Glossary: Supermax Prison

A prisoner in solitary confinement. Alabama, 1979, by Sean Kernan. Image courtesy of seankernan.com.

A prisoner in solitary confinement. Alabama, 1979, by Sean Kernan. Image courtesy of seankernan.com.

Human rights activists as well as the legal community consider that supermax confinement constitutes torture under international law and cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution mandates humane prisons and the Eighth Amendment prohibits against punishment that is “incompatible with ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” or “involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”

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Barefoot Diva

image courtesy of litlive.ru

Ms. Cesaria Evora was born on Cape Verde in 1941 and was known as the “Barefoot Diva” because she performed without shoes. She was orphaned at the age of seven and fame did not find her until the age of 47 and won a Grammy in 2003 for her album “Voz D’Amor”. Cise (as she was known to her friends) is considered the best Morna singer – where Morna is a genre of music similar to the blues. In fact The Washington Post compared her to American jazz singer Billie Holiday.

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The Queen of Latin Soul

La Lupe. Image courtesy of BeingLatino.Us

La Lupe.
Image courtesy of BeingLatino.Us

Guadalupe Victoria “Yoli” Raymond was born in Santiago de Cuba two days before Christmas, 1936. Soon the world would come to know her as ‘La Lupe’, or ‘La YiYiYi’ (pr. GeeGeeGee). Her music touched millions, and La Lupe paved the way for other AfroCuban artists like Celia Cruz. Described by her older sister Norma Yoli as “just another Black girl from Santiago,” to Latin@ communities around the world, she was so much more. La Lupe remains an icon and a legend, the Queen of Latin Soul! In 1971, La Lupe told Look magazine, “I think people like me because I do what they like to but can’t get free enough to do.

To learn more about La Lupe’s life, music and legacy, check out this free documentary:

by Joanne Bermudez

Glossary: Political Prisoners

Image courtesy of ActNow Australia

Image courtesy of ActNow Australia

The term “political prisoner” is not easy to define. The category is contested, and there is a lack of global consensus about who qualifies as a political prisoner. For some, the term may convey a special status which necessitates immediate release. For others, political prisoners may include those who have undertaken acts of treason or espionage, which warrant harsh punishment. Still others take the definition to include acts of violence committed for political reasons or in support of a cause. The conflicted nature of issues surrounding political prisoners is represented in the old adage: “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.” Citizens convicted of participating in armed resistance may be designated as political prisoners by comrades and supporters, but considered criminals by the government.

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Mighty Real

Sylvester

Sylvester, the fiercest, disco diva this side of the Rainbow Flag!

Any study of disco music would not be complete without songs like You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) or the familiar cowbell sound of the 1070s that is used in Do You Wanna Funk. Sylvester James was a drag performer in San Francisco. Although he rejected the title of drag queen, he was a gender-bending performer that defined androgyny. For marketing reasons, his music label attempted to “butch him up,” to which he responded by attending meetings in full drag. And that’s who Sylvester was — an unapologetic Black man in drag that could set a stage on fire with his falsetto voice.

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