New pamphlet: Pelican Bay prisoners speak

Prisoner strikes and struggles through Marxist-Humanist lens

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the historic prison hunger strikes that ended California’s permanent solitary confinement, Faruq and Urszula Wislanka give a retrospective/perspective on our involvement in prison issues with two talks on “Historic hunger strikes: 10 years after” and “Listening to women prisoners with Marxist-Humanist ‘ears’”

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Thoughts from the Outside: The idea of freedom

March 19, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King’s reference to the Promised Land was his way of talking about the irrepressible idea of freedom. That idea reaches beyond an individual’s life, and beyond the Civil Rights Movement. KIng was confronting the inhumanity of the economy as well as the war in Vietnam.

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Thoughts from the Outside: After Juneteenth

September 22, 2021

Today’s descendants of slaves are asked to accept an interpretation of history that centers on acts of the government, not on those of slaves asserting themselves in their lives. Biden’s recognition of the day slaves “received” their freedom from the government, might help secure the African-American vote for the Democratic Party. But even this limited freedom is under attack.

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Thoughts From the Outside: Capital is out of control

June 29, 2021

Where I work among the homeless on the street, I see the infinite degradation experienced by those discarded by capitalist society and barely surviving on its margins. There were always those who live on the edge. Karl Marx was describing the lack of transparency in social relations: what appears to be a free decision to sell your labor is nothing of the kind. Yet people stay away from thinking about how all labor, even paid labor, is forced labor.

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Thoughts From the Outside: Fred Hampton and the Idea of freedom

May 8, 2021

A recent movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of the state execution of Fred Hampton. The state terrorists were so interested in finding a Judas within Fred Hampton’s circle because Hampton was a powerful new young voice for human solidarity between various groups in Chicago.

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Thoughts from the outside: Lucky I have a job?

March 11, 2021

What is essential for capital to reinforce its authority and what is essential for people to live as human beings are very different things. Seeing through the rhetoric of the “privilege of having a job,” the reality of life under capitalism becomes clear.

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Prison Truth

July 14, 2020

Urszula Wislanka reviews the book “Prison Truth: The Story of the San Quentin News” by William J. Drummond. Prisoners’ humanity is not alone their individual transformation or “personal redemption” as a “human interest” story, as shown by the Pelican Bay hunger strikes.

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Outrage in San Francisco

May 31, 2020

Since May 29, there have been ongoing demonstrations sparked by the outrage over the police murder of George Floyd. They spread throughout the many San Francisco Bay Area cities including ones not especially known for activism like Walnut Creek.

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New pamphlet: Pelican Bay prisoners speak

Oakland meeting: Revolutionary journalism and Prisoner Human Rights Movement

February 11, 2020

Sunday Feb. 16th, 6:30PM 6501 Telegraph, Oakland
We’ll explore the contrast between the practice of revolutionary journalism shaped by freedom as human essence and freedom as a “special privilege” in press freedom under censorship.
Discussion led by: Urszula Wislanka, long-time prisoner-activist, writer/editor for The Fire Inside, publication of California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and journalist for News & Letters.
Faruq, Marxist-Humanist writer-participant in the 2011-2013 hunger strikes at Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit.

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Voices from the Inside Out: What is freedom?

June 27, 2019

What does it mean to be paroled from prison? Before release, all I had was time. It was all torture. Now, I don’t have time. The effort to sustain myself takes most of my time and energy. Freedom, for me, means having time to work out who I am, how I want to relate to others.

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New pamphlet: Pelican Bay prisoners speak

The limitations of restorative justice

February 4, 2018

Prisoner Stephen Wilson comments on Faruq’s article on the meaning of legal standing before the law and how restorative justice is not enough as the need is for transformative justice which focuses on the structures that create oppression and inequality in the first place.

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Review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

June 5, 2017

From a prisoner’s perspective, Faruq reviews “I Am Not Your Negro,” a documentary film and companion book produced by Raoul Peck that concentrates on the writings and life of James Baldwin.

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Voices From the Inside Out: African-American History Month

February 5, 2017

Prisoner Faruq looks at how African-American History Month came to be, stressing the importance of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s vision and how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy included a critique of cultural and social relations as well as race, concluding that history is necessary for formerly enslaved people to move towards freedom.

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Revisiting Fanon

November 26, 2016

Report of a discussion following the showing of the new movie “Concerning Violence” which took on Frantz Fanon and Black movements of the present.

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Humanism: a way forward for prisoners

Prisoner and hunger striker Faruq looks at the way forward after the historic California prisoners’ hunger strike and emphasizes the importance of “the banner of our humanism that allowed the forging of a tremendous unification across the racial divides.”

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