Today marks the 45th anniversary of the murder of George Jackson while incarcerated at Soledad Prison in San Quentin, CA. Jackson whose incarceration began on a 1-to-life sentence after a supposed robber of a gas station for less than $70, was an organizers within the prisons. He read and advocated for Marxist theory as a critique for the social conditions facing the primarily Black and Brown populations. After meeting Huey P Newton, he became a member of the Black Panther Party and work towards unifying prisoners to push for better conditions.
Black August in many ways starts with George and his brother Jonathon, who was killed in August of 1970, when he attempted to free the Soledad Brothers/3 from a court hearing. It began as prisoners marked a time of remembrance for the Jackson brother and four other men who died while incarcerated…During the month of August prisoners in California wore Black armbands to identify one another and began reading revolutionary texts. Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance. Since its beginnings,these ideas and ways of being could not be contained by the physical walls of a prison…the practices of reclaiming history and resisting colonial/white supremacist narratives have expanded, and with the help of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement‘s Black August Hip Hop Project these concepts and teachings have spread globally. Today, Black August is a time for us to remember our brothers, sisters, children, and families who are unjustly confined behind walls. It is also a time to focus on the long history of resistance, such as the Haitian Revolution, Nat Turner’s rebellion which began on August 21, 1831, as well as the birthday’s of Dr. Mutulu Shakur,Marcus Garvey, & Fred Hampton.
This mixtape hopes to reclaim knowledge from current and former political prisoners, positioning their voices next to artists whose cultural productions add to the discourse surrounding the prison industrial complex, respectability politics, decentering whiteness, signifying counter hegemonic histories by evoking the names of leaders such as Tubman, Audre (Lorde), Ella (Baker), & et al…, revolution, neoliberal imperialsim, policing and militarized occupation/brutality, and over all concepts of freedom and resistance …..this as with most of my projects, seeks to position Black women, femmes, queer, and gender non-conforming folks with primacy, amplifying that which resonates with me. I wanted to touch on the use of Tef Poe’s (2010) track Everybody Strapped, the lyrical complexity of his verses touch on Obama’s role within upholding US violence domestically and abroad against Black and Brown bodies, political prisoners like Mumia and Reggie Clemons…however he also references “ratchet ass bitch’s get abortions for Black children”, people are real and complex…. following Tef’s body of work both as an emcee and community organizer, he like all great revolutionaries is someone who is continually growing and developing in their mind and perspectives….. the juxtaposition of Mumia speaking bout youth incarceration and illusions of freedom against the J Dilla instrumental of “are you listening” ask us to pause and be reflective, taking in the full wait and reality of Mumia’s words…..In the middle of this mix you will hear an audio sample from Attica prison, this is a way to signify an uprising which has great impact on the immediate future…..prisoners have called for a nation-wide labor strike on September 9th, 2016 (the 45 year anniversary of Attica)…to throw off the conditions of slavery and bondage under which they are being housed. As persons and communities committed to the abolition of these forms of dehumanization and slavery, we must work from the outside to support our brothers and sisters, because as Assata reminds us, “we must love and support each other”…….