Black and Pink PVD: who we are and what we do!

About Black and Pink Providence

Black and Pink PVD is the Rhode Island volunteer-run chapter of Black and Pink. Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ and prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing. More on our purpose and analysis here: http://www.blackandpink.org/purpose-analysis/

Stay up to date by checking our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/blackandpinkpvd/)  and signing up for our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/bKkzqv . You can also send an email to providence@blackandpink.org or write to us at Black and Pink PVD, PO Box 29444, Providence, RI, 02909. Please remember we are entirely volunteer-run and while we do our best to respond to everything, we may not get back to all email and mail immediately.

Our chapter was created in summer 2015. The below description of our group was last updated in April 2017 and is subject to change. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about us!

Inside members

Our local incarcerated members (inside members) in RI all identify within the LGBTQ umbrella and/or as HIV+. We communicate with and take leadership from them in what we do and how we do it, especially when it comes to advocacy and direct action. If you know someone incarcerated in Rhode Island who would like to become a member, have them send a letter with their info to us at Black and Pink Providence, PO Box 29444, Providence, RI 02909. Members receive a monthly newsletter and occasional chapter updates and communications.

Mail processing

We are able to contribute to Black and Pink national efforts and hear from members across the country by volunteering to processing mail we pick up from Black and Pink headquarters in Boston. This consists of reading mail and entering information into an online database that we provide training for. Entering this information into the database allows people who are incarcerated to get involved with Black and Pink by receiving a newsletter and/or penpal. We usually do this on the first Sunday of each month at Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), 669 Elmwood Ave 2nd floor, from 6-8pm, while eating snacks!

Monthly organizing meetings

“Free world” members meet monthly to organize all that we do! We encourage people who want to get involved to come to a mail processing or penpal matching event before attending your first organizing meeting (then please be in touch to make sure we don’t forget to loop you in to come to the next organizing meeting!). Typically we meet on the third Thursday evening of each month in members’ homes in Providence.

Penpal Matching

We hold penpal 101 info sessions around RI for anyone interested in starting a penpal relationship with a currently incarcerated LGBTQ or HIV+ person through Black and Pink. Please be in touch at providence@blackandpink.org if you are interested in us holding a session for your community group.  You can also read more and sign up for a penpal online today at  http://www.blackandpink.org/pen-pals/

End Solitary RI campaign

We are campaigning to end the use of solitary confinement (“disciplinary confinement” or “segregation”) in the Rhode Island detention centers and the prison/jail (ACI). To learn more, check out this article by one of our members: http://solitarywatch.com/2016/07/15/solitary-confinement-in-rhode-island-faces-challenges-from-legislators-activists/

Holiday Events

One of our biggest & best events each year is our holiday card-writing party in early December, where we eat food, write, draw, and color postcards for Black and Pink inside members around the country. We also raise money and send a holiday food package to each of our inside members in RI.

Educational workshops

In addition to Penpal 101 trainings, we occasionally we host other events and educational workshops related to the Prison Industrial Complex, including Nalaxone (Overdose Prevention) Trainings.

Local friends and partners

We support all local prison abolitionists! Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)’s Behind the Walls Committee, PrYSM’s Community Defense Project, The AMOR Network, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee PVD, Students Against the Prison Industrial Complex, and Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP, organized locally by COYOTE RI) all do directly related work in our area.

Black and Pink PVD | PO Box 29444, Providence, RI 02909 | Providence@blackandpink.org

Letters to Our Family (April 2017)

Black & Pink Family,

Hey, my name is Koriana, I’m 21 years old and I’m in Chillicothe Correctional Center. I’ve been locked up for 2 1/2 years and I still have another year and a half left. I’ve been getting these Black & Pink newsletters for a while, but I feel like this last one was the only one I actually took the time to read. This is the first time I’ve written to you guys…

Some of you talk about the things we have to go through in prison with these officers. I’ma tell you a little about my situation…OK, well, basically I’m in the hole for “Creating a Disturbance.” Because I was getting patted down and the officer who was doing my search was purposefully being rough about it, which I thought was unnecessary and I asked her why she was searching me like that. The guard who was doing my search doesn’t like me and to be honest, most of the other officers in Chillicothe don’t like me either. She said that there was nothing wrong with the way she was searching me and stated that “she knows how to do her job” and “doesn’t need me trying to tell her how to do it.” That’s when I said, “I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, I’m just saying you don’t have to be rough about it.” Then she said, “Why are you creating a disturbance by arguing with me?” I said, “I’m not, I’m just saying you’re being unprofessional about the way you’re searching me.”

After that, she told me to go have a seat, which I did, and about 15 minutes later the “white shirt” game in and told me to come with him and the guard in the back (away from all the other offenders). He asked me what happened and I told him and I even said, “You can ask all the other offenders who was watching the whole thing.” The white shirt told me that he doesn’t listen to offenders and went on and on about how he thought I was just trying to get attention by creating a disturbance. Then he told me to turn around and cuff up. They took me to the hole and lied on my violation saying that I said, “Don’t touch my tits and my crotch.” I never said no shit like that! But whatever these officers say goes. They gave me 30 days in the hole for this.

In the meantime, I wrote the caseworker, the F.U.M., and the warden about how I need P.C. from certain offenders. I signed P.C. and put all the names of the inmates I need protective custody from and how I don’t feel safe on this camp with them. So would you please transfer me to a different prison? So I’m sure I’ll be sitting in the hole for quite a while.

I think I’m mainly just writing this letter to vent and maybe even get some advice on some of the stuff I go through in this prison. I’ve been in prison a little over two years and I’ve spent pretty much the whole time in ad-seg for things I didn’t even do. There’s a lot of racism that goes on with these officers and writing an IRR or grievance or grievance appeal doesn’t anything but make the guards act worse. I’ve written so many grievances and every single one has gotten denied because I didn’t have enough evidence that the guard said or did something.

I was told by a “white shirt” that if I keep on with my attitude, the next time he puts me in handcuffs, he was going to break my wrist, pepper spray me, and put an assault case on me saying I assaulted him. And that he was going to “fuck [me] good” and treat me like an “AIDS-infested child molester.” And he would make sure that I never got out of prison. I wrote a grievance on him and he lied and said he never said those things, but tried to counsel me on my behavior, so my grievance got denied.

I’ve had guards come in my cell and throw my stuff around just because they don’t like me. I know it’s just a “power issue” with most of them. A lot of the guards have a lot of hate in their hearts and take it out on us for no reason. And there’s nothing we can do about it because most of the time when you do say something about it, it just makes things that much harder to deal with. I feel like being in prison has humbled me, but at the same time it’s made me bitter and angry inside. Writing grievances doesn’t help, dropping kites to the warden doesn’t help, having the little bit of family I have left calling down here doesn’t help. So what will?

Also, I wanted to say I’m sorry for all the inmates who have lost someone very special to them while being in prison. It’s hard, it’s really hard…I lost my mom last year, 1-31-15, and I’m still not dealing with it right. She’s all I really had, she was the only person in my life who never gave up on me. I mean, I still have family I talk to and they help me out while I’m in prison. But things will never truly be the same for me now that my mom’s gone.

So yeah, my heart goes out to all the prisoners who’ve lost their mom or dad or child or anyone who has ever meant anything to them. Everything happens for a reason, and for real, I’m blessed to have been locked up while my mom passed away. Because if I wasn’t, I feel like my life would have been a lot worse than what it is now. There’s no way I would have been able to deal with that! I’ve never really been big on drugs, but I probably would have been if I was out on the streets. I was in the hole when I found out. the guards came and got me out of my cell and gave me the phone and a number to call, which I recognized it as my brother’s number. When I saw it was his number, I knew something bad had happened…I called him and that’s when he told me that my mom got in a car accident and hit her head and suffered brain injury and that she was gone…

To everyone who’s locked up and going through something and feels like they have no one and that no one cares, always remember…God cares and even though it may seem like you have no one, you always have him. Smile, keep your head up and stay strong…

Sincerely,
Koriana, XOXO

 

Hey there Black & Pink family,

My name is De’Andrea but you guys can call me Andrea’Rahkayle. I am a 36 year old transgender woman nine months into a 16 year prison sentence in California. That alone is a story itself. We will dredge upon that in a later submission. I want to thank Jason and the entire Black & Pink family incarcerated or not, for your love, support and stories of experience. I encourage you all to continue the spread of love and compassion in much needed times as such. I encourage you all to keep fresh on the mind, our young and adolescent family members out there free in the world and in Juvenile Detention facilities who are being bullied, molested, abused, abandoned and neglected because of sexual orientation and gender identity. I encourage you all to pray for the lives lost and taken because of hate. Remember we have a voice whether young or old, and we all deserve an opportunity to be heard. To all the incarcerated and non-incarcerated Family defeating HIV, I encourage you to be strong in faith, to take care of yourselves by adhering to all instructions regarding medications, exercise, and nutrition and safer sex. To my girls and creative gay boys, prison is no fashion show nor a candy shop nor a dating retreat. Hurry up and get out. Rehabilitate, get some degrees, get out so we can purchase your extravagant Spring collection and ballroom designs. I know the men look scrumptious, but your freedom and success tastes better. To my best friend Russell G. I love you and miss you and thank you got introducing me to Black & Pink. Jason we love and appreciate your time, effort and patience. Black & Pink, you all are amazing people with super powers. Let’s take over the world with love.

Love,
DeAndrea’Rahkayle (CA)

 

Dear B&P Family,

My name is Richard, a.k.a. Stefana. I just got a chance to read the January/February 2017 newsletter. A lot of the letters & poems in this edition struck my heart and I’ll explain why. First I would like to say to Anjela S. from Texas that I totally know how you’re feeling right now. Your poem totally nailed exactly how I’m feeling. I even tore your poem out to save it in case I pass my copy of the newsletter to someone else. To Antonio H. in Pennsylvania: do they mess with your mail at all? Because they can’t and should not be able to do anything w/ legal mail. I myself am trying to get things together to file a lawsuit against the PADOC for violation of the Eighth Amendment, which is cruel and unusual punishment, for not providing adequate mental health services and letting me endure emotional and mental stress and abuse by 90% of the inmates at my facility (over 2,500 population), and a good percentage of staff who cause it directly, and because the ones that do care about helping us can’t do much. So, through no fault of their own they end up furthering my pain. If they mess with your mail I advise that you send a letter to:

PA Institutional Labor Project
Attention: Angus Love, Esquire
718 Arch Street, Suite 304 South
Philadelphia, PA, 19106

He helps those who are in prison and don’t have funds or not enough funds to afford a regular lawyer. He specifically handles cases that deal w/ state and U.S. constitutional rights. Ask if there is any way he can have an immediate injunction put on your facility and have the state police transport you to a different facility. To get you out of harm’s way (whether it be from others or by you if you get that scared or depressed). NO one deserves to be treated like they’re a door mat. Hold on there and hopefully things get better for you. To everyone else out there that’s suffering like me or Antonio H. or Anjela S., remember you have others who are riding this violent storm also. In parting I would like to say I’m Wiccan and I will pray to my Goddess that we all be blessed with protection and that our futures are close to being like paradise. I would like to send out all my love to everyone. Till we meet again, may your days be plentiful and healthful.

Blessed Be,
Richard G. (PA)
AKA – Stefana

 

Hey Black & Pink World!

My name is Kelsey and I’m your newest brother in the Family! I’m a 28-year-old single white bisexual male. Before I got locked up, my “intimate friends” used to know me by the name Keko. This is my first time writing a letter like this so please bear with me. This is also the first time I have ever openly admitted to the world that I am bi. I was inspired to write this letter after reading the Dear Family letters some of our brothers and sisters wrote in the last couple of issues of this amazing newsletter. Hopefully this is only my first of many letters to you all. I’m not writing to simply introduce myself. There is something I would like to get off my chest. After reading about Marsha Johnson in the January-February issue, I was not only disgusted but pissed off at the lack of an investigation into her death. I understand that 1992 was over twenty years ago, and times were much harder for members of the LGBTQ community. Especially for those as open and outspoken as Marsha. But she was still a human being, just like any straight man or woman. How could the police ignore the testimony of her family and friends, of those who knew her best, who saw and spoke to her on a daily basis? Didn’t her life, her hopes and her dreams, her struggle—didn’t any of that matter? Don’t ours? And what scares me and makes me even sadder is that Marsha is not the only one out there that this has happened to. I look forward to the day when horrible injustices like this don’t exist anymore. To all those who fight everyday to bring that day closer, for our equality and our rights, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please fight on. Yours is the voice of those who cannot or simply do not know how to fight. And to the family and friends of Marsha Johnson. I am sorry for your loss and if my words have made you relive your pain. If there is ever anything I can do to help, please let me know. Now, I simply can’t allow myself to leave off on such a somber note. I’m sorry, I just can’t. Call it a character flaw. So before I wrap this up, I’d like to give a shout out. I’m a huge nerd who is into Anime, Manga and video games. At my last facility I played Dungeons and Dragons with a lot of my friends, but my game of choice will always be Magic: The Gathering. That being said, I think I’ve got a crush on Princess Harmony from Black Girl Dangerous. An Afro-Latin trans woman who’s into Anime and video games? UNICORN! Haha! Alright, everyone, be safe and take care of yourselves and each other. And remember a little love makes the world go round.

Blessed Be,
Kelsey “aka KeKo” K. (CO)

Message from Jason (April 2017)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you well. I am writing this note on the Spring Equinox, imagining the life peeking out from under some of the snow we have here in Boston. I am glad to see the winter go, as my friend Tyrone said, “We survived our first of four winters under the Trump regime.” I am hoping that the life of spring gives even greater life to our growing resistance to policies of violence and oppression that keep coming out of Washington.

I wanted to spend most of my note this month reflecting on the recent tv special, When We Rise. This was a four-night special that played on ABC telling some of the story of the LGBTQ movement in the United States. The special focused on three primary characters living in San Francisco, Cleve Jones, Ken Jones (no relation), and Roma Guy. To be honest, I was quite resistant to the show and was not planning to watch it. After choosing not to watch it when it was on tv, I started receiving letters from some of you telling me about how much it meant to you. I then visited two members in a Boston jail who also told me that they had watched it, and said I should do the same. I was resistant because I did not want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to watch it because I knew they couldn’t cover everything, and I knew I would get upset. I didn’t want to watch it because I didn’t want to see Dustin Lance Black white wash the story. However, due to the letters I got from the inside and the jail visits I had, I decided I should watch the special.

Of course, like any mainstream story, there are deep flaws with When We Rise. One piece of the problem that many have been talking about is the absence of bisexual people and the only token inclusion of transgender women. I was disappointed that there was no attention to prisoners, though there was some important attention to police brutality and harassment of LGBT people. However, I was very moved by the series (I only watched the first 3 parts, up until 2006). It also didn’t hurt that there were lots of cute people in the cast (I swoon for Michael K. Williams). I appreciated seeing spaces in San Francisco that I am familiar with. I’ve walked down Castro street, cruising the guys. I’ve been to events at the Women’s Building. I’ve walked around the Mission. I appreciated seeing places that I know are important to our LGBTQ liberation story. While it was an incomplete picture, I am so glad that someone tried to tell this complicated story.

I was particularly moved by the stories around the early days of the AIDS crisis. I often think about how we lost such a huge part of our community to AIDS. According to another documentary I’ve seen, We Were Here, one half of all the gay men in San Francisco died during the first 10 years of AIDS. We do not talk enough about the community trauma we hold due to all that loss. We lost so many of the radical gay men mentors we should have had. We lost the feminist, anti-racist, sex-positive, anti-capitalist gay and bisexual men who were organizing and f*cking all across the country. As we were dying, one of the things When We Rise showed so well, was that it was lesbians who came to the aid of gay and bisexual men. It was these amazing sisters in the struggle who staffed the AIDS wards when no one else would. This story too often disappears. This care and solidarity should remind those of us who are men to be sure we are acting in solidarity with lesbian and bisexual women.

The LGBTQ movement has not ended. The stories told in When We Rise are far from the only stories that need to be told. One of the roles this magazine can play is to provide space for us to tell our own stories, stories of the past and stories of right now. The movement continues today, there is so much work to be done. I am thankful for those of you who told me to watch this ABC special, I appreciate your wise suggestions coming from behind the walls. We will keep telling our stories and writing down the walls knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

Hosts needed in Chicago for National Gathering

Chicago is hosting Black & Pink’s National Gathering this year! We are looking for Chicago folks to host members coming in for this event! If you are interested or know someone who is interested, fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/bgcQz4eykjhYkWFt1

host

First Working Group Meetings Call Schedule

After a process of building a new structure for Black and Pink’s national work, we are kicking off national working groups focused on specific work areas. These first calls will be about getting to know each other, introducing the general idea behind the projects, and deciding how best to move the group’s work forward. Even if you did not sign up for a particular working group, you are welcome to attend the meeting. After the first meeting, we will create google groups for each working group that people can join.

Click HERE to find responses to some of the questions we received about the working groups.

Click HERE to find the descriptions of the different working groups.

To join the calls, please use the number and code below:
Call in number: (641) 715-0634
Access Code: 711061

Call Schedule:

Working Group Date Time (eastern standard time)
Fundraising Monday – March 20 9-10:30pm
Reentry Thursday – March 23 9-10:30pm
Pen Pal Support Sunday – March 26 7:30 – 9pm
End Solitary Confinement Monday – March 27 9-10:30pm
Court & Bail Support Tuesday – March 28 9-10:30pm
Database & Technology Thursday – March 30 8-9:30pm
Prisoner Feedback Collection & Assessment Tuesday – April 4 9-10:30pm
Transformative Justice Wednesday – April 5th 8-9:30pm
Newspaper Monday – April 10 9-10:30pm
Research & Policy Thursday – April 13 5-6:30pm

Welcome Monica James, National Organizer!

WMonica James, National Organizer for Black and Pinke are incredibly excited to announce that we have hired Monica James as the first ever National Organizer for Black and Pink. Monica will start working with us in mid-March. We are so excited to have her on board. Monica will be responsible for supporting chapters, both inside and outside of prison, coordinating national working groups, and organizing national gatherings for Black and Pink. Join us in welcoming Monica!

Monica James has dedicated her life to the fight for trans equality and has been recognized as a national and international activist. Just 10 years ago Monica was viciously attacked by an off-duty police officer in Boys town (Chicago), arrested, and charged with attempted murder for defending herself. Recognizing her need for competent legal counsel and support, she began writing to LBGTQ organizations locally and abroad telling her story and stumbled upon the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois. An organization that had just recently established themselves as a legal resource for TWOC, that have been criminalized marginalized and overrepresented in the legal system. TJLP sprang into action and started mobilizing the community to write to her and show up to her court hearings and trial, while coordinating with her public defender to educate them about the struggles of TWOC in hopes of strengthen their strategy of defense. Ultimately, she was found guilty of a lesser charge but is credited for the changes within CCDOC’s handling and practices of LGBTQ detainees.

Since then Monica has been engaged in ongoing advocacy work for trans equality and justice. That lead her to become a 2014 delegate to testify before the Committee Against Torture (CAT) at Geneva Switzerland. She has presented for many panels and universities nationwide and has been recognized as a voice and spirit of truth.

Volunteers needed for new working groups

We are creating 10 new working groups and we need you to volunteer! These 10 working groups will meet over the phone or on video chats and will be responsible for strengthening Black and Pink’s efforts. These working groups will have staff support from the National Director or the National Organizer from Black and Pink. Members of chapters and people who are not connecting to chapters are all encouraged to join the working groups.

Please click on the image/link below to fill out the form to join a working group. All the details about the 10 working groups are included in the sign up form.

Letters to Our Family (February 2017)

My name is Kara Rene B.  I am a transgender female prisoner currently incarcerated at WCI in Ohio.

I would like to share an experience with you about how the State Constantly negates my rights as a transgender prisoner.

One day there was a fundraiser and we could pay for pictures at $4.00 per photo.  I was so excited because I was talking pictures for the first time as a woman.  None of my family has seen me as Kara, they only knew me as Adam.  So I got dressed, did my hair, and makeup and damn I looked Fierce!  I then walked to the visit room to take the pictures and no one stopped me.  I went inside and was not told that I couldn’t take my pictures with make-up on, they only said that anyone with a tank top on had to go back and change into a t-shirt.  So I took the pictures and was so relieved that they provided me with the same dignity that is afforded to male prisoners… for once, and then I went back to my cell.  Two days later, someone came and shook my cell down looking only for make-up.  He found my stash and wrote me a ticket.  When it came time to receive the photos, they said that I couldn’t have mine because “male inmates are not permitted to wear or possess cosmetics.” WFT?!?  I am not a male, I am a transgender female.  So now I am being criminalized for my gender identity.  It hurts to know that, apparently, even my money is not wanted.  Wow that gives me the message that I am less than a human being and something is wrong with me.  Is it any wonder why the suicide rate or transgender teens is through the roof?  We are constantly being bombarded with the message of inferiority everywhere we turn.  I guess it is ok for people to make fun of us…  It seems that it has always been ok to marginalize one group or another because we live in a culture that thinks its okay to treat us differently or “less than,” I end up with the staff here following along with the larger cultural program.  That is why it is so important in my eyes to draw the line in the sand about these pictures.  Because its not really about the pictures, its about confronting an oppressive and abusive society that murders some of its children with scorn and condemnation.  A society where bullycide is an unspoken norm.

We all deserve a future that is better than that.  I’m fighting for a different future than the one currently shoved down our throats.  I believe that any human being should feel safe and secure to express who we are, wherever we are, without fear of government-sponsored terror forcing us back to our “assigned seats.”

For me, this is war.

These are my non-negotiable demands transgender prisoners must have.

  1. Availability of all property items available to prisoners of their same gender and security level.
  2. Mandatory enforcement for all ODRC staff to reference prisoners by the appropriate pronouns consistent with their gender identity.
  3. Mandatory enforcement for all ODRC staff to reference prisoners by their name of choice consistent with their gender identity.
  4. Accommodation for the grooming and maintenance consistent with their gender identity.
  5. Accommodation for cell assignments that eliminates the possibility of discrimination by proxy, by forcing the inmate to cell with someone who is not a sexual predator but has antithetical believes that will subject the inmate to an intolerable living environment.

If there is anyone out there reading this who wants to add fuel to the fire, I am taking these demands to the Federal Courts for recognition of all transgender prisoner rights.  What I don’t have currently is legal council, or funds to obtain legal council, but iI am hoping there is a community out there beyond the fences that cares as much as I do about the next generation of children who otherwise will be murdered with scorn and condemnation.

It stops here.
It stops now.
Who’s down?
Kara, OH

 

Black and Pink Family,

I just want to thank you all at the Family for keeping me informed of all the bad things that are going on in the outside world. The people that are committing these mean and sad acts against the LGBTQ people. I would like to send out my grievance to all of the families that lost loved ones in that awful nightmare. I want to pray for everyone that was lost. I’m praying for all the family and I want to wish you all the best and I’m hoping and praying that you all at the Family are in the best of health and are doing fine. I’m still here, confined, but strong in will and in spirit with the help of the Lord, Amen! Let everyone know that I’m praying for them all at the B. and P.

Samuel F. TX

 

Dear Black & Pink,

I absolutely love your platform and the strength it gives to the LGBTQ community both inside prison and in free society. Your courage inspires me to embrace myself and those around me who are suffering under the same conditions. I’ve been reading your newsletter for over a year no and I’ve grown tremendously as a human being. You’ve allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin and I love all for it. It’s nice to know that there is an organization that supports and nurtures people like me. You have given a voice to the voiceless. You have breathed new life into a class of marginalized and disenfranchised individuals. You have earned our trust and respect because you believed our humanity was more important than our sexual preference and gender orientation. You are a beacon of hope, a healer of broken hearts and crushed spirits, and a sanctuary for us to explore our creativity and discover our hidden potential. Thank you so much for your sacrifice. On behalf of the LGBTQ community of Oregon State Penitentiary, we love you and wish you all peace, happiness, and success. Keep up the amazing work. You are making a difference.

One love,
Shawn W-X, OR

 

Dear Black and Pink Family,

This is my first time writing. My name is James W. I’m 36 years old and currently serving a 6 year sentence for my first probation violation. I’ve been receiving the Black and Pink newsletters for a little over a year now, maybe closer to two and really enjoy reading them. My favorite part is reading other people’s stories and experiences. It really helps me knowing that there’s people out there that knows what I’m going through.

I’m planning to transition to female and am currently trying to get on the waiting list to start my evaluation process towards (hopefully) getting my gender dysphoria diagnosis and starting on my transitioning meds. I’ve known (since the age of 7) that I wanted to be a girl. I feel that it is unfair to have to go through any kind of doctor so they can verify something I’ve known for almost 30 years!

I haven’t suffered any physical abuse since I’ve been here, but I’ve been threatened, talked about, and made fun of for over 3 years now. It’s very frustrating when people go out of their way to criticize you for who you are when you don’t bother anyone or you don’t force your beliefs or opinions on them, sometimes it hurts very badly!

I just wanted to thank everyone for inviting me and welcoming me into your family, it means more to me than words can say to be a part of something I believe in and support with all of my heart and soul!

Guess I’ll close for now, will write again later. Everyone take care and never give up on making your dreams come true!

All my love and support,
Jinny, VA

 

Dear Black & Pink Family

This is Jeff. M. Bi-sexual white male from Cameron, Missouri Prison in solitary since 2016 of April. I want to say I love you all my Black & Pink Family LGBTQ in prison and outside in the free world. I love reading the news letter of Black & Pink, and knowing I am loved and not rejected as a person. I got locked up on this case in 1994, and if I had my Black & Pink Family to turn to and talk to I feel I would not be here. It has made a difference in my life now knowing I have a family of friends LGBTQ that accept me for the way I am which is bi-sexual me. Before in 1994 I did not fit in & I had to hide being me. But not now! Thanks Black & Pink Family I love you LGBTQ your beautiful inside & out. I want to give a shout out to my best pen-pal friend Jess. T a member of Black & Pink in the Free World. She is an angel with a beautiful heart–take care my friend. When I get out of the solitary hole and get in population I want to introduce black & Pink Family to my gay friends, and let them know they are not alone, and LGBTQ Family stands together in and outside of prison. Well my LGBTQ Family I will close now, have a nice day–I love you all.

Sincerely—Jeff M. MO

Message from Jason (February 2017)

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. For those of you who have been allowed to go outside, maybe you have noticed some of the unseasonably warm weather that has been going across the country in February. As much as I don’t want global climate change to destroy our planet, it’s nice to feel some warmth in a month that is usually so cold. It’s a mixed blessing. Beautiful days in February are a strange sign of the harm our planet is facing. As a New Englander I am constantly thinking about and talking about the weather, thanks for being patient with me.

As we think about the impending doom facing the planet, it’s impossible not to mention what is going on with the president. How many of you got to watch the Grammy’s? Did you get to see the incredible performance by A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes? I nearly fell off my couch watching the brilliance. They called Trump out on his racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant policies. There was a beautiful moment where they had a bunch of people burst through a makeshift wall. It was a song of powerful protest.

During the song, Busta Rhymes referred to Trump as “President Agent Orange.” Many people make fun of Trump for his orange hue, created by his terrible fake tan. The choice of the name “Agent Orange” seems very intentional to me and very accurate. As you might know, Agent Orange was the name of a pesticide used by the US government during the Vietnam War. The pesticide was part of what they called, “herbicidal warfare.” They were using Agent Orange to destroy the plant life and the crops in Vietnam. The US military was trying to starve the Vietnamese people and destroy the jungle that the Vietnamese fighters were using to their advantage to defeat the US military (just as they had defeated the French before). The pesticide did not only devastate the land in Vietnam, it poisoned millions of people. Donald Trump is like this, devastating our planet and causing great suffering on people. I think Busta Rhymes named him well.

Trump and his cabinet have used each week to bring about one terrible policy after another. His “Justice” Department recently rescinded the Obama plan to end contracts between the federal BOP and private prisons. As an organization, Black & Pink has not focused a lot of our attention on private prisons. We have not focused much on private prisons because we see the focus as a distraction from the fact that ALL prisons are evil, regardless of who own/runs them. We also see it as a distraction from the fact that the profit motive is secondary to the true purpose of prisons, which is to control and regulate those society considers disposable or threatening, particularly Black, Latinx, Indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ, and poor people. However, the recent letter that opened the door to more contracts with private prisons included a particularly scary sentence. In his memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote that the BOP should return to the previous approach of contracts with private prison companies in order to, “meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.” As a so-called “Law and Order” president, we can only speculate about what the Trump Administration intends to do to expand incarceration. This is something we will be paying more attention to in the months and years to come.

Things are certainly in a scary moment right now, but as we saw at the Grammys, and as we see in the streets every day, resistance is strong and powerful. It is our collective responsibility to keep our fight going and we have the power to fight back in many different ways. I am thankful to all of you for your daily struggles to justice. Let us continue to fight knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

February Updates from SF/Flying Over Walls

Hello Family!

 

Letterwriting and mail processing events:

  • Our next event will be our every-other-month letterwriting night at Somar Bar on Monday, February 27, 6:30-8:30pm (1727 Telegraph in Oakland). We will have letters to stuff to send inside to 185 of our members, so join us even if you aren’t wanting to penpal. Details/RSVP here.
  • And save the date for March 22 – still awaiting venue confirmation, but that should be the date of our March letterwriting night. Not at Somar, but also in Oakland.
  • We’ll be scheduling another mail processing night soon, as we’ll be needing to data entry all the forms we get back from our 185 incarcerated members without bios. Date tbd.
  • We will be back at Somar Bar for our letterwriting nights on the following Mondays: April 17, June 19.

 

Prison Visits

We are organizing ongoing prison visits to our locally incarcerated members!! If you have a penpal and are interested in visiting them, request that they send you a visitation form and then send that form directly into the prison. We can assist, if needed. Be in touch if you are interested in joining.

  • We have visited Mule Creek State Prison twice so far together and will hopefully be doing another carpool there on April 8 to visit a couple members.
  • We are getting visits scheduled for San Quentin (2/25 or 3/5 and then maybe again in a month or so).
  • We are working on getting clearance forms and scheduling visits for California Medical Facility, CCWF, and potentially CSP-Sac.

 

Creative Projects

We are getting started locally on a zine project and a live recording project. If your penpal is a poet or artist, and might want to be involved, get in touch.
Commissary

Generally, Black & Pink members decide individually if they have the capacity/resources to send money inside to penpals. However, we have a small grant and are able to offer $20-30 for up to five free world penpals to send to their penpals commissary or to use to buy snacks during prison visits. This would ideally be for free world folks who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the resources to do this.

 

Save the dates!

  • Every Tuesday: Support TGI Justice Project with sending in legal and self-help resources  – get updates here.
  • Critical Resistance Oakland and The Oakland Power Projects present: “Know Your Options: Acute Emergencies” workshop. February 25th, 11am-1:30pm East Side Arts Alliance (2277 International Blvd, Oakland) RSVP: croakland@criticalresistance.org Facebook Event
  • August 4-6: Black & Pink Second National Gathering in Chicago. Come together and celebrate, heal, and organize! We will have a weekend that kicks off with a big party followed by a day of workshops and healing arts and closing out with a day of developing a stong strategy for our organization to use fo the years to come. This gathering is intended for ALL formerly incarcerated LGBTQ and/or HIV+ people, any Black and Pink volunteers, all Black and Pink chapter members, donors to Black and Pink, and those interested in the future of Black and Pink’s work. Some events will be exlusively for formerly incarcerated people.

 

Black & Pink Job Posting

BLACK & PINK NATIONAL DIRECTOR (STARTING AUGUST 2017)

Details here. How to apply: Send cover letter and resume to jason@blackandpink.org

Application Deadline: May 15, 2017

Projected start date: August 1, 2017

 

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