today there was a snowboard race at the resort i’m staying at and i’m a pretty decent snowboarder so i thought why not try right. so i wear all black just because it’s the only color i own and i ended up winning and when the announcer came over to me he said “dude! that was pretty awesome bro, what’s your name?” and i took my helmet off like in the movies and let my hair fall out and was like “caitlin” and everyone was liKE OOOOOOH
Building on the mass hunger strike of prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in July of last year, several hundred prisoners across Alabama have declared that, beginning Easter Sunday, they will stop prison-mandated labor in protest of detestable living conditions.
The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.
Unpaid labor includes cooking and cleaning, production of license plates, furniture, chemicals, and linens, and farming. The slavery analogy is more than metaphorical: African-Americans comprise only 26% of Alabama’s population, but make up more than 60% of the prison population due to reactionary legislation and racist targeting of communities of color. Reports of beatings and systemic rape and sexual abuse of women inmates by guards at Tutwiler State Prison have surfaced in the media over the last year.
On the outside, labor unions and prisoners’ advocacy groups have been instrumental in helping prisoners organize themselves. The Free Alabama Movement is pushing an “Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill” to the Alabama legislature, while the Industrial Workers of the World labor union has vowed to provide support and assistance to the incarcerated laborers.
Melvin Ray, spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) said:
When we look at our situations inside of the Alabama Department of Corrections, we have no choice but to engage in this nonviolent and peaceful protest for civil and human rights. We sleep with rats and roaches. We work for free and eat slop unfit for human consumption. We serve decades in prison solely to provide free labor and without any real prospect for parole, and without any recourse to the courts for justice or redress of grievances. Our mothers, wives, and daughters must expose their breasts and panties just to visit us. This should not be acceptable to anyone. Prison is supposed to be a place where people go to work out issues and return to society. But when there is no focus on education or rehab but solely on profit margins, human suffering is inevitable. ADOC is about free labor and the new slavery no one wants to talk about. That is no longer going to work for the 30,000 of us who suffer because of it.
The Industrial Workers of the World was involved in a similar campaign in 1987, in which they organized 400 incarcerated laborers in an Ohio state prison, before the government ruled that prisoners are not legally entitled to the right to form a union - a right which all other workers enjoy.
More on the Free Alabama Movement’s strike
Look around your college classroom, spot the virgins.
See, this seems like a game until you skip over the girl with a short skirt and hair in front of her eyes because you heard last summer that she slept with like nineteen guys. You can’t see her hands, but they’re under the table, pulling a rosary through her fingers as she tries to wash the sin off her. She’s only ever kissed three people in her whole life and they’re all girls. She turned down the wrong guy and he told everyone she’s “a whore.” The label “slut” stuck to the bottom of her shoe and swallowed her up.
But that quiet girl who is always reading probably never touched someone else’s penis, you figure, because you don’t know that she goes home and strips down and pulls on tight black leather, you don’t know she’s got a set of whips that could make any set of knees quiver, you don’t know because she’s proud of what she does but she’s not stupid enough to let anyone know about it. She’s sexy, just not here, not where people judge.
See, the truth is: you have no idea who has lost their virginity, because it doesn’t change you. It doesn’t give you some kind of glow or superpower or stamp on your forehead. You know the feeling of waking up on your birthday and thinking “I don’t feel any older whatsoever”? That’s what maybe they’re all so afraid of you finding out: sex doesn’t change you. Sex doesn’t make you an animal, sex doesn’t suddenly make your relationship a million times more stable or intimate or romantic - it can’t fix what’s broken, although it can make the pain go away for a bit. Sex doesn’t really occur with eighty tea lights and a thick white rug. Sex is ugly and loud and frequently awkward, sex is excellent and breathtaking and when you wake up the next morning, you’re the exact same person. There’s not some magical connection with the person in bed beside you. Believe it or not, pregnancy isn’t some kind of punishment - but practice safe sex, get tested, don’t spread your germs around. They want to tell you, “Sex can ruin you” and I’ve heard that a lot as a little girl, that some boy would join me under my sheets and then dump me four days after, used, unhappy.
But I figured out that I’m not a fucking toy. Letting someone have sex with me is not letting them “use” me, because I’m not an object. My father said the issue lay in the fact “Men are insecure and need to know that they’re the best you ever had,” but I think that’s a steaming crock of absolute-wrong and if I didn’t tell the people I’m with how many others I’d slept beside, there would be literally no way for them to know my number, because I don’t rust, I don’t wear out, I don’t get bruised. I’m not a wilting fruit, I don’t go rotten.
But here’s the thing: some people connect sex and emotion. I don’t personally because I am probably secretly an ice storm in disguise, but I still respect my partner’s desires. If they’re the type to want love and sex to coincide, I let them. I don’t make fun, I don’t pull one-night-stands or friends-with-benefits, because it’s not their “reputation” I’m afraid for: it’s their heart I’m defending.
Here’s the thing: Instead of worrying about people’s “purity” and how it defines them as a person, worry instead about how you can protect other people’s emotions.
Because here’s the thing: look around your room and spot the virgins. Look harder. You can’t tell. Sex doesn’t alter people, it doesn’t make them act in a certain way nor dress in a certain manner. Sex and personality have nothing to do with each other. There’s a reason that virginity doesn’t show on someone’s face: because having sex doesn’t cause you to change.
A fun thing to do when people accuse you of “thinking people should just have stuff HANDED TO THEM! ! !” Is to just cold be like yes. I absolutely do believe that. I think every single person should have their needs met unconditionally without ever having to prove that they “deserve” it based on arbitrary criteria of usefulness. You got me. Busted.
I do this. Why shouldn’t people be given food to survive? Why shouldn’t people be given a roof over their heads and a safe place to sleep? Why shouldn’t education be free? Are you afraid no one will “work for it”? Because people need to “work at” surviving or somehow justify their existence?
I work in the service deli in a grocery store, and part of my job is frying chicken. To cook it we basically have to hold raw chicken as close to 400 degree oil as possible before we drop it in. When the fryers are dirty (as the ones at my store always are because nobody cleans them but me) the oil is more likely to bubble up and explode all over the place when you drop something in it.
I was dropping chicken for an order (i.e. doing my job) when the dirty oil exploded all over my forearm, and even though I washed it off and ran my arm under cool water at the first opportunity, I still had blisters within 10 minutes and the pain was so intense I thought I might pass out. about 1/4 of my right forearm was red and puffy and covered in blisters. I still had to work, which meant putting my now-blistered arm over the fryer and in the oven and hot case. Once the skin started sloughing off my arm (about 30 minutes after I first got burned) I started throwing up because of how much pain I was in.
My manager walked into the back room, saw me vomiting into a trash can and said “just take some ibuprofen or something, I need you to get back to work.”
I ended up walking out on my shift after telling her repeatedly that I needed to go home because I’d been puking on/off for an hour and there was no way I could get the burning to stop when I kept having to expose the area to heat. She tried to make me stay and call all of my coworkers to find someone to cover the rest of my shift, and then when I said I was leaving to go to a doctor she called the store manager and I had to file an accident report.
She hadn’t even told the store director I’d been injured.
And that’s why employees need unions.