by Editor Nube Brown
Last month we ran an article about the killing of ACA3, The End Slavery in California Act. To be clear, just because legislators allowed themselves to be strong-armed against their better nature and fear-mongered by the governor to ensure the bill didn’t make it to the floor for a last and final opportunity to be brought before the voters to decide whether they want slavery to exist in California doesn’t mean that now all of a sudden slavery no longer exists – it does.
The exception clause to the 13th Amendment says: “Section 1. 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.” The California Constitution says that slavery is prohibited, but involuntary servitude is not if you are convicted of a crime. To be clear again – involuntary servitude is slavery. Are you OK with this?
Here’s the definition of involuntary servitude from Wikipedia: “Involuntary servitude or involuntary slavery is a legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person’s will to benefit another, under some form of coercion, to which it may constitute slavery.” How about some synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for servitude, like: subjection, subjugation, captivity, vassalage, slavery, confinement, bondage, enslavement, thralldom, freedom and liberty. This is what prisoners are experiencing. Are you OK with this?
Involuntary servitude is slavery.
Samual Nathaniel Brown of Anti-Violence, Safety, and Accountability Project (ASAP) and author of the original language that became ACA3, spent 24 years behind bars away from his family, away from our community. Twenty-four years of the loss of one’s freedom should be payment enough, no? But as soon as Samual needed to refuse to work, he was warned he’d be punished with a disciplinary write up, a Rules Violation or 115, and be denied his freedom, denied parole. That 115 is considered “the modern-day whip, because the traditional whip was what they used to compel people to do things against their will,” Sam explains. Are you OK with this?
We think that it is important for the voters to understand that they have been robbed by the legislature of an opportunity to even look at the possibility of ending slavery in California and developing better understanding that slavery is being practiced within our prisons – filled with mostly Black, Brown and Indigenous people.
Ending slavery is not a headline; it’s a movement for the abolition of slavery.
It is our intention at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper to keep at the forefront of People’s minds that the People will prevail against this continued crime against humanity happening on our watch. Let’s start talking about this honestly, as people are suffering unnecessarily.
Ending slavery is not a headline; it’s a movement for the abolition of slavery. “We want to make this into something that you care about. Because we know all too well in American culture that they have your attention today and then, tomorrow, move on to the next popular thing or trending headline.
“So the first thing that people can do is to make this something that you really do care about and not just because you see it trending on social media – you know, really feel for your fellow human beings who are in a carceral setting and being forced to do something other than find their way back to true rehabilitation and emotional literacy.
“Feel for them, and then know that we as a people can do corrections better. So don’t just feel for the person in a carceral setting, but actually think about our responsibility as a society and our ability to put forth better social systems, such as a carceral setting, a system, that can really help people and ameliorate the circumstances that led them to the jailhouse to begin with.” – Sam Brown
The people don’t need a ballot to connect with one another, educate each other and empower one another to be anti-slavery and stand up for human rights. Are you OK with slavery or not? If it’s not a simple ‘no,’ then that’s where we begin – no exceptions.
Bay View Editor Nube Brown is a developing New Afrikan, abolitionist and Liberate the Caged Voices columnist. She hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and KPOO.com every Thursday 11:00 to noon and also broadcasts Bay View TV Breaking News on Instagram @sfbayview every weekday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.