STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.
-A Pen Pal Program on the internet. LGBTQ prisoners can list their information and a short (non-sexual) ad. People in the free world choose to write to people on the list.
-A Monthly Newspaper with stories, poetry, art, and articles by LGBTQ people in prison. The Newspaper also has queer and prison news from the free world.
-Support for a small number of people who are experiencing harassment, sexual violence, lack of access to health care, etc.
- Court Accompaniment Support and advocacy for court involved people in Eastern Massachusetts (soon to start up with other chapters)
- Chapters! Free world allies across the country are growing their own chapters, including Boise, Chicago, San Diego, and others.
-Collaborative Media project
-Hot Pink, a queer, member-written erotica zine.
-Know Your Rights
-Workshops and Trainings
Our goal is liberation. We have a radical view of the fight for justice: We are feminist. We are anti-racist. We want queer liberation. And we are against capitalism. Prisons are part of the system that oppresses and divides us. By building a movement and taking action against this system of violence, we will create the world we dream of.
We also celebrate the beauty of what exists now: Our love for each other. The strength of our planet. Our incredible resiliency. All of the power we have to continue existing. While dreaming and struggling for a better world, we commit to living in the present.
Abolition is our goal, and our strategy for action. Any advocacy, services, organizing, and direct action we take will remove bricks from the system, not put up more walls. We want revolution. And we will work on reforms too, even if they are only small steps at ending the suffering caused by prisons.
Our work is based in the experience of people who are or were in prison. We also raise up the voices of formerly incarcerated people as our “free world” members of the Leadership Circle. We know that those most hurt by the violence of the prison industrial complex have the knowledge of how to tear it down.
Black & Pink’s “free world” membership started in Boston and has spread across the country. We will support one another, share the work of our organizing efforts, and grow our family inside and outside the walls. We would like to increase our national and international membership, creating chapters in more cities, towns, prisons, schools, and neighborhoods.
WORDS WE USE
There are many words in our Statement of Purpose and Analysis that mean different things to different people. Here is what they means to us:
Prison Industrial Complex – The prison industrial complex is a system of control. It is the prisons and jails and detention centers- the concrete and steel buildings that warehouse people. The prison industrial complex is also how the government and companies work together to control, punish, and torture poor communities and communities of color. This includes the police. And immigration enforcement. And courts. And how the news and movies show “criminals.” And cameras in communities. And companies making money on prison phone calls. And how schools are set up to fail us. And many others ways that take power away from many, and keep it with those at the top. (Adapted from Critical Resistance)
Abolition – Abolition means a world where we do not use the prison industrial complex as an ‘answer’ to social, political, and economic problems. Abolition means that instead we make new ways to stop harm from happening. It means responding to harm when it does happen, without simply “punishing.” We will try to fix the causes of harm, instead of using the failed solution of punishment. This means harm will occur far less often. This is often called “harm reduction.” We will not use policing, courts, and prisons, which are making us less safe. Abolition means creating sustainable, healthy communities with the power to create safety. (Based on words by Rose Braz, former director of Critical Resistance)
“Free World” – We use “free world” for people not in prison, jail, or detention. We use “quotation marks” because we understand the word “freedom” to be complicated. Some people say none of us are free because the arms of the prisons, courts, and police reach into our communities, home, jobs, and schools. Some say freedom is within ourselves and that it can never be taken from us. When we say “free world, ” we mean people not in prison, jail, or detention right now.
LGBTQ – These letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. We know that sexuality and gender are much bigger than these letters. People also call themselves: same gender loving, homosexual, homophile, transsexual, transvestite, nelly, asexual, Two spirit, intersex, sissy, dyke, and many others labels. We want to find better words for all people who identify outside of heterosexual and strict gender boundaries. For now, we use LGBTQ.
B&P Family Structure
Members: Members are self-defined individuals who agree with our Purpose and Analysis. These people are free world folks, prisoners, pen-pals, outreach folks, mail readers, etc. All members can share thoughts about B&P activities. Free world members will be provided information by the e-newsletter and/or website, and can give input by email, phone, or in person. Members in prison will be provided information by the monthly Newsletter, and can respond with general input by mail by writing “Leadership” or “Feedback” on the address line.
Coordinators: Coordinators are people who have agreed to coordinate a specific project, committee, chapter, or task, i.e. the art program, or campus outreach, or are contact people for a prison or geographic area. They may be members or part of the Leadership Circle. They have responsibility to make decisions about projects, based on collective input, and are accountable to both the members and the leadership circle.
Committees: Committees are groups of people taking on a specific task or projects, for example outreach or the E-newsletter or accountability. They meet as needed. They will check in with the Leadership Circle and the membership before making big decisions.
Chapters: Chapters can be started by free world and members in prison in order to work on advocacy, education, direct service, and/or organizing projects that are in keeping with the Purpose and Analysis of B&P. Chapters are accountable to the membership of their chapter and the Leadership Circle.
Advisory Group: This is a group of people who have experience with anti-prison and anti-oppression activism. The group will be majority formerly incarcerated people. They are recognized for their amazing and valuable experiences and insight, and are invited to provide input and guidance on the analysis, activities and structure of B&P. They are not necessarily involved in the day-to-day activities of the family and don’t have formal decision making power. (Not currently active)
Leadership Circle (LC): Leadership can make decisions about B&P as a family, and is responsible to see that the members and activities follow our Purpose and Analysis. LC can update the Purpose and Analysis. Leadership Circle provides strategic short- and long-term planning for B&P. Leadership Circle will be responsible for raising, managing, and using general B&P funds.
- The LC will be made up of no more than 10 free world folks
- To join, members should have spent 3 months volunteering with B&P and attend 3 LC meetings.
- Each LC member needs to make a 1 year commitment.
- All LC members should agree to the B&P analysis.
- LC decisions will be made by consensus, which means that everyone agrees to a decision (not majority rule). In consensus, one person can “block” a decision based on principle, but not preference.
- The LC should be made up of people in different places across the country.
- The LC will meet monthly.