Song of The Day :))

Method Man featuring Lauryn Hill-Things They Say

Song of The Day :))

Jay-Z: Feelin' It

Sexual Violence, Systematic and Institutionalized

In her essay, “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide,” Andrea Smith speaks at length about the effect of sexual violence on its victims and how sexual violence is an integral part of the colonization of Native populations. “As a consequence of this colonization and abuse of their bodies, Indian people learn to internalize self-hatred, because body image is integrally related to self-esteem. When one’s body is not respected, one begins to hate oneself.” As evidenced by the sexual violence involved in both Native colonization and prison violence we see an institutionalization of sexual violence that is profitable for the maintaining of the status quo. This attack on the bodies of women of color come from all sides of dominant society as an attempt to continuously control and marginalize. “The history of sexual violence and genocide among Native women illustrates how gender violence as a tool for racism and colonialism among women of color in general.” To capture the body, is also to capture the person. Rape is a tool of subjugation and humiliation. To keep minority populations in check, rape is institutionalized in such entities as the prison industrial complex.

In an article titled “The Brutal Horror of Prison Rape, as Told by Its Victims”, Kimberly Yates and Bryson Martel tell their story of being raped while incarcerated. What stood out the most to me in their accounts was the fact that overall the violence was thoroughly ignored. Yates says that what makes her case “especially alarming is the fact that the BOP [prison authority] was put on notice about this officer [who committed the act] but continued to allow him to work in that position, knowing what he had done and that he could do it to someone else.” In addition to that, Martel believes if prison officials had paid attention to other inmate’s claims of abuse, it could have stopped his from happening. “If earlier reports of his abuse had been acted on, my rape could have been prevented.” Through this and the fact that action refused to be taken, we see that, sexual violence in the prison system is systematically allowed and perpetuated. Also, the fact that the PIC makes money, essentially off the illegal acts against women through the imprisonment of the perpetuator makes this state sponsored violence.  Rape of women and trans folks and other forms of sexual violence in the prison system is a problem that is blatantly ignored. Starting with invasive internal and gynecological examinations, sexual violence is purposely overlooked at every turn. In Angela Y. Davis’ book on the Prison Industrial Complex, “Are Prisons Obsolete?”, she discusses the sexual violence that takes place within this system. According to Davis, “as activists and prisoners themselves have pointed out, the state itself is directly implicated in this routinization of sexual abuse, both in permitting such conditions that render women vulnerable to explicit sexual coercion carried out by guards and other prison staff and by incorporating into routine policy such practices as the strip search and body cavity search.”

Kimberle Crenshaw, in her essay "Mapping the Margins: Interscetionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color", presents an awesome analysis of violence against women with an intersectional approach. “Where race, gender, and class domination converge, as they do in the experiences of battered women of color, intervention strategies based solely on the experiences of women who do not share the same class or race backgrounds will be of limited help to women who because of race and class face different obstacles.” We cannot separate race, from gender, from class, especially as people looking to eradicate rape. She also focuses on immigrant women being trapped in violent relationships because they are trying to gain citizenship status.
 In addition to what Kimberle Crenshaw mentions and rape in the PIC, the U.S. also furthers their agenda by allowing sexual slavery and rape at the border to continue to take place without legal repercussions for those who commit these crimes. “Department of Justice representatives have informally reported that U.S. attorneys decline to prosecute about 75 percent of all cases involving any crime in Indian country.” It doesn’t help that women of color are often seen as unrapeable through the racist history of this country. It is my theory that women of color in this country continually face a war in which the perpetrators are taking away their bodily sovereignty. Rape culture makes sexual violence possible. The perpetuation of rape culture furthers its hegemonic state in American society. “Indeed, the U.S. and other colonizing countries are engaged in a “permanent social war” against the bodies of women of color and indigenous women, which threaten their legitimacy.” Through the media and racist laws of the land we see this war materialize.

Rape of women of color is not just motivated by sex and power as it is for white women, but it is also racially motivated as a tool for marginalization of entire populations. This is where feminists have dropped the ball, categorizing rape as purely about individual power without respect to racial motivations. “The American Friends Service Committee documented over 346 reports of gender violence on the U.S.-Mexico border from 1993-1995.” Women of color are generally more vulnerable when it comes to sexual violence, especially when crossing the border. This type of violence is deemed invisible by the government as well as U.S. citizens. Zoila Miriam Perez, in her essay ‘When Sexual Autonomy Isn’t Enough: Sexual Violence Against Immigrant Women in the United States, says, “rape has become so prevalent that many women take birth control pills or shots before setting out to ensure they won’t get pregnant.” Some consider rape ‘the price you pay for crossing the border.” Immigrant women’s bodies are seen as an expendable resource and therefore unrapeable. The rape of these women’s bodies are direct consequences of the capitalist system we are in since immigration is a direct result of America’s need for cheap labor.

Through these examples, we see that rape and other forms of sexual violence isn’t purely an individual bodily offense but is furthered by dominant society and the government to exercise control over entire minority populations.

*cross posted at Refuse the Silence's blog* :)

Fill The Glass to the Top With Moet


Organize, Organize, Organize!

So I just added to my to-do list for the summer that every week I will learn about a new revolution. Lately, I've ben getting more interested in liberation movements, independence movements, anti-oppression struggles and the like. I think as a society, we can always use more inspiration to get involved with the movements we see going on around us. I want people to know and to realize that every little bit counts and that to change the system we have to fight against the system. Organize, revolutionize, educate yourselves, and participate in whatever you can!

Anyway, I will be highlighting everything I learn here. Check me out! :)


The Tribal Law & Order Act

I recently learned about the Tribal Law and Order Act being passed in Congress. I wonder what this really means for Native communities. The effects of colonists and early US government agents disturbing the harmony of Native communal justice are still felt today. Instead of helping to restore these original systems, activists are relying on the oppressive US judicial institution. The Tribal Law and Order Act is supposed to do a better job of “protecting” Native women against sexual violence. Native communities have had a history of favoring restorative and communal justice rather than the punitive style of justice that the US likes to inflict and since colonization, forms of Native justice have been slowly dying. 

Restorative and communal justice seek to rehabilitate the perpetuator and use the community, not outside forces, to institute real forms of justice. What the Tribal Law and Order Acts essentially says is that instead of really trying to figure out why sexual violence is rampant in Native communities, we’re going to ignore the problem and just lock up anyone who commits this crime. No one is unredeembale and having a bill like this that favors prosecution and imprisonment instead of therapy or getting to the root of the issue, ignores this fact. It ignores the perpetrator and the problem. Surely, sexual violence in Native communities will not be solved by this bill. It says nothing of rape culture and those that are complicit in it.

This bill also protects and emphasizes the police state. This reminds me of the colonial period where sexual violence was committed against Native women and white men blamed it on Native men; this way the white men were seen as saviors of Native women, which instilled fear of Native men as well as false appreciation of the colonizers. It also skewed the importance of the community. This method helped to implement patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, and eurocentricity. To allow and advocate for more encroaching of the police institution onto Native land is both oppressive as well as counter-active. With the police history of discriminating, being violent against and criminalizing communities of color can we really trust the police institution to so-called “protect” Native women?

Protecting Native women would mean an ending to misogyny, sexism, and queerphobia. If you want to stop sexual violence, focus on education and therapy as deterrents not just as a response. As activists, the solution is to focus more on developing strategies to do just that instead of relying on and organizing around the US justice system, an institution that perpetuates the sexism that we should be trying to get rid of.  Do we really need more police to practice surveillance on another community perfectly capable of protecting itself? Yes, we know that Native women deserve equal protection under the law and do deserve that protection, but can this really be protection if it is also oppressive? Can we develop strategies that don’t rely on a marginalizing police and prison state?

The Tribal Law and Order Act also relies on the oppressive Prison Industrial Complex system. The PIC is racist, classist, and sexist. Should advocates against sexual violence be relying on this system where sexual violence is state sponsored within prison walls? “Conditions within the institution continually reinvoke memories of violence and oppression (Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis).” Do they only care about sexual violence when it happens in the free world?

When I first learned about the Prison Industrial Complex, I was confused about what anti-prison activists saw as a viable alternative to prisons. I believe anti-prison activism to be one of the most powerful and important, yet, ignored liberation movements. When I read Angela Y. Davis’ book, “Are Prisons Obsolete?,” which is obviously pivotal within this movement, my eyes opened to how oppressive the Prison Industrial Complex is. I cannot go into complete detail of all the ills of the prison system here because of length constraints but if you would like to read about the way sexual violence is embedded into the Prison Industrial Complex, read Davis’ book. Here is just a limited overview; the Prison Industrial Complex includes all forms of prison and policing that do not take up the form of restorative or communal justice, here in America and abroad.

First we must realize, illegal acts are committed, number one, because of poverty and racism. The other reason why crimes are committed is because, as the name permits, the Prison Industrial Complex is a business that promotes corporate greed. The more people who go to prison, the more money the government and other corporations make. The government capitalizes off prisoners suffering especially when it comes to the sexual violence that they face and endure. The government therefore also capitalizes off illegal acts committed against victims. Prisons are a form of population control, and if you’re going to limit population growth, go ahead and send the poor people and the people of color away too. Native people are disproportionately incarcerated in the PIC. “‘Prisons, as employed by the Euro-American system, operate to keep Native Americans in a colonial situation. She points out that Native people are vastly overrepresented in the country’s federal and state prisons.” This is the attitude that the government has and yes, people have a personal choice in what they do, however, laws and governments should not make it easier for certain people to commit illegal acts.

Recently, I’ve been noticing the refusal of other liberation movements, such as the feminist movement, to organize around the abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex. Using the practice of intersectionality, feminists and other like-minded movements should realize that anti-prison work is also feminist work, is also anti-racist work, is also anti-queerphobia work, etc. The Prison Industrial Complex was designed to be invisible to the free population, so I cannot be angry with anyone who is uneducated about it, but if we want to be holistic activists we cannot ignore this institution in our activism.

I don’t want to seem ignorant of the facts that illegal acts are being committed everyday and that we need immediate solutions to deter these acts and those who continuously commit them. However, prison is not the answer. As activists our solution should be in educating people about societal ills and finding solutions to those ills, not aiding the government in carrying out marginalization against minorities and other crimes committing within the PIC structure. Prisons are not for rehabilitation, as they were originally created, but for punishment. We cannot be comfortable with living in a society that would rather get even than to improve the perpetrator. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” -Mahatma Gandhi We have all committed criminal acts that, if pursued vehemently enough may have sent us to prison. The life and well being of a person should not mean less because they are deemed a criminal by our “criminal justice” system. We cannot forget to infuse compassion and love into our activism.

Can we develop strategies to advocate for the abolition of prisons and also seek justice for those who commit illegal acts? People of color, when victims of illegal acts advocate strongly for the perpetrator/s to go to prison. How can people of color advocate so strongly for a system that unfairly targets and oppresses them? The pain and loss involved in losing someone can be detrimental to the psyche, however, minorities should be advocating the most for the abolition of this system not helping to perpetuate it. Making new laws criminalizing acts of violence against women will not see a decrease in this type of violence, however they will fill up more of our prisons, cost us more money, while doing absolutely nothing to solve the real issue.
Laws don’t protect us, as we have been brainwashed to believe, they criminalize actions that should be treated with therapy or love.

*cross posted at Refuse the Silence *

Song of The Day :))

The Essence-AZ featuring NaS