Without mass actions like the current nationwide prison strike, which bring direct awareness to the issue, these stories go largely underreported.Note: Due to the safety of the incarcerated individuals, some names were changed to allow anonymity. We speak carefully on the phone, fully aware that anything said can become grounds to get him sent to ‘segregation’, so we talk in non-absolutes and coded language. The phone line is fuzzy, distant, and unstable today—sometimes it sounds crystal clear, other times I think he may be underwater—but still, we speak with covert passion. “I’m sure you heard the news of what’s happening all around, yeah?” he asks me, not saying the words but still conveying the conversation to me. “It’s really fuckin’ courageous for people, what [they’re] doing,” Charlie, an immigrant who has been incarcerated in Georgia for almost six years and is now at Stewart Detention Center, the fifth facility he’s been transferred to, tells me. “I keep my faith, but niggas go crazy in here,” Charlie says with a voice that’s increasingly shaky. We quickly change the subject. The topic of resistance can be fleeting and constricted for incarcerated people like Charlie, but it’s often present nonetheless. The “news” that Charlie was referring to is the nationwide prison strike, which was announced in April and began last week. https://twitter.com/JailLawSpeak/status/988771668670799872 Earlier this year, incarcerated people across the U.S. announced plans to hold a nationwide prison strike from August 21st to September 9th. The dates are not random: August 21st invokes the day that comrade George Jackson was murdered by prison guards in San Quentin State Prison, and September 9th marks the day incarcerated people began the Attica Prison Uprising, one of the most notorious prison uprisings in history. Lead by an abolitionist collective including groups like Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, and others which culminate incarcerated and non-incarcerated organizers, this strike, now several days underway with many reports of involvement across the country and over 300 organizations endorsing it, could be the largest prison strike in U.S. history.
The DemandsThe strike is in response to an uprising at Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina where seven incarcerated people died on April 15, 2018. Based on multiple reports, the violence and subsequent deaths at Lee Correctional Institution was provoked by prison guards and then sustained by prison officials who turned their backs on the incarcerated people as the violence increased, not attempting to break up the fighting or give medical aid. “The demands were issued in direct response to the violence at Lee Correctional Institution,” said journalist and prisoner advocate Jared Ware. “Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is a human rights organization inside prisons, and the language and the choice of their demands in many ways reflects the way they work, they deal in policies, they examine laws, they write writs, they help with appeals, they file grievances against abuses in prisons.” The strikers’ demands are both straightforward and complex, with the crux of them calling attention to the need for “humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.” While organizers have noted that their demands don’t illustrate or tackle the totality of problems they face as incarcerated people, they do cover much important ground that we on the outside should pay close attention to and appreciate.
The demands are crafted as calls to uphold human rights standards, and intentionally so.In a recent interview with Ware for ShadowProof, a representative from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak said the creation of the demands came from “talking to a number of prisoners in a number of different locations”, narrowing them down from over 30 demands to the ten we see today. They wanted the demands to be specific in their aims, but speak to as much of the incarceration as possible, from women’s prisons to immigrant detention centers. Of the demands, the first two may be the most general: immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women, and an immediate end to prison slavery by paying incarcerated workers ‘the prevailing wage’ in their state for their labor. The demands are crafted as calls to uphold human rights standards, and intentionally so. Utterly inhumane conditions are a permanent fixture in most jails and prisons across the country, and have been the catalyst for many prison uprisings. In the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC), incarcerated people have reported the spreading staph infections and other diseases due to the unsanitary, dirty environment. In other cases, incarcerated people have died from heat exhaustion due to lack of air conditioning, have been denied access to clean drinking water, or have had minor health problems become life-ending occasions due to medical neglect. Following Hurricane Harvey last year, reports piled in that incarcerated people in Texas were left with no electricity, no running water or working toilets, and no ventilation for several days.
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This whole public transport model is rotten to the core, and after several deaths over the years, students finally took to the street to demand their right to road safety. By Sarah Nafisa Shahid On Aug. 5, as I walked in
The Time Person of the Year cover is a visual reminder of how white feminism attempts to dictate the direction of progress while BIPOC are expected to do the behind-the-scenes (or between the pages) labor.I held my breath when I saw the TIME Person of the Year shortlist, hoping that the weekly news magazine would not vindicate Trump after crowning him with devil horns on last year’s cover. Thankfully, the magazine gave credit to the well-deserved Me Too movement and the thousands of sexual assault survivors who have come forward in recent months. It was their selection of cover models that left something to be desired. No men or nonbinary people were featured, and although Tarana Burke was granted a feature inside, the founder of the Me Too movement is noticeably absent from the front cover. Standing solemnly in the right corner is Taylor Swift, who won a lawsuit earlier this year against David Mueller, a radio DJ who groped her during a meet-and-greet event. According to Swift, Mueller reached under her skirt during a photo op and grabbed her ass. After the photo was taken, Swift alerted her security staff, who confronted Mueller and informed his employer of the incident. Blaming Swift for his firing, Mueller sued her for damages to the tune of $3 million. Swift, refusing to be silenced, counter-sued for $1. No one is denying the significance of that moment and what it demonstrated to Swift’s young fans about standing up to our abusers, but we cannot ignore how the pop star’s privilege played a role in her victory. We also cannot ignore Swift’s selectivity in supporting feminist movements, and how she only seems to do so when it serves her interests. TIME’s decision to position her as a voice of the movement is not only inaccurate, it displaces victims like Ke$ha, who literally lost everything by refusing to back down from her abuser (and yes, I am aware of Swift helping her cover legal expenses). The TIME magazine cover doesn’t get it entirely wrong. They recognize victims who are unable to come forward by picturing the arm of an anonymous woman. They also feature Adama Iwu, who is changing the face of lobbying with a campaign to expose sexual harassment in Sacramento. Since the Me Too movement was reinvigorated on Twitter via Alyssa Milano, it’s become clear that the status quo is changing. The entertainment industry will likely never be the same, but to honor the spirit of this movement, we have to give space to those who continue fighting an uphill for justice.
Ending Net Neutrality is a nail in the coffin of resistance. Fight it.If you have been on the internet at all in the past five years then you’ve likely heard about the fight for Net Neutrality. In a general sense, the loss of Net Neutrality will be a major inconvenience for many people but it will be absolutely devastating for marginalized groups. The loss of the internet as we know it will lead to further oppression and silencing of marginalized folx around the world. The internet, including social media, has become an important tool in helping marginalized groups, be they people of color, LGBTQIA+, or women be seen, heard, and organize for their collective needs. It has been a way for people to communicate, share information, protect and help each other. This isn’t to say that it has been all sunshine and roses. The internet is also, in part, responsible for the rise of literal Nazis marching in the streets. That is true but it is also true that without the internet we would have not had the BLM movement that has drawn such focus on police brutality nor would #NoDAPL had the coverage and support it garnered. Right now, you can access pretty much any content you could want to find on the internet. From mega money sites like Facebook and Amazon to the little independent shops and sites dedicated to specific causes and information. The world is your oyster.
Carving out space for Kashmiris to exist authentically has been difficult. Even in the safest and most welcoming of spaces, I have found myself cornered by a community I supposedly share so much common ground with. By Shabana Shaheen Whenever I’m in