Fasting With Murderers and Racists for Trayvon

while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
— Eugene V. Debs

I am fasting for the duration of today in support of California prisoners who have now begun the 24th day of an indefinite hunger strike as they seek the fulfillment of their five core demands. Included in the demands are reforms to the Special Housing Unit system used to keep prisoners who are violent or suspected of gang activity locked in solitary confinement (sometimes for decades).

I am not the only one fasting today in support of the prisoners. Several individuals and organizations have endorsed today as an International Day of Action in Solidarity with CA Prisoner Hunger Strikers & Justice for Trayvon.

It seems odd to me, on first thought, to combine the outrage over the treatment of criminals including murderers and white supremacists in prison with the outrage over the death of Trayvon Martin. As a quote from the press release linked above for today’s solidarity actions put it, “we know the criminalization that killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization that justifies torture of prisoners is one and the same.”

On second thought, I find the intersection of issues to be a refreshing divergence from the anger focused on the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial. Instead of viewing prison as a solution to structural racism, instead of being upset that there are too few (or the wrong) bodies in prison, it confronts the prison system as the tool, the stronghold, the product, and the production site of white supremacy that it is.

“Do We Need to Start a Riot?” - Jasiri X