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Many New Afrikans (Blacks) for some reason think that the revolution is dead. The revolution is not dead. It is the spirit of the people that is dead. They have forgotten their history. And since their spirit is dead, the revolution is at a standstill or stagnant. Revolution means to bring about a change. A revolutionary is one who is dedicated to bringing about that change. We can all agree that change in these times is indeed needed. Revolution is needed! The people’s spirit is only dead because those of us who claim to be revolutionaries haven’t sparked their interest.
Kanye West has never been afraid to speak out even if what he had to say wasn’t in line with popular opinion. Kanye saying slavery was “a choice” offended many people by degrading the lives of the millions of people who suffered for centuries as slaves. Recently, at the White House, Kanye sprinkled some gold gems in with the foolishness, especially his statement about the 13th Amendment, which did not abolish slavery, not in prison. I refuse to reject the help when entertainers like Kanye West join prisoners in advocating for prisoners’ rights.
Fear and deference of prisoners toward their captors (conditioned through outright violent terror) replicates almost exactly that of Blacks towards whites under the chattel slavery and Jim Crow systems of the Old South. The absolute power of prison officials is no less extreme. And they exercise that power just as arbitrarily. But oppression breeds resistance and a movement is underway where prisoners across the U.S. are staging a range of protests in opposition to slave labor and inhumane treatment in U.S. prisons.
Across Amerika, home of the world’s largest prison population, growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice. Foremost, they are victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment and selective criminal prosecutions, while denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security.
There is a branding within our communities that is honored, praised and promoted – a branding that has been adopted out of ignorance and is more dehumanizing than the word nigger. Yet, this branding has been promoted and ingrained into the psyche of many within our communities to the point that it has been accepted and even worn as a badge of honor, not unlike the derogatory “nigger” terminology. The branding I’m referring to is the mark of a beast, a killer, a robber, a drug dealer or, simply, a criminal.
On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3's decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
As both the political left and right decry the heartless immigration policy that is separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the white evangelical community is proving once again to be the taillight instead of the headline on issues of basic morality and justice. This is not the first time in U.S. history when those among us who most loudly cite from the Bible outright ignore or deny humanitarian crises.
As we know who read the Bay View newspaper, Bay View is one of the baddest grassroots newspapers on the planet. Now just think for one fleeting moment that the Bay View news did not exist or was taken away. I feel yo’ soul; it’s not a pretty picture. Of course, we must do our share to support this great grassroots Bay View news, but we must start demanding of those we support that they must support us by any means necessary.
Slavery ended in the U.S. after the 13th Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865. However, disabled slaves were kept on plantations because slavery was connected to the ability to work. Jim Downs, among other scholars, wrote an essay entitled, “The Continuation of Slavery: The Experience of Disabled Slaves during Emancipation,” which explains that disabled slaves were seen as non-workers. Because they could not work, they were kept on plantations to be “taking care of.” But in reality, they continued to work for their “masters.”
During early 2018 prisoners across Florida are gonna “laydown” in nonviolent protest of the intolerable conditions in Florida’s prisons. The objectionable conditions being protested include unpaid slave labor, compounded by outright price-gouging in the system’s commissary and package services, and the gain-time scam that replaced parole, which, coupled with extreme sentencing, has created overcrowding and inhumane conditions.
After the court order to shut down D-unit, CDCr administration has implemented a scheme to get around the court order by housing general population prisoners (Level II) in a SHU (Security Housing Unit) that is designed for maximum security and only allows for movement that is grossly restricted. The implementation of this scheme by CDCr and CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] to refill these housing units, was only to receive the multi-millions of dollars Pelican Bay lost with its closure.
Prisons are corporate entities. We can make the calls to End Prison Slavery and Amend the 13th all we want, but the fact remains that if we don’t organize around defunding the enterprise, nothing is going to change. The Campaign to Redistribute the Pain 2018 is more than just a boycott against prison contractors. It is more than just a call for the next salvo in the struggle to end slavery. It is, among other things, the next step in the process to forge our struggle into a national movement.
Speech delivered at the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C.: Let me tell you what’s going on here today. This is the largest gathering of slavery abolitionists in the history of the United States, happening right here today. In 16 cities across America, they are marching in unison with us and in solidarity with us, and they’re not doing it to end mass incarceration. They’re doing it to end what? (Slavery!) Slavery.
On Aug. 11, white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, against the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, It turned deadly. The Charlottesville events happened just a week before Aug. 19, the date of the planned mass rally in Washington, D.C., against mass imprisonment. This rally and the growing movement of which it is part are aimed at dismantling not merely symbols of past racism and slavery like Confederate monuments, but the 13th Amendment, which still authorizes slavery today and is directed predominantly against people of color.
Saturday morning, Aug. 19, the day dawned bright and sunny, not a hint of the rain that drenched us the evening before. At 10:30 a.m. when I arrived at Freedom Plaza, there were people with posters and event T-shirts and a brother with a bullhorn. Robert King and Albert Woodfox were there in Amend the 13th T-shirts. King was passing out information about the law – the constitutional amendment – that legalizes slavery. Later on, at the rally, he would conclude the event, which lasted about five hours.
I started writing this series and planning this Campaign to Redistribute the Pain with the intention of getting everyone’s understanding up on the importance and power of economics to our struggle. We can’t march and protest our way to freedom. Instead, we have to bankrupt the corporate enterprise that was created by the 13th Amendment. I don’t make this statement lightly: The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country.
Starting on the 15th of August through the 21st, the FDOC (Florida Department of Corruption) will be “offering” the prisoners elaborately cooked elegant meals. This “nice” act of courtesy by the system is an insincere plot to prevent its slaves – according to the 13th Amendment – from participating in any protest, sit down or movement aimed at abolishing the 13th Amendment’s slavery clause or exhibiting any sign of power of unity amongst the prison class.
Ava DuVernay undertook the documentary “13th” in order to explore and bring attention to the Prison Industrial Complex. The film’s title refers to the 1865 amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in which slavery was abolished “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The story told by “13th” thus goes back to the early chain-gangs of Black prisoners – men arrested for petty offenses under the post-Civil War Black Codes who were then contracted out to perform labor that they had previously performed as privately-owned slaves.
Good morning and welcome to Wanda’s Picks, a Black arts and culture program with the African Sister’s Media Network. We are joined in the studio by Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Malik Rahim. Welcome to the show. Today we are going to be talking about the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington. We can talk about solitary confinement, political prisoners, the 13th Amendment. We can talk about what the need is for having such an event.
Though few Americans know it, the exception clause in the 13th Amendment makes a person a slave when they are convicted of a crime and sent to prison. I know that former President Barack Obama, a constitutional scholar and a Black man, understands this. I applaud his efforts to address issues of mass incarceration. I understand the symbolism of his visit to a federal prison, the only American president to ever do so. These were important first steps, but there is a long road ahead.