This Labor Day all activists, organizers, advocates, and progressives need to remain cognizant of the plight of the incarcerated, whose labor often is left out of the discourse.By Devyn Springer While Labor Day has become synonymous with simply being known as the long weekend filled with barbecues, cheap cocktails, and laughs with friends, it is historically much more than that; it is meant to be a celebration of the radical trade unionists and organizers of the early Labor Movement which is responsible for many of our worker’s rights today. Moreover, it should be a celebration of the worker, the contributions to the world the laborers make, and a transgression against current abuses and exploitations workers face. This year massive protests and demonstrations across the country have taken place to demand high minimum wages, particularly the #FightFor15 organizations call for a $15 minimum wage. In other parts of the country immigrants folks are also marching for the rights of immigrant workers, especially in relation to the recent news that Trump has declared war on DACA recipients. While these causes are important, noble, and timely, there is a population of workers whose plight and labor is overlooked each year: the incarcerated. In our conceptualization of “labor,” “laborers,” and “workers,” we often naturally overlook the labor of incarcerated people, which is not a coincidence. Not just their labor, but their conditions and lives as well are often overlooked in most public discourse, as the prison system is this way by design. In most states, the geography of prisons alone is enough to create this erasure; state and federal prison facilities are often places on the outskirts of towns, hour-long drives away from cities. Incarcerated populations are, often quite literally, out of sight and out of mind to the general public, thus the plight of their struggles and their labor is naturally disregarded.
I think of trans-generational traumas, and how they shape us, and I wonder whether the pang that I sometimes feel in my gut connects me with the agony of my foremothers.Trigger Warning: This article contains discussions of racialized reproductive and sexual violences against Black women We have been rather preoccupied with our statues of late. As we should be. They are symbols of who and what our nation chooses to venerate and immortalize, and monuments to white supremacy have stood long enough—they should never have been erected to begin with. At the edge of Central Park, in New York City, stands a figure in honor of J. Marion Sims, an allegiant to the Confederacy who often vocalized his loyalty to the south and southern tradition, including slavery. This nineteenth century doctor is known as the “father of modern gynecology.” While the field respectfully celebrates its patriarch, it too often neglects to remember its mothers. Among them: Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey. Sims became the world’s most renowned authority on reproductive health after years of experimental operations on enslaved Black women in the backyard hospital of his Montgomery, Alabama home from 1845 to 1849. Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey were his subjects, taken on from local slavers. These young women were in horrible condition and went hoping that he would cure their ailments quickly. This began “before the time of anesthesia,” Sims notes in his autobiography. The first successful surgery performed with anesthesia occurred in 1846, but Sims never gave any to the enslaved women in his care. It is recorded that he subscribed to the belief that Black people did not have the same capacity to feel pain as white people, a belief that many people in the medical field unfortunately still hold. Physicians continually offer less pain relief and fewer management resources to their Black patients, even to children, due to this accepted myth.
I’ve decided to remove my Black body from the war and reclaim my time. I care about the status of the country I live in, but this war is never-ending, and ultimately no longer mine to fight.By Barbara Muhumuza August has been a tumultuous month — the climate has been packed with hateful bigotry which has created an atmosphere of fear for marginalized groups and our accomplices. I imagine that it can be unsettling to witness the reality of America's truth come to light, especially after being deluded for so long that this America was anything but the one it was created to be. Seeing the honest reflection that you, white people, have spent decades denying is quite probably difficult to absorb. For Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), however, this is not new. Frankly, this is much more passive than the things we’ve seen and died for and from. That doesn’t make it any less of an issue, but how much longer must we put up with this rhetoric that this America — bold, hateful and willing to burn anything in the way of its need to upkeep white supremacy — is anything other than the America it has always been? Black people know that this America is the same America we were brought in chains to. This America is the same America that insidiously infiltrated and destroyed Black leaderships in order to prevent Black communal efforts of progress. This America is the same America that has always been inherently anti-black, anti-indigenous, anti-poor, anti-queer, anti-anything that isn’t white and rich.
Learning about hoodoo has taught me that Black people lived normal lives and that has allowed me to connect with my ancestors in a way that all of the extraordinary stories of Blackness did not.By Donyae Coles My mother really wanted me to be Afrocentric. She tried so hard, flooding my room with art and books that would teach me about my heritage and empower me with stories of people who have lived through some of the worst oppression and abuse in the world. It didn’t work. I was more concerned with books that featured dragons and superheroes and for a long time, I felt completely out of touch with my heritage. It wasn't until I discovered hoodoo and that I found the link that connected me to my ancestors. Hoodoo is an African American folk tradition concerned with healing and protection (and a bit of hexing). It is also called conjure and rootwork. It was developed by enslaved Black people and takes many forms but is different from Voodoo. It is a type of magick practice but is areligious and does not invoke any deities, unless you want to. It is worked by using roots and herbs in conjunction with personal items and candles.