by Minister of Information JR Valrey, Oakland Bureau Chief
Longtime photojournalist and graphic designer TaSin Sabir, who grew up within the San Francisco Bay View newspaper family, is the newest editor in chief of the All of Us or None newspaper. The All of Us or None newspaper is a program of the non-profit Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and is dedicated to organizing and keeping incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people and their families connected to foster political and social change.
I caught up with TaSin to talk about her new job and the community that she serves. We also discuss opportunities that she has for writers and artists that are incarcerated, have been incarcerated or are associated with people that are incarcerated. Check out TaSin Sabir, the editor in chief of the All of Us or None newspaper, in her own words.
JR Valrey: How long have you been working for Legal Services for Prisoners With Children? Why are you passionate about your job?
TaSin Sabir: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) organizes communities impacted by the criminal justice system, advocates to release incarcerated people, to restore human and civil rights and to reunify families and communities. All of Us or None (AOUON), which the paper is named after, is a grassroots organizing project of LSPC that is fighting to restore the civil and human rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families. AOUON has chapters all over the country advocating effectively to “ban the box,” restore voting rights, increase access to housing and education, eradicate involuntary servitude and end mass incarceration.
I started working as a freelance graphic designer for LSPC in 2016 when they contacted me to design their annual report. Since then, I continued a professional relationship with LSPC as their go to designer for projects, like building and maintaining the LSPC website and designing marketing materials for campaigns.
In 2022 when the opportunity presented itself to join the organization as a communication associate/AOUON newspaper editor, it felt like it was meant to be. I would not work for any other organization in this stage of my career. I only want to surround myself with righteous and like minded individuals, and I look forward to learning and growing through working directly with an organization that I respect very much.
There are amazing writers, authors, poets and artists inside and the AOUON newspaper wants to publish their work.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about your background in graphic design and journalism before you came to this job?
TaSin Sabir: I am a long time contributor to the SF Bay View newspaper. I started photographing events with my mother, Wanda Sabir, who has an arts and entertainment column in the Bay View called Wanda’s Picks. Our first event was a Lauryn Hill concert and I was 17 years old. Photojournalists are allowed to photograph the first three songs at a concert.
I remember squatting down below the stage surrounded by “real” photojournalists, with their telephoto lens and multiple cameras strapped around their bodies. Me, with my 35 mm, moderate zoom and being the only teenage girl amongst these grown men who weren’t afraid to push their way to get the best location for that winning shot, made me feel a little intimidated. However, I claimed my spot, held the camera up to my eye, took a breath in and exhaled slowly so that my camera would produce a nice crisp photo.
My equipment was old, very old, but I reminded myself that I knew it like I knew myself. I had taken photography classes for three years now and I was on staff at my high school paper. Yes, expensive cameras are nice, but it’s not the camera – it’s the person controlling it. Lauryn Hill sang those first three songs in a blink of an eye, and it was over. Us photojournalists were ushered away from the stage and I made my way back to sit with my mother and enjoy the rest of the concert, heart still beating in excitement.
Later that week seeing my photographs of Lauryn Hill published in the SF Bay View was something out of a dream. Yes, I had published things in my school paper, but the SF Bay View was the big leagues! I decided at that moment, I would continue to pursue photojournalism and learn everything I could about what it takes to contribute and produce a publication.
My mother and I continued to cover events together for the SF Bay View throughout my senior year and while I attended California College of the Arts. During that time I also worked for Youth Outlook (Y.O.) as an assistant layout designer and contributor. I also received a photojournalism scholarship from the National Association of Black Journalists, which helped pay for college.
Our All of Us or None newspaper serves to link those who have been locked up, those who are locked up, as well as our families and allies in this struggle.
After graduating, it was very hard to find a fulltime job as a photojournalist, so I had to pivot and utilize the other skills I had learned in college, which was graphic design. I landed some jobs in that field, but ultimately decided to work for myself and that is how I linked up with LSPC when they needed a freelance designer to design their annual report.
JR Valrey: What have you learned in the short time since you have been working there?
TaSin Sabir: Going from freelancer to a staff role is a great feeling. I already respect the people that I have communicated with in the past – usually over email – and now in person is even better. LSPC was one of my favorite clients, so it doesn’t feel like I have been here a short time at all, but I do have a lot of learning to do.
Restoring the civil rights of current and formerly incarcerated people is a big fight with a lot of moving parts, but my goal and purpose of the AOUON newspaper is to serve as an outlet for people’s stories, feelings and experiences. To let people inside know that we are out here fighting for you. Hopefully that will provide a tiny bit of comfort and hope.
JR Valrey: What is the purpose and target audience of your newspaper?
TaSin Sabir: Our All of Us or None newspaper serves to link those who have been locked up, those who are locked up, as well as our families and allies in this struggle. We want to ensure that the voices of our people inside are heard and the artists inside are recognized for their contributions to this movement.
JR Valrey: Where do you get the material that you publish? Basically, who are your writers?
TaSin Sabir: The AOUON newspaper is a free publication and has close to 1,000 subscribers from all over the nation’s prisons and jails. Submissions come from all over, and are mailed to the Freedom and Movement Center, our main office in Oakland, Calif. We want to hear what’s going on inside: topics like involuntary servitude, visitation issues, inspirational stories, etc.
There are amazing writers, authors, poets and artists inside. The AOUON newspaper wants to publish their work. We welcome submissions from all over the country from current, or formerly incarcerated people or their family members. Submissions can be mailed to AOUON newspaper, 4400 Market Street, Oakland, CA 94608, or emailed to email@example.com.
JR Valrey: What do you want people to get out of reading the LSPC newspaper?
TaSin Sabir: Instead of answering this, I would like for people to write in, and let me know what type of stories or content you would like to see in the newspaper. This paper is for you.
JR Valrey: Who are you inviting to submit articles to you? What are you looking for? What is the process?
TaSin Sabir: We invite anyone reading this, that is directly or indirectly affected by the prison system, to submit articles. Articles can range from: opinion pieces on life inside, reflective pieces on time served, editorial pieces on programs inside, investigative stories on prison labor, canteen prices, visitation restrictions, inspirational stories, artwork, comics, poetry and book reviews. The sky’s the limit.
JR Valrey: How do people keep up with the AOUON newspaper online?
TaSin Sabir: You can see all issues online here:
SF Bay View Oakland Bureau Chief JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of the Black New World Journalists Society, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Visit www.youtube.com/blockreporttv.