Local News & Views
San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s ‘Opportunities for All’ initiative kicks off with career fair aimed at providing city’s youth with real job opportunities and platform for enhancing job preparedness...
On Jan. 23, the Wednesday following Monday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration, hundreds of youth ages 13-24 will attend and participate in a career and resource fair called “Advancing the Dream.” The event is part of Mayor London Breed’s Opportunities for All, a program to address economic inequality by ensuring that all young people can be a part of San Francisco’s thriving economy. The event includes a series of workshops for youth to participate in mock job interviews, work on their resumes and profiles for LinkedIn, and build their social networks.
World News & Views
Most UN Security Council (UNSC) meetings are so stuffy that they’re hard to watch without wishing someone would open a window, turn on the ventilator or take the august ambassadors off life support. Norman Finkelstein couldn’t have been more apt than when he called Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a “comatose puppet of the United States.” I went through an entire pot of strong coffee just listening to last week’s three-hour UNSC meeting about the Dec. 30 election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ambassadors spoke in code, without naming key players and perpetrators.
As I write this, on Jan. 8, Congolese are on edge, fearing fraudulent presidential election results and state violence to suppress mass protest. In nearby Gabon, U.S. combat troops are poised to cross borders and invade to protect U.S. citizens and interests as needed. Are they there to make sure that Joseph Kabila, the president they installed and kept in power for 18 years, cedes power to former Exxon-Mobil executive Martin Fayula, their new horse to ride? That’s just my best guess.
“What is wrong with Haiti?” is provocatively offered as a question, along with apologies to the great essayist, G.K. Chesterton. The answer to what is wrong with Haiti is that the hand wringers, meaning those of goodwill who profess undying love for the tiny island nation never seem to ask what is right. Nor do they attempt to discern the source of wrongdoing. For over two centuries, Haiti has balanced on a fulcrum. Heaven and hell hang in the balance and only God knows the outcome.
National News & Views
On the front page of USA Today for Dec. 27, 2018, we saw a shocking headline: “Grave discovery unearths legacy of Black convict labor.” The unmarked graves of 95 “prison slaves” were found on a construction site in Sugar Land, Texas. These Black men, ages 14 to 70 years old, were our ancestors and the first victims of what we have come to know as prison slavery in Amerika! These contract convict laborers were subjected to this form of slavery because the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still allows slavery. Only the name has been changed. Slavery is still alive!
Amani Sawari awarded a 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship to develop Right2Vote Campaign for Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining 19 other activists and changemakers for the 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s Right2Vote (R2V) Campaign is being recognized for the direct impact on civil rights in the United States. The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders and changemakers who are working to make the U.S. a more inclusive and equitable place to live. Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: Civil Rights, Immigration and Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection.
Whether you ask a parent, a teacher or even a college student like me, creating a better world for kids is the top priority. If that’s the case, then why aren’t Pro-Kid values reflected in California’s public policy? A recent study ranked California 36th out of 50 states in children’s wellbeing. Being pro-kid means more than just not being anti-kid, it means embracing the idea that children need to be supported across all sectors to live a safe, happy and healthy childhood. Yet in the state of California, the metrics for crucial indicators of child well-being are far lower than they should be, especially when broken down by race.
Behind Enemy Lines
On Dec. 19, the United States Senate voted 87-12 in favor of watered-down legislation that will roll back a few of the most draconian provisions of the federal criminal justice system. The “First Step Act,” short for the “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act,” goes back to the House of Representatives, which passed a slightly stronger version last May by a vote of 360 to 59. When it comes to locking people up, the United States stands on top of the heap.
The Washington Post last week wrote one of a series of articles about the federal shutdown that focused on the criminal justice system. The reporters included the obligatory interviews with prison guards talking about how overworked and understaffed they are, which is likely true. But the article was inflammatory – not because of the interviews with the guards, but because the Post reported that while the poor guards were suffering, the prisoners were eating meals fit for a king. The purpose of the articles was to outrage the public. How can these criminals eat like this while the hard-working guards are suffering? But it’s all nonsense.
As white fists swung at me and dirty cheap boots kicked me, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Fred Hampton, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser and many other influential Black figures flashed across my mind. It was like a revelation or a spiritual awakening advising me that this racially motivated attack by white cowards, as Black cowards shielded witnesses from seeing the volley of punches thrown, is how agents of repression respond to resistance.
Black Genius built the pyramids, not slave labor. Black hands have built pyramids all over the world. In Afraka, Asia, Amerika and, apparently, even ancient Atlantis! I mention this because there are some very schizophrenic people out there who can’t make up their minds whether or not to try and steal the credit from Black people about who built the pyramids or to condemn Black people for using slave labor to build the pyramids.
Four hundred years, 5859-6259 AAC (1619-2019 JC-PG): ‘James-town,’ the ‘13 colonies,’ ucptsa and Africans’ freedom
In 6259 (2019), WE acknowledge 400 years since the first known kidnapped African prisoners of war were enslaved in what became the “13 European colonies” and what i call the united capitalist prison terrorist states of america (ucptsa). According to several sources, these Africans were brought to and “sold” in what became the colony of “james-town, virginia” in August of 1619, on a European-English en$lavement ship called the “white lion.” Going forward, look for a number of special events, publications and art commemorating this 400-year event in the coming months.
I have been thinking a lot recently about restorative justice practices and violence – physical, psychological and emotional violence and the harm to persons, immediate and long term, as well as the harm to their associate families and communities. Not much attention is paid to the survivors of violence unless the violence is by the state, yet every day people are making choices which harm innocent people. Why is the activist community silent when it comes to advocacy for these silenced survivors?
A 23-year-old African American male is accused and convicted of murder in the second degree. Sadly, there is a higher chance of that happening with our young Black men than any other ethnic group in the U.S. Even when evidence favors a Black defendant, the verdict of guilty is handed down to Black males between the ages of 18 through 35 at four times the rate for whites. Take Aljerwon Moran, for instance.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, the Alachua County Commission unanimously voted to become the first elected authority in Florida to end the use of slave contracts from the Department of Corrections (FDOC). The Gainesville branch of the Incarcerated Workers’ Organizing Committee (IWOC) applauds Alachua County for leading the state in ending the use of slave labor and calls on the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida to follow suit.
As I sit here today in the hole at the San Francisco County Jail known as CJ 5 in San Bruno, I’m saying to myself enough is enough with the brutal treatment here at the jail. On my desk is a copy of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Policies and Procedures Handbook, and although I can’t see them, there are some invisible policies and procedures being practiced on the daily at the jail. The San Francisco sheriffs’ “Don’t fuck with us, or we’ll fuck you up” policy is in full force, and if you think it is a game, I have first hand experience with this “hands on” policy, and it has been the worst experience of my life.