On Sept. 13, 2014, the most progressive of the Bay Area’s Black and pro-Black journalists came together to celebrate one another and to give awards to a well deserving few. It was also a salute to the real legacy of Black journalism in the United States that was born out of the fight for human rights and self-determination. The night was dedicated to the memory of the recently transitioned journalist and editor Kevin Weston.
In 1973, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals issued a report which stated in part: “The prison, the reformatory and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it.” This same report stated directly: “No new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed.”
There are hundreds of prisoners who have been falsely validated as members or associates of prison gangs that can viscerally relate to my experience, from living life as an outlaw in society to being prosecuted and convicted to prison, only to be persecuted while in prison, fundamentally for educating oneself by trying to heighten one’s sense of cultural and social awareness.
Having a child with autism who receives special education in public school is a challenge. It can be more difficult for parents of low income, as is my circumstance. I’ve tried different routes to navigate a very difficult and, at times, confusing system. The myriad of acronyms and policy to be familiar with are overwhelming and it can feel as if you are alone in the process – your family against your school district.
Through the years women have played important roles in the revolutionary movement. Today it seems that women have lost interest in being a revolutionary, but it is time for that to change. Women, we have some big shoes to fill, but we can do it if we just step up. It is time to make a lifetime commitment to fighting to end oppression, injustice and inequality. It is time to join forces with our men and be true soldiers for the betterment of the world.
Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance, an action and resource organization in Oakland advocating just, accountable and diverse media. She has been a listener representative on the KPFA Local Station Board since 2007 and a member of the Pacifica National Board of Directors since 2010. We asked her to comment on the situation from her perch as an insider. Here’s what we talked about.
Two days ago, the U.S.-NATO installed regime in Libya sentenced the respected academic and political philosopher Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim to death by firing squad. Dr. Ibrahim was once Libya’s secretary for education and is a Qaddafi loyalist. He has written extensively on the Jamahiriyan ideology or what is known as the Third Universal Theory.
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
Leo L. Robinson believed in the power of the union, and in the power of the people. He fought to change the conditions of women within the ILWU just as fiercely as he fought against the apartheid regime of South Africa. “Inhale the spirit of Leo Robinson. Embody the spirit and go into struggle and battle for victory. Victory is ours only if we struggle,” said one of several who spoke at the memorial service.
Revolutionaries throughout the Americas and the Caribbean owe a great debt to Hugo Chavez. His selfless struggle for the advancement of the masses of poor and oppressed occupied him 24/7. It was with sheer determination and a lifetime of struggle that this great champion of the oppressed, Comandante Hugo Chavez, led a revolution that provides us with a working example of what he termed “21st century socialism,” where people of all ethnicities have a place under the sun.
Oakland may seem like a local anomaly with its big increase in homicides in 2011-12 and the anti-crime hysteria which now engulfs it. But Oakland is just a prime example of the intertwining of crime and criminalization under capitalism, in which the ruling class divides working people one from another and targets particular groups for victimization.
It is time to call for and mobilize “People United to Combat Media and Government Emasculation of Martin Luther King Jr.” It must be recognized that by consistently imposing upon the public the image of a person who had a dream and was essentially innocuous, the U.S. government and the country’s commercial media are emasculating a man in death whom they could not weaken or intimidate in life.
In a world ruled by capitalism only the rich have rights. Everyone else exists solely to serve them, to enhance their wealth. Those of no profitable use should receive nothing. For sharing their wealth would only lead to the wealthy’s own impoverishment, making them equals of the common people, which was unthinkable.
The reform of the Three Strikes Law with Proposition 36 will take a tool away from the police and DAs that has been used to oppress low-income and people of color communities. Any respite from the oppression of racism and capitalism on poor folks is worth voting for. So I say yes on Proposition 36.
From Philly to New Jersey, from the South Bronx to Haiti, us po’ folks don’t need Hurricane Sandy to have a crisis, ‘cause we already in Hurricane Survival. Between gentriFUKation, removal, violence, poverty and struggle just to be housed and clothed and fed and safe, the crisis called Sandy is just one more thing to deal with in an already impossible situation.
In order to effectively challenge the prison industrial complex growth, we must challenge and destroy the root causes of crime. Until poverty, the root cause of mass incarceration, is destroyed, we will see a steady rise of citizens in the prison industrial complex.
The increase in hunger strikes in state prisons throughout the United States, inspired by the courageous examples of Ohio and California prisoners, show we don’t fear death or persecution, but minimizing losses is a part of wise strategy. We struggle to win. Unnecessarily losing some of our best minds to indeterminate isolation won’t help this purpose.
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote Dostoyevsky. If what he says is true – and I believe it is – then America, which boasts the largest prison population in the world, is perhaps the most uncivilized country there is. Who better to speak to the reality of prison life than someone who is living the experience?
We feel it’s important to be a part of this conversation. If there’s a national and international conversation going on against capitalism and imperialism, we need to be a part of that. But folks also gotta undersand that racism needs to be talked about and that white privilege still exists.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Occupy Oakland was supposed to celebrate its one-month anniversary in the renamed Oscar Grant Plaza in front of City Hall. Instead the Occupy Movement worldwide was shaken by the cold-blooded murder of a participant less than an hour before festivities were scheduled to start.