Letters from Our Family (January 2018)

To my Black & Pink Fam,

How’s my family doing out there? My name is Edward “Sincere”. A Bi Black man locked up in America’s Prison industrial complex in Rhode Island. This is my second time writing.

First let me say that I love Black & Pink and I respect everything ya’ll are doing for our LGBTQ community and all oppressed people. I have a chance of going home probably this year after being warehoused here at the RIDOC for 13 years. About 7 of which were spent in solitary confinement. It’ll be my first time back home Since I came to prison at 17 years old serving 24 years. If I’m lucky to come home this year I look forward to joining the Providence chapter of Black & Pink to fight the wrongs or us all and I look forward to assisting chapters from other states If you need help. I refused to stop until you make change!!!

I received a pen pal from Black & Pink some time ago about two and a half years now. Her name is MJ. that’s a really good person, I love them, they have helped me out so much since we’ve been talking. But they are in the middle of watching something for me on Facebook to start a type of platform for myself. If anyone has access to the internet please check it out. It’s called Red Art. it’s going to have art, limes and essays from myself and close friends from inside. Red Heart stands for Reaching Every Dream and Risings Together. Everything will be based on issues surrounding prison, LGBTQ and just life in general.

Before I forget, I won a lawsuit here. The RIDOC had a ban on some black history books, Muslim newspapers and books, and Black & Pink for some time now. I have won the lawsuit and they had to dismantle this list and I’m now receiving Black & Pink again.

A small note to Kara from Ohio: Hello there I read your letter and I want to help you so bad because I myself thought in law but only know RI law. So you don’t have a lawyer, you really don’t need one. You could do it pro se, i.e. you represent yourself. Unless you rally a few people up in OH to sue wth you, you could do a class action and the courts will be forced to give you a lawyer. But I did find two addresses for you to use to your ability:

ACLU ℅ Jeff Gamso
4506 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, OH, 44103

They help you with legal assistance. Also there’s this place called Ohio Justice and Policy Center that I found for you that also may be of some help if you write them. They educate and assist Ohio prisoners dealing with conditions of confinement. They also litigate on significant prisoner rights issues and run an empowerment program for Ohio prisoner:

Ohio Justice and Policy Center
215 East 9th Street
6th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202

I really wish you well on your journey Kara. Cause them hell.

Sincere (RI)


Dear Black & Pink,

Wassup Family? My name is Damon and I’m currently doing time in Ohio. I’ve been receiving the newsletter for about two years and each time it comes I read it cover to cover. When I’m done reading the articles I feel “liberated” but also happy. I feel that way mainly because I am now totally aware that there are many people that feel the way I feel. Like the things I like and see things the way that I see them.

I wrote y’all about two years ago with a letter similar to this one but it never got printed. I still look for it in the newsletters to no avail so I decided to write another letter hoping that this one gets printed. I’m not doing this just to do it either. I’m doing it because I’ve finally found a place where I can be exactly who and what I am without being judged and that place is with y’all. My Black & Pink Family.

I haven’t always had the courage to just be like “yeah, I like men and women,” but as I get older I realize that people are gonna hate us for whatever we do so if I’m going to be hated, I’ma be hated for being exactly who I am and not for who I am pretending to be. Hopefully, these words can and will resonate with someone and inspires them to just do them.

We the LGBTQ community are a beautiful dynamic. Love yourself and be proud of you. I’ll be getting released soon but I plan on staying loyal to Black & Pink. I also wanna give a shout out to Michael Moore from Lima, Ohio. You were the first person to introduce me to this lifestyle and just know that I love you for that and I always will. To the rest of the family, stay strong and keep y’all head up. Don’t let nobody hold you back. Well, I’m out but I hope to see this letter in the pages of Black & Pink.

Love Always Me…
Damon (OH)


Dear Black & Pink,

My name is Charles and I’m a 35 year old Puerto Rican and Black Federally incarcerated male. I’ve been down for five years and I’m shocked at homophobia. LGBTQ community has no protection behind these walls. Often they look the other way as inmates from mobs to simply attack the different. It’s ok to be a murderer or thief but god forbid if you love different or express who you are how you want to express yourself.

I’ve heard about your penpal service and felt compelled to join your fight. I received the newsletter and guards began asking about my preference. I asked why does it matter? But I know why, people want a reason to hate. They feel the LGBTQ lifestyle is sinful. I feel the same way about them. The majority isn’t always right. Be happy who you are.

W/R in solidarity,
Charles (MS)


Dear Black & Pink,

Hi it’s me Crystal. I am doing 20 years at 75% at Logan CC. I am into girls! This prison sucks. The CO’s just do us anyway they want to. I have seen a good friend of mine die. She hung herself. Her name was Shorty Bang. RIP.

We are just a number here. If you don’t have a support system at home, you’re screwed because state pay is $10 a month. Things are so much here you can’t even get all your personals with that. They don’t give us no help here. People donate us stuff, we don’t get them, the CO’s do. I struggle everyday. I am one of those people who have no support. The women here really don’t have nowhere to turn. We have very few CO’s or teachers looking out for us.

Thanks to everyone. Just remember Logan CC needs a lot of prayers. R.I.P Shorty Bang, We all miss and love you. We’ll see justice soon if not God will judge on Judgment Day.

Interim National Director Dominique Morgan!

We’re very glad to announce our new Interim National Director! Based on the strength of his nonprofit leadership experience and commitment to Black & Pink’s organizational longevity, the Board/Leadership Circle voted to appoint Dominique Morgan as the Interim National Director of Black & Pink, effective immediately. In this position, he will assume responsibilities of day-to-day operations and mission promotion for Black & Pink.
Former National Director Tray Johns’s employment with Black & Pink has concluded, and we wish her well in her next endeavors.

Dominique Morgan has been working in spaces of advocacy and support for nearly 10 years, beginning with volunteer work that quickly evolved to organizational leadership. As a queer, formerly incarcerated individual, he brings the intersectionalities and lived experiences he represents to his work. We’re dazzled by all that he does!

Dominique has smart and exciting ideas for both internal capacity-building and external outreach for Black & Pink that he’ll begin to implement in collaboration and collective decision with the Board. He’ll continue to serve in his role as Board President for actions and decisions that would not constitute a conflict of interest. He is traveling to Boston during the week of the 18th.

Dominique secured a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University in 2016. Soon after, Dominique began his current position at Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska as an Adolescent Health Educator. He also founded the organization Queer People of Color Nebraska, is spearheading the development of an LGBQIA Youth Safe Space in Omaha, serves as the Justice Chair for NAACP’s Omaha charter, works as a facilitator for the Minnesota Humanities Project program Increasing Student Engagement Through Absent Narratives, and is a team member on the Juvenile Justice Project with Terra Luna Collaborative.
In addition, Dominique sits on the LGBTQ/HIV Federal Criminal Justice Policy Working Group as well as the City of Omaha’s LGBT Task Force. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his community work to empower LGBTQIA youth and to create opportunities for re-entry success.

Please join us in giving Dominique a warm welcome to his new role!


Message from Black & Pink Leadership Circle

Dear volunteers, members, and allies of Black & Pink,

We are writing to you as the Board of Directors of Black & Pink. We function as the Interim Leadership Circle (LC) to engage in collective decision-making for Black & Pink at the national level, as laid out in the documents created by the Transition Team over the past year. In line with Black & Pink’s values, the Board is composed of 9 majority formerly incarcerated and majority people of color volunteers. We want to express our appreciation for you and to let you know of a few updates from national leadership.

Thank you for all you do to support our collective mission to abolish the prison industrial complex! Almost 300 holiday card parties are taking place to lift the spirits of our incarcerated members during this often difficult season. Mail processing in different regions mostly continues week after week, making sure our inside members’ needs are met on an ongoing basis. Court support training, coalition building, policy work, community education, fundraising events, and individual prisoner advocacy are just some of the activities we know are happening at the chapter level. Black & Pink could not have the impact it does without impressively dedicated volunteers and the essential work carried out by allied organizations to support and build power with currently and formerly incarcerated people across the globe. We see you, and we’re honored to be in community with you.

As you may know, Black & Pink has recently undergone a transition in leadership. Thank you for your patience as Black & Pink undergoes this period of transition. The Board (LC) is currently in the process of evaluating executive staff in response to certain actions taken that we believe were outside the scope of the role and not in accordance with the mission of Black and Pink. We understand that many of you may have questions and concerns at this time. Throughout this process, we are humbly reminding ourselves to center our values, including transparency and organizational clarity, healing and holding our complicated selves, and resisting all forms of oppression in the movement toward collective liberation. Above all, we are staying committed to the best interests of our LGBTQ/HIV+ prisoner family.

We’ve also created new emails to make it easier for you to reach out to the Board (LC) with questions or concerns:

We’re always here to support you and listen to any feedback/suggestions you may have. We want Black & Pink’s amazing volunteers to truly be respected and heard, and we want to continue to foster bonds of trust and solidarity with all individuals and collectives who share our mission and values. Our mission is a long-term one, and we deeply appreciate all the work you do day after day. We’re looking forward to a great 2018 filled with continued organizing to abolish the prison industrial complex and to build a more just world.

In solidarity,

Board (LC) of Black & Pink


President: Dominique Morgan

Vice President: David Booth

Clerk: Michael Cox

Assistant Clerk: Tanya Nguyen

Treasurer: Zahara Green

Director: Afrika Lockett

Director: Douglas Rogers

Director: Johannes Wilson

Director: Reed Miller

Reach out if you ever have questions!

Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. We are so grateful to all of our dedicated volunteers. Please reach out to members@blackandpink.org if you ever have questions!

Letters from Our Family (November 2017)

To my Black and Pink family,

My name is william, but I prefer to go by Lisa Autumn. I am a 35 year old white transgender, born a male but am truly female. I was first diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” in february 2016, and have been trying to get on the hormones since. I first read a copy of the Black and Pink Newsletter while incarcerated in Marianna FCI in Florida in June 2015, and I loved it. This is my first time writing to you all. It is still hard for me to be open and tell people I am transgender, but I’m getting there. All my life I have struggled with my inner feelings, dealing with depression and anxiety. I always felt I should have been born a girl, but didn’t know how to go about taking the steps to begin my transition, and I was scared to ask anyone. But while incarcerated in Marianna, i met a few people who helped me learn the steps. Two in particular Nicole and Squinty, were inspirations to finally have the courage to come out and be me. I left Federal custody in April of 2016, and went into New Jersey State Prison custody. I only have 8 more months before I am to be released, and I will continue to go for the hormones after i am released. I want to thank my brothers and sisters at Marianna for the love and support they’ve shown me- Quack, Nicole, Squinty, Frankie. And thank you all who are part of my LGBTQ family. I love you all. And I hope those who are still struggling with those feelings find the courage to come out. Your are not alone. There is help out there for us all!

Blessed be!
Lisa Autumn ( William) New Jersey



Black and Pink family,

Hello family! I am a thirty-seven year old transgender. I am a homo sexual male that inwardly I feel I’m a straight female. I have been a homosexual since I’ve been 9 years old. I’ve always known there wasn’t something right with me beyond just being gay. When I was twenty-nine years old I began to realize the thing that wasn’t right with me was that I’m not just a gay male but also I’m a feminine gay male. By the time I was thirty I began living more like a female. I am finally living more comfortable in my body. I would consider myself as a transgender person. I was born a male gender but am happier and more comfortable living as female. I’m still a male and don’t plan on changing that; however, I am an extremely feminine male and am happy living this way. Even Though I’ve lived my life as a gay man I was missing something until I began expressing myself as a feminine male. I look like a male but I live and act like a female. I’m assuming I am a transgender. That is a new term for me. I hope I’m using the term correctly. I am currently serving an eighteen year sentence in the Indiana Department of Corrections. I am thankful for the LGBTQ. The prison system has put in effect several things that could make life in prison a little easier for us transgenders. The one thing I just don’t understand is the whole issue of not being allowed to have a relationship with consensual sex with another same sex inmate. I am gonna be in prison for a long time and I might find someone I enjoy being around; We might decide to become a couple. But when the prison realizes we are together they will make a point to separate us. If we chose to indulge in consensual sex and the prison finds out, we would get in trouble. We are adults in prison. Why is it such a problem to be a couple in prison? As for myself i am gonna be in prison for a long time. It gets to be very lonely in here at times. I am planning to pursue a relationship with another inmate if one comes in my path while in prison. This is a big concern for me. If anyone can help me with this please write the B&P newsletter. I will read and be thankful for any help.



Stand Strong by Rickie Washington

Hello Black and Pink family.

This is my first time writing in. My name is rickie. I’d like to share a bit about what i deal with because of being gay. I have to deal with verbal abuse and dysfunctional people wanting to control my life and dictate to me how to live it. Of course I stand my ground and continue to be myself. I don’t like their behavior, but I realize that they are immature, some have been indoctrinated with hate ideologies, others are afraid ant insecure and worried about what their friends might think if they don’t agree with them. I’ve come to realize that some people can’t or won’t change and will always hate gays. Others might accept me as I am and come to appreciate me. The one thing that we all have is our freedom to choose. Don’t ever let anyone take that away. Those that hate- well I wish them well in my mind and move on. Brothers and sisters, stand strong. Remember we’re family. I cope remembering that others among us face similar difficulties. I also meditate and do yoga. Lisa in CA I enjoyed your article in the December newsletter. You lifted me up girl. Keep the positive attitude. Shawty Blue you’re an inspiration girl. Smile! Anna S. you’re and inspiration too. Keep strong. Juicy Queen Bee, be yourself. You’re beautiful. Stand strong girl. All you in the black and Pink family. I love you all. Juicy Queen Bee- your voice is beautiful too.

Message from Tray (November 2017)

Hello Family,

I know many of you did not receive the latest issue of Black & Pink. We have had thousands returned due to an error during the transition that didn’t account for the change in our bank information so shipping was not paid for thousands of papers. They are gonna go back out.

Since this is a double issue I will give my family a recap of my first two months. After our huge transition we had the natural disasters across the country. Black & Pink stepped up to the plate. We rented a Penske Truck in Boston, and we put a call out to our formerly incarcerated family. We collected donations in New York, Philadelphia, Knoxville, Jackson Mi, and Dallas and on to Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston. We met up with the Organization Latina of trans in Texas The OLTT. We delivered over 20,000 to the only homeless shelter specifically for trans women in texas. We even had inside members donate money. Black & Pink showed up and showed out.

Our Brilliant National Organizer Monica James spearheaded the effort and then jumped right back into TDOR (trans day of remembrance) where she is working effortlessly with Brown University in Rhode Island and building the Providence chapter up.

With all the turmoil and hate spewing from everywhere in our nation, I feel that our very humanity is at stake. We have major cities under water, cities on fire and concerts being used as demonstrations of hate. We have an administration that is perilously edging us close to nuclear war, women’s bodies are under attack, and prisoners are literally being left to burn to death in the sweltering heat or drown from lack of evacuations. I know my inside family is catching pure hell. I have personally been threatened by two wardens that if I showed up I would be arrested. But family I got bond money. I can’t fight every battle but I will acknowledge them and set the wheels in motion to fight, we got a team family, we are doing calling campaigns by the hundreds. I am saying all of this to let my inside family know #YOUMATTER. You are not alone. We are fighting. If you don’t get a personal response from Black & Pink that doesn’t mean you are alone.

This space is for my sisters, #metoo was a hashtag created during the last few weeks, it was trending on all social media. Well some of us formerly incarcerated sisters realized that there are sisters suffering right now from sexual assault in a prison.

So my beautiful sisters. All my beautiful sisters who are being abused, who are being used and taken advantage of. All my sisters who cant get the proper care for their bodies but have to let men leer at them to decide that. To the sister that went to the hospital for back pain and was given a hysterectomy without her consent, to my sisters whose bodies no longer belong to them. To my sisters sitting in Carswell, praying they get an iota of treatment so they don’t die in that place. To my brave soldier sisters who are sitting in that cage for defending their bodies, for defending their virtue. #themtoo #metoo I promise as long as I have a voice it will be yours. As long as I have a platform I will exalt your plight, your pain. I will tear down the PIC or Die trying. You are beautiful, you deserved to be cherished and protected. You matter and your body is yours. I love you. I support you. We are the heroes that we have been waiting for.

P.S Simone Littles I got you Fam. Adopted!

Tray and Foxxy

Letters to our Family (September 2017)

Dear Black & Pink,

I just got a hold of your December 2016 issue and I loved it. I was unaware that there was something like this newsletter for us in prison. I’ve been to three different prisons in ten years and I just got this. To have a place where we can reach out to one another, share our stories, and the injustices of the “justice” system is invaluable.

Most of us have had to hide who or what we are growing up and/or in prison. I am relatively new to “the life,” having only been able to accept myself for who and what I am openly and actively 2.5 years ago. I fought myself since I was 14. I’m now 29, openly gay and happy.

Had there been a support system this strong available when I first noticed my feelings, I may have been a whole other person than the one I am today. To be able to accept yourself when you live in a place that makes you feel like you have to hide constantly is a major victory for someone when they’re young. Black & Pink gives confidence to those of us who haven’t had any because of the way we were raised. I’m so glad that Black & Pink is here offering support and encouragement, letting people like me know we’re not alone.

Thank you Black & Pink,
David (OH)


Black & Pink Family,

I recently received your Newsletter for the first time. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in this place. I’m a gay male of color who has just recently started feeling comfortable with who I am as a person. With the “jacket” that comes with being gay in prison it is difficult as all of you know to have true friendships. So I hid who I was for a long time. However, I am who I am and I’m happy with that now.

I met the love of my life at my last unit. I had no idea it was possible for me to find happiness in a place like this but I did. I say all of that to say this, keep your heads up my LGBT family. There is happiness out there for all of us. I was a cutter, I was bullied and I hated myself. But I love myself now and there are people who love me too. I love you. Never forget that. You are special and wonderfully made.

Chris (TX)

P.S.—Pain is inevitable, misery is optional


Dear Black & Pink Family,

I’m writing to send my love, respect, kisses, and hugs to you. My name is Rosalyn. I am a transgender woman (MTF). I’m 32 years old. I’ve been in prison 12 years and I’ve got another 12 years to do in prison. As a female (a trans female, at that), I’ve had a hard time in prison, especially because I’m a Muslim. I’ve been denied the right to freely practice my religion. I’m denied a prayer rug to offer my daily prayers, I’ve been denied a hijab (shawl) to cover my hair during prayer, and when leaving my cell I was out right denied the right to be seen by a transgender specialist based solely on the fact that I was not seen by a transgender specialist and treated for gender dysphoria while on the streets.

That clearly makes this a freezeframe policy, especially since it was given to me in black and white, which makes it unconstitutional, because it does not provide for individualized assessment and treatment for a serious medical issue. But if you look at Arnold v. Wilson, which involves a transgender woman whose diagnosis and treatment began while incarcerated, the courts noted that hormone therapy may be initiated during incarceration upon diagnosis with GID.

I’m a strong, African-American queen and there are two things I will not tolerate: 1) I will not tolerate any disrespect from anyone, especially a man; 2) I will not tolerate, nor accept, the word “no” when my rights are being violated. I’m filing a 1983 lawsuit against the state of Maryland and its officials for denying me hormone therapy due to a freeze-frame policy. I’m attacking the freezeframe policy and their denial of my right to freely practice my religion.

The pen is a dangerous weapon when you have knowledge and the know-how to use it, so it’s very wise for my LGBTQI brothers and sisters to educate themselves and arm themselves with a pen and pad. It’s just like having a MAK-90–it blows through anything. Brothers and sisters, do not fear losing your family and friends because of who you are, because if they truly love you, they will support you, but if they don’t love you, they will leave you. And guess what! You still have your LGBTQI family who will love, respect, support, and accept you for who you are. Don’t hide out of fear of losing family and/ or friends, nor act out of fear of what people think, because in the end, it will only destroy you psychologically. Love yourself for who you truly are: a queen or king.

Love, respect, hugs, and kisses,
Your sister,
Roslayn L. (MD)

Welcome Message from New National Director, Tray Johns!

Dear Members,

Aloha and Greetings to you all, I would like to formally introduce myself. I am Tray Johns (pronouns, she, her, him, he, they, or just tray), the new National Director for Black & Pink. First off, let me express how humble I am to accept this enormous responsibility and immediately give you the reassurances that I fully intend to carry on Jason’s vision and make Black & Pink everything Jason continues to dream of. I am in awe of this man. I love him and his beautiful spirit and his amazing partner Johannes, so don’t fret: they will always be with Black & Pink because I refuse to let him go.

I’m 42 years old, born and raised on the south side of Chicago at the height of the crack epidemic, 1985- 1995. During those years, crack destroyed my family, but not me. I joined the Navy and got out, but the streets always found a way back in me. No matter where I lived, when the going gets rough for Tray the south side of Chicago gonna come out and I’m gonna make it. I was 21 raising five children, the streets took my sister, by 27 I had eight kids under 12, prison took my brother, and I was left with all the kids.

On May 10th, 2003, I graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with my Bachelors degree in Administration of Justice and made the Deans List with eight kids. Then, five days later, I was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison for 9.7 grams of crack cocaine. I served eight years, seven months, and 19 days for less than $500 worth of drugs. I became a jailhouse lawyer, I helped my sisters, I got “transferred” from Greenville, IL, to Hazelton, WV, to Waseca, MN, to Pekin IL, to Danbury, CT. Because I believe in the almighty administrative remedy and the tort claim. So I wasn’t the most compliant prisoner. I once told a warden, “Growing up I have not once told myself I wanted to be the best inmate I could be, that wasn’t in the plan, so don’t think you are gonna get it from me. If you can’t handle me, send me home.” I got “transferred” for a head count.

I have been home for six years, albeit I was sent back for four months in 2015 for leaving the district without permission, when my mother had a stroke in Chicago and I drove five hours to the hospital and called my PO “an hour after I already left.” My second year home

I was making $65,000 a year as an engineer for Continental Tires. By my fourth year out I was knee deep in Can-Do Clemency advocacy for the White House Clemency Project 2014. Many of you may have heard of it.

My rallying cry has been and will always be #freeTyniceHall. She is my prison daughter and friend and I have been slacking in keeping up but I will fight for her until she is home. I will fight against the prison- industrial complex, until it’s destroyed. I don’t give up. In 2016, I traveled to 125 cities, went to the White House three times, was arrested at the White House by the Secret Service. Went to the Department of Justice, organized a rally and march

for Lashonda Hall in Knoxville, TN. My sisters Karen Davis, Lenora Logan, Mackese Speight, and Bernetta Willis, and my brothers Aaron Brooks, James Ortega, and Lawrence

McCarroll—I have fought the good fight for them, and I will never give up. I have spoke at law schools and corner churches, crisscrossed this country, sleeping in my car, tired, broke and determined. I bring that same perseverance and determination to Black & Pink.

I met my wife in 2009 in prison Waseca, MN, I left her in 2010, I came home in 2011, and when she walked out those doors in December 2016, I was standing right there in the airport and we moved to Hawaii with one suitcase and $200 so she would never be alone again. I bring that dedication to Black & Pink.

While Black & Pink is going through this huge transition, I am recently married and am moving my wife, Foxxy, from Hawaii to Boston and dealing with probation. I would ask for your continued support— this organization is nothing without its volunteers. I have a dream opportunity here, and amazing work is already being done throughout the country in the prisons and out.

Our chapters came together at the National Gathering in August and put together the future of Black & Pink and they were simply brilliant— ideas flowed, the conversation was like we had known each other for years, and I was able to capture and see the passion that these volunteers have for this work and feel encouraged that when I officially join the team this train ain’t even slowing down. I applaud every last one of you. I thank you and I look forward to your guidance and your patience as I take on this task and align our visions to destroy the prison-industrial complex in our lifetime.

I look to hearing your feedback.

Yours truly,
Tray “Rock” Johns

Farewell Message from Jason

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. As you turn the pages of this magazine, I hope you feel the love and dedication that so many people put into making this happen. I hope you feel the care that volunteers and other prisoners are offering to you. I hope you know that even as the prison walls keep you from those of us on the outside, you are never forgotten. This magazine is made possible by hours of volunteer time, hours of prisoners writing, and thousands of dollars donated by our friends. Please know that this is just one of the tools Black & Pink has created to help us get closer to the world we dream of. Together, all of us, we have the strength to win the struggle for liberation.

I write my letter this month with a great mix of emotions. This is my last letter for Black & Pink News. After founding Black & Pink 12 years ago, and taking on working full-time as the National Director five years ago, I am stepping down from my role. As I step down, I am incredibly excited that Tray is stepping up!

Black & Pink has gone through a two-year transition process which many of you have been part of. We clarified our values as an organization (with nearly 200 people offering their feedback), we designed a structure chart, and we created a decision making system. All of these things have been designed to increase our work while staying true to our values. All of the changes in this transition have been worked on with intention and dedication. Our shift in leadership is about making sure that those most affected by the harms of the prison industrial complex are always in the lead at Black & Pink. As many have said before, those closest to the problem are the ones with the best solutions. Transitions and change can be challenging, and there will be bumps along the way, though as a family, Black & Pink will always have one another and this this is an exciting time for Black & Pink.

As I step down from this position, do not think that I am stepping out of our movement for abolition. When I got out of prison I reached out to many mainstream LGBT groups to tell them about what had happened to me while I was locked up and to ask them how I could get involved in anti-prison work. Over and over I was told that these organizations did not do work on “criminal justice” issues. Black & Pink started because I needed to stay connected with those on the inside who had looked out for me. I needed to respond to the things I had seen. Now, nearly every major LGBT nonprofit has some dedicated staff time focused on prisoner justice struggles. Many of these organizations have full time staff who work on prison, court, and police issues. There are also nearly a dozen organizations in the country who are focused almost entirely on LGBTQ and/or HIV prisoner struggles.

Much has changed in the last 12 years when it comes to advocacy work. Unfortunately, even as much has changed, far too much has stayed the same. Prisons continue to torture our members. Millions of people continue to be locked up. Abolition continues to feel too far away. While I am stepping out of my position at Black & Pink, I promise you that I will never step away from our values or our larger work. I promise that I will keep fighting.

I am sorry that I will not be able to stay in touch with everyone. There are not nearly enough hours in the day to write to everyone who has been part of Black & Pink. However, you are all in very capable and loving hands. Tray, Monica, and Ty as the national staff are all dedicated to building with and supporting you. Black & Pink will continue to grow and the resources available will expand. Your vision, your voice, your ideas all need to keep shaping what Black & Pink does. Be sure to share your thoughts.

Black & Pink is only possible because our prisoner membership calls upon us to do work. Give your feedback and keep up with what work needs to be done. We will all struggle in this movement together, no matter where we are, knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.


Letters to Our Family (July/Aug. 2017)

Greetings –

Just FYI Black & Pink is making a difference in the lives of oppressed people who happen to be incarcerated in the state of Illinois. The Chicago chapter is one to be truly proud of. They were instrumental in me being transferred here to Dixon C.C., which has a mental health unit. They made calls – they utilized social media – and they were RELENTLESS & FIERCE. I think back to the B&P of old & I smile. 🙂

Jason – You’re a visionary & an icon. It’s a privilege to still be reppin’ B&P all these years later.

I saw it go from a little newsletter mailed in a standard sized envelope to this full-fledged stuffed & edifying newsletter/magazine. This IS a movement. 🙂 I will continue to lend my voice, experiences & talents to advancing the cause of justice, equality, and dignity.

Thanks and remember – U are making a difference. I love my B& P family!!!!

w/ love – in solidarity –
Patrice (IL)


Dear B+P fam,

This is Emily Rayne Vladimir Severus. I’m a TransGender male to female. I’m serving time in the not so lovely state of Oklahoma “ODOC.” I’m fighting for my hormones as of today I got a copy of the “Blanket Policy” that states I have to be on “hrt” hormone replacement therapy prior to incarceration. In fact, as of today I looked up a previous stated case 851.F.Supp.2D at 250 I went to the 9t181 and found a key for Transexuals and something you can find it under key 14 it’s still the same case: Kesilek V. Maloney. It’s talking about the Blanket Policy. This is something that needs to be dealt with.

When is it okay to sit there and deny treatment because your DOC policy says prior to incarceration? Let me give you a little history why I wasn’t on them prior to incarceration from the last time I was told to have GID classification. You have to live as the assigned birth no less than 2 years than you got to live as your preferred gender no less than 2 years. You also have to undergo counseling for x amount of years. I hid myself even though I attempted suicide multiple times for 23 years. In 2013-2015 I lived as a female as best as I could but one thing stopped me as money kept me from applying hormones and also I was still undergoing counseling at the time of my arrest. It wasn’t until June 2014 I got the diagnosis then I got it confirmed by a doctor here in DOC. The one thing still remains.

You wouldn’t deny insulin to a diabetic, would you? No but I’ve heard of one case they did. The Blanket Policy for ODOC needs to end. Here’s the next problem I have no money to take it to courts in fact the previous Assistant Warden threatened to “ship” us off the yard if we even thought about putting in paper work. I’m one of the many that decides to go ahead and put ink into pen and paper and help in justice for transsexual/transgenders in Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections. Today, we as humans, need to quit being afraid and come out of hiding. Even though my name hasn’t changed due to a S.O. bill negating sex offenders to getting name changes, Nov. 2014 we need to be vigilant. My boy name at birth is Jon Matthew McDaniel Crowell and when I go through this change I can’t allow the state to keep me as Jon Matthew McDaniel Crowell as a girl/woman. We need to fight the Oklahoma Justice System and keep our rights because even though Grays are our clothing we are humans. I would like to thank my sister Isabella for the information. I’ve been receiving B+P for 2 months now and even though mental and emotional pain it causes me I’m a little joyed that she put it in there. If it wasn’t for Isabella I wouldn’t have went to the law library to check on the case.

I’m hoping to dispute a case in 10th circuit court in Denver, Colorado. For a civil suit on this case I got maybe 2 years max. For my first time of writing the Black and Pink I think I did okay on informing the family about the “ODOC” Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Policy.

w/ Love,
Emily S. (OK)


Dear Black and Pink,

Hello fam! This is Jay of course. Well, I just wanted to say a few words to everybody out there across the country right now who’s either in solitary, segregation, or doesn’t feel the place they don’t want to be in. Especially to those in the Texas penal system, because in TDCJ I know how it feels all the oppression, discrimination and those who feel who can’t do a damn thing about it. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. I made a powerful decision putting my foot down and stop dealing with other people. I’ve decided to grow a pair and fight for what I believe in and the pride I have of being gay. I’m 21 years old and I’m getting too old for all the hate and I still show love to my enemies. There’s a song you should listen. It’s “Nirva-Brother.” When I heard it, it spoke to me about Brotherly love and love that God gives despite of anything we all have. Also, “KJ52 – Island of Misfit Toys” says about God loves us even if you’re gay. He said he wanted to make a song for those who didn’t fit in, To think god hates gays but no He loves everyone the same.

Nobody knows this but God created everything to fall into place even the LGBT community. He made us to show and be an example of love. We have love to everyone even if we hide hate in our hearts. I feel like I hate the person in front of me but I don’t. I dislike the person’s action of what they do. Don’t worry because one day, God will come and He will show us His love and created a new world where all the LGBT will freely show love. That’s what I believe.

I read the newspaper and I feel and find comfort in keepin’ up with the family. This is where I found to where I really belong. I’ve received also the Spanish version and I was amazed how the staff pulled it all together. Thanks to you for reachin’ the Hispanic community. I just want to say keep your head up high and not to be afraid. Fight if you have to. That’s what I’m doing. Are you?

I love you all and stay strong!

Love and in solidarity,
Jay L (TX)


Dear Family,

Hi all! My name is Ashley and I’m a trans* identified woman currently being housed in a male facility in the Oregon DOC. I’ve been receiving Black & Pink for a while now and have yet to see anyone from Oregon write in so I decided to write in to let everyone know what’s up for the LGBTQIA family in Oregon.

Trans* identified adults in custody with a Gender Dysphoria diagnosis in the Oregon DOC can now petition the Gender Non-Conforming TLC committee to receive state issued undergarments that align with their gender identity as well as petition to receive access to a gender affirming canteen list. In order to begin this process, they need to contact Mental Health (BHS) and inform them that you want these things. This will begin a drawn-out process that will take six months to a year to complete. But it’s so worth it! While wearing makeup bras & panties doesn’t miraculously make me feel 100% in-line, it does help alleviate some of the dissonance that I experience. This is the first time in 14 years of incarceration that I feel more like my true self and less like an actor.

We are still fighting for access to hormones and other medical affirmations. Thankfully, the ACLU of Oregon has decided to look at moving forward with at least 9 of our cases. Fingers crossed! it’s only a matter of time before all DOCs are forced to provide services.

I would like to close by sending my strength and solidarity out to all of our family inside and outside of the walls. Most, if not all, of use have faced hardships, pains and traumas that would have destroyed the wills of the “average” individual and caused them to back away from the perceived “sin” to society; But not us. We openly declare our LGBTQIA status in spite of the hardships, pains and traumas and fight back against the oppression. Remember that you are awesome, loved and deserve happiness. Stay strong my friends.

<3 Ashley (OR)

Older posts «