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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.
As we continue to raise awareness and lift up our voices so that we may be heard on the issues of systemic racism and economic exploitation in the criminal justice system, as well as prison slavery and police killings and brutality, we continue to see an evil and determined enemy dig in its heels in the name of White Supremacy. In October 2017, it was reported that the Trump administration is seeking more immigration jails and detention facilities to house more immigrants that they plan to arrest.
As I write this article, I am not sure what day the Civil War began or what day it ended. The facts that I do know about the Civil War are not worth repeating here, as that story already occupies plenty of space in American text. My muse, instead, is about the particular vestige of slavery that the Civil War bequeathed to us on Dec. 6, 1865, that now forms the basis of our struggle to end mass incarceration and prison slavery in 2017.
A call for a national work stoppage was issued for Sept. 9, 2016, to inmates all across America to bring an end to the “exception” – the slavery clause – in the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment upholding slavery for prisoners. Sadly, I, along with a very small sprinkle of inmates here and there on “the farm” (a reference to Angola, a former slave plantation turned into the largest prison in the country) answered the call.
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.” – Gandhi. Corrections Corporation of America and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is the epitome of this quote, and it is not enough for those reading this to agree with the truths delineated herein.
I introduce this manifesto to all New Afrikans (i.e. Blacks) and any human beings who are SERIOUS about changing the inhumane living conditions that we see the people being subjected to in oppressed, impoverished communities throughout Amerika. It is crucial that we assess our conditions based on what is in our power to do, opposed to what someone can do for us.
Classic Black (June 4 , 6 and 7, Southside Theater, Fort Mason Center) and A Night of Tribute in Dance: Blanche Brown (May 28, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center) are shining examples of the majestic spectrum of African American artistic excellence in the Bay Area and two of 150 performances that are part of SFIAF 2015. Co-presented by Fort Mason Center, SFIAF 2015 runs May 21-June 7.