Message from Jason (December 2015)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you doing as well as possible. I am writing this letter from our very messy national office. We are still getting everything put back together again after A Decade of Black and Pink. As you will read in other places in the newspaper, it was an INCREDIBLE event. I so very wish that all of you had been able to join us out here though please know that you were all in our hearts and minds throughout the entire weekend. The work of Black and Pink, our organizing on both sides of the prison walls, is made possible because of your wisdom, writing, and strength. Black and Pink’s power as an organization comes from the stories you all share through this newspaper and the moments of resistance you make possible.

While we will print the entire results of the survey next month, I must take a moment to celebrate the report now. Almost 15% of you all filled out the 133 question survey we printed in the newspaper last year, some of you at great risk to yourselves. Because of you we collected the largest ever amount of information about LGBTQ prisoners. A survey that Black and Pink prisoner members helped create will now be used by people all across the country. We want your stories to come out from the concrete and steel that often keeps them locked away. We want your strength to be known by everyone else. We want the injustices you experience to make others angry and then take action. The report has been covered by many, many online news sources. We will continue to use the report to expose the truth about what is going on with LGBTQ people in prison. We will also use the report to shape the work of Black and Pink as we move forward with the organization.

One of the things that I shared during our weekend celebration of Black and Pink is that I am going to transition out of leadership. I founded Black and Pink 10 years ago and it has grown into something far bigger than what I ever imagined. It has grown because we as a family are so much more than any one person. I have been working full time for Black and Pink as the National Director for about three years. Over the next year and a half (or so) we are going to be figuring out how we support a new person to take on the role of that National Director. One possibility is that we will hire someone to work alongside me for six months, or a year, and then they would take over the National Director job and we would hire another person as well. The truth is that Black and Pink has become so large of an organization that we need to have full time staff to take on all of the work we want to do. If we are going to be able to respond to your letters more quickly, if we are going to win fights against solitary confinement, if we are going to put an end to strip searches and other sexual violence we are going to need more organizing support and resources. It is also important that the founder of an organization move on to make room for new leadership. It is important that someone who was more recently incarcerated and who is more directly targeted by the prison industrial complex is at the front of the organization. Our family is strongest when those who are most affected by the violence we are working to end are the ones making the decisions.

Along with my own transition, there is an team in place to create a new leadership structure for Black and Pink as a whole. Volunteers in Boston have been making all the decisions about Black and Pink, with your feedback, for years now. It is important that our national organization has a national leadership structure. The team of folks who are working on that new structure are majority formerly incarcerated people, are all folks who attended some amount of a Decade of Black and Pink, and are all invested in the future of our family. We will be sure that our new structure is in line with our values and principles. We will be sure that those who are in leadership reflect our membership. We will be sure that the structure we create makes things easier to get done than how we work now. And most importantly we will be transparent, very clear and open, about the process. Black and Pink exists as a family for the purpose of pushing us towards a world free from prisons. We will be sure that all of our work pushes us closer towards that goal. We keep our work going knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,


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