Now that we’re supposedly free, Blacks have become the majority of the U.S. prison population. And that is because the free labor of Black slaves built this country into a profitable, prosperous enterprise for whites who are trying to keep it that way.
Since I became “woke” about the true level of racism and injustice in this country, it has become easier to recognize the proverbial “house negro.” One of them recently commented to another prisoner, “He thinks he’s Black,” referring to my constant defense of Black people and anti-racist views and loud comments about that racist pig in the White House. Of course, he didn’t say this to my face.
In the same way that Black dollars matter, our story also matters and we are responsible for holding and sharing our stories and the stories of our ancestors. Often in public education the stories of our ancestors are left out of the curriculum with the more popularized figures crammed into the shortest month of the year. In an attempt to assist with centralizing our story on our collective consciousness I’ve worked with Sincere in Michigan’s Department of Corrections to create OurStory Calendar.
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.
Since the beginning of 2018, four people in ADOC custody – three in solitary confinement and one on death row – have died by suicide. The suicide rate in Alabama prisons is one of the highest in the country. In June 2017, U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson declared the mental health system in Alabama prisons “horrendously inadequate,” an unconstitutional failure that led to what Thompson called a “skyrocketing suicide rate” among prisoners.
Las Vegas cops jumped NFL star Michael Bennett, held a gun to his head and threatened to blow it off. How else could they have chosen the perfect target to prove that the U.S. is a racist police state? How else could their police union have followed up with a letter imploring NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate Bennett for defaming them by telling his story and claiming that the LVPD had racially profiled him? You can’t make this stuff up.
Marcus Gardley’s “black odyssey,” currently on stage at Cal Shakes in Orinda, translates the Black Holocaust into modern language. Gardley takes an oral history, Homer’s Grecian hero’s tale, then ruptures and reinterprets it so the folks submerged in the waters of confusion gain clarity. Those ancestors at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean are resurrected in “Ulysses Lincoln” – a hero and a warrior.
First and foremost, we must stay on message. And what is that message? We are uniting to End Mass Incarceration and Prison Slavery. In doing so, we have to keep at the forefront of our heart, mind and spirit that slavery – which predominates over mass incarceration – is an economic enterprise system that is mathematically put together and thus capable of being scientifically taken apart.
These brutes, these sadistic Babylon officials must be exposed! Tanakia Watkins was attacked by an inmate today (March 14) and the officers set it up and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to it. They were about to lock her up in segregation. We protested, as she’d done NOTHING and was incoherent. After the attack, they shouldn’t have even moved her. They didn’t even call medical to assist her. Once they had her down the hall, the OFFICERS broke Watkins’ leg in two places.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass. These words of Frederick Douglass embody the very essence and life’s passion of the late William Marx “Bill” Mandel. The best way to remember and honor Bill Mandel is to emulate him!
Last week, an Alabama state prisoner who had testified in an ongoing federal trial over the state of mental health care in state prisons was found dead, apparently of suicide. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, he was found unresponsive, hanging from a piece of cloth in his cell. The state’s attorney said, “Jamie’s case is emblematic of the utter neglect and mistreatment of people with serious mental illness in ADOC prisons.”
A proposal by HUD and the Obama administration that is allegedly meant to combat segregation and break up concentrations of poverty actually threatens Section 8 renters (Housing Choice Voucher holders) – the elderly, poor and disabled – with higher rents and eviction. It has many Section 8 tenants worried about their future in the Bay Area, New York and elsewhere.
Although Bayview Hunters Point is one of the most beautiful Black communities in California, it is also one of the most toxic places in the country due to the radiation experiments that took place on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in the ‘40s and many other generators of deadly toxins, most of them government owned. Dr. Ray Tompkins, a historian and a scientific expert on the pollution in Bayview Hunters Point, gives an in-depth interview. Check him out in his own words.
The love affair between Black folks and the Clintons has been going on for a long time. It began back in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president. What have the Clintons done to earn such devotion? Did they take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African Americans? Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about Black communities? Did they help usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for neighborhoods devastated by deindustrialization, globalization and the disappearance of work? No. Quite the opposite.
On Sept. 23, 2015, at least 19 and possibly as many as 22 men in Administrative Detention at the Menard Correctional Center began a hunger strike that ended on Sept. 28. It was nearly a week after the hunger strike ended before we received any mail from them. The following is a composite account based on what they sent us, written on the first and last days of the hunger strike.
Who were those men who served this country with great pride and dignity? They were Black men who served their enlistment term at Port Chicago Naval Base, in Contra Costa County. These men were enlisted in the service from 1943 to 1946. These men are just now being properly recognized for the historical part they played in making America what it is today.
The names represented in this article are just the “known” political prisoners and no disrespect to any brothas and sistas left off the list. The purpose of the list is to illustrate the current plight of our movement’s political prisoners, who, despite surviving countless hostile encounters with the state’s security forces, are on the verge of succumbing to old age and infirmities behind the walls and gun towers of the empire’s Prison Industrial Complex.
Funeral services were held in Detroit on April 25 for Mrs. Mabel Robinson Williams, the widow of African American revolutionary Robert F. Williams. The Williams served as leaders of the Monroe, North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP during the 1950s until early 1961, when they were targeted by local authorities and the FBI. The civil rights organizers became advocates of armed self-defense against racist violence perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and law-enforcement personnel in the city.
Black labor and business in the North before 1862: Labor and business conditions were slightly better for Negroes in the North than in the South, but discriminatory practices were far from absent. Unlike the South, where slaves were protected in their crafts through the paternalistic assistance of their white masters, Northern free Negroes were faced with severe competition from immigrant workers who were preferred over native Blacks.
The CDCR is proposing new regulations on “security threat groups” or “gangs,” which will be implemented after a regular public hearing, to be held on April 3. The Step Down Program, which CDCR has been executing as a pilot program, is apparently being added to CDCR’s vast number of regulations. The implementation of the official Step Down Program comes while a second legislative hearing on Feb. 11 has been organized.
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