on my facebook i have been posting excerpts from casting notices to make fun of/point out the racism/sexism/ridiculousism present in casting for tv and film and i really wish i could share with you all how dumb hollywood is because their casting is transparent, eye opening, painful and important to recognize and talk about, but i can’t because i might need to get cast in one of these awful projects one day and this is the crux of how burdensome it is to be a conscious individual in this industry who also needs to pay her bills.
Taystee’s return inspired so many feelings: sadness that she got locked up again, happiness that she was back on the show, delight that her and Poussey could be besties again. But the conversation between Taystee and Poussey in the library was perhaps the series’ most intentional indictment of the system in the entire season, in which Taystee recalls the impossibility of “starting over” after prison. She had no place to live, clothes to wear or food to eat. It was impossible to find a good-paying job, and check-ins with parole officers loomed ever-present.
As described in depth in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, former prisoners with drug offenses on their record face insurmountable challenges. They may find themselves ineligible for food stamps, public housing (or any housing), federally funded health and welfare benefits and federal educational assistance — demerits which hit especially hard for mothers with children and for women of color, who already suffer discrimination in those sectors with or without a record. “Once labeled a felon, the badge of inferiority remains with you for the rest of your life, relegating you to a permanent second-class status,” Alexander writes. “Today a criminal freed from prison has scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a freed slave or a black person living ‘free’ in Mississippi at the height of Jim Crow.” Many will lose the right to vote or to hold a driver’s license.
Taystee, who owes the prison “$900 in fees,” is not alone with that type of debt — upon release, former inmates often are required to pay fees for parole or probation, jail book-in fees, jail per diems for pretrial detention, pre-sentence report fees and so many more. Missing a payment could land you back in jail.
Securing post-incarceration employment is really really really really hard. Employers are biased against applicants with criminal records, and prison time leaves gaps in employment history, training and education. Jobs requiring minimal training, like factory work, are sparse in this economy, leaving only the service sector. Those who fail to get a job or return to the underground economy in desperation will usually end up back in prison.
The Daily News titled this photograph “Mexican American Female Gang” when it ran the photo in 1942 but the systematic criminalization of Mexicans in the 1940s as a justification for racially-motivated attacks (especially directed at zoot suiters) makes me a little wary of the title. In any case, these women seem so utterly cool to me. They’ve been arrested and are sitting in a police station when this photo was taken but look at the nonchalant, almost bored, expression of Frances Silva on the upper left and the raised defiant chin of Josephine Gonzales on the bottom left, as well as the cavalier pose of Lorena Encina on the bottom right in her baggy zoot suit pants and perfect hair. The other two women on the bench are Juanita Gonzales and D. Barrios. These sister-friends (consider the protective gesture of Encina’s elbow on Barrios’ leg) are such badasses, all of them.
Over the weekend, we had a friend over to discuss a project. Every once in a while, I sprayed the room with water from a water bottle. After about the third time, our friend asked why we do that. We said to keep the room moisture at a comfortable level so we can breathe easily. We could have gotten a machine to do this, but we need to save money for a project, thus we can’t afford it.
The next thing that came out of their mouth didn’t really surprise us. “But that’s soghetto,” they said. We have to pick and choose our battles, so we took an L on making a statement.
When you hear the word “ghetto” in this context, it’s never in the positive light. Especially when you come up with a creative solution to a problem that can be backed up by science. It may not be a practical way to do this, but it gets the job done. Would you rather spend $50-$75 bucks on a machine that you’ll have to refill and spend more money burning up the electric bill, or would you rather spend $2 bucks on a water squirt bottle?
Here’s a funny thing for you to consider: when a White person does it, most of the times, they will be seen as thrifty, or creative, or even downright resourceful. But when PoC does the same thing, it’s none of these things. It’s simply ghetto. Whites would only use the word “ghetto” if the solution makes them look poor.
Have you ever notice that?
Original, hand-censored letter to detainee Moazzam Begg from his daughter, from the photo series “Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out” by Edmund Clark
“Receiving their Red Cross messages over the years I saw my children’s child-like writings evolve from simple words and pictures to complex thoughts. But these concisely written sentences on the few lines available had to pass US censorship, which no child could or should have to anticipate. The message would often reach me with great chunks heavily redacted. I once asked the then Guantanamo Camp Commander, General Hood: ‘What could you possibly fear from the writings of a seven-year old girl?’ He gave me no answer.”
- Moazzam Begg, ex-detainee
Coffins on the border wall to commemorate those who lost their lives in the desert trying to cross the border.