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Without mass actions like the current nationwide prison strike, which bring direct awareness to the issue, these stories go largely underreported.

Note: Due to the safety of the incarcerated individuals, some names were changed to allow anonymity. We speak carefully on the phone, fully aware that anything said can become grounds to get him sent to ‘segregation’, so we talk in non-absolutes and coded language. The phone line is fuzzy, distant, and unstable today—sometimes it sounds crystal clear, other times I think he may be underwater—but still, we speak with covert passion. “I’m sure you heard the news of what’s happening all around, yeah?” he asks me, not saying the words but still conveying the conversation to me. “It’s really fuckin’ courageous for people, what [they’re] doing,” Charlie, an immigrant who has been incarcerated in Georgia for almost six years and is now at Stewart Detention Center, the fifth facility he’s been transferred to, tells me. “I keep my faith, but niggas go crazy in here,” Charlie says with a voice that’s increasingly shaky. We quickly change the subject. The topic of resistance can be fleeting and constricted for incarcerated people like Charlie, but it’s often present nonetheless. The “news” that Charlie was referring to is the nationwide prison strike, which was announced in April and began last week. https://twitter.com/JailLawSpeak/status/988771668670799872 Earlier this year, incarcerated people across the U.S. announced plans to hold a nationwide prison strike from August 21st to September 9th. The dates are not random: August 21st invokes the day that comrade George Jackson was murdered by prison guards in San Quentin State Prison, and September 9th marks the day incarcerated people began the Attica Prison Uprising, one of the most notorious prison uprisings in history. Lead by an abolitionist collective including groups like Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, and others which culminate incarcerated and non-incarcerated organizers, this strike, now several days underway with many reports of involvement across the country and over 300 organizations endorsing it, could be the largest prison strike in U.S. history.

The Demands

The strike is in response to an uprising at Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina where seven incarcerated people died on April 15, 2018. Based on multiple reports, the violence and subsequent deaths at Lee Correctional Institution was provoked by prison guards and then sustained by prison officials who turned their backs on the incarcerated people as the violence increased, not attempting to break up the fighting or give medical aid. The demands were issued in direct response to the violence at Lee Correctional Institution,” said journalist and prisoner advocate Jared Ware. “Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is a human rights organization inside prisons, and the language and the choice of their demands in many ways reflects the way they work, they deal in policies, they examine laws, they write writs, they help with appeals, they file grievances against abuses in prisons.” The strikers’ demands are both straightforward and complex, with the crux of them calling attention to the need for “humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.” While organizers have noted that their demands don’t illustrate or tackle the totality of problems they face as incarcerated people, they do cover much important ground that we on the outside should pay close attention to and appreciate.
The demands are crafted as calls to uphold human rights standards, and intentionally so.
In a recent interview with Ware for ShadowProof, a representative from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak said the creation of the demands came from “talking to a number of prisoners in a number of different locations”, narrowing them down from over 30 demands to the ten we see today. They wanted the demands to be specific in their aims, but speak to as much of the incarceration as possible, from women’s prisons to immigrant detention centers. Of the demands, the first two may be the most general: immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women, and an immediate end to prison slavery by paying incarcerated workers ‘the prevailing wage’ in their state for their labor. The demands are crafted as calls to uphold human rights standards, and intentionally so. Utterly inhumane conditions are a permanent fixture in most jails and prisons across the country, and have been the catalyst for many prison uprisings. In the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC), incarcerated people have reported the spreading staph infections and other diseases due to the unsanitary, dirty environment. In other cases, incarcerated people have died from heat exhaustion due to lack of air conditioning, have been denied access to clean drinking water, or have had minor health problems become life-ending occasions due to medical neglect. Following Hurricane Harvey last year, reports piled in that incarcerated people in Texas were left with no electricity, no running water or working toilets, and no ventilation for several days.
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The assumption that most sexual assault victims lie has been proven false and this fact has been known for quite some time. Yet, the toxic notion still prevails.

Since late last year we have heard women and men come forward with their experiences with harassment and sexual assault as part of #MeToo, a movement started by activist Tarana Burke over a decade ago and catapulted into the spotlight because of the hypervisibility of the accused. We have also heard the rumbling undercurrent of the cishetero patriarchal establishment trying to buck against the changing times. 2017 was a start, but we still have a long way to go. The proof lies in the heated debates over the Aziz Ansari allegations. What should have been another voice to join the #MeToo chorus became way for opponents to begin anew at their attempts to dismantle the movement. “Why didn’t she say anything, if she didn’t consent?” “Why did she do those things if she were really scared?” “Why didn’t she tell any authorities if it were really assault?” By the second week of 2018, it seemed that, so many people have forgotten the education that previous year brought. The stereotypes and fallacies that had stifled voices for so many years were back in full force. In truth, sexual assault and rape allegations have always been heavily shrouded in suspicion, so much so that no matter how the victim acted before, during, or after the assault, no matter how they reported her experience, or how long it took them to come forward, the victim was always at a disadvantage. They are always lying. That sounds harsh, but the stereotype is so deeply rooted in our society, that we learn to strongly believe the most rape victims are lying about their assault despite data which proves otherwise. The victim must come forward with enough DNA to reconstruct the assailant in a lab like some “Black Mirror” type of scene. Otherwise, the missing evidence indicts the victim and exonerates the rapist in the court of public opinion long before they even go to court. Actually, many of the victims are treated like criminals for no other reason than their desire to report the heinous crime they underwent.
Related: WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GRACE AND AZIZ ANSARI, WE NEED TO DISCUSS EMOTIONAL LABOR TOO

Women and femmes learn how to please others, and cisgender men learn to be pleased or to discard us until they are.

A Babe dot net article (a site I’d never heard of until a few days ago) broke a story about Aziz Ansari allegedly assaulting a young woman named Grace* and a media frenzy followed. One of my favorite articles about this incident was one by James Hamblin at The Atlantic titled “This Is Not a Sex Panic,” and one of my least favorite was an abhorrent opinion piece by Lucia Brawley on CNN which basically claimed that if you don't physically fight, you cannot claim to be a victim of coercion. Because, y’know, real victims (of assault/rape) fight — or as she put it, are “stubborn.” Brawley goes on to applaud “actual victims,” writes briefly about how she and her husband put their daughters in karate or whatever and teach them to “fight back,” while completely glossing over the fact that even they have to learn how to fight back because we live in a sexist society where women like their mother invalidate or dismiss women like Grace who are taught, like most women, to protest men indirectly, gently. And consider this lovely excerpt: “Ansari is not Harvey Weinstein. He's not even on the same planet. We have to differentiate between the two if our #MeToo movement is to succeed. If we don't, no one will take our valid claims seriously and things will get worse for women.” Juxtaposing the nice guys who “just made a mistake” and “actual rapists” promotes the distancing of regular, “normal” men from the lurking-in-the-dark insidious predators and subtly shifts the blame over to women while making us constantly question the validity of our experience — the burden of proof is always on the victim in these “grey area” cases. The Brawley article has white faux feminism dripping all over it — note that Brawley briefly mentions privilege but neglects to probe deeper. A whole conversation could be had about who had the privilege in the Ansari encounter: the pristine, victimized, presumed white woman Grace, or the famous, powerful “nice guy” of color. Brawley does mention Ansari being a man of color but then compares that to Grace’s “sexual power,” a throwback to the idea that our power as cis women lies in our pussies, our “sex.” This is a patriarchal fallacy. She also emphasizes how much he has uplifted women in the industry — something that many people do to invalidate claims of assault, racism, or sexism by an oppressed party.
Related: AZIZ ANSARI IS NOT EMMETT TILL, NOR THE STRAW MAN OF ASIAN AMERICAN MASCULINITY

Let's interrogate the politic of comparing Aziz Ansari to Emmett Till.

A storm of articles has appeared over the last 48 hours regarding the account published by Babe magazine on the disturbing encounter between Aziz Ansari and a young woman who, in the account, is simply called "Grace." A large majority of these articles, particularly the ones published in mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times and the Atlantic, have rushed to Ansari's defense, accusing "Grace" of enacting "revenge porn," and merely "exaggerating" an episode of "bad sex," which, they claim, she should have had the foresight and/or common sense to resist. Among the arguments put forth in defense of Ansari — surprisingly by many whites, perhaps in an eager bid to prove themselves NotRacist™ — is the one that claims Grace used her status as a white woman to damage and discredit the career of a man of color (Ansari is a Brown south Asian man). Although no reference to Grace's racial identity was given in the original account, many subsequent articles have assumed Grace to be white because of Ansari's history of dating mostly white women. Regardless, though no facts are known for sure about Grace's racial identity, this has been the narrative: a white woman played up her helplessness in order to disempower a man of color. So let's begin with the phrase "man of color." This encompasses a rather large and diverse category of people who, at least in the United States, have historically had quite distinct relationships to both masculinity and whiteness as such. It is true that there has been a long and painful history of white women wielding their whiteness in violent ways against Black men and boys specifically. Throughout the history of the American south, there were countless documented cases of white women fabricating or exaggerating stories about being assaulted or harassed by Black men or boys, which resulted in tragic and fatal consequences for the latter. The case of Emmett Till is perhaps the most well-known and egregious example of this phenomenon, in which a white woman lied about a 14-year old Black boy whistling at her in public. As a consequence, Till was murdered by two white men in the most brutal way imaginable. Because Blackness as such is hyper-masculinized within the U.S. racial order, Black boys and men have historically been portrayed by white people as dangerous, violent, or criminal, and white women have capitalized on this trope by exaggerating their own "innocence" and "helplessness" in order to skew the balance of power further in their favor. Meanwhile, Asian American men have had a different relationship to masculinity. If Black men have been hyper-masculinized in our culture, Asian American men have been hypo-masculinized—that is, feminized or seen as less masculine than the desirable (i.e. white) standard. Constructions of Black and Asian men's masculinity as either "too masculine" (i.e. dangerous/violent/criminal) or "not masculine enough" (i.e. unthreatening/weak/compliant) are both racist because they are framed only in reference to white masculinity as the middle standard. Not surprisingly, Asian American men's critiques of racism have often amounted to protesting the way in which they are constantly "emasculated" under white supremacy. The problem with this appeal is that it still frames white masculinity as the desirable standard into which they (Asian American men) should be rightfully included.
Related: WHAT AZIZ ANSARI DID WAS COERCION, NOT CONSENT

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