Revolution #158, March 8, 2009
Letter from a reader on the PRLF fund-raiser
In the so-called post-racial society today in the USA one in nine young black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are incarcerated.
In this so-called best and freest country in the World the USA incarcerates more of its people than any other country on the planet—not just proportionally but in absolute terms.
As we mark International Women’s Day this March—the USA imprisons one third of all the women in the world who are in prison.
On March 15th a special fund-raising performance for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is being held in New York City. “An afternoon with Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter” will feature music, poetry and actors performing some of the letters that prisoners write regularly to Revolution. It is taking place at 2pm at The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, formerly the Audubon Ballroom, at 3940 Broadway.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to PRLF. It is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity, exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. To make tax deductible contributions, checks should be made payable to IHCenter/PRLF and mailed to: International Humanities Center, 860 Via de La Paz, Suite B-1, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
Non tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to PRLF, 1327 N Milwaukee #407, Chicago, IL 60622.
The $35 price of admission will cover the cost of one of the over 800 subscriptions that go to prisoners each year. Those subscriptions run out every year at the end of March and $20,000 needs to be raised to renew them and to fill the subscriptions of prisoners who are presently on a wait list. This fundraising event can both help meet this deeply-felt need coming from those looking for revolution in some of America’s deepest hell holes as well as contributing to putting Revolution on the map for millions who have not yet seen it and extending its reach and readership among all kinds of people in New York City. A movement needs to get kicked off here of people sponsoring subscriptions and multiple subscriptions. Institutions and organizations can agree to sponsor subscriptions. People can pool money at their office, in their schools, in the projects and apartment buildings where they live in. People can commit to providing subscriptions and then get others to match this. Money for subscriptions can be raised by holding bake sales and flea markets and putting contribution jars in restaurants, clubs and barbershops.
The invitation to the event is available at revcom.us. The event is being supported by those joining Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter in this effort—that list includes Father Luis Barrios, Father Lawrence Lucas, Marie Runyon, Juanita Young, Reverend Earl Kooperkamp, and Nicholas Heyward, Sr., to be joined soon by many others. There is also a statement from Lynne Stewart. Many of the letters that have been sent to Revolution from prisoners are also available and should be used broadly among those being invited to this important event. The event can be publicized by groups and individuals emailing the invitation, this article and materials from the PRLF to their own lists and posting on Facebook and MySpace pages.
Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter, special hosts of the event, have a particular interest in helping to establish 200 new subscriptions to women in prison—a rapidly expanding section of the US prison population. Reaching women in prison who are often invisible and forgotten is brought into focus by the letters that are sent in to the PRLF. As one woman who wrote to Revolution newspaper put it, "I’m writing to you about your campaign to furnish Revolution newspaper subscriptions to prisoners. I think that is a wonderful idea and I pledge $25.00 per month for the next twelve months to the campaign. I am a woman. About eight years ago I was locked up in two federal institutions in Florida for nearly three years… In prison people are constantly inundated with the messages they are all messed up, that the decisions they made in their lives led them to these tragic circumstances and that if they had behaved better they wouldn’t be in this situation. Well, I for one realize that the reasons many people are incarcerated is because they have learned their world outlook from the media, the schools and the society overall, that promotes look out for number one and get money and material possessions however you can and it doesn’t matter who it hurts. Most of the women are there for offenses dealing with drugs or taking money in one way or the other. Unfortunately many of these women are locked up and separated from their children because of their involvement with the men in their lives. Also most of the women were foster children or were molested and/or abused in their developing years...I learned of this by reading the revolutionary press.”
In a society that has criminalized those that the cold calculations of exploitation have no use for, and that has incarcerated and warehoused generations of especially Black and Latino youth in conditions that dehumanize and crush the human spirit, it is exceptionally inspiring to read the letters from Prisoners who get these subscriptions. From the isolation of super max sites to the county jails in Texas, New York and California where young people in the prime of their life have been buried alive in overcrowded cell blocks—people are raising their heads to become emancipators of humanity and to contribute in the ways they can to bringing forward a revolutionary people inside and outside the prison walls.
Revolution newspaper is a lifeline to a far better world—a lifeline that gets passed in dog-eared copies hand to hand from one prisoner to another as people get their hands on the liberating world outlook and scientific method of communism. To those who say the people are too fucked up to make a revolution—these letters give just a first glint of the potential of people who have been cast down but who know the system is very fucked up and are looking for the possibility of a different one. Through the pages of Revolution people get connected with a revolutionary movement that has a real strategy for making revolution. Through these pages people are finding the leadership of Bob Avakian—learning to think scientifically, learning to analyze events, ideology, politics, religion, sports, culture and more from the standpoint of the class that has the interest, the mission and the capacity to liberate all of humanity from the epoch of exploitation and oppression. As a recipient of a subscription from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund puts it “How wonderful! It’s so amazing to see furrowed brows and hear perplexed discussion and debate over the tier, as captives begin to call into question why things really are the way they are; how exactly we’ve been inculcated and indoctrinated by our oppressor to see the world and our place in it a certain way (the way they’d like, that keeps us oppressed and exploited!); and how our captivity and the repressive measures of the bourgeois state apparatus is all a part of the workings of the system.”
A reader from New York
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