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‘Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz’

January 20, 2016

by Talib Hanif, aka Marcelle Williams

The title of my book, “Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz,” came from one of the poems inside. It’s a socio-political piece geared toward unveiling California’s injustice system, with specific reference to its treatment of juveniles, which upon reflection resembles Hitler’s Germany. The piece, entitled “America’s Auschwitz,” reads:

Everybody’s a victim

Sick depictions of pain …

Gestapos lurking through the ghettos

Trailed by a bag of chains …

German shepherds turn into wolves

That hunt in the night …

Ravaging newborn babies

Expecting them to fight …

California is an industrial state, meaning it survives on its industry, that traces its oppressive roots to the Gold Rush era of the 1800s when, blinded by the allure of gold, poor workers were manipulated into working for mining operations that paid them such low wages it amounted to virtual slave labor, which made the rich richer and the poor even poorer.

Talib Hanif (Marcelle Williams)

Talib Hanif (Marcelle Williams)

Most historians paint a romanticized picture of the Gold Rush as being an era of opportunity for any potential prospector who made his or her way to the “Golden State” to work as a self-employed miner. While this was true to a degree, it was only so for a small minority who were mainly white and upper or middle class.

On the other side of the equation were those whose only way of working the mines was as laborers for large operations. Among these laborers were poor, lower class white Americans, African Americans – freed slaves and Caribbean islanders etc. – and, most notoriously, Chinese immigrants who, despite their hard work, were treated even worse than the African Americans who worked alongside them.

This industry, however, was destined to come to an end. After the gold had been mined, the need for miners ended.

The second lead industry in California was construction of the railroads, which also exploited workers with cheap wages, affecting the same groups of poor Californians – not to mention the massacre and displacement of Native Americans, whose land was stolen for the railway system. However, like the gold mining industry, railroad construction also came to an end once the railroad tracks were laid.

Currently, a major industry in California is the California Prison Industrial Authority, or CAL PIA. Unlike the previous two industries, this industry plays a deceptive role in terms of oppression. The simple fact that the prison system operates as an “industry” should raise “red flags.”

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, industry means: 1) Commercial production and sale of goods; 2) a specific branch of manufacture and trade; 3) the sector of an economy made up for manufacturing enterprises; or 4) hard work.

California’s prison industrial authority is part of California’s manufacturing economy. Rehabilitation has nothing to do with it.

Currently, a major industry in California is the California Prison Industrial Authority, or CAL PIA. Unlike the previous two industries, this industry plays a deceptive role in terms of oppression. The simple fact that the prison system operates as an “industry” should raise “red flags.”

California’s prison system as recently as 2005 changed its name from the California Department of Corrections (CDC) to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). But this was widely seen as a ploy of prison officials to campaign for financing, which they received, to line their pockets and build more prisons.

The addition of the “R” to CDC did not change any of the policies of an already failing system. In 2007, the “CDCR Expert Panel Report to the Legislature” found that “nearly 50 percent of all California prisoners who were released in 2006 were not assigned to any rehabilitation program, which might improve their behaviors, or any job assignments, which might improve their life skills, during their most recent prison sentences.”

So, if not for rehabilitation, why was the prison industrial authority established? Do we really have to ask this question? Section 1 of the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Simply stated, the 13th Amendment means that if you have been “duly convicted” of a crime, you will be placed into prison as a slave, subject to “involuntary servitude” and, in California, expected to work for the prison industrial authority. With this we see that slavery was never abolished, but camouflaged.

This becomes even more disturbing when we realize that the industrial authority masquerades as a means of employing prisoners but functions behind the scenes as sweatshops, producing T-shirts, jeans, boots etc. for the prison population and glasses, license plates, registration tags etc. for those in so-called “free” society.

Companies that contract out to prisons include Starbucks, Costco, Victoria’s Secret, JanSport, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Boeing. Thus, once again, virtual slave labor rears its ugly head, this time affecting a broader range of Californians.

Unlike the mining and railroad construction industries, the prison industrial authority didn’t need to rely on adults who had strength and experience. Thus we saw the passing of laws disguised as being “tough on crime” that in reality criminalized youth in record numbers – a strategy that can only be seen as a way to provide a continuous stream of slave labor.

Simply stated, the 13th Amendment means that if you have been “duly convicted” of a crime, you will be placed into prison as a slave, subject to “involuntary servitude” and, in California, expected to work for the prison industrial authority. With this we see that slavery was never abolished, but camouflaged.

America has categorically condemned countries throughout the world for forcing their youth to work in sweatshops and has even gone so far as to offer asylum to children who have been mistreated in this way, galvanizing a movement encouraging U.S. citizens to rescue children through adoption from countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, the Congo, Rwanda, Bolivia, Korea etc. The whole while, America has been running a ring of sweatshops under the nose of the very citizens who condemn it.

This is nothing short of hypocrisy! The above mentioned companies and all other companies found to have participated in these contracts should be boycotted by all those who oppose mass incarceration. If spending money with these companies can’t be stopped completely, one should at least reduce the amount spent on their products.

Who would buy stock in companies that use prisoners as slave labor or in private prison companies? I was surprised when I found out that Michael Jordan has invested MILLIONS in prisons. We should be conscious of this. When we buy a pair of Jordans, we are indirectly supporting mass incarceration. We must boycott all products connected with prisons if we truly want to end this injustice.

America has been running a ring of sweatshops under the nose of the very citizens who condemn it. This is nothing short of hypocrisy!

Human Rights Watch, the same organization that sheds light on human rights violations throughout the world, such as rape in the Congo, the oppressive treatment of women in Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, the genocide in Sudan etc., is also advocating for the sentence reduction and release of prisoners who were sentenced as adults for crimes they committed as minors.

The United States is the only country that allows life without parole (LWOP) sentences for minors, says Elizabeth Calvin, children’s rights advocate with Human Rights Watch. “The brain development that is happening in early adulthood is relevant to how teenagers behave. Our laws should reflect that,” she declares in an article by Steve Lawrence of the Associated Press.

'Annotated Tears America’s Auschwitz' coverTurning a blind eye to this epidemic within society makes everyone without exception a victim. Hence the first line to the poem reads, “Everybody’s a victim.” This line carries two meanings: The first is that everybody who does not fall in line with “the agenda” of the elitist minority is subject to face the same fate as those who oppose it, no matter what race they are, making everybody a potential victim.

The second meaning is that, by Californians remaining careless and unconcerned with the policies and programs of CDC “R,” which directly and indirectly affect everyone, everyone becomes a victim. If a prisoner who has not had proper rehabilitative programs available while in prison moves into your neighborhood and commits a crime, you become not only a victim of the criminal but the victim of a failed state rehabilitative system. So not only should you look at the fact that you have been or could be victimized by the criminal, but what should be even more disturbing is that you are also in a position to be and likely will be victimized by the state.

“Sick depictions of pain” refers not only to the physical abuse of prisoners by each other and by officers, but to the ghostly sight of prisoners who have been heavily medicated and malnourished – bearing a striking resemblance to detainees of Hitler’s concentration camps – trapped in a trance-like state, shuffling their way around prison yards. Imagine the many images of the millions herded into Hitler’s concentration camps and you can almost realize what I mean. I say “almost” because California is the last place you would expect to witness this type of treatment, but it’s here, and when you see it here, it’s even more shocking than images of Auschwitz.

Why are TV interviews with prisoners in California almost nonexistent? And when they appear in shows like “Locked Up,” they’re presented in a way that disguises their living conditions as well as the reality of how prisoners are treated.

In “Gestapos lurking through the ghettos / Trailed by a bag of chains,” gestapo is an obvious reference to Hitler’s police forces, who went from neighborhood to neighborhood, first criminalizing Jewish behavior, the penalty resulting in the emergence of the “ghetto,” then literally rounding up Jews to be placed into concentration camps, the most notorious of which was Auschwitz.

This can be seen reflected in America’s past, with its vagrancy laws and Black Codes, as well as the present, in America’s most notorious prison state, California, where police routinely patrol “the ghetto” at noticeably higher rates than other parts of town, racially profiling “criminals” to throw into its prisons, even when they’re over double capacity.

“German shepherds turn into wolves that hunt in the night” is again an obvious reference to Hitler’s Germany but is also a literal reference to the type of dogs used by police officers, which are, not surprisingly, the same type of dogs used by Hitler’s police. But it’s taken a step further by saying that German Shepherds “turn into wolves that hunt in the night,” which refers to the mentality of the injustice system.

The Prophet Muhammad is recorded to have said: “Humanity will soon live in a time when they will turn into wolves. He who does not turn into a wolf will be attacked by wolves.”

When we look at the mindset of humanity in this day and age, not only in California but throughout the world, could people be classified as anything other than wolves? Wolves have two traits: One is savagery, a wild animal that has no regard for anything outside its pack.

However, its other trait is a cautious nature, a strategic personality trait employed for survival. This is the trait the Prophet Muhammad is informing us that we need to have in order to be safe from those who possess the former trait of a wolf without regard. We must have regard for human life and be vigilant towards anything that opposes this.

The voice of the oppressed is as the sweet scent of musk; the more you conceal it and keep it hidden, the more concentrated and fragrant its scent becomes. Welcome to America’s Auschwitz.

“Ravaging newborn babies expecting them to fight” is in reference to the vicious nature of the unjust system that represents the wolf without regard for anything outside its pack. Like the wolf, the unjust system has no qualms about attacking the young.

Juveniles are thrown into courtrooms and expected to defend themselves against legal professionals who have studied and practiced law for years and are bent on gaining a conviction for no other reason than to elevate their career. Couldn’t this be compared to a ravenous wolf attacking a child? Or a German shepherd attacking an innocent Jewish child on the freezing streets of Eastern Europe?

Are we supposed to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear when it’s happening in our own country? Never! The voice of the oppressed is as the sweet scent of musk; the more you conceal it and keep it hidden, the more concentrated and fragrant its scent becomes. Welcome to America’s Auschwitz.

Send our brother some love and light: Marcelle Williams (Talib Hanif), V-69247, CTF SP CW-135, P.O. Box 689, Soledad CA 93960. His book, “Annotated Tears: America’s Auschwitz,” can be purchased at Amazon and CreateSpace, and he can be reached at marcellewilliams17@Yahoo.com.

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