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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.

Jason

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