This is Kevin Rashid Johnson.
It’s been some years since I’ve been able to communicate through Prison Radio on account of a series of transfers between various states’ prison systems. From Virginia to Oregon, to Texas, to the- to Florida. And now back to Virginia as reprisals for my political work politicizing the inhumane conditions and abuses that pervade US prisons in general. And specific to each prison system I’ve been confined to.
In each state I’ve been rewarded with solitary confinement and increasing extremes in my living conditions. These responses to my efforts proves the importance and power of outlets like Prison Radio that enable prisoners words to reach the public year: giving those on the outside a look inside the lived reality of the world’s largest disposal site for marginalized people—an organized system of modern slavery.
And let there be no doubt about it. Slavery is alive and well in America. In fact, it was reformed at the end of the civil war and preserved by the 13th amendment, which gave the state the power to impose slavery on those convicted of crimes. And- and in many cases, its conditions today are as brutal and dehumanizing as anything during the Antebellum era.
I’ve witnessed and endured some of its cruelest extremes in places like Florida where prisons are literally run by the Klan. That’s because in general, the culture of many US prisons is such that they provide a haven for groups like the Klan and Neo-Nazis within their administration and among their rank and file staff.
It is a culture where the fear and deference of prisoners toward their captors conditioned to outright voluntarily—replicates almost exactly that of Blacks towards rights under the chattel slave system and Jim Crow system of the old South. The absolute power of prison officials is no less extreme. And they exercise that power just as arbitrarily, but oppression breeds resistance and alongside the growing exposures of the evils of the American prison system is growing resistance by the victims with increasing public support.
Indeed prisoners across America are gearing up for a two-week National Prison Strike August 20- beginning August 21: the anniversary of the seventh of the 1971 assassination of prison activist, George Jackson. And continuing until September 9th, the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising.
For those on the outside, we need not only your awareness of the outrages of US imprisonment, but also your active support for our struggles to rein them in. And especially our struggles to abolish slavery and U.S. prisons. And to amend the 13th Amendment’s clause, which continues to uphold slavery. We need all possible exposure and all possible support.
Dare to struggle, dare to win. All power to the people.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.