France prison photo - Rikers Island

Tennessee jails are offering to sterilize inmates in exchange for shorter sentences

Lawmakers in Tennessee have somehow made the conditions of correctional facilities even less humane with a new practice. News Channel 5 reports that inmates in Tennessee jails have been given the option to receive shorter prison sentences if they agree to receive vasectomies or insert a contraceptive device into their bodies. 

Prison hands bars via Flickr

Cook County judges forced to set affordable bonds for non-dangerous defendants

One of the reasons that the United States has such a disproportionately high prison population is that a lot of people just can’t afford to avoid jail once they are accused of a crime.

Although it’s law in most states that judges should set bond that defendants can actually afford, this isn’t often the case. Cook County is now one of a handful that are working to reconcile this glaring flaw in the criminal justice system. 

Pedro Hernandez

Bronx teen Pedro Hernandez may lose scholarship after being arrested by alleged crooked cop

Pedro Hernandez is fighting to be released from custody in enough time to claim his scholarship to attend college after being arrested for attempted murder. A judge offered him a deal where a guilty plea would result in five years of probation and a clean record after. However, Hernandez is insistent he’s innocent and wouldn’t accept the terms, according to PIX 11.

Cops in Alaska continue to arrest sex workers after having sexual contact with them

You may not be aware that police officers across the country are currently able to have sexual contact with sex workers before arresting them. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone if you weren’t privy. Apparently 90 percent of people in Alaska didn’t know either. Which makes it all the more shocking that police in the northern-most state are fighting for their “right” to continue the practice.

Glamour reported that state lawmakers have been in an ongoing battle with the state’s police force over a proposed bill that would outlaw what many sex worker’s rights advocates consider to be traumatic sexual assault. 

From Black Brazil to the Black America: The Importance of Transnational Solidarity

By Kristian Davis Bailey

 

Last December, I visited Brazil for the first time to attend the Transregional Summit: The Arab Spring Meets Black Lives Matter conference at the Federal Fluminense University  (UFF) outside Rio de Janeiro. It was designed to put Black Lives Matter in conversation with Arab activists from Egypt and Palestine, and social movements in Rio de Janeiro.

During the conference, I met Black students who were in the middle of a three-month occupation of a university building that they wanted to establish as a Black community center.

We were all in awe of each other: to meet people who had been stolen from the same land and forced through similar experiences of slavery and modern-day discrimination was like having a reunion with long-lost family. Even without speaking the same language, we immediately knew and understood each other.

At first, we sat together for an hour talking in English and Portuguese about the state of Black people in Brazil and the US. I wound up spending almost a week living with the students inside their occupation, called Quilombo. (Quilombos were historically a refuge for runaway slaves in Brazil.)

During that time, the students recorded short greetings to their Black family in the US.  They were stories of solidarity, struggle, and diasporic connection. They were stories much like those we tell here in the United States.

 

 

“We came from the same place, our ancestors went through many of the same things in every place where the African diaspora exists,” said Luiza, one of the students.  “Unfortunately what unites us is racism, that’s what happens, and our struggles connect us in some way.”

She then spoke of the need for places like the Quilombo. “Being together in a place where Black people can speak openly and discuss our issues is very important for us to stay strong in this fight.”

Matheus, another student, said that it’s important for Black people to organize and connect locally and across borders.

“We need to unite, fight nationally in each place, and try to build something together for our ancestry and for us.”

The students said they know a lot about what happens to Black people in the US, but feel that we don’t know much about what’s happening to them — or that they even exist.

Contrary to the image Brazil puts out about itself, the majority of Brazilians are lighter-skinned Black or Afro-descendant (there are issues of internalized anti-Blackness with many Brazilians claiming to be ‘mixed’ rather than Black or denying Afro-heritage at all).

Yet, history shows that Brazil imported the highest number of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade and today has the largest Afro-descendant population outside of Africa.

The students also said they’re disconnected from what’s happening to Black and Afro-descendant people in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.

We are trying to get rid of the hegemonic belief that we can only have conversations with American people or Europeans—we want to talk with other people who are around us,” the students said. “We know so many things about the US and we don’t know anything about the situation in Africa or the Global South in general.”

Black people and nations are among the poorest across the Americas.  And our demands look very similar across borders, whether in Brazil, Colombia or the US. They include struggling against police murder and violence, fighting for better living conditions and health environments, and petitioning governments and community leaders for resources for our collective education and empowerment.

These transnational similarities  are the direct result of centuries of enslavement, discrimination, exploitation, and colonialism.

Therefore, as we organize towards our liberation at home, it’s always important to know that our struggle is not just a domestic one or one about “civil rights.” The nature of our oppression already unites us globally, but it’s time for our movements to return to the internationalism and Pan-Africanism of the 60s and intentionally connect.

 

Kristian Davis Bailey is a freelance writer and organizer based in Detroit, where he is a member of BYP100 and Black4Palestine. His work focuses on building internationalist consciousness and connections between social movements.

press

How the Trump White House is actively subverting the free and fair press

How can public citizens get a glimpse of White House decision-making and policy without a free press? Short answer: they can’t.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders have only held 5 daily briefings (out of 15) on camera in the month of June. This is an apparent effort to numb the general public about the intents and efforts of the Trump Administration.