You may have heard about the prison strike occurring in Georgia right now. Inmates in four facilities have come together in an amazing show of solidarity to demand that they be treated like (gasp) human beings, not slaves or animals. Rather than continuing to fall for the game of divide and conquer that has kept them apart for so long, the whites, blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, and other groups have mobilized forces to fight for something worthwhile.
The guards and wardens of these prisons are nervous. For the longest time, they were able to convince the inmates to take their aggression out on each other. Now that the intellectual and spiritual guns are pointed at their overseers, the inmates are gaining access to the liberation that has been denied to them for so very long. The Georgia prison strike is not just a one-time event; it is a model for success in organizing that can be replicated around the country.
I stand with these men as they fight for what they deserve, while fully understanding that they must pay a debt to society. They are not asking for anything dramatic, just the basics of what any human being might expect: an escape from involuntary servitude, adequate healthcare, educational opportunities, the ability to see their families without exorbitant expense and just parole decisions. They are not asking to be treated like royalty or to even be released without good cause. They are simply demanding that they be allowed to repay their debt to America and simultaneously create sustainable paths toward contributing to the society in which they live. These men and women are not garbage to be thrown out and destroyed, but are actually individuals with tremendous productive capacity that remains untapped in a system structured to ruin both good people and bad.