By Rick Ayers | Medium
A book review of Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row (written with Thai Jones and Logan McBride). 2018. Chicago Review Press.
Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row, proceeds with the relentless rhythm of a horror story. You know what you’re getting into from the beginning — you expect a range of jolts and shocks along the way — and yet there’s an unanticipated surprise in Kitchen’s descent into the dungeons and catacombs of our vast prison system: the real horror is all of us. The peculiarly American gulag rides along on our willful blindness, manufactured ignorance, and passive participation.
By Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture Contributing Editor
I have just returned to the US from a week in Trinidad, my mother’s home country. While I enjoyed getting reacquainted with the place where I had spent the first few years of my life, I was happy to come home to the US. As my children and I got off the airplane in Houston, we walked behind a pair of Texan men, who had incidentally stayed in the same hotel as us in Trinidad. They were part of a large group of oil men who had come to do some work on the island. As we approached the customs hall, there were airport workers who were ushering us, US citizens, to the kiosks which would get us through much quicker than people who were not citizens.
By: Patricia Valoy | Contributing Editor for Science and Social Justice
Last year I quit my job, lost my steady source of income, lost my health insurance, and learned I was pregnant all in the course of 2 weeks. I am college educated, a professional, 30 years old, and with a wealth of resources at my disposal from many years of feminist activism, yet I found myself terrified of what lay ahead of me, and wondering how I got myself in such a situation. I could no longer go to the ob-gyn who had been my doctor for 10 years, and the only local doctor that accepted Medicaid (the only health insurance I could get without any income) was severely overworked and lacked the most basic of equipment. My first two appointments I waited for over 4 hours, and on one occasion the sonogram machine was not working. I grew up poor in New York City and very familiar with the severe lack of health infrastructure that affects the most vulnerable, but the thought of not having adequate health care during my first pregnancy terrified me.
By Bill Ayers
On April 26 and 27 we joined thousands of people from around the country and around the world at the Peace and Justice Opening in Montgomery, Alabama. Days were filled with formal and informal gatherings, reunions and new connections, the Peace and Justice Summit featuring many powerful thinkers including Elizabeth Alexander, Jelani Cobb, Ava Duverany, and Michelle Alexander, and on the last night, the Concert for Peace and Justice. The focus of the gathering was the unveiling of two breathtaking new sites: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum, both projects of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
By Love and Protect and Survived and Punished
In 2010, Marissa Alexander, a mother of three from Jacksonville, FL, was violently attacked by her abusive, estranged husband. Just nine days after giving birth, Marissa’s husband strangled her, and tried to prevent her from escaping her home. Marissa was able to make it to the garage where her car was parked but could not open the garage door. Trapped, she retrieved her permitted gun from the car and re-entered her home where her husband lunged at her, yelling, “Bitch, I will kill you.” At that moment, Marissa fired a single warning shot upwards into the wall, causing no injuries, but saving her life.
By William C. Anderson
The Confederate memorials throughout the South have been a regular eyesore for Black people for too long. Before Dylann Roof’s massacre in Charleston, I had always thought their removal was extremely unlikely. Now that some locations in the South are finally ridding themselves of these symbols of white supremacy, the pushback against their removal raises questions about what they really represent. This conflict is about more than how we remember history and it’s about more than the preservation of Confederate memorials. It seems that for defenders of these memorials, taking down the statues is a concession of sorts that whiteness is no longer valued above all else. Ultimately, the attempt to preserve these memorials is about preserving ideological whiteness and white supremacy.
By Dan Berger | Black Perspectives
The stirring directive sounded like the denouement of a legal thriller: “I am going to ask you, if you will, for the next few minutes to think Black with me—to BE black,” famed defense attorney Leo Branton instructed an all-white California jury at the outset of his closing statement. “Don’t worry. When the case is over, I am going to let you revert back to the safety of being what you are. You only have to be Black and think Black for the minutes that it will take for me to express to you what it means to be Black in this country.”
Having temporarily empaneled an all-Black jury, Branton then delivered a stirring indictment of antiblack racism, from the Middle Passage to the Fugitive Slave Law, Dred Scott decision, and Jim Crow. Hours into his speech, Branton “relieve[d]” the jury “of that responsibility” of Blackness. Then he read a poem celebrating Black love as a redemptive act. By the time he closed, several jurors had tears in their eyes. Three days later, on June, 4, 1972, Branton’s client was acquitted on all counts: Angela Yvonne Davis was free.
By #FreeBresha Campaign
On May 22, 2017, 15 year old Bresha Meadows accepted a plea deal that would reduce the charge against her of aggravated murder to involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification. Bresha, as a part of the plea deal, was sentenced to “a year and one day” in juvenile incarceration, at least six months in a treatment facility, and two years of probation. Essentially, Bresha will be transferred to a private treatment center on July 30th during which doctors will evaluate her and determine if she needs to stay in treatment longer. When Bresha is released from treatment, she will spend two years on probation. Her family is relieved that they will be able to see Bresha and have her home much sooner than expected. The #FreeBresha campaign supports Bresha and her family, and also sees plea deals as coercive, denying people agency and choice under the threat of long-term incarceration, exorbitant fees, and civic death. Below is our statement. –Deana Lewis, #FreeBresha Campaign and Love and Protect
By Thenjiwe McHarris, Movement for Black Lives
Contributing Editor’s Note by Dara Cooper
On April 4, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Movement for Black Lives [M4BL] launched Beyond the Moment: United Movements from April 4th to May Day, a campaign “to strengthen the fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect for all people.” M4BL engaged a broad based, multi-cultural, multi-sector coalition known as “The Majority” to kick off a series of actions, teach-ins and events inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech between April 4 and May Day.
In his speech, Dr. King named racism, capitalism and militarism as the greatest harms challenging people to commit to the “fierce urgency of now.” As tens of thousands of protesters converged in Washington D.C. for the People’s Climate March to stand up against reactionary assaults on environmental justice by the current U.S. administration, Dr. King’s warning is more urgent now than ever. Because of the highly racialized effects of climate change, communities of color are the most devastated by our current climate conditions.