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Message from Jason (December 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you all as well as possible. As I write you this note Donald Trump is preparing to become president of our country. Over the last few weeks we have watched as he nominated white supremacists, bigots, banking executives, and Islamophobic lovers of war to different cabinet positions. You all may have paid particular attention to his nomination of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General. This is a man who helped create and expand the War on Drugs. He is violently racist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant. What feelings are coming of for you? Are you anxious about what a Trump presidency will bring? What do you think his administration will mean for prisoners? For LGBTQ people? For people of color? For Muslims? For immigrants? For HIV positive people? For disabled people? For our planet?

As an abolitionist organization, we at Black and Pink know that neither the democrats or the republicans want to bring about the changes we believe in. We know that democrats and republicans have both helped growth the prison system. We know that democrats and republicans ignore our demands to get our people free. We know that democrats and republicans both push forward racist policies that attack our communities. We know all of this, but we can also recognize that there are unique challenges that we will face under a Trump administration. There have been some policy changes over the last eight years that increase access to care for transgender prisoners. The Department of Justice is currently investigating the Georgia Department of Corrections for their discriminatory treatment of LGBT prisoners. There have been negotiations to get the Federal Bureau of Prisons to move transgender women, who have requested it, into women’s prisons. President Obama has also commuted more sentences of federal prisoners than any president in history (though he should obviously do thousands more). There are challenges ahead that we must be ready to meet with organizing and resistance.

As we prepare for the Trump presidency it is important to remember that whenever there has been oppression and there has always been resistance. The election of Trump is not, in fact, the worst moment in American history. We have a history of genocide and slavery, the impact of which continues today, regardless of who is president. Just as the Water Protectors in Standing Rock are resisting today, Indigenous people throughout this nation resisted colonization. While the colonizers won in many ways, there are still millions of Indigenous people fighting to protect their sovereignty. Just as the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-prison movement resists white supremacy today, Black people who were held in chattel slavery resisted plantation owners, fought back on ships that were stealing them from Africa, and escaped. Those of us who are white also have ancestors to turn to who joined in the struggle for liberation. There were those like John Brown in the 19th Century and Anne Braden in the 20th Century who were willing to put their lives on the line to act in solidarity. As we celebrate those who survived, we also know that countless people suffered and died during these struggles. We honor all of our ancestors’ legacies and deaths by continuing the struggles that they started.

During these tough times there are those who quote Joe Hill, who said, “don’t mourn, organize.” My response is that I think it is okay for us to do both, let us mourn where we are as a nation, let us mourn the spread of right wing politics, let us mourn our losses, and at the same time let us be moved to build our power so that we may organize and win. We do all of our collective work knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

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