Shifting Carceral Landscapes: Decarceration and the Reconfiguration of White Supremacy

by Colleen Hackett and Ben Turk

This essay explores the changing contours of white supremacy in the United States, and in particular its relationship to systems of control and confinement. Many critics have illuminated the ways that racial control is inherent to and embedded within the penal system. In light of some of the federal- and state-level reforms that claim to incarcerate less and use more “alternative,” community-based sanctions, we interrogate the ways that white racial interests continue to be secured across the carceral landscape, thus granting official politics limited space to entertain negligible decarceration policies. In this preliminary survey of the carceral landscape, we critique several white-dominant social institutions that work together to confine and control communities of color outside of the prison walls, while reproducing varying forms of racial caste. We incorporate historical understandings of racialization and colonization, as well as contemporary concepts and observations from academia and beyond to highlight the extent of this entrenchment. It is our hope that this survey will address the shape of racialized control in the United States that must be considered when addressing just one of its manifestations—the prison state.

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Revolution and Restorative Justice: An Anarchist Perspective

Increasingly critics of mass incarceration are confident that restorative justice is an alternative that will slowly replace or reform the state’s monopoly on “justice.” It is particularly of restorative justice as an “alternative” to state retribution that I remain skeptical. To my eyes, restorative justice has within it no revolutionary power remotely sufficient to undo the embedded ideology of retribution, nor does it bear any promise of truly challenging the material power of the state and the prison industrial complex. Restorative justice is a powerful, therapeutic practice that creates healing for individuals and exposes the stark failure of the state’s rehabilitative enterprise. However, we must cease to see it as a structural alternative that will take the place of incarceration. Though it is a useful tool for undermining the retributive narrative of the state, it is insufficient to meet the challenges of ever-encroaching state legality and mass incarceration.

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Aggrieved Whiteness: White Identity Politics and Modern American Racial Formation

by Mike King

Recent social psychological research, opinion polls, and political movements, such as the Tea Party and the candidacy and election of Donald Trump, have highlighted an increasingly widespread sentiment among white Americans that they are a structurally oppressed racial group. In spite of persistent socio-cultural and political economic structures of white supremacy, real racial inequalities that serve to privilege rather than oppress white people as a group, a politics of aggrieved whiteness has become increasingly prevalent. Aggrieved whiteness is a white identity politics aimed at maintaining white socio-political hegemony through challenging efforts to combat actual material racial inequality, while supporting heavily racialized investments in policing, prisons, and the military, and positing a narrative of antiwhite racial oppression loosely rooted in an assortment of racialized threats. This political manifestation of white supremacy does not deviate from previous incarnations; it lacks a legitimate grounding in reason and fact, but still produces very real social consequences. This article will sketch how W.E.B. Du Bois’s concept of socio-psychological wages of whiteness, Paula Ioanide’s discussion of modern racial affect, and Wendy Brown’s application of ressentiment to modern political conceptions of identity can help provide a contextualized understanding of aggrieved whiteness and the challenges it poses to pursuits for genuine racial justice.

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From the Vaughn Prison Uprising: “For a Safer, More Secure, and More Humane Prison”

An open letter to Warden Parker of Vaughn Correctional Center:
“We, as inmates, know that when we are incarcerated, we lose certain “civil” rights. What we do not lose and what should not be taken away from us are our “human” rights. Under no circumstances should we be treated as less than human beings, nor shall we be expected to settle for such treatment.”

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Abuse Thrives on Silence: The #VaughnRebellion in Context

– by Kim Wilson –

The #VaughnRebellion cannot be disconnected from the broader struggle against extra-judicial police killings of Black people in the United States. Freedom from abuse from corrections officers and other prison staff is part of the same struggle to end police violence.

The #VaughnRebellion read thusly, is also a direct response to unjust federal policies that are likely to influence the conditions within state prisons in Delaware and around the country. At a time when the federal government has targeted vulnerable groups of people in this country, the #VaughnRebellion should be seen as a signal that solidarity includes solidarity with incarcerated people.

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A Failure of Imagination: Donald Trump, the US-Brazil’s White Nationalism and the Need for an African Diasporic Abolitionist Program

– by Jaime Amparo Alves –
Trump’s election, as much as the Brazilian parliamentary coup, are not signals of democracy’s dysfunctionality, but rather quite the contrary. Trumpism is the product of democracy’s vitality, not its bankruptcy. If that is the case, the route to black liberation begins by giving up faith in liberal democracy. The abolitionist praxis would have to be translated into pedagogical strategies in the classroom, in the workplace, and on the streets to demystify the political establishment as inherently anti-black.

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