twitter
facebook twitter tumblr newsletter
 

The Demand Remains

empty-social

To equate white motherhood, black motherhood and the fear that runs through them is violent and nothing else.

 
AT this juncture in the quickly escalating shitstorm that is the art world’s responses to the 2017 Whitney Biennial–specifically to Dana Schutz’s painting “Open Casket”–it appears useful to respond to the disingenuous and hollow response provided by the Whitney Biennial curators, as well as to Dana Schutz’s short email statement and cobbled together comments that have appeared in the Guardian’s coverage of the issue–delightfully sparse commentary for someone who otherwise claims to have so much to say on the particular issue of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and thus on racial violence in America at large.

Continue Reading
 

Vacate the Slave State

59london

Taking lessons from maroon societies, it’s time to reimagine and transform how we view prison abolition

 
ON February 1, 2017, news broke that inmates in the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware, took over the prison and held the guards hostage. This is how the hierarchy of violence works: The jail guards are portrayed as victims, not the people being held in cages. It sounds redundant to say that Vaughn prison was a grim and abusive place. How can a place that forcefully isolates incarcerated individuals be anything else? The Vaughn rebellion, as it came to be known, highlighted the violent conditions incarcerated people are forced to live in every day.

Continue Reading
 

Homeward Bound

59martinez

With electronic home monitoring, the prisoner pays for her cell and becomes her own prison guard

 
SITTING beside a public defender in the defendant’s chair is the loneliest place in the world. There is no one to help you but this stranger. Your entire future is wrapped up into a series of charges and pleas while you remain voiceless. The most disarming part is not even the judgment, but the banality of it all: the rote indifference as the judge casually consigns you to a new world. I was elated to discover that the new world I was entering would be in many ways familiar to my own. I didn’t have to go to jail. Instead, I could serve my six-month sentence through home monitoring.

Continue Reading
 

Administrative Remedy

59-barrett-social

The 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States exist in a state of perpetual vulnerability to unchecked administrative power

 
AT the same moment that my editor took the stage at the National Magazine Awards on February 1 to accept on my behalf the prize in the category of columns and opinion, I was locked down in “the hole” at the medium security federal prison at Three Rivers, Texas. I recently finished a four-year sentence there stemming from my work researching state-corporate surveillance partnerships with the activist group Anonymous, and officially, I was being held in administrative detention status for an “investigation” that had begun five days prior, an hour after I’d done a radio interview from a prison phone, which is not against the rules. Although my subsequent “refusal of an order” to meet in private with prison administrators resulted only in a sentence of two weeks’ restriction of privileges, one of the administrators in question simply told the guards to hold me in the Special Housing Unit regardless, entirely contrary to the law. Repeated lawyer calls to the prison were ignored. Nervous passing guards could tell me nothing about my fate, which itself no longer seemed tethered to any recognizable form of due process. Finally after two weeks, I was released without explanation or apology.

Continue Reading
 

Days Spent Doing Too Much of Fucking Nothing

59daysspent-social

Wayne’s prison memoir is one of the most boring ever written, which is why it’s a success

 
THE Price Is Right was on in the dayroom. I tried to play along, but just kept thinking about how this place is wrong.”

Lil Wayne’s Gone ‘Til November is, in all likelihood, a faithful, if slightly amended, reproduction of Weezy’s actual diary from the eight months in 2010 that he spent at the Eric M. Taylor Center (EMTC) at Rikers Island, home to sentenced inmates serving one year or less. It is designed to resemble a composition notebook, inside and out, right down to its faux-handwritten font. Inside, Weezy’s writing is stream of consciousness, unvarnished, and primarily focused on the banalities of daily life at EMTC, widely regarded as the calmest facility at Rikers. Despite his celebrity and the recent attention being paid to the island prison, Lil Wayne’s account of his incarceration has drawn remarkably little notice, and it’s not his fault: He has simply captured daily life at EMTC in a way that doesn’t fit with the splashy headlines of Rikers’s corruption and violence. Still, his account represents the facility just as damningly and faithfully.

Continue Reading