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BLACK & PINK CELEBRATES TEN YEARS AT “DECADE OF BLACK & PINK” EVENT IN BOSTON!

On Friday October 16th, Black & Pink hosted a big celebration at Hibernian Hall in Boston. Formerly incarcerated Black & Pink members from around the country joined free-world Black & Pink chapter members and other free-world supporters. We wish that you were all able to be there with us, and have recommitted to working toward that day! The event marked ten years of our open family working together toward collective liberation and abolition of the prison industrial complex.

We feasted on food prepared by formerly incarcerated caterers. We were entertained by our emcee, Black & Pink member Sasha Taylor from San Antonio, a vogue performance by queer youth of color, and a group sing-a-long to “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. We heard from former political prisoner Ashanti Allston who reminded us of the legacy of Kuwasi Balagoon, and a poem by Boston member Lana. CeCe McDonald electrified the crowed as she spoke about the pressing needs of trans women of color and what’s wrong with the concept of “allies.” Months ago, many of you voted on who should receive awards for their important work in support of LGBTQ prisoners; the award winners received their awards.

Founder and national director Jason Lydon released “Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black & Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey” and rallied the crowd to fundraise thousands of dollars to support our ongoing organizing efforts. He was surprised by friends and family with a thoughtful “thank you” gift for a decade of dedicated volunteer organizing. We closed the night with a dance party. In December, the Survey Report will be printed and we will be seeking feedback to incorporate into the next version!

On Saturday and Sunday, formerly incarcerated LGBTQ folks and Black & Pink chapter members came together for workshops, sharing stories, watching documentaries, and visioning. Workshops on Saturday included “HIV Criminalization”, “What is prison abolition?”, “Navigating the courts”, “Know your rights dealing with the police”, “How to do advocacy with prisoners”, and “Community organizing”. There was time to share stories, get to know each other, and space for yoga and healing arts like massage.

On Saturday evening, we heard from Ashley Diamond, recently released from a Georgia prison after a big fight over access to healthcare needs and repeated sexual assaults. We saw the videos she made of herself and her comrades inside attesting to the terrifying conditions, and Ashley joined on video chat to talk and sing with the group. Then we watched “Out In The Night”, a really remarkable film about the New Jersey 4—in short, four Black women who were targeted and imprisoned for defending themselves from a homophobic attack. They’re in the struggle and it was amazing to see three of them and the film’s director in person.

On Sunday, we gathered together at a union hall and strategized as a big group together about what’s next for Black and Pink. Transitions in leadership, expanding capacity, and sustaining the work without leaning on grant funding that tries to direct our priorities, which will always be directed by people on the inside and formerly incarcerated people. We discussed the way things get done at Black & Pink currently — who makes what decisions and does what work, where our money is from and how it is spent, what programs are our focus.

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