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Prison Renaissance Newsletter -- Summer 2016
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Image Courtesy of Peter Merts.

Prison Renaissance -- Summer 2016 News

From the Editor

Emile DeWeaver


Friends,
 
On July 7, 2016, a ticker scrolled across the bottom of my television. Eleven police officers in Dallas had been shot during a protest against police violence. Generally, I’m an animated person: either my foot is tapping, my hand moving, my face smiling, or my thoughts jumping, diving, and rising. When the news from Dallas came, my mind and body went still. I didn’t think, but I felt all the conversations about black lives, black outrage, corrupt cops, and heroic officers I would hear and have the following day. I felt them, like a double dose of gravity, on my black skin. The weight had already exhausted me before the second ticker scrolled off my screen.
 
I’m tired of gravity. Tired of hearing about it, tired of deciding between whether I’m obligated as a black artist to write about gravity in this newsletter or focus on the beautiful work of our new featured artists. I’m sick of talking about it; I just want change.
 
We’ve been asking ourselves at Prison Renaissance what steps we will take to see that change. All answers lead to Prison Renaissance incorporating as a non-profit organization. As a non-profit, we’ll open a research department to (1) collect and analyze date about the lack of political will to affect the changes in our nation that so many people need and (2) create interventions that increase political will. Many advocacy groups are working to change bad policies, and our goal is to amass information that empowers them to work more effectively. That’s what we’re doing.
 
Perhaps this leads you to ask, “What can I do?”
 
May we offer some suggestions?
  1. You can volunteer for Prison Renaissance and join our mission to disrupt cycles of incarceration. We need people with passion for prison reform and experience in social media, administration, fundraising, non-profit operations, program planning, corporate law, and research. If you are interested in joining us, please send a letter of interest and resume/CV to prisonrenaissance@gmail.com with the subject line: Bridges Over Walls.
  2. If you’re a California resident, you can vote “yes” on Proposition 57 in November. Currently in California, 14-year-olds in criminal court are tried as adults as a matter of course, in a practice called “direct filing.” It means more and more kids are filling our prisons. Prop 57 will stop direct filing, and it will also provide relief to incarcerated people serving life sentences for non-violent crimes.
  3. If you can’t volunteer or vote, we invite you to support our new featured pieces by sharing them on social media, engaging the artist and readers through your comments, or by submitting your own response pieces for possible publication alongside them.
 
We’re proud to announce that Prison Renaissance will publish at least two new pieces a week for the next month. Week One features J.S. Long’s “Nobodies,” an unconventional love story stripping love of glamour. After reading “Nobodies,” we hope you’ll stay to read new poems by Clenard Wade and Rahsaan Thomas. Thomas returns in week two with a timely tale about police violence, and I feature with a flash fiction about alienation, power, and privilege. During week three, we debut our first graphic artist. In week four, Prison Renaissance presents – and we’re excited about this – our first free writer. She stepped across the divide to share in the Prison Renaissance vision: Incarcerated people serving communities, communities serving incarcerated people.
 
And there’s more! Follow Prison Renaissance on Twitter or Facebook and be the first to know when new work goes live. In between new work, enjoy Prison Renaissance photos; show the love by tweeting or sharing your favorite work and favorite artists.
 
Whatever you do, we at Prison Renaissance send you our gratitude for waiting so patiently to read these new artists.

 
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