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Contact the Chicago Chapter!



The Chicago chapter of Black and Pink started in 2013. We first came together to read and discuss a book called The New Jim Crow, and write holiday cards to LGBTQ people locked up in Illinois. We officially formed as a chapter of Black and Pink last spring. Since then, we have focused on finding, matching, and supporting LGBTQ penpals in Illinois, and learning more about the prison industrial complex, or PIC.

To be up-front, currently none of us who coordinate the outside chapter of Black and Pink Chicago have spent time in prison. We organize and participate in Black and Pink in addition to working paid jobs. Some of us have supported prisoners and organized against prisons for many years, and some of us are very new to this. We have a lot to learn.

In addition to learning through letter-writing, we learn through participating in political education. Our study group gets together to discuss books and articles, and screen films like Herman’s House. We read about specific ways queer and trans people are targeted by police and prisons, and how the PIC is a continuation of structural racism and Jim Crow laws. We’ve read about campaigns to fight back, and this summer read the autobiography of Assata Shakur. We are now reading about links between industrial agriculture and the PIC.
We hold card-writing parties every three months, and more recently began holding penpal support meetings for outside penpals to ask questions and how letter-writing fits into a broader struggle to abolish the prison industrial complex. The first meet-up focused on prisoner advocacy, and future meetings will address the Chicago police torture cases, solitary confinement, and trauma.

As part of the pen-pal project, we meet weekly to read and respond to letters and emails. We have received incredible letters, stories, art, and analysis from folks locked up in Illinois. We continue to reach out (in person, tabling at events, and on facebook) to invite members of the LGBTQ community outside prison to become penpals. So far, we have matched around 70 penpals, and we’re still looking for more outside folks to sign up. We have about 20 inside folks waiting for a match.

As we move forward, we are looking for ways to center the voices, vision, and priorities of Black and Pink members who are currently or formerly incarcerated. We would greatly appreciate any feedback you would like to provide.

Solitary is Torture! Check out this powerful zine.

May 3, 2016

       Click here for a printable PDF of this zine: SOLITARY ZINE FINAL PRINTABLE PDF  

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Chicago: Penpal Visits!

November 18, 2015

One lesson from the Decade of Black and Pink gathering is the power of face-to-face communication. Being in the same room with people we had only communicated with via letters or phone calls was magical. And so, our Penpal Support Team...

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Solitary as a Tool of Homo/Transphobia & Transmisogyny

July 22, 2015

** This post is the first in a series of blog posts on solitary confinement in Illinois. For information about this blog series read this introduction. The US government claims to hold 80,000 people in solitary confinement. The true number of...

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Introduction to Black & Pink Solitary in Illinois blog series

July 22, 2015

In July 2014, the Black and Pink Chicago chapter sent a letter to our 100+ Illinois members housed in solitary confinement requesting testimony about their experiences in isolation. We planned to share their testimony at an event with our “free...

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February Updates

February 5, 2015

E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com for more details about any of the following and to get connected. We’re welcoming new outside penpals! January was an important month for Black and Pink Chicago, and we're looking forward to February! 1. We officially signed on...

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January Updates

January 15, 2015

E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com for more details about any of the following and to get connected. We're welcoming new outside penpals! Several beautiful replies--poems, cards, artwork--to our holiday card mailing! Also some criticism that we're taking time to reflect upon and respond to. We're...

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December Updates

December 10, 2014

Lots has happened this past month as we close out the year and look forward to 2015! E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com for more details about any of the following and to get connected… We had two Neighborhood Penpal Meet-ups in November: Pilsen on November...

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November Updates

November 2, 2014

October was a big month for us, and lots is coming up! E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com for more details about any of the following and to get connected... We had a free-world chapter retreat on October 18-19th, that was attended by 14 people, including...

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October Updates from Chicago

October 16, 2014

We hosted a Pen-pal Meet-up  that included focused on solitary confinement. Two formerly incarcerated organizers in Chicago shared their experiences in solitary at the now closed Tamms Supermax Prison and we read testimony from several B&P members incarcerated in Illinois....

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Chicago Chapter – August Updates

August 4, 2014

July Highlights: -Several new volunteers have joined us for our weekly mail processing evening, where we maintain regular communication with inside members and take new requests for pen-pals. -We hosted our first neighborhood pen-pal meet-up on the far north side in...

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