Letters From Our Family (July 2018)

To My Beloved Black & Pink Family:

Peace & Blessings to all you beautiful souls. My name is Bobbie V. soon to be Arya Serenity. I am presently being held in the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution (A.C.I) in Cranston. I am a 5’3”; 145 translatin@ and happy to bring forth some good news from the smallest state in the union. I’ve been reading Black and Pink for many years now and am a very active member in our Providence Rhode Island Chapter and proud to say that this small community has the biggest heart, love an compassion and understanding and were making moves out here slowly yet precise and with that being said the good news is that in the state of Rhode Island at the Rhode Island DOC/ACI I am the first openly transgender woman to transition behind the wall and to my surprise I’ve been met with great support by the RI-DOC’s medical staff Dr. Jennifer Clarke, MD MPH and my physician Dr. Radha Sadacharan, MD and will be receiving feminizing hormone therapy April 19th 2018 (estradiol) and hormone blocker (spironolactone).

I come to bring this good news to my family not to boast but to bring hope into the hearts of those who live in doubt and are struggling in their transition behind the walls. I read the horrid stories of pain and hate and it’s the struggles and achievements of those who preserved and endured in other prisons that made it possible for me, for it was your cases in the courts that won and your prison system that the RI-DOC went to consult asking how they deal with issues of transitioning in their prison system that has allowed for me here in the RI-DOC to transition with such ease and I am forever grateful and indebted to you all.

For those of you who continue to struggle and suffer in silence know that you must never bend that knee in defeat and fight the good fight. Your courage drives me in my activism and advocacy to follow your example in never giving up and to give voice to the voiceless and a face to the faceless.

Family I am to parole very soon and will put theory to practice and do the work of and for our people for a true revolutionary is a lover of the people and love you all I do. I’ve been in the states oppressive systems most of my life as many different personalities from orphan to street thug to gang banga to political activist to a transwoman who is an ex-gang banga that politicized herself. I am very historically, spiritually and politically conscious and aware of the time of day of which we exist in. I’ve been through the fire of hades since a 3 yr old child beaten; then rapes and given up for adoption at the age of 6; I’ve been homeless without family and true friends; neglected and confused in orphanages, group homes and shelters yet all this hell, all this hurt and pain, all this hate and rage gave me experience and this knowledge (for experience is knowledge) gave me awareness and this awareness gave power to my conscious being to not only want to fight and change and save my life but also yours.

This transition into a fiery hot spicy translatin@ is the beginning and end for me, it’s where I start living as the woman I truly am; dedicated to help my people and put an end to my haunting past. I want all you ladies and the greater LGBTQ family out there to know I am here for you. I cry, laugh and love with you all in spirit.

I also want you to know we the Providence chapter of Black and Pink need your beauty; strength and intelligence in our community. You’re needed, wanted and loved so if any of you in the LGBTQ community of Black and Pink seek/ need to relocate and seek to build a community with us in Providence, Rhode Island, seek support, new friendships and family and are willing to fight the good fight to help save lives then contact us at: Black and Pink PVD P.O. Box 29444, Providence, Rhode Island 02907.

Before I end I want to give a big loving shout out to our national director Dominique Morgen. I see you love and to my loving family Danie; Hanna; Trina; MJ; M; Sincere; Bethlehem and AJ and to anyone I may have missed. I love you all, soon the gates of hell will open to let this angel of god do the work of the righteous.

Nuff said I’ve spoken.
Arya Serenity (Rhode Island)

 

Live From The Plantation

The point here is that the very mindset that gives police the license to kill gratuitously – ie, even when they are clearly in no danger, this situation also tells prison officials that they are entitled to inflict both physical and psychological torture on the people in their custody. These are patterns apparently well known to head prison officials but ignored because equal and human rights stop masters/the over-seer profits. This is slavery in upgraded form and its backed by the 13th amendment. Slavery is being kept alive through systemic impunity.

When you let a certain group know that they are above the law, that they can do as they please to other people and they will be protected, you create sadists. When you promote higher wages and rank for only who show fascist tendencies, you create over-seers. I would like to say there are some good prison staff, proimperialist goons, but there are none. There is no such thing as a good prison staff member because the same ones who kick it with you and won’t be involved personally in you being brutalized by their colleagues and not only don’t try to stop the brutality, but don’t say a word, won’t even report it to the proper authority. Job scared, or in fear of friendly retaliation. We are warehoused, mistreated and this is the place where I’m supposed to be rehabilitated! DOC is afraid of genuinely rehabilitated, selfdetermined, independent thinking, politically conscious men and women. It’s no different from when the slaves learned how to read, they had to be freed. The system, this crooked fascist system is safe as long as the slaves/prisoners remain politically unconscious. Instead of “real” rehabilitation, they try their hardest to prevent the development of any kind of organized political movement or resistance to improve our quality of life. Since I’ve unfolded into a conscious prisoner, my goal to play a role in the upliftment of fallen humanity is at an all time high. There is a systematic problem of cronyism which has created an environment that lacks transparency or accountability. If the common people don’t compare prison to slavery, I don’t know where they been living. I have done my part and will continue to passionately fight for the rights of the human beings who have been thrown away and forgotten about.

May Black and Pink live and strive for greatest to free the minds of the people. We focus on things that have no merits while the capitalist class eats and we fight for the scraps. Let’s build, grow, learn, smile, cry live our freedom.

Travis H. (Missouri)

 

Black and Pink..

I will join your fight… Let’s not give up… I would also like to join Black and Pink and share this letter I would like support from my new Black and Pink Family. Trans lives matter. LGBTQIA ours lives matters. Right to get feminine products. We fighting for our rights and respect as transgenders, our rights to be us.

Hello, my name is Terry T. and I am a Transgender who goes by and preferred to be announce and write by the name of Ms. April Tamela Cassidine. as my former stage named. I’m here all alone in this prison in the need of a special friend; advice, help and support for me as a transgender. 1 incident cause me 25 years of my life and freedom. Sad but true my accidental crime change my life like a blink of an eye. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I am tired of being pushed around by staffs verbal harassment, discrimination, emotional abuse.

Every time I files incidents reports or write a grievances it always be swept under the rug like at times I just wanna give up I also pray at times too about my mistreatments and neglected verbal harassment and also my discriminations acts against the staffs here by most of all I know my God will answer me one day I even begged them with tears to leave me alone. But it’s like a child yelling for Help and nobody is there to save him I wanna file a suit but would it help. I even gets to the point where I would rather commit suicide by taking my own life but is it worth it. I just wanna be at peace.

The wardens here don’t let me and others transgenders womens here get to treat ours hair nor buy feminine products off commissary they force us to live like other men please help us. However my new pink-black Family your support for this matter and concerns would make a big difference to a transgender like me. I have suffered a lot and damages hair because of failure of treatments due to our warden Aw. Pittman over treatments and operations and transgender inmates failure to take ours concerns and criticized us to force to live and act like guys. I mean why I can’t be me but we all know thats torture and discrimination why can’t we be happy and explore our sexuality. Everytime I ask her about our needs she always say mean and rude things and threatening me and other transgenders with segregations.

We don;t have any access to anything to do with womens items like hair products gel, perm, relaxers, no womens body wash no salon for us. But the guys here got their own barbershop. Only thing we got thats feminine is bras/panties and the state had to get that for us. I am just writing the truth and my words. Please share this story any support or advice is great. Thanks. Homophobics are not welcome on, or in ours breakthrough. LGBTQIA lives. Respect etc do matters.

Ms. April Cassidine (TN)

 

Peace Be upon you and yours,

I’m another brother caught up in the drag-net of California Penology System Without Knowledge of Self, and my true – History and Culture. I’m a first termer in the penalsystem and as a 24 year old Black American my education in school as to history – consisted solely of Indians and Pilgrims. Up until last week I though the Alex Haylee’s, Roots picture was something that occurred in Africa, and not in the United States. I’m a blank canvas whose only picture – painting thereon, was the Christian faith because it was the religion taught in my house hold by beloved one’s grandparents, mother, etc. were miseducated, and on their way to Hell. Being frankly honest with myself kept me from learning what was the true religion of my ancestors… Teach me! One love. To love one’s at Black and Pink, I will like to take the time to say “thank you,” to the love one’s at Black and Pink for all the love and support you show to LGBTQ people inside and outside or prison.

We as LGBTQ people need all the love, support, and positivity we can get in the struggle for survival and freedom. Thank you Black and Pink much love.

Deonta (CA)

Message from Dominique (July 2018)

Hello Family,

I’m sitting in my car listening to Fantasia’s version of the song “You Are Always On My Mind”. It’s very appropriate for there my mind has been the last six months.This ride of being at the head of this organization is something I couldn’t have planned for—but it’s been amazing.

As we think back on Pride month, more than ever what Black & Pink stands for and who are are evolving as is at the forefront of my mind. I think of the evolution of my understanding of Pride. Coming out at 14 years old in Omaha, NE— my exposure to queer culture was minimal. Honestly it was going to Prison that opened my mind to the spectrum of queerness. The Queens walking the yard, the trade pretending they weren’t living for us lol. My good Judy Carla was transgender. I remember when she explained that to me and at 19 I really didn’t understand but she was my sister so if she wanted to be referred to as she then that’s what we were going to do. I often advocated for her with staff and the administration. I even went toe to toe with her husband who was being too rough with her. Prison taught me that Pride meant unity. We ate together, we laughed together and cried together. Group survival.

I was shocked when I came home in 2009 and realized that Pride in the community was a different creature. Bars, parades and cliques. Where was the solidarity? I think that’s why I joined our Pride organization here in Omaha. I wanted to build the unity I experienced inside. It never quite came together. However, I’m grateful for the experience and introduction to non profit and organizing it gave me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

So for Pride month I ask y’all to lean on each other. Stand closer together. Find strength in each other. That’s what Pride is about. Women of color and drag queens in the streets saying no more shoulder to shoulder changing the world for us. Queer folks continue to shape the world whether it be outside the walls or inside. We are change makers. We are revolutionaries. We are Pride.

Pride exists because of a woman.

Pride exists because of a black woman.

Pride exists because black trans woman.

Pride exists because of a black trans woman who was a sex worker.

Pride exists because of a black, bisexual trans woman who was a sex worker that threw a brick at a cop.

Pride exists because of a black, bisexual trans woman, who was a sex worker, that put herself on the front lines of a revolution – regardless of the consequences to herself.

Don’t lose this month in rainbow capitalism and unabashed racism because the privilege of being white while queer.

Queerness doesn’t cure white guilt and racism.

If you aren’t supporting the queer people of color, trans woman, and queer sex workers, you aren’t celebrating pride, you are celebrating rainbow capitalism and police brutality.

Marsha P. Johnson gave us this season, make her proud.

Dominique

Letters from Our Family (May 2018)

I would like to bring to everyone’s attention, the life endangerment, abuse and torture, I as a senior prisoner, am receiving and enduring at this extremely corrupt and illegal family operated Alaska, Spring Creek Correction Facility. I have been sexually assaulted/abused, by inappropriate touching of my genitals, and an unauthorized, illegal cavity search of my opening my digital penetration, by a sexual pervert female, AK. D.O.C. employee, which of course has been corruptly and illegally justified. I have had my legal filings and other legal documents stolen (4) four different times, and numerous pieces of artwork worth several thousand dollars stolen at the hands of the wife/spouse of the assistant superintendent, which of course is a fault of mine, however that can be. She was removed from the hobby shop and placed in a higher paying position in probations, for lying, cheating and stealing. This is called progress, and is the norm at this corrupt and illegal family operated facility, and these actions justify putting me in a life endangerment position, where my life could be taken at any minute for no reason, by AK. D.O.C., supervisor and socalled staff, and selected prisoners that will later be rewarded for their actions. I will not be the first to lose their life at this facility by the use of this manner and tactics. To all of our Black and Pink Family, take care, stay strong, and don’t give up. Because one battle is lost does not mean we or anyone has lost the war on prisoner abuse, harassment and torture.

Love to all, always,
Earl (AK)

 

Dear Black & Pink Family,

My name is Charles and this is my first letter to our magazine. I am 28 years old and have been incarcerated since 2007. Being bisexual is hard in prison and trying to keep it hidden is devastating. There are risks that all LGBTQ people suffer and face, but there is no other way we want to be.

We want to be who we are and do not want to hide, and we shouldn’t. I am bisexual and proud of that. Prison is not good for anyone, true; but it takes greater toll on us than many of those incarcerated choose to be aware of. An old saying is that “Who guards the guardians and who watches the watchers.” This came from an old Roman phrase that is translated from its Latin form. This is a major problem with the prison concept and its application: There is nobody watching those who hold the lives of the prisoners in their hands; no system of checks and balances.

I am a young man with an old soul and often portray a wisdom and maturity that is far above that degree shown by many people my age. Sadly, this tends to leave me isolated and lonely. In prison this is worse.

On top of being bisexual and convicted of an SO offense, I suffer from a developmental social disability known as Asperger’s Syndrome. It is part of what is referred as the autistic spectrum, however, it is not the same as being autistic. The major difference is that autism is a disability that has a very isolative and anti-social desire; whereas Asperger’s is a disability which displays “normal” or “higher” degrees of intellectual adeptness and a desire for social interaction. However, while Asperger’s patients crave social interaction, there are issues we face with interpretation of social cues. In my case, I have a “high function” Asperger’s diagnosis. I am highly intelligent, very inquisitive, and observationally astute. In prison the traits are dangerous to possess, because the staff really hate it when you maybe—or are—smarter than they are. Oops, can’t have that. Worse, however, is that I am also possessed of a tenacity and persistence that shames much else. When I latch onto an issue, I won’t stop until I am satisfied with the result.

These traits do not make me very well-liked. Indeed, they are very difficult for those who choose to be my enemies to overcome and accept. They also make me rather abrasive and irreverent. I love a good argument, but I dislike violence strongly. I avoid it if it is at all possible. That is not good in prison as people tend to think that you are a pushover if you exhibit control—particularly other inmates.

Prison is unfortunate and is a massive place of suffering and those who run these human sweat shops would rather view us as animals than as humans. In 7 plus years, I have learned that well. Psychologically, it makes it easier for them to disregard their harmful actions to see prisoners as lesser beings. I am big on the concept of analogy as it is very effective. In this case, go back to World War II and consider the racist slurs used by American GIs for the enemy. Japanese people were “Japs” or “Nips”; Germans were “Krauts”. American troops did this as a subconscious psychological defense in order to kill the enemy without feeling the natural distress of a human killing another human. The slur hid the fact that the enemy is just like you. Prison officials do the same: “Staff” and “Inmate”, “Prisoner”, “Convict”… sound familiar?

I have received the Black & Pink newsletter for about a year now and it is always a joy to read. It is comforting to know I am not alone in my suffering. I love all of you. Your strength gives me courage and hope to continue my battle for justice and to defeat the P.I.C. Many letters I’ve read speak of torment, torture, harassment, and abuse at the hands of prison officials. I am no stranger to that! The problem that I see as the biggest obstacle is a lack of unity in the prisoners. Prisons exploit and encourage that. Prison is a microcosm of the “Class warfare” we see in the outside world macrocosm. Without division of people into gangs, clicks, and such garbage, prisons cease to be justifiable because the conflict does not exist. Prison amplifies this by placing large numbers of people in spaces of insufficient size with too little of every resource.

This encourages competition for resources, which causes conflict and fighting. Such activity is how prison officials justify the abuses and deprivations they employ. It is a self-perpetuating cycle and many prisoners blindly participate. The march to the trough, never aware of the slaughter that awaits them. It is so stupid that I would love to just scream: “YOU IDIOT’S. DON’T YOU REALIZE WHAT IS GOING ON!?!”

The problem is that it isn’t just us, LGBTQ family, that need to unite and face the P.I.C. and its cronies. We are strong, sure, but not THAT strong. We can’t fight this battle and win alone. We need allies. We need to unite not only the LGBTQ community, but all those who share the common ground of desire for change and dismantling the P. I. C. Common ground is what we need. I love you all for giving me hope and strength. When I read what each of you contributes, I know I am not alone and I take heart from that. Brian, in Pennsylvania shot my heart out in the December 2014 paper. He stole the very words that I hold true. His letter is a light for me and proved to be the very support I need and still need now.

So, my family, keep your will strong. Never give up and never give in. Your hope is mine and my hope is yours. We are strong because of each of us, but we are stronger together. We don’t have a local “chapter” of Black and Pink in Wyoming, but I got a card from Sage in Boise, Idaho. I am grateful for that. It was a great gift and I am grateful for your care Sage.

Keep strong my family.
Charles, (WY)

 

Dear Black and Pink Family:

My name is Fatima Malika S. I am an African American Transwoman currently incarcerated in Corcoran CA. I have been receiving B&P for a long time, so firstly I really would like to thank B&P for all the work Jason and the family does with their activism always working for the cause of the GLBTQ community.

However, what I would really like to address is a bit different. I am a level One Inmate housed here on a level 2 yard, a couple of years ago this yard was designated a medical hub for transgender inmates, one of only two yards, so essentially I like many others trans woman are stuck here. This could actually be a good yard for transgender inmates but for the fact that we are in many ways bothered and harassed for simply being who are are. This facility is not very conductive to allowing us to really live expressing our chosen gender identity.

We have been fighting tooth and nail just to be able to wear a tank top t-shirt, because female staff (presumably) are bothered by a bra strap sticking out, yet we are not allowed to order more modest style tanks from the womans section of our approved vendor catalogs. At one point there was even talk about the staff getting together and banning the wearing of these t-shirts by any inmate, which apparently has been done at another prison, this is obviously a spiteful and vindictive move as well as a clear statement that “we will never recognize you as a woman.”

According to elements and standards set by the World Professional Association for Transgender health, trans men to present in our chosen gender identity, could be harmful to us psychologically, yet we are not allowed to order or wear makeup of any kind, and when we create our own we are harassed for doing so.

Staff here speaks to trans women in any way they choose, and maintain an air of invincibility. I staunchly believe that this situation is exacerbated by the fact that no one here will take the time to put forth the effort to write the disrespectful and discriminatory offenders up for their treatment. The reason is because no one wants to be retaliated against. I however feel that whenever you do not stand up to these ignorant bullies, you are in effect disrespecting all of the people that came before all of us and put themselves on the front line for us to be able to have what we have coming, and live openly without fear. This is a fight that is still going on today, every day, and every night.

If you are willing to allow someone to walk over you, just for the benefit of a bed move, then your character is and should be questioned. At which point do you stand up for yourself, for your gender. When do you stop disrespecting the people who have been hurt and some even killed for our cause.

So my call now is not only to people in the free world, but also to every trans woman and trans man in every jail and prison across America, Stand Up, no one can ride your back if you stand up straight. STAND UP, be the women and men you are supposed to be, not the one they tell you you are but won’t even recognize. Use your voice, by way of your ink pen. I know you’ve heard it before, you either stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR.
Fatima Malika S. (CA)

 

Dear Black and Pink,

What up Fam! Heyyyy dis is Juicy, Ms Juicy aka, you can’t handle the truth. I’m a Sexy Native Queen. Well, I’ve been getting the newspaper for a few years now! And I pass it around to all the (LGBTQ) fam here in Ely. Alot of inmates try to hit me ip on the low to get me to live with them due to my sexy juicylicious body and swag. But I do not put myself out there like that. I get with who I want, and any one who I feel is deservent of my company. I conduct myself very respectful and loyal to all my (LGBTQ). A lot of my homeboys don’t know about my juicy ways yet. But since I’ve come out 5 years ago I do tell all my closest bros. So far they’ve all said we got your back and accept me as a two spirit. I read about all out bros and sisters struggles and victories and that gives me a sense of comfort in here.

I lost contact of my girl Delicious, she’s a two spirit as well. She don’t know that once she left home I became a girl too. She taught me very well and really helped me find myself as a girl, and now I do my best to help and better any LGBTQ that I meet. I don’t care what others think of me b-cuz I am who I am, and creator made me the way I am, I’m hell of sexlicious with my long redish hair. I will not stop Rep’n our family to all my (LGBTQ) Be part of who god made you. Pray and don’t be selfish. You must play your part in out struggles. If you give some one one arrow, he can break it with one motion over his knee. But give him 10 arrows to break, It’ll be impossible.

“Unity”
Much love to yal all.
Your native girl,
Ms. Juicy (NV)

Message from Dominique (May 2018)

Hello Family,

I’m writing this as I look over the Boston skyline. I’m in Boston for the week working on the National Office transition from Boston to Omaha, Nebraska. This week has been a whirlwind and it has made me think about the relationships I cultivate and how they build me up and how some tear me down.

I remember during the eight years I was incarcerated the ups and downs of love, friendship, and my relationship to myself. My time started at 18 so I was a completely different person at 27 when I walked out of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services fences. My ideas and understanding around what Love looked like, what honesty was, and how I showed up for those I cared for had evolved as well.

Inside of these institutions we have to be the version of ourselves that put us in the best position to survive and be respected. Sometimes it’s adding to who we are (white lies that we see as inconsequential but that can affect the authenticity of our relationships in the long term) and sometimes it’s holding much of who we are back. I usually erred on the side of holding back. The less folks knew about me the less opportunity they had to hurt me. Now you couldn’t tell me I didn’t have a harlequin romance or two in my number LOL—I just knew these men were going to be in my life forever. I gave and gave—trying to be the best partner I could be. But I wasn’t focusing on myself. What made me happy. Who made me happy.

On March 19th I’ll be 36 years old. Nearly a decade from my release and 20 years from my first experience with a relationship. What I’ve learned is that Love is Love. Whether it’s for yourself or a partner. Your parents or you’re bestie on the yard who you’ve ate every meal with for the last five years. It’s about loving authentically and purely.

*starts the intro to “Best of My Love” by The Emotions*

Ask yourself how do you love YOU? How do you show up for YOU? Is it consistent? Is it real? Is it healthy?

Then look at your friendships and use the same set of questions.

Last but not least grade your romantic relationship as well.

If one is getting more than the other it better be YOU loving YOU in ways that are brave, limitless and audacious! Because as you love yourself that way you’ll get in better practice of how to love others that way. You’ll also recognize when love doesn’t look the way it should.

Someone recently asked me when I started to feel normal after I had been released. Honestly, my feelings of being “normal” again were deeply connected to creating a network of people who saw me for who I was and the value in that.

Black & Pink sees your value. We see your strengths and we don’t judge you by your weaknesses. We understand that we are layered individuals who are working every day to be the best versions of ourselves.

Thank you for allowing us in your life. For giving us the opportunity to be your family. I can’t say that Black & Pink will always look the same but I will say the foundation of who we are as an organization will never change.

I’m sending you all love and light. Strength and limitless endurance. Joy and hope.

With Love,
Dominique

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.

Always,
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.

Jasmine

 

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

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