We still ain’t free!

by Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington

These Northern Democrats are in cahoots with the Southern Democrats. They’re playing a giant con game, a political con game. You know how it goes. One of ‘em comes to you and makes you believe he’s for you. Why? Because neither of ‘em is for you. But they got to make you go with one of ‘em or the other. So this is a con game and this is what they’ve been doing with you and me all these years.” – Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1964

Revolutionary greetings, Sisters and Brothers!

On June 19, 2019, there was a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., to discuss proposals and a House bill filed by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston, Texas. The bill, HB40, seeks to create a committee to explore the possibility of providing reparations for the descendants of African slaves whose ancestors suffered horribly during the Maafa here in Amerika.

Members of the GOP, short for “Grand Old Party,” balked at the proposal. Members like Republican Mitch McConnell said there is no one alive today who had anything to do with enslaving Black Amerikans. He made the proposal sound nonsensical and meaningless.

I personally refute his stance and his statements strongly.

I refute his stance with a large body of empirical evidence which clearly shows that the criminal justice system in Amerika – especially in the modern slave state of Texas – perpetuates and maintains the institution of slavery!

It was heartening to hear presidential candidate Cory Booker respond assertively to the GOP’s attempts to minimize the significance and importance of the bill introduced by our hero Sheila Jackson Lee.

However, we are still ignoring the fact that the slavery clause contained within the body of the 13th Amendment of the U.S Constitution legalizes slavery TODAY in Amerika. (This is the 13th Amendment with the slavery clause highlighted: “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.”

Until we finally begin to have that conversation, we actually aren’t serious about true reparations. Slavery is not abolished yet and we still ain’t free!

There are movements here in Amerika known as End Prison Slavery and Amend the 13th. There are campaigns such as the Right2Vote campaign, led by our Warrior Princess Amani Sawari. This campaign seeks to restore voting rights and re-enfranchise hundreds of thousands of prisoners who have had their right to vote taken from them.

I want all of you to understand that as soon as a prisoner is released from prison or jail, she or he is expected to find a job and pay taxes. So, with this in mind, why in the hell can’t all states restore our right to vote?

“In the year 2019 – we still ain’t free!”

The oppressors want us to financially support a system which has sought to destroy us for generations, yet they want us to be satisfied with not having a voice or a vote?! However, disenfranchising Blacks and Latinx people serves the interests of the GOP, which is led by Donald J. Trump – facts!

I have comrades and close friends who tell me: “Malik, we don’t support the electoral process and we won’t publish or post anything you write that talks about or promotes it.”

Well, I say this: “That is easy for them to say when most of them who tell me this are free citizens who are not Black or Latinx and they sit comfortably on their couches in their air conditioned apartments, houses or lofts and surf the net on their iPhones or get up and go to the park and enjoy freedom!”

But I’d like for some of you reading this essay to think about things from my perspective for a moment. Think about being trapped in a concrete cage for 23 to 24 hours a day for 365 days out of the year. Think about how hopeless things can get when you know that there is a white supremacist who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., and this person doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die.

Think about the immigrant children down here in South Texas – children who can’t play or get an education or gain access to legal help because this administration would rather see them locked in cages than see them be free!

When you start to change your perspective for a moment, you will see why there is no damn way I will try to convince Black or Latinx people not to attempt to vote this bigot out of office!

And for some of y’all withholding your support of me and refusing to amplify my voice? Well, really y’all don’t give a damn about me or our sisters and brothers who languish in these prisons, jails and detention centers! I said that and I meant that!

However, sisters and brothers, please know that our enemies are the same, and though I do get angry and frustrated – I choose solidarity over divisiveness. We can’t win when we fight each other and I get that. But we must dialogue more about this subject. We must continue to struggle together against these fascist imperialists and white supremacists, because in the year 2019 – we still ain’t free!

When people hear the terms “white supremacist” or “white nationalist,” they envision bald-headed young white men with swastikas, celtic crosses and satanic body art tattooed on their bodies. People in Amerika like to believe that these hateful ideologies are only embraced by a small cross section of Amerikan society.

This is not true.

Some believe that only a small group of angry white men in rural sections of the South or remote locations in the Northwest perpetuate this hate.

This also is not true.

I am here to tell you today that there are semi-college educated white women who hold high positions within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice who harbor and embrace these ideologies of bigotry and hatred.

These employees of the state of Texas continue to allow their hatred of Black and Latinx people to manifest in their arbitrary, capricious and biased application of prison policies and Texas government codes. When called out, these women feign innocence – but these women who hate have names, and today I will name them!

1. TDCJ-CID Director Lorie Davis

2. TDCJ Deputy Director Tracy Bailey

3. Director’s Review Committee Supervisor and Permanent Member Jennifer Smith

4. McConnell Unit Mail Room Supervisor Janet Salles

5. McConne1l Unit Mail Room Employee Cherrel1 Merrel1

Don’t be shocked; don’t be surprised. For Donald J. Trump to become the president of the United States, you had to know that it was more than angry white men voting for him! You had to know that there are racist white women in Amerika who quietly and secretly condone the racial hatred and are down with the slogan “Make America great again!”

These women want to see the clock turned back on our Civil Rights! And down here in Texas, they have an attorney general named Ken Paxton who has put a cloak of protection over these modern day bigots and clandestine supporters of the Ku Klux Klan.

Once again: I said that, and I meant that!

Sisters and brothers: A little over four years ago, a white man entered a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, murdering in cold blood nine of our sisters and brothers who were there to promote peace and not hate.

In the year 2019 – we still ain’t free!

When we incarcerate more Black men in U.S. prisons and jails than we graduate from college – we still ain’t free!

When my outgoing mail is tampered with and censored because I dare to mention the Black August Memorial or I promote our Afrikan Amerikan Abolitionist Holiday and I can’t get not one lawyer in Amerika to represent me?! We still ain’t free!

When the front running Democrat for the 2020 presidential election praises his relationship with racist congressmen known to be segregationists – we still ain’t free! This revolution won’t be televised: It starts in your heart and mind.

Dare to struggle, dare to win, all power to the people!

Keith “Malik” Washington is co-founder and chief spokesperson for the End Prison Slavery in Texas Movement, a proud member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and an activist in the Fight Toxic Prisons campaign. Read Malik’s work at ComradeMalik.com. Send our brother some love and light via the Bay View until we know his new address.