Originally published on 3/2/2021
As you know, prisons are foreboding and inaccessible. Every day at Prison Radio we learn new handholds, brace ourselves, and continue to find ways to bring voices across the walls and into our kitchens to bridge the divide.
We are launching our spring fundraiser. Perfecting Tyranny, the third volume of the Murder Incorporated trilogy by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria, has arrived and is flying out the door.
Imagine writing your magnum opus in the dangerous and draconian conditions of Pennsylvania prisons. Mumia is still writing by hand and on a plastic typewriter — no computers are allowed. His tablet for email only allows 2,000 characters and he cannot print out messages, so he cannot save his writing on it. He breaks regulation if he has more then seven books in his cell at a time.
Communication has been made more difficult with Pennsylvania prisoners, as the prison has added the bizarre requirement that all mailed letters and cards are sent to “Smart Communications” in Florida. In a Kafkaesque sequence, any mail he gets first has to be sent to Florida, scanned, and then printed out at the prison in PA and handed to him. This convoluted chain of communication is another profit choke point that funnels money to some crony who has the “mail processing bid” for the PA DOC — as usual at the cost of the incarcerated person’s connection to the outside world.
Last year, they would not let Mumia have the hardback version of Murder Inc: Vol. 2, America’s Favorite Pastime. And, he was put on a two-week cell restriction (no calls, no visits) for not stripping his cell down to what would fit in a box under his bed. Imagine, being a leading intellectual, a major contributor to critical race theory, when you are limited to seven books — fewer books than you have personally written. Mumia is PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, after finishing post graduate work at the Ohio State University. Imagine writing a dissertation under these conditions. His commitment to a full intellectual life inspires us. With every breath, he shows us not only his own fortitude and brilliance, but also the beautiful resilience of the human spirit; his victories are also our victories. You, and all of the Prison Radio supporters, have been critical to Mumia’s survival.
2021 will see the release of a new book we have in development, a revolutionary Black consciousness prison study guide. 2021 will also see us working with the artists at AgitArte, who are developing an abolitionist traveling theatrical puppet show. In addition, we will be finishing a film, Accompaniment, featuring the front-line struggles and lives of elder organizers Alice and Staughton Lynd, and the movements that shaped their lives.
When We Fight, We Win!
Miranda Hanrahan & Jennifer Black
Prison Radio Staff