By: Keith ‘Malik’ Washington
“Consciousness is the key to one’s deliverance from oppression of all types.
Prison writers are the visionaries which take the prison experience and translate
it to others in prison and outside of these concentration kamps.
The prison theoretician sees those paths which are not yet cut and inject theory
into our world so that others can build on these thoughts.”
– Jose H. Villarreal, Pelican Bay Prison Strike it up –
Arousing thought while building public opinion.
ROCK Newsletter, Vol. 4. No. 12
Editor: Ed Mead (Author of “Lumpen”)
Revolutionary Greetings Comrades! This one right here is for the sisters! The Black, Latina, White, Asian, Arab, Lesbian, Straight, and Transgender Sisters, who have found themselves trapped inside these slave camps and gulags operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I spend countless hours reading and scanning alternative newspapers, journals, and magazines that provide a platform for prisoners who write. I read the San Francisco Bay View every month, and although I see lots of pen-pal ads coming out of Gatesville, Texas, I don’t see many revolutionary essays or articles being written by female Texas prisoners!!
I know you all can’t be content with the conditions you are being housed under, and I know for a fact, you are not being given the dignity and respect you deserve. So I must ask: “Why aren’t we hearing from you?!” Please listen to me; these folks got us up in here workin’ for FREE! Then to add insult to injury, they have set-up this fake-ass Good-Time and Work-Time Credit System that is not getting us back our families any earlier! Now I know some of you are tired of hearing your babies say: “Mommy, when you comin’ home, we miss you?!!”
There is something you can do to control your own destiny.
The New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) in Texas has helped initiate a campaign which is focused on Ending Prison Slavery in Texas!! From the very beginning I told my support network that there is no way that this campaign could be successful by just calling on men who are incarcerated in Texas – NO! That wouldn’t work!! I have been motivated by the work of Laura Whitehorn, Victoria Law, Safiyya Bukhari, Angela Y. Davis, and Assata Shakur!! I know our sisters in Texas have something meaningful to contribute to this struggle.
WHO WILL BE THE NEXT KATHY GRIFFIN?!!
She came from humble beginnings growing up in rural Mississippi – Heidelberg I believe.
She had, and still has natural gifts; beauty, intelligence, and musical talents. Her father Ed Townsend, penned the smash hit “Let’s get it on,” made famous by superstar Marvin Gaye. She came to Houston, Texas, in order to attend college at Texas Southern University. She got introduced to the “Fast-Life,” fast money, fast cars, and drugs that take you down the wrong path fast!! She became easy prey for those engaged in human trafficking!! Before she knew what was happening, her world has spun out of control and she was headed down the road in a “Blue Bird” serving time inside a prison unit operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Many people marvel at the fact that I know so much about her. But, I have news for you, the story is not over, in fact it’s just begun. You see, Kathy Griffin-Grinin has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a leading voice in the fight against Human Trafficking!! Pimps beware, the “game” done changed!
Kathy did a few years in TDCJ and got the attention of some key individuals who gave her a second chance. Kathy never was the type to look a gift-horse in the mouth. She grabbed a hold of her “Hope Shot” and never turned back!! Former Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson and current Texas Representative Dr. Alva Allen believed in Kathy. Kathy got a job volunteering at the Harris County Jail, one of the largest county jails in the U.S. Kathy helped girls just like herself that had been subdued by the “Street Life.” Slowly Kathy earned the respect of the new Sheriff Adrian Garcia. Sheriff Garcia saw something special in this woman who used to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Kathy came up with a reentry program for women who were victims of human trafficking. Houston, Texas is a hub for those engaged trapped in the bondage that is Human Trafficking – Prostitution, Drugs and Crime, all salient topics when discussing this subject.
Kathy went from being a volunteer at the jail to an employee, and then on to become the program’s eventual director of “Been There Done That!”(*) Kathy’s program is one of the first of its kind in the nation!! A program that helps women to reclaim their worth and restores them to the place in society they should be. Never to be one that rests on her laurels, Kathy became an out-spoken prisoner rights advocate. It wasn’t long before Kathy got the attention of one of the most famous and successful prisoner rights advocates in Texas.
Ray Hill is a legend in Texas!! He has fought for the rights of Texas prisoners for decades! (34) Years ago maybe (35), Ray started broadcasting on KPFT 90.1 FM, a Pacifica Network affiliate in Texas; Ray hosted a show he created entitled: “The Prison Show!” In 2012, after about (33) years of dedicated service, Ray decided it was time to hand the reins over to someone else.
(*) Reentry program for victims of Human Trafficking!
Ray had two people in mind and one was the illustrious Anthony Graves! Anthony was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, and was sentenced to death in the state of Texas!! As many of you know Texas leads the nation in the execution of human beings!! However, Texas also leads the nation in payments paid out to people who have been falsely convicted.
Anthony Graves served 18½ years in Texas; most of those years were spent on Texas’ Death Row!! Death Row in Texas is one of the most inhumane environments in the world!! From the very beginning Anthony insisted that he was innocent and eventually it was proven without a shadow of a doubt – Anthony has been incredibly active since his release he was invited to speak to Congress in Washington, D.C. on the topic of torture and Solitary Confinement in U.S. prisons. Graves told Congress about the horrific conditions he endured while housed on Texas’ Death Row!!
Graves is a heavily sought after speaker for groups all over the world who oppose the Death Penalty. Because of that, Ray Hill had to pair Graves up with someone who spent more of their time in the city of Houston; Kathy Griffin was a perfect candidate. On top of having her own story of survival along with her history of prisoner rights advocacy, Kathy has experience in the world of entertainment performing on stage with “Parliament,” “Funkadelic,” and the amazing George Clinton!!
“The Prison Show!” airs between 9PM – 11PM every Friday (Central Time), her voice electrified the airwaves, her personality magnetic! It wasn’t long before I found myself listening to the show every week. At the time, I was housed at one of the most abusive solitary confinement units in Texas, the (High Security) W.J. Estelle Unit, located in Huntsville, Texas.
I witnessed many acts of prisoner abuse and racism while housed at the Estelle High Security!! No one seemed to care – then I met Kathy!!
I started writing Kathy letters in September of 2012. She would personally answer all letters on the air!! Radio technician “Dewey” would cue up the ‘Post Man Song,’ and Kathy would proceed in sending love and shout-outs to prisoners trapped behind the walls. But the most remarkable thing Kathy provided was real help and solutions to problems many of us were encountering in TDCJ. I remember one letter I wrote ended up in the hands of Death Penalty Activist Gloria Rubac. Gloria got on the air and said “Malik, I got your letter and this month I have a meeting scheduled with Texas Senator John Whitmore, and I promise we will be discussing the contents of this letter!” Senator John Whitmore is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice!! Kathy helped introduce me to the world of politics in Texas! I have told my comrades and friends many times “You can’t have a political party without getting involved in the process!”
I CAN’T DO THIS BY MYSELF – I NEED HELP!
Singer Kelly Price has a song I really like entitled “Healing for my Soul!” at one juncture she says “I can’t do this by myself Lord – I need help!” And that is how I feel down here in Texas! We can’t change our conditions but just relying on one portion of our movement – half measures won’t amount to nothing!! I encourage you who are reading this essay to start writing informative essays and article about your conditions in TDCJ. Start putting some of these corrupt-ass laws on Front Street!! Write the editor of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, Sister Mary Ratcliff. Put some work into producing some quality material! Make a meaningful difference, be a leader!! If you want to help me with the End Prison Slavery Campaign, write: Twitch at Central Texas ABC, P.O. Box 7907, Austin, Texas 78713; tell him you want to help Comrade Malik spread the word. Contact your family and friends and have them visit my Facebook page and read about our campaign!
–> (Facebook.com/comrademalikwashington). I really could use your help and support.
PRISON JUSTICE LEAGUE – WOMEN IN PRISON PROJECT!
“Women represent the fastest growing prison population in the world, and yet, their specific needs and issues are under-represented in the prison reform efforts. The number of women in prison, a third of who are incarcerated for drug offenses, is increasing at nearly double the rate for men. Incarcerated women have higher rates of HIV, mental illness, and sexual/physical abuse than their counterparts. The Prison Justice League (PJL) is concerned about this trend and is in the process of developing our first women-centered advocacy initiative. (PJL) will gather information from their female members in order to assess their needs and shape a legal and policy advocacy agenda that is geared towards improving prison conditions for women specifically. If you are a woman or identify as a woman, and would like to participate in PJL’s Women in Prison Project, please contact (PJL) with your story!!
Contact: Prison Justice League,
Women in Prison Project,
P.O. Box 49988,
Austin, Texas 78765
Tell them Keith ‘Malik’ Washington referred you! Your input is always valued!!
THE FUTURE IS UP TO YOU
Sisters, I didn’t become conscious overnight, it was a long drawn out process. I am still in the process of growth and development. I believe every one of you have something valuable to contribute to this movement. Some of you may want to join our party. We have mass organizations for all! We won’t turn anyone away who has a desire to determine their own destiny!! I will be directing many of your letters to my Comrade Amy Buckley, however, I will do my best to answer all inquiries and suggest study materials that will raise your level of consciousness and understanding of The Struggle.
I don’t want any of you to operate under any illusions. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has established a pattern of conduct in which they retaliate against those who shed light on abuse and injustices, so if you decide to ‘Stand up’ and get involved be ready!! But, don’t worry; we have some ‘Free World’ friends in the media, who’ve been watching TDCJ’s actions.
In respect to female prison writers who expose the conditions they experience, there is a void not just in Texas, but throughout Amerika. That void must be filled, or people in the ‘Free World’ will rely on the deceptions and lies fed to them by the oppressor! I leave you with this:
“Discovering our power will not just be realized through the physical
realm with futures strikes and prisoner’s worker’s unions, but will also
surface through our literature. Once harnessed prison writers and theoreticians
will be one of our biggest weapons in our quest for rights. Ending torture and
Solitary Confinement will be one step in our march toward liberation on a
grander scale. Our writers will play a role in this reality to finally spring forth.
All great movements and revolutions have always had writers at the helm
in the process and the prison movement for human rights will be no different.”
– Jose H. Villarreal, Pelican Bay Prison Strike it up –
ROCK Newsletter, Vol. 4. No. 12
Sisters, if you don’t start making some “noise” the folks in Austin, Texas will think all is well! Is it? Tell me what your life is like!
DARE TO STRUGGLE – DARE TO WIN – ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Comrade ‘Malik’ Washington, is Deputy Chair of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party/Prison Chapter (NABPP/PC), and an accomplished, published, documentarian writer of issues that reflect prison abuse and conditions of confinement that pose potentially life-threatening human rights violations, that go on unnoticed behind the walls.
You can reach him at:
CENTRAL TEXAS ABC, P.O. Box 7907, Austin, Texas 78713
The Movement inside Texas prisons will not be complete until the sisters join!
- ROCK Newsletter – “Strike it up – Arousing thought while building public opinion” By: Jose H. Villarreal – Pelican Bay Prison Vol. 4 No. 12 December 2015
- The Insider – (The Newsletter for PJL Members) Fall/Winter 2015 – Pg. 2 – Women in Prison Project