From the January-February 2022 issue of News & Letters
There’s proposed legislation in Oklahoma to withhold 10% of state funds from public institutions if they teach any parts of the “1619 Project.” This makes the Scopes trial in post-World War I Tennessee seem minor by comparison. Oklahoma was formed as a territory decades after slavery, yet shares a common attitude with slave masters.
I am overwhelmed by how much forces of counterrevolution released by Trump are trying to make USA into another Afghanistan. They have completely turned the clock around: In 2020 the media were all discussing Black Lives Matter; now they are focusing on “Critical Race Theory” being shoved down the throats of innocent white children. Very innocuous books are being banned from schools and libraries on the strength of parents’ objections.
LEARNING FROM 1619
For years now, I have used quotes and examples from American revolutionaries such as George Washington and Ben Franklin to make my points. I recently finished reading the 1619 Project. It was an eye opener. Washington, Jefferson, and many other “founders” were slaveholders. Even Lincoln held off on the Emancipation Proclamation until he deemed it politically and militarily expedient. I may well continue in this vein, but with eyes wide open. There is no country for young or old workers. A new patriotism must be created—a patriotism of planet Earth.
BACKLASH TO WOMEN, BLACKS
It’s important to point out that when women demand respect, there’s a mentality that interprets demanding respect to destroying men. Critical Race Theory is just telling the truth of history but an interpretation is that it is destroying white people. This is so aligned with ancient patriarchy.
Los Angeles, Calif.
RACISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
With the first-year anniversary of the right-wing storming of the Capitol, there were rightfully a multitude of analyses and commentaries on the event. However, the vast majority were rather superficial, discussing the threat of neofascism (quite real) and the need to protect “liberal democracy” by running for office in local elections, passing voter protection legislation, etc. Rare was the analysis that posed the need to examine capitalism itself, and specifically in the U.S., the fact that the long history of white supremacy has always undergirded the deep contradictions of American civilization’s vision of democracy. Without a serious analysis and concrete steps to uproot this foundation of our society, fascism will remain and return again and again.
Civil rights veteran
CENSORSHIP IN PRISON
I am another youth oppressed by this capitalistic state that deprives us of our so-called liberty and freedoms for profit. I have been incarcerated for two and a half years in this for-profit system of corruption and oppression. This country does nothing for us but impose their own views on the masses and disallows views of those who stand against this system. I am barred from ordering books that I politically align with. My wish to order The Communist Manifesto was denied. I am requesting a subscription to your newspaper.
I must report the heavy hand of government censorship has struck down on me with a mighty blow. Last year the North Central Unit mailroom claimed that the book They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery promoted racial violence. It is written from an African-American point of view. A previous head at the mailroom allowed an inmate to have this book. Now our mailroom workers claim that the May-June 2021 issue of N&L promotes violence. This is not the only crazy thing. I get Our Daily Bread every other month. The address card contains a Bible verse and full color landscape picture on the other side. With the new mailroom coordinator, I have not been getting the card. Newsletters from places like Titus House Ministries, a religious group, are now photocopied instead of coming in with their color intact. [See article page 8.] The prepaid envelope for my Salvation Army Bible study was declared contraband and destroyed. Another inmate had his copy of The Watchtower denied him. They photocopied the front cover and sent it to him, then shredded his religious material. Our mailroom morons need to be fired!
Calico Rock, Ark.
THE 13TH AMENDMENT AND SLAVE LABOR
A giant issue today is that the lifeblood of prisons is slave labor. Prisons could not function if prisoners did not do all the physical work. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has legal slavery in its Constitution—the Exclusion Clause of the 13th Amendment. I’ve been informed that more than 65 organizations are involved in the effort to: 1. Take the Exclusion Clause out of the Amendment, or 2. Pass an Amendment that bans slavery as punishment. I know you love giving ink to discussions of Marxist theory—how about devoting space to something that really could make prisoners’ live better, stopping slave labor and how prisoners can join the fight for abolition.
Cañon City, Co.
Editor’s note: We also love giving ink to ridding the Constitution of the Exclusion Clause. If you search newsandletters.org for “13th Amendment” you’ll find Faruq writing on “Prisoners discuss impact of 13th Amendment,” Robert Taliaferro on “George Floyd and the 13th Amendment,” and a dozen more articles and Readers’ Views. Thanks for bringing this important issue up again for our readers.
INCARCERATED IMMIGRANTS FACE RACISM
At California Health Care Facility, we are fighting the good fight for those of us who are not fortunate to have “legal” status in this country. The VISION Act (AB937) introduced in the California legislature last year would end harsh double punishment of incarcerated immigrants who are handed over to ICE after completing their prison terms. CDCR has no legal reason to hand people over upon their release, yet they choose this racist policy. California is a sanctuary state. While other people who pay their debt to society return to family and community, incarcerated immigrants face deportation simply because of where they were born. We urge everyone to help keep families together by supporting AB937.
TRANS WOMEN ABUSED IN PRISON
I’m not sure if you can help or not but doesn’t the Prison Rape Elimination Act and federal law, as well as the Mandela Rules, prohibit routine cross-gender strip searches? This place is using male staff to strip-search Trans women. They are refusing to provide women officers to do the search, not even providing a female chaperone. They force Trans women to be alone with one male officer and be stripped and examined. How is this legal?
Federal law determines gender by genitalia and Trans women are placed in men’s prisons. This is a recipe for state-sanctioned rape. My friend’s name is Yanna, and she is an incarcerated Black Trans woman. Like most Trans inmates her crime was financial in order to raise money for transition surgery. Since her incarceration in 2014, she has been raped a documented 135 times, including gang rape and rape by a staff member. She suffers from undiagnosed PTSD, and rarely leaves her cell. She is safe at this facility, and people look out for her. We are fighting for her compassionate release.
PRISON ACTIVIST RESOURCE CENTER (PARC)
PARC’s National Resource Directory focuses on rehabilitation and social justice. Its 24 pages feature 23 categories such as Legal Resources, Innocence Projects and Educational organizations and publications. We print once a year, and update the directory weekly on our evaluation sheet, included in each mailing. Our website has the entire directory available online. Prisoners receive it from PARC, the publisher. A FREE directory can be sent to prisoners across the country. We are not a law office and can’t make referrals to attorneys.
Prison Activist Resource Center
PO Box 70447, Oakland CA 94612
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5 for a prisoner who cannot pay for a subscription to N&L?