September 26, 2017
My life began in the Jim Crow South, in Houston, Texas. I remember the segregated world I was born into … the separate water fountains, the back of the bus, the going around to the back door of Mr. Fontnoe’s grocery store to buy milk for my mother and grandmother. I recall the segregated section of the movie theaters – and the long, seemingly endless net partitioning the giant sandy beaches, separating the “Colored” folks from the “Whites.” Can you imagine that it once was a reality, a segregated beach!
August 29, 2017
JUSTICE does not mean fairness, rightness or equity, as most people think it does, implying something good they should seek for themselves. Quite the opposite, it means ritualized punishment or retribution. Most people in prison can tell you that, once arrested, your cry for justice will only be answered by the “yap and howl” of a dog on a short chain – the masters’ “household pet.”
May 30, 2017
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
March 29, 2017
Most people who have never been through it have no idea how easily it can happen to them. Everyone has heard of Child Protective Services, or CPS. Many envision them as saviors of horribly abused children, guardians of innocence. But an accidental fall, a medical misdiagnosis, a difference of belief or values, a choice to homeschool, domestic violence, or a vindictive partner, family member or neighbor can trigger CPS to swoop in and shatter your entire world.
February 5, 2017
I went to San Francisco’s 2017 Dr. King Day celebration riding the same wave that hounded every other participant. As I suspected, a tragic election caused crowd levels to swell significantly compared to a year ago. I’d say at least three times the number of 2016 attendees walked in this year’s march. One ugly cloud loomed: the transfer of federal powers – which finally did arrive four days later – had crept oh so dreadfully near.
February 4, 2017
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass. These words of Frederick Douglass embody the very essence and life’s passion of the late William Marx “Bill” Mandel. The best way to remember and honor Bill Mandel is to emulate him!
November 28, 2016
When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do? Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be. Others stand still, let their eyes adjust to the different environment, re-orient themselves, then, cautiously and sensitively, move forward. Some search out people who might be able to show the way. Post-election, a lot of people are re-assessing and searching for the best way forward. Here are some ideas from experienced, thoughtful people who are organizing on the front lines.
July 2, 2016
In the wake of Muhammed Ali’s transition come the voices of praise and adulation heaped on the man for his political stance and courage for holding to his convictions in 1967, that brought him face-to-face with a racist U.S. regime. But the voices are silent in the face of Jasmine Abdullah Richards’ reality in 2016, against an identical racist regime to the one who persecuted Ali.
June 5, 2016
The reverberations. Not the rumbles, the reverberations. The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people’s minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier and George Foreman, or there will be retrospectives about his epic “rumbles” against racism and war. But it’s the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live.
May 31, 2016
I am a walking, living proof of a life that has been pulverized, destroyed and abandoned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I have been housed in Ad-Seg going on four years now, held in captivity of prolonged solitary confinement, deprived of adequate sleep, nourishment, clean ventilation, peace and privileges. Living in the misery of Ad-Seg causes much psychological damage. Justice needs to be served.
April 19, 2016
On Aug. 12, 2015, within the walls of New Folsom Prison, freedom fighter and political prisoner Hugo “Yogi” Pinell of the San Quentin 6 was assassinated on the prison yard by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, with the assistance of the guards. Seven months later, the community who loves him is coming together to remember his life and contribution to the Black struggle for self-determination and human rights. We will be celebrating his life on Saturday, April 23, 1-5 p.m., at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St. in San Francisco. Any and everybody from the community is invited.
March 16, 2016
I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power. Long may Berta live, in the hearts, minds, passions and actions of all of us.
December 4, 2015
From looking at the info that I have on the play, such as the voice of another great freedom fighter from the chattel period, Gabriel Prosser, being acknowledged and featured in the drama, it heightened my interest. “Nat Turner: Following Faith” will be playing at the Rogue Machine Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles. It closes this Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. Check out playwright Paula Neiman in her own words …
October 23, 2015
A lot of activists in the U.S. joke during election times or when things get hot that they will move to Canada, but Canada is no utopia and can be rough living especially for people of color with disabilities, just like the U.S. There have been several cases of police brutality against people with disabilities, especially in Toronto. I spoke with Somali-Canadian singer and activist Sulekha Ali about her autistic brother’s run-in with the police on June 3, 2015, in Ottawa.
October 17, 2015
It has been two years since 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot down while walking to his friend’s house with a toy gun, killed by Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus. Gelhaus still patrols the streets of Santa Rosa, free and unprosecuted, as Andy’s family, friends and supporters continue to seek and demand justice. Now comes this most recent local news: A lawsuit, filed Oct. 5 by attorney Izaak Schwaiger and the Scott Law Firm, exposes Sonoma County as the “jail from hell.”
July 14, 2015
Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison. Current prison organizing continues a historic legacy of struggle.
June 30, 2015
The honorable bronze statues at Birmingham, Alabama’s Kelly Ingram Park show a display of courageous youth who refused to be silent and stood up for justice. Dear children, do not continue to be distracted by the ways of the world and its falsehoods. Your great legacies are at stake, and THAT is worth fighting for. And one day my grandchildren will visit your statues of courage in beautiful parks because you, too, like our ancestors, are not afraid.
June 29, 2015
Margaret Stroud Block, long time civil rights activist, passed away June 20 in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she was born and raised. She lectured at universities and organizations throughout the U.S., particularly in the eastern part of the country, on civil rights and current education policies. Margaret was a dear friend. We met each other in the mid-‘80s when Proposition J was proposed.
June 23, 2015
The New Underground Railroad Movement is a grassroots inside-outside organization that recognizes that the institutionalization of mass incarceration is the greatest civil rights and social issue we are faced with today. The New Underground Railroad Movement is dedicated to shutting down the “prison industrial complex” through tactical, organizational and grassroots work strikes, boycotts and class conscious empowerment.
May 20, 2015
Greetings of solidarity and respect to all similarly situated members of the prison class unified in our struggle to end long term solitary confinement and win related long overdue reforms to the broken California prison torture system! As one of the four principle prisoner class representatives, I am presenting this further update on where things stand with our human rights movement from my perspective.