- Magnum Foundation Photography and Human Rights Fellowship Call for Non-Western Photogs
- Legislators’ Embarrassing and Abusive Attempt To Silence Pennsylvania Prisoners
- Examining Prisons’ Endemic, Multi-Generational Harm Can Combat Visual Stereotypes
The MAGNUM FOUNDATION PHOTOGRAPHY & HUMAN RIGHTS FELLOWSHIP is an all expenses-paid scholarship for non-western, regional photographers and activists to attend the PHOTOGRAPHY & HUMAN RIGHTS SUMMER PROGRAM AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY. Over the past 5 years, 21 fellows from 15 different countries have participated in the program. Applicants must be: _- Emerging and professional students, photographers, activists, and journalists._ _ - Born and live outside of North America and Western Europe._ _ - Proficient in speaking, reading, and writing in English._ _ - Demonstrated a commitment to addressing/documenting human rights issues within their home country._ APPLY HERE _FOR MORE INTO CONTACT ALEXIS LAMBROU AT ALEXIS@MAGNUMFOUNDATION.ORG OR 212-219-1248_ Follow Magnum Emergency Fund on TUMBLR and TWITTER. Filed under: Activist Art, Documentary, Photography: Non-Prison Tagged: Magnum Foundation Photography & Human Rights Fellowship, NYU, Photography & Human Rights
This is the embarrassing shit -- the unconstitutional and serious shit -- that politicians get up to when they are driven by fear, assume constituents are docile, and think no-one will call them out. Well, I and many other good people in the Quaker State are calling them out. This brouhaha began last month when people were up in arms at political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal delivering the COMMENCEMENT SPEECH for students at Goddard College. Abu-Jamal attended Goddard via correspondence course while imprisoned. Many of the Pennsylvania legislators have admitted they had not heard or read Abu-Jamal's speech and yet voted unanimously to introduce into law procedures that prevented Americans from exercising their 1st amendment right. This debacle is politically motivated; by signing the so-called "Revictimization Relief Act" into law Governor Corbett and the lazy lawmakers around him are attempting to not look soft in the face of Abu-Jamal's continued and bare logic. They want him silent and they want all like him silent. The ABOLITIONIST LAW CENTER SAY this: _Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s scheduled signing of what the Harrisburg Patriot referred to as the “Muzzle Mumia Law” today allows those who have been victims of a personal-injury crime to sue an offender for conduct that causes the victim “mental anguish.” The statute is so devoid of definition or standards that the Harrisburg Patriot wrote: “Some victims of terrible crimes will be in a ‘state of mental anguish’ as long as the person who did it to them is alive and breathing. Does ‘breathing’ qualify as ‘conduct’ that’s now subject to court action?”_ Things in the prisons of Pennsylvania are desperate; the activist group DECARCERATEPA are at the forefront of exposing the repeated arrogance of politicians and the FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, who some believe are the driving force behind this law to silence prisoners. Many prisoners in Pennsylvania are smart and many know what is going on. They know that their state disallows journalists' visits with cameras and now the State of Pennsylvania is prohibiting prisoners to read their own writings. It's a scandal. In the final two minutes of the _DEMOCRACY NOW!_ CLIP (above) journalist NOELLE HANRAHAN puts into great context the continued silencing and attacks on prisoners' agency over the past few decades in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, immediate legal response is in swing. MORE from the Abolitionist Law Center: _Prison Radio and imprisoned intellectual and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal have retained the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) to provide legal representation for them in response to Pennsylvania General Assembly’s passage of a bill intended to subvert the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and repress their free speech rights. The Abolitionist Law Center is working with the attorneys Kris Henderson and Nikki Grant of the Philadelphia-based Amistad Law Project on this matter as well. Amistad Law Project is a public interest law center that advocates for the human rights of all people and currently focuses its work on those inside Pennsylvania’s prisons. ALC, along with the Amistad Law Project, are representing Robert Saleem Holbrook, an imprisoned activist, writer, and member of the Human Rights Coalition._ _The law was passed in response to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s selection as a commencement speaker to Goddard College students at his alma mater in Vermont. Leading up to and in the wake of this speech, the Fraternal Order of Police, Governor Corbett, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, and a number of legislators staged a media campaign designed to whip up a frenzy of support for depriving Abu-Jamal, and any other person convicted of a crime, of their constitutional right to free speech. The law also permits the District Attorney where the criminal conviction was obtained, or the state’s Attorney General, to use their public offices and taxpayer funds to file the lawsuit, raising the possibility that Mumia will be sued for his speech by politicians and government officials who have made a habit of attacking him in order to win the support of the FOP for their election campaigns._ _On October 17, Mumia Abu-Jamal issued a statement (broadcast at Prison Radio) from the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Mahanoy where he is serving a sentence of life-without-parole after being framed for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer:_ _I welcome Governor Corbett’s signature on an unconstitutional bill that proves that the government of Pennsylvania, the executive and the legislature, don’t give one wit about their own constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, nor the United States Constitution. I welcome that because it proves that they are the outlaws._ _Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 30 of which were in solitary confinement on death row, after being convicted at a 1982 trial that, according to Amnesty International, “failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.” (see Manufacturing Guilt to learn more about the case) By continuing his journalism as well as maintaining his innocence and attracting a massive international movement of supporters, Mumia has long been targeted by the Fraternal Order of Police and their political counterparts. “Having failed to kill Mumia on the street in 1981, and having failed to execute him during his over 30 years on death row, the FOP and the government of Pennsylvania continues to try to silence him, this time by extinguishing his speech,” said Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio._ _Abu-Jamal has given three other commencement addresses in the past: Goddard in 2008, Antioch College in 2000, and Evergreen College in 1999. He has recorded more than 3,000 essays, published seven books in nine languages, with two more books set for publication in 2015, and has been the subject of three major broadcast and theatrical movies. The latest film, Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary, is currently airing on the Starz network, sold out theatres coast to coast, and has sold more than 20,000 DVDs._ _“The ‘Silence Mumia Law’ should be understood as part of a reaction against recent criticisms of the prison and criminal legal systems. In the wake of the Ferguson rebellion, race and class-based mass incarceration, and the role of police in enforcing it with arbitrary arrests, frame-ups, and extrajudicial killings, is being questioned more than ever. The Fraternal Order of Police and the government are scrambling to silence those questions, disingenuously using the language of ‘victims rights’ to re-establish the lie that police forces and other institutions of state violence are righteous protectors of public safety that are beyond question. This illegal attack on our clients’ constitutional and human rights will be fiercely challenged in the streets and the courts,” said ALC Legal Director Bret Grote._ FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT NOELLE HANRAHAN ON GLOBALAUDIOPI@GMAIL.COM OR 415-706-5222. ALTERNATIVELY, CONTACT BRET GROTE ON BRETGROTE@ABOLITIONISTLAWCENTER.ORG OR 412-654-9070 _SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST THE BILL._ Filed under: Activist Art, Prison Non-Photography Tagged: Abolitionist Law Center, Gov. Corbett, Mumia Abu Jamal, Noelle Hanrahan, Pennsylvania, Revictimization Relief Act
Xavier Randolph Dances With His Father Frank Randolph During A Hope House Summer Camp Program For Youth With Imprison Fathers At The North Branch Correctional Institution In Cumberland, MD. RAYMOND THOMPSON JR. RAYMOND THOMPSON JR. is a photographer, video journalist, educator and father. In his _JUSTICE UNDONE PROJECT_, Thompson Jr. documents the leaching and negative effects of mass incarceration. He shows us how the poor are criminalised by society and kept down. He's trying to get past stereotypes of Black America and does so by photographing the families and the communities outside of prison. So far, chapters of _JUSTICE UNDONE_ include _A DREAM DENIED_ and _THE BROWNS_. Prisons touch nearly everyone in America's poorest communities. One person's imprisonment effects many others' lives. The knock-on effects are profound. Locked up, exiled parents can mean extended family members are the primary care givers. Young children can lack a mother or a father or both for long periods. A child's emotional and social development can be hampered and the incarceration of a parent vastly increases a child's chances of being locked up later in life. The cycle continues. In film, print and photography, America has a history of demonising young black men. In response, Thompson Jr. works to image all generations and races from America's lower classes in an attempt to build empathy in his audience. So far, Thompson Jr.'s work has focused on African American communities but soon he is to venture into poor white communities in the Midwest, and to demonstrate that our broken criminal justice policies impact the poor. Prisons are a class issue just as much as they are a race issue. The closer you look at the prison industrial complex, the better you understand society. Thompson Jr. is holding up a mirror in which we are all reflected. He was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about his photography. _[Click on any image to view it larger]_ Q & A _PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY (PP): IT SEEMS YOUR WORK ON ISSUES SURROUNDING COMMUNITY, THE WAR ON DRUGS AND INCARCERATION IS AN ONGOING ENDEAVOUR. IS THIS THE CASE? IF SO, TELL US WHAT YOU’RE UP TO AND WHAT YOU’RE WORKING ON NOW._ RAYMOND THOMPSON JR. (RTJ): My project _JUSTICE UNDONE_ started as my master thesis while I was in graduate school in Austin, Texas. I originally intended only to do a story about the long term effects of incarceration on families and communities in East Austin, which is a predominantly African American and Latino part of the city. After I received a grant from the ALEXIA FOUNDATION to continue the project, I expanded the project to Washington D.C and New Orleans. In the 18 months since then, my wife and I had our first child and I took a job working as a video producer for West Virginia University. So, most of the last 18 months have been consumed with adjusting to life as a parent. The sleep deprived nights are decreasing. So, I’m slowly moving into the next stage of this project. Even though I have never been incarcerated and my immediate family has not been directly affected by mass incarceration, I still feel a deep connection to the issue. I saw myself in the faces of the men, women and children navigating the prison system. Now with the birth of my son, I feel it is even more important. There are several story angles in my project that still need covering. I’m currently in the process of researching and planning local _JUSTICE UNDONE_ stories for trip this fall and a trip to the midwest in the early spring. I’m currently based in West Virginia, which offers a chance to approach this work from beyond the lens of race and move it more towards class. A Boy Stares Though A Window During A Friends And Family Of Incarcerated People (FFOIP) Car Wash Fundraiser In Southeast Washington, D.C. Friends And Family Of Incarcerated People, A Non-profit Based In Washington D.C., Offers A Summer Camp For Children Of Incarcerated Parents And Other Children Whose Parents Are Absent. Members Of ‘Mix Emotion’ Go-go Band Pray Before A Performance At A Community Gardening Event In The Lincoln Heights Area Of Northeast Washington D.C. Lincoln Heights Is A Crime Plagued Area And Has A Large Number Of Low-income Residents. Several D.C. Teenagers Relax And Socialize During The Friends And Families Of Incarcerate People Annual Retreat In Outside Charlottesville, VA. The Goal Of The Retreat Is To Give Youth A Chance To Experience Life Outside Of Their Depressed D.C. Neighborhoods. A Child Looks At A Car That Had Been Broken Into The Night Before A Friends And Family Of Incarcerated People (FFOIP) Summer Camp In Southeast Washington, D.C. _PP: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU MOVE TOWARD YOUR CURRENT POLITICAL CONSCIENCE?_ RTJ: In the 1990s, I was a teenager living in the suburbs of Virginia outside of Washington D.C. I watched the War on Drugs rage on my television screen. It was in these moments that I started to feel something was wrong. But I was not equipped with the knowledge or maturity to understand what I was seeing. On my television screen, I watched images of black men and boys dead or being led away in handcuffs. These visual images negatively affected how I felt about myself and other African Americans. Part of the reason for working on _JUSTICE UNDONE_ is to heal myself and to start to reclaim the visual history of African Americans in the United States. My political awareness stemmed from my undergraduate studies. I was an American Studies major with a concentration in human rights. In my course work, which spans from American literature and history to sociology, I learned to recognize the complex weave of racial, economic, and political threads that form the social blanket of America. But, what really set me on this path was a senior seminar on the American Prison Industrial Complex. That class expanded my thinking on the subject, which later became my intellectual basis for the project. _PP: HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON STRATEGIES TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?_ RTJ: There have been so many images about prisons and about the War on Drugs. A lot of the pictures work to reinforce stereotypes about minorities as "The Other.” In the first part of this project, I focused on children and families left behind in mass incarceration’s wake. I felt I had to avoid images of black men in the beginning because I did not want viewers from outside of these communities to immediately write the project off. I needed those viewers to move beyond the stereotypes and to have a empathetic reaction, without relying too heavily on people being portrayed as victims. In the next stages, I will focus more on the men, who are actually directly affected by prison. Many of the great documentary photographers of the past three decades have produced work that is great but also problematic because they reinforce stereotypical images of urban black life. One of those photography books I have on my bookshelves in Eugene Richard’s _Cocaine Blue, Cocaine True_. It is an important work, but if you don’t dive into Richard’s words that were published along with the images you can come away with a skewed meaning. It is this decontextualization that worries me. My strategy to combat this decontextualization is to create images of black life that focuses on the everyday. By searching for images that show African Americans in the mundane ritual of daily life, I hope that people not directly affected by mass incarceration will be able to see themselves in the pictures the way I do, as an antidote to years of self-hate and willful ignorance. The Booker T. Washington Public Housing Complex, In Austin, Texas, Is Plagued By A Revolving Door Of Single-parent Households And Incarceration. Nicholas Brown, 19, Speaks With His Girlfriend Before Leaving. He Has A Stained Relationship With His Mother Vicky Who Has Spent The Majority Of His Childhood Away In Prison And Drug Treatment Institutions. Marquis, 18, BB And Leroy Brown Hangout On The Front Porch Of Beverly Brown's House In Austin. Tyler Pippillion Works On A Math Puzzle During A Skills Class At The African American Men And Boys Harvest Foundation, A Non-profit In Austin, TX That Works With At-risk Minority Youth. _PP: WHAT ARE THE MAIN POINTS YOU WANT TO COMMUNICATE IN YOUR WORK?_ RTJ: The first thing I hope my audience gain from this project is that U.S. laws have been unequally enforced in poor minority communities. Second, I wanted to make understood that the large numbers of men and women cycling in and out of prison has an immeasurably negative effect on their communities. Finally, I want the audience to realize that the impact of incarceration is falling on small geographic areas within cities, because a large portion of these men and women are being taken from identified communities. _PP: CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE TITLE '_JUSTICE UNDONE_’?_ RTJ: I think that justice and fairness are central to the American ideology. If you follow the rules you will be rewarded. If you break them then you will be punished. For African Americans, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, was “justice” for generations of discrimination and abuse. But, the gains of the 1960’s were essentially rolled back by the War on Drugs, the tough-on-crime movement, three strikes laws, and drug sentencing laws, which unfairly fell on the shoulders of African American communities. So the title is meant to reflect the havoc of three decades of drug policies and the resulting explosion of the U.S. prison population that has played a big role on the agency and self esteem of African Americans in the United States. I wanted the title to reflect critically on the U.S. justice system, which has failed to protect its most vulnerable members. While I was writing and reporting for my masters thesis, I was inspired by the hip-hop song _Tip The Scale_ from the Roots’ album _Undun_. _Lot of niggas go to prison_ _ How many come out Malcolm X?_ _ I know I'm not_ _ Shit, can't even talk about the rest_ _ Famous last words: "You under arrest"_ _ Will I get popped tonight? It's anybody's guess_ _ I guess a nigga need to stay cunning_ _ I guess when the cops comin' need to start runnin'_ _ I won't make the same mistakes from my last run in_ _ You either done doing crime now or you done in_ _ I got a brother on the run and one in_ _ Wrote me a letter, he said when you comin'_ _ Shit man, I thought the goal's to stay out_ _ Back against the wall, then shoot your way out_ _ Gettin' money's a style that never plays out_ _ 'Til you end up boxin' your stash, money's paid out_ _ The scales of justice ain't equally weighed out_ _ Only two ways out, digging tunnels or digging graves out_ Through the lyrics of this song, I felt the frustration of many black men who have limited choices, but still must navigate the challenges of being a black male in the United States. A Boys Listen To Instructions On Keeping A Proper Boxing Guard During A Rally To Protest The Shooting Death Of Almeded Bradley By An Austin Police Officer. Boys Play A Game Of Basketball In The Booker T. Washington Public Housing Complex, Austin, Texas. Teenage Boys Play Basketball At The Youth Study Center Juvenile Detention Facility In New Orleans, Louisiana. Chelsea Shorts Set Up A Studio In A Shed In The Backyard Of Her East Austin Home. She Uses The Space To Make Clothes, Draw And Paint. The Shed Is A Refuge From The Crowded House That She Shares With Her Parents, Grandparents, Cousins And One Sibling. Chelsea Biological Father Was Incarcerated For Most Of Her Life. Beverly Brown Covers Her Eyes As She Rest In Her Living Room. Members Of Three Different Generation Of Her Family Have Been Incarcerated Or Had Problems With Drug Addiction. _PP: IS THERE AN EASY WAY TO DESCRIBE THE MASSIVE EFFECT HARSHER SENTENCING AND IMPRISONMENT HAS HAD ON COMMUNITIES YOU’VE DOCUMENTED. HOW, IN OTHER WORDS, DO WE PUT IT INTO WORDS?_ RTJ:There is no simple way to discuss the topic because it is so complex. A lot has been put in words, but I don’t know if we have reached the same level of understanding in the visual. Part of my goal is to reimagine the image of African Americans in Americans’ visual memory. These days there is always public outcry at any sort of overt racial discrimination in words, written or verbal. There is a bit of a lag in the public’s response to visual stereotypes of minorities. Responding to these stereotypes and creating what bell hooks, calls the “oppositional black aesthetic,” is a way that image makers can help challenge mainstream biases. _PP: WHAT CAN WE DO AS AUDIENCES TO PHOTOGRAPHY AND AS CITIZENS TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION?_ RTJ: The next time they see a newspaper article or a television news report about a drug arrest or a drug sentencing I hope they start a conversation with a friend of family member about what is happening in their name as taxpayers. I want people to see beyond the individual situation and start to see the overarching pattern of crime, punishment, drugs, and incarceration in America. _PP: HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE PHOTOGRAPHY’S ROLE IN RELATION TO SOCIAL JUSTICE?_ RTJ: I don’t know if social justice can happen in a visual vacuum. Photography’s first purpose is to pass information about an issue to an audience. Its second purpose is to move the social conversation past exposition. There are details in the everyday that offer unique paths to understanding. _PP: AND EMPATHY._ RTJ: From the expression of someone’s eyes, to the color of a summer dress, to the chaos of a kitchen before serving Thanksgiving dinner. It is in those common areas that we as human beings find ways to related to each other. Photography as a quasi universal medium is perfectly suited for this task. _PP: THANKS, RAYMOND. AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK AND CONSCIENCE._ RTJ: Thank you, Pete. Chelsea Shorts Walks Alone Railroad Tracks In Austin, Texas. Shorts Father Was Incarcerated For Most Of Her Life. BIOGRAPHY _RAYMOND THOMPSON JR. is a freelance photographer and multimedia producer based in Morgantown, WV. He currently works as a Multimedia Producer at West Virginia University. He received his Masters degree from the University of Texas at Austin in journalism and graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a BA is American Studies. He has worked as a multimedia photojournalist for the Door County Advocate, the Times of Northwest Indiana, the Kane County Chronicle, Times Community Newspapers and the Washington Times._ _You can follow his activities on his BLOG, on the TWITTER and on INSTAGRAM._ Children's Graffiti Covers The Walls Of A Cell At The Youth Study Center Juvenile Detention Center In New Orleans, LA. The Center Serves As The Pre-trial Detention For Youths Charge With Committing A Delinquent Offense. Filed under: Documentary, Photojournalism Tagged: A Dream Denied, Austin, Justice Undone, New Orleans, Raymond Thompson Jr., Texas, The Browns, Washington D.C.