Glossary: The Prison Industrial Complex

Image courtesy of stopthepic.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of stopthepic.wordpress.com

The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a term used to describe various components driving mass incarceration in the United States. It is the preoccupation with punishment rather than prevention and rehabilitation. The development and infrastructure of prisons have become a privatized industry run for the purpose of turning a profit. Under the promise of lowering crimes and protecting the public, state and federal governments issue contracts to private companies, like Corrections Conglomerates of America (CCA) and GEO Group, to manage and staff prisons. These private companies are paid a fixed amount to house prisoners. Their profits are accrued from spending the minimum amount on each prisoner and pocketing the remaining funds. Hence, the objective is to house the maximum numbers of inmates for extended periods of time as inexpensively as possible.

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Working Beyond Borders

BAJI

Photo courtesy of Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Happy May Day!

I hope you’ll join us in celebrating the contributions that all kinds of laborers make to the world’s wealth, stability and health.

May Day is a special opportunity to express your support for the human rights and just treatment of the many people who have immigrated to your country to work and to live. Although mainstream media outlets often represent the face of immigration as indigenous and Mexican or Central American, since the mid-twentieth century millions of Black people from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America have joined national communities like the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. This month, we will try to illuminate how immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights and an international Black issue.

The freedom to migrate was enabled by social movements that challenged race-based exclusionary immigration policies. However, a great deal of work remains to be done in order to lift the stigma our society places on recent and not-so-recent arrivals to the United States. In the classroom, I have been moved by some of my students’ admitted insecurities about their undocumented status, their family’s struggles to adjust to the American economy and culture as well as their physical and emotional distance from extended kinfolk. Fortunately, there is a powerful student movement that is fighting for the passage of the DREAM Act and many organizations like the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and Black Alliance for Just Immigration are successfully advocating for better labor conditions.

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The Audre Lorde Project

Portrait of Audre Lorde by Robert Alexander, 1983.

A version of this post was originally published on March 19, 2012

Black women from throughout the diaspora have made significant contributions to Black Studies. Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a poet, essayist and activist who created a number of ground-breaking ideas about the relationship between race, class, gender and sexuality. Her most well-known quote comes from her classic collection of essays, Sister Outsider: “…the Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” Lorde believed that activists of color needed to address all forms of oppression rather than seek inclusion into the elite for members of their particular group. She also advocated for radical political and cultural changes that would equalize power relations in our society.

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The Audre Lorde Project

Portrait of Audre Lorde by Robert Alexander, 1983.

Happy Women’s History Month! Black women from throughout the diaspora have made significant contributions to Black Studies. Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was a poet, essayist and activist who created a number of ground-breaking ideas about the relationship between race, class, gender and sexuality. Her most well-known quote comes from her classic collection of essays, Sister Outsider: “…the Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” Lorde believed that activists of color needed to address all forms of oppression rather than seek inclusion into the elite for members of their particular group. She also advocated for radical political and cultural changes that would equalize power relations in our society.

(more…)