credulity past the breaking point, as they represent nothing less than the achieved goal of state repression of so-called minority communities in Amerika, with said goal encompassing the destruction of family as well. "Minorities" first, then everyone else.

These statistics serve to reveal and confirm the long-term pattern of intentional destruction of community and family in the ghettos and barrios of Amerika that already struggle for existence under a virtual police siege and occupation. The state has come to recognize that, with most of the men incarcerated, the women, our mothers and daughters, are still carrying on - the glue holding family and community together - so it has set about to eliminate them via incarceration. The final stage in the planned destruction of women's continued ability to resist the state's destruction of their families and communities.

This plan includes redlining by insurance companies and a direct attack on home ownership by refusing to offer reasonable mortgages in "minority" communities and, instead, offering subprime and adjustable rate mortgages, with women much more likely to be saddled with a bad mortgage than men, a good credit rating not withstanding. Further, with only starvation-wage employment available to them, many of these women are forced to subsist on welfare. The December 1, 2007, New York Times reported that almost half the states refuse to pass on the money collected for child support to the families on welfare, with most of the remaining states only passing along $50 per month, in spite of studies done of a Wisconsin experiment that showed "when support payments were fully passed along to mothers, more fathers came forward and paid...and were more likely to establish lasting patterns of payment and connection with their children." Of course, incarcerated parents are usually unable to pay any child support.

Families have little chance to survive intact with the men locked-up and the women financially hamstrung. However, chance has been removed from the equation by the state-administered death blow of locking up women wholesale for minor drug and property crimes. Imagine, if you can, that you are an oppressed nation woman trying to survive and hold a family together in the face of this flagrant state repression. Pretty scary, yes? And even scarier if you are one of the 12 million immigrants trying to do so. Patriarchy and white privilege uber alles! The state keeps its foot on our necks by using the age-old tactic of divide and conquer. Divide the community, then divide the family and all that is left are isolated individuals whose existence is completely state-mediated.

With family and community in the advanced stages of disintegration, all that remains are the children - alienated and utterly deprived of meaningful family and community upbringing. Children with fathers, and now mothers, in jail or prison. Children driven into foster "homes," juvenile detention facilities and even adult jails and prisons. Children rendered functionally illiterate by an educational system that is steadily being pried from the hands of our communities and handed over to state control. Children born and bred in a world where the driving premise is everyone for themselves and devil take the hindmost. Children artfully molded to "be all they can be," which sadly amounts to the brainwashed cannon-fodder of the Amerikan imperialist dream-death machine.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is right that imprisonment of men is a direct blow to families, particularly oppressed nation families, and that the incarceration of increasing numbers of wimmin means increasing devastation to families. It is true that the imprisonment rate of wimmin is rising faster than that for men, but in absolute numbers there are still far more men locked up every year and prisons are still primarily used to target oppressed nation men within U.$. borders. Also of note, for the first time since the penitentiary replaced the poor houses over a century ago, we are seeing whole families locked up in detention centers along the border with Mexico. Migrant men, wimmin and even children are probably the fastest growing group in u$ prisons.

There are issues specifically relevant to wimmin prisoners, most obvious is placement of children in foster systems because wimmin are typically the primary caregivers for children. While men may be able to rely on their wives to care for their children when they are locked up, and single men are unlikely to have custody of children, the reverse is not true for wimmin. But the loss of connection to their families and particular children has devastating effects on men and their children as well.

Groups and individuals who claim to value family and community should be working with us to stop the growth of prisons in Amerika and set up programs for family contact where they do exist. These attacks on families are some of the reasons we can still talk about oppressed nations existing within u$ borders. As long as these conditions exist there will be groups of people whose existence demands the end to imperialism and white power in this country.

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[Gender] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Response to psycho-sexual warfare article

The Under Lock and Key (#4 – September 2008) article on psycho-sexual warfare vs. political prisoners hit me hard because that’s what’s been happening to me except on a different level of sexuality. Female officer would pay me porno mags, drugs (both pills and street), tobacco, lighters, stamps, even sexual favors such as hand jobs or blow jobs to masturbate in the open where they could see. I was even charged on multiple counts of indecent exposure. I was told by some higher up the ladder that it was best not to fight it and go along so I did. This institution is most notorious for what’s called IEX, Indecent Exposure.

I was attacked and assaulted by 4 officers on the facility B yard at High Desert State prison. Then 40 officers in riot gear came on the yard – 20 officers set up a line of protection for their partners while the other 20 attacked and assaulted me with the first 4 officers. I was beaten black and blue, I was bloody with abrasions and lumps and bumps and I suffered a psychological break down.

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[Censorship] [Snake River Correctional Institution] [Oregon] [ULK Issue 6]
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Censorship and Unjust Fines in Oregon

I am doing life here at Snake River C.I. in Oregon. Oregon prisons in general censor lots of publications such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Rune books, and the Satanic Bible. Books/magazines with pornography photos or adult content are censored.

Also, there are monetary fines. We here in Oregon get fined for things like disrespect, disobedience of order, etc. The way fines work is if you get fines, and you get money sent in, they take half up to $60. After that they just leave you $30. Then at the end of the month they take whatever you have left so you can never save money, can't buy a decent pair of shoes, can't buy anything. If you were to get money put on the last week of the month, you're burnt. They will take the rest. The disciplinary system here is totally inept and unjustified.

The Intensive Management Unit (IMU) is totally out of whack. We are maximum security prisoners, not in a disciplinary unit, but a programming unit. We have no access to phones, we don't get mainline commissary, we aren't able to have personal shoes. Yet any other maximum security prisoner is allowed these things.

These issues are some of the things that are wrong with the Oregon prison system. I won't even begin with the sentencing system!

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[Abuse] [Billy Moore Correctional Center] [Texas] [ULK Issue 6]
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Corruption in Texas prisons

Here I sit in the infamous Texas injustice system. Examples of the conditions here at the Bill Moore Unit include watered down food, cornstarch added to thicken our food, and constantly being given less food than we’re supposed to receive according to the menu. When I complain through the official grievance process, the Unit Grievance officer has the exact same answer no matter what the grievance is about “…it has been investigated and no wrong doing has been found. No further action is necessary.”

At night we have a female ranking officer who, during the winter time, thinks it’s funny to turn the air conditioning on while wearing her winter coat buttoned up and saying how warm it is, while the prisoners are forced to shiver with blankets that are too short. The winter coats we’re given are nothing more than long sleeve shirts.

My unit is under contract to be operated by the Correctional Corporation of America, by the Texas Dept of Criminal Justice. This way when the public are given the numbers of prisoners in the Texas prison system, the state can lie and mention only those in the state run prisons and leave out the numbers in the private prisons.

One day soon I hope we will obtain victory and the corrupt corporate and state employees who misuse prisoners and steal from not only us but also the general public will be placed into the prison system where they so deserve to be.

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[Gender] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Female guards watching male prisoners shower

I wanted to bring to your attention that the psycho-sexual warfare in California include the fact that I am in a Security Housing Unit and I am required to exit the cell to go to the shower with nothing on but a pair of boxers. I also have a problem with female staff working in the unit during showers because I am not an exhibitionist and I believe it is improper for female staff to view naked male prisoners just as it is not proper for male staff to view female prisoners' showers.

California Code of Regulations Title 15, Division 3, Chapter 1 Article 2 "Security" Section 3287 "cell, property and body inspections" sub (b)(4) explicitly prohibit male correctional employees from non-emergency body searches of female prisoners. I resent and take offense to female staff looking at my nakedness, whether they derive some psycho-sexual pleasure or not it's simply not right, and another example of the double standards of the CDCR. When staff come for showers I have to ask if female staff are working in the building and if so I simply decline the shower and most of the regular male guards know this.

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[Prison Labor] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Prison workers paid overtime for 2 hours labor

The program at this prison is getting worse and changing daily. The new excuse is the budget. We are only getting program every other day because they can't afford to pay staff overtime. What a joke! On the days we are locked down it's common to see 10 cops sitting on their fat, overpaid asses, on the yard and eating sunflower seeds.

I overheard a nurse saying that she was working a double shift. She said she was making $48.50 an hour. Her job consists of dispensing medication to prisoners. What the hell, this lady is making $582 for her 16 hour day, she passes out pills two times a day, it takes about one hour to dispense pills so she is actually doing 2 hours of work and the rest of her day she sits and complains that our economy is messed up. Damn! She is why our economy is what it is.

They are still shipping people to different states. A bus load left a few days ago for Arizona. They will not transfer anyone who has any medical or dental issues or if you are CCCMS. By a prisoner agreeing to transfer they are helping this state. It's crazy that California not only has the biggest prison system but now we are taking over the prisons in other states. When will it stop.

They changed the name to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. They offer no form of rehabilitation on this yard. Do you know if I could file a lawsuit for false advertisement?

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[Abuse] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 6]
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Murder and brutality by white supremacist COs in NY

On September 12 at Clinton Correctional Facility I was a victim of Prison Official's assault. They came to my cell searching it, and while one CO kept asking me what's in my cell, as soon as I spoke up another CO kept slapping me in the face roughly for 20 minutes. I told the prison official to keep his hands to himself so COs took me to an isolation area for the beating of Blacks and Latinos where I was roughly beaten for 30 minutes. I was repeatedly assaulted with CO's intentions to break something (an arm or leg), kick my teeth out, and they shouted racial slurs during these attacks. E block is a Special Housing Unit with no camera to record these attacks.

In a surprising move, Sgt. Randell transported me to the new hospital mental health unit where Sgt. Randell hit me in the face with his stick over my left eye causing a painful injury to my left eye, a bleeding cut on the side and a black eye.

Prison officials have begun to engage more frequently in a monstrous form of prison homicide, a strategy to instill terror in the hearts and minds of Black prisoners. This is Clinton County NY, a white district. We don't have Black nurses or Black CO employees to lessen the racial tensions here at Clinton Corr Facility. In spite of the brutality, there is no special prosecutor and consequently no conviction of any criminal charge in recent homicide at Clinton Correctional Facility.

Commissioner Brian Fischer talks about NY gang-related violence in correctional facilities, but he is the gang leader of New York. The white supremacy CO mobs with a routine of beatings and murders that Inspector General in New York State Commission of Corrections fails to prosecute. The term homicide means the murder of one human being by another. A big percentage of COs mistreat Black prisoners, and there is no penalty. There is no regard for the life of the Black and Latino prisoners who have been beaten to death.

Prison official's white supremacy still rules in every sphere, they kill five or six of us every year sending the message, 'you best behave well or die.' This philosophy of intimidation and murders lets prison officials legitimize their mob attacks under the name of "back up". Prison official backup is often no different than the lynch mobs 100 years ago: Brutal murder of Black and Latino prisoners are twisted around and called justifiable homicide.

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[Control Units] [Texas] [ULK Issue 6]
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False STG validation

I still, to this day, have no idea how they confirmed me as being a part of an STG [Security Threat Group]. I've been in one fight that I got wrote up for and never had a weapon on me at any time. They don't have any kites with my name in them and they won't tell me anything. One day they just said you confirmed a member of an STG and locked me up.

I'm not a part of this group they confirmed me as, and the only way out is to take a G.R.A.D. program, and to do this I have to sign a paper saying yes I am a member, when I'm not. Doing this will put my life in danger as having marked an X to something I never was a part of.

They should change some rules in TDCJs in Texas because these GIs are just confirming people left and right saying they're confirmed when they are not. I'm not the only one who's been done like this.

How can I make them tell me what evidence they're using to confirm me? What could I do to help people like me get out of AdSeg without taking that G.R.A.D. program?

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[Censorship] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
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Responses to ULK4 on censorship

I'd like to comment on some of the articles written by prisoners in September's ULK. While I haven't finished reading it just yet, only the prisoner articles, I quite enjoyed the ULK. This edition should've been titled "The Censorship Issue."

It's true that institutions throughout the country focus only on Black and Brown oriented magazines, citing "pornographic material" or "gang paraphernalia." Now this doesn't just have to do with "Vibe" or "XXL" or "Maxim en Espanol." Even "ESPN en Espanol" has begun to be targeted within SVSP. Now last I checked "ESPN en Espanol" focuses on soccer and sports in Latin America in general and last I checked there weren't many scantily clad women in this magazine. So what's the deal? It seems that since many adult institutions so successfully banned pornographic materials, such as pictures and magazines, now they're trying to stop us from appreciating our own women who aren't even naked in these magazines. Now that they see that they can get away with this they seem to move on to sports magazines stating that they can't understand the language therefore there's a possibility that coded messages might be hidden somewhere in the text or some other frivolous, ridiculous reason.

To me this seems like a type of aggressive assimilation. You can't look at brown/black women, but you can look at some fancy white model in Vogue magazine. Also I recall seeing an issue of GQ magazine sometime back with an article about a supposed member of the CRIPS gang in Watts. In this article there were a few pictures which, if found in Vibe or any other culturally oriented magazine, would've deemed the magazine a "safety and security risk" to the institution, but because it was in good 'ol GQ, no one batted an eye. I'm sure they don't even bother to crack those open for inspection in the mail rooms inside institutions across Amerikkka.

Another article that caught my attention in the ULK was the plight of the South Carolina inmate. There seems to be a lot wrong with what's going on over there. To begin with, by law every institutional law library must be properly stocked and equipped with adequate and up to date legal materials. Off hand I can't remember the title of the case but I believe this has already been decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. Next time I go to law library I'll try to find it.

Also concerning the New Mexico inmate whose grievances are not being responded to, it would be a good idea if he acquired declarations from other inmates there who've gone through similar experiences he could use these declarations to show the court how the prison refuses to let prisoners exhaust their remedies. This is what I'm doing for a couple of guys here whose civil suits were dismissed in the district court due to supposedly not exhausting the remedies. They are now appealing in the 9th Circuit and my declarations of how I found 602s and legal mail in the trash will hopefully be helpful.

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[Abuse] [Gender] [Montana] [ULK Issue 6]
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Psycho-Sexual Warfare Article Speaks to Others

I have been receiving your newsletter for a couple of years now and have thought to write on many occasions. But reading the article "Psycho-Sexual Warfare vs Political Prisoners" by a New York Prisoner has finally compelled me to do so. My own personal experiences within Montana's prison system share some common ground and I thought I would take the time to offer a comparison.

Unlike most of your contributors, I am not only a political prisoner within the prison system itself, I am a political prisoner for opposing the corrupt authorities on the outside, as well. I did not commit a crime to be arrested, I sued the City of Kalispell, Montana, and was charged with a false crime and arrested, followed by a kangaroo court trial and conviction, to stop my suit against those authorities.

Upon entering the prison system I committed myself to fighting the system from the inside. I have used my legal knowledge to file hundreds of legal documents for other prisoners (in spite of unlawful rules and regulations prohibiting prisoners from assisting each other with legal matters) and filed several claims in the courts on my own, including an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) suit and a class action suit for numerous civil liberty violations.

As a vocally outspoken opponent of the prison industrial complex as a whole, and the Montana State prison system specifically, I have made myself quite the target for retaliations from the prison administration. Though I have not had the sexual element foisted upon me as my New York counterpart reports, I have had the rest done to me. I am a low custody prisoners presently confined in a high security lock-down facility, for instance. This has been done in spite of the authorities' foreknowledge that I am claustrophobic, in spite of the fact that I am housed with predatorily violent prisoners, many of whom are staff bulldogs (prisoners who work for the cops, basically acting as strong-arms against anyone in disfavor with those same cops). I have been not only placed in "ambiguous and pressure-filled situation(s)" but I have been beaten by an inmate who did so I believe at staff instruction.

I have had privileges stripped from me, and even property stolen from me, by staff members whose only intent is to harass and provoke me. Yes, I have been on the receiving end of efforts designed to "dehumanize" me and to make me "subservient." And I have only been subjected to all of this extra hardship because I will not break and I continue to fight the system. The New York prisoner is absolutely right in this regard - prison officials isolate those with the greatest potential and subject them to abuses designed to strip us of our focus and will.

I wanted him and everyone else suffering similar hardship to know that you are not alone. Others fight the war with you. Each time prison officials fail to break you, it's a victory. Remember that and stand strong.

I wish my brothers and sisters in solidarity strength and goodwill.

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[Censorship] [Gender] [Clinton Correctional Facility] [New York] [ULK Issue 6]
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NY promotes Sexual Harrassment and Violence


8/12/2008

Yo, I just want you to know that I received your letter and that I didn't get the MIM Theory #7. I am waiting for the grievance that I filed on 8/5/08 and I just wrote to the superintendent of programs about this. I got the manila envelope that they send the MIM Theory in, but the MIM Theory was not in the envelope, instead there was a pictorial sex book.

...I don't know if it was on tv out there but the jail got locked down for like 4 to 5 days and 4 C/Os got cut or stabbed, so shit's been crazy.


8/18/2008

I just wanted to let you know that I didn't get the MIM Theory #7. I wrote to M. Putnode, Deputy Supt./Programs Services and they said that they do not have it. I wrote a grievance and they didn't write back.


- a prisoner in Clinton Correctional Facility

MIM(Prisons) comments: We can document a history of abuse and targeting of politically conscious prisoners at Clinton Correctional Facility going back years and naming names. Numerous prisoners have filed complaints regarding these staff members, and groups like the Correctional Association of New York (in 2004) have reported on these trends. Yet the state has still not put an end to it.

This example is similar to others at Clinton, where there is no paper trail, allowing the administration to say that nothing happened and deny responsibility. In other words, the NYS DOCS has granted staff the freedom to act however they see fit to repress efforts at organization and education in Clinton.

We have written in previous issues about the gender oppression of prisoners. This act of sexual harassment is just one more example of that. A Black man tries to educate himself about the liberation of his people and some cracker steals the literature we send and replaces it with porn. He sees the Black man as having no interests outside of smoking weed and chasing pussy, and this is how he reacts when faced with reality.

Upstate and Five Points have recently censored mail from MIM(Prisons) as well alleging that it promotes violence. Once more, for the record, MIM(Prisons) does not promote violence, we promote a world free of oppression. Only the oppressor can decide how that will come about. Unfortunately, we do not have the power to do so ourselves. We can only transform the world we find ourselves in by understanding its internal nature.

Some recent censorship was justified because it was critical of prison labor, the physical abuse of a prisoner in New York, and advertised lawsuits that are pending against the state. The most recent prison censorship case, Lorenzo Johnson v. Rick Raemisch, Daniel Westfield, and Michael Thurmer, Case No. 07-C-390-C, upheld that prisons cannot censor literature because it is critical of their department. And attempts at stifling support for class action suits is just one more effort to prevent prisoners access to legal protection. The recent attacks at Clinton reported here show what happens when you don't allow prisoners access to legitimate grievance procedures when staff becomes abusive, as they inevitably do in such an oppressive situation.

The policy of the NYS DOCS of supporting staff committing these abuses for years demonstrate a clear attempt by the department to promote violence. Even if they can't learn from their own experience, we've been telling them this for years, and we know they read our literature, so they can't claim ignorance. They want violence, because they use violence as an excuse for further repression. Repression is against the interests of the oppressed, so the oppressed (MIM(Prisons) included) oppose this violence that is being promoted at Clinton.

see censorship records

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[Elections] [Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
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Palin demonstrates gender privilege in Amerika

There is a lot of talk about John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. A female on the Republican ticket does not mean any more than a female on the Democratic ticket. We should not be fighting for greater access for wimmin to positions of imperialist power in Amerika. Some wimmin have already achieved these positions, but having even more will not change the global situation of gender oppression or imperialist oppression in any way.

Hillary Clinton is part of the imperialist government as Senator from New York, and Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska - wimmin in the Supreme Court and in leadership positions in the Amerikan government have done their part to further the militarist hegemony of Amerikan imperialism. In spite of all this, it is interesting that the Republican's will have a woman on the ticket while the democrats will not when Hillary Clinton's candidacy played up the gender issue. This seems to be a clear attempt to grab the vote of Clinton supporters who were in it just for the question of gender.

Some people are calling Palin a "pro-life feminist". The pro-life label is great irony for any Amerikan who supports (and even promotes) imperialist militarism. Countless people are killed by Amerikan intervention (covert and overt) and the products of Amerikan foreign policy. People who are truly pro-life fight Amerikan imperialism to stop the mass global murder by imperialism. At the same time, the label of "feminist" for Palin is as contradictory as the "pro-life" label. Feminism should mean fighting for an end to gender oppression. Just because she enjoys wealth and privilege doesn't mean Palin can't participate in this battle, but her political line is definitely not feminist. Palin is a part of the gender aristocracy in Amerika, and she is a part of the fight for greater gender privileges for oppressor nation men and wimmin, this is most definitely not feminism.

It's important to recognize that gender privilege in Amerika is enjoyed by oppressor nation biological wimmin as well as men. For years MIM has put forward the clear line that gender oppression is not just a question of biology. In imperialist Amerika, biological wimmin enjoy gender privilege relative to Third World wimmin and men. We call this group the gender aristocracy. This is not to say wimmin in Amerika are equal to men. In fact there is still a differential in earnings, and certainly a differential in representation in government in Amerika with only 16% of congresspeople being wimmin. But this relative difference between white nation biological wimmin and men is nothing compared to the differential between the oppressed and oppressor nations. Overall gender oppression is suffered by both men and wimmin of oppressed nations and gender privilege is enjoyed by both men and wimmin of oppressor nations.

Amerika has a long history of gender oppression of Black men who were lynched for rumors that they raped white wimmin (707 of the 2,060 lynchings in the u$ from 1882 to 1903 were for rape related accusations).(1) The theory of gender aristocracy is also clearly demonstrated when we think about contraceptive testing on Third World wimmin and men, to benefit Amerikan wimmin. Access to new and better contraceptives for Amerikans has repeatedly come at the expense of Third World people.

And on this topic of contraception, much of the discussion of Palin initially focused on her family and questions of so-called ethics. Palin's 17-year-old unwed daughter is pregnant, somewhat ironic as Palin is a supporter of abstinence education rather than contraception. Fortunately for Palin (who is staunchly anti-abortion), her daughter has decided to keep the baby and marry the father. In reality, those in the Republican party who say people should not talk about Palin's children are right - we have plenty of other more important topics to discuss. We need to tackle imperialism as a system, and part of this is talking about the hypocrisy of a womyn who fights to deny young people real education about reproduction, a practice that has been demonstrated to lead to more unwanted pregnancies.(2)

Palin has a lot of dumb Amerikan views about education, many which she shares with others in the government. She wants to teach religious creationism and so-called "intelligent design" alongside evolution in Amerikan schools, presumably presenting fantasy as science. It is fantasy that assumes we can teach youth about abstinence and ignore the increasing pregnancy rates and spread of STDs, so maybe this position should not be a surprise. In another fantasy, Palin also believes that global warming is not a product of humyn activity (though at least she's ahead of some politicians in admitting that it exists).

In the end Palin is just another imperialist candidate for an imperialist government who will perpetuate imperialist policies that lead to oppression, exploitation and death of Third World peoples. The difference with Palin is that she further demonstrates the power of the gender aristocracy in Amerika.

Notes:
(1) Marable, Manning. How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America. Southend Press, 2000. p. 117.
(2) Contraception v Abstinence Education, December 12, 2006 review of studies published at stats.org

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