Director's Statement on Website Resources
It is important that people who see something wrong with the system take steps to get involved now. It doesn't have to be huge--we need a movement that every working person can get involved with in some way, where we can collectively share responsibilities. Your first step could be attending or initiating a meeting or a study group about mass incarceration or structural racism in the criminal justice system. It could be showing the movie in your neighborhood coffee shop, church, or union hall. It could be reaching out to existing organizations to see what they're doing. It could be creating a list like mine, of organizations and resources you think are crucial to moving forward. But it definitely means educating ourselves to be active members and drivers of this movement. We have to arm ourselves with ideas for how to organize and win.
Major historical change like ending mass incarceration does not happen from the top-down. It happens from the bottom-up. If we are going to end the current racially and class oppressive system of mass incarceration, then we are going to need to build a massive grassroots movement. That means it starts small, and while the stakes are so high now for so many people, the race is not a sprint but a marathon. We must be patient, and have a long-term perspective, always thinking about how to draw in more people to organizing.
To challenge the status quo, it must be a movement independent from the status quo. That means that we must be fiercely opposed to the overall policies enacted and perpetuated by both major political parties in the U.S. It means we must work with everyone who wants to be on board this movement (even members of both those parties), but we cannot water down our own movement's politics to please those who work within the political establishment--radical politics and radical tactics will be necessary to win this fight. It has always taken pressure in the streets, in schools, in workplaces, in communities--pressure on politicians to enact the changes every day citizens need and want. This is a fight beyond the voting booth, beyond the current existing organizations. It is a fight that will threaten many wealthy and powerful people who benefit from society as it exists now. But it is a fight we must enter, and a fight we can win. The power of people united together can do great things that seem impossible at first glance. In this country we have a great legacy of grassroots movements demanding and making the change that leaders of the establishment were not willing to do.
We must be vigilant of opportunism, and respectfully skeptical of well-funded, established organizations and individuals that may pay lip service to the cause while not providing the organizational resources necessary to build this movement. It is not their movement. It is everyone's movement. First and foremost, it is the movement of people who were formerly incarcerated and those who are still incarcerated, those who are targeted and terrorized by the system and are demanding justice and equality. But it is also the movement of their families, friends, and allies who see that they too are hurt by mass incarceration, as resources and energy are taken away from nurturing our communities and creating safe and healthy places, and put into destructive acts that hurt our communities and steal our safety. It is the movement of all justice-loving people who want to see equality in the world--a movement that seeks to pick up where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was shot down. It is a movement for all of us, and it must be lead by all of us.
With those views in mind, I offer some suggestions for groups to look at, resources to use, and educational materials that may be helpful in your journey. These may be good places to start, or pick up, as you are active on this issue. I will try to be as inclusive as possible, and there are many groups and resources I am not aware of that I hope people will suggest to me for this site. I will aim to focus mostly on groups and resources that I believe take a radical perspective necessary to organize in this struggle, and beyond the more obvious mainstream resources.
This website is a work in progress. Please send any questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post on the facebook page. Thank you.
What people are saying
"Broken On All Sides is a compelling documentary addressing racial inequities within our criminal justice system and its devastating collateral consequences. It is an excellent resource to use in educating, motivating, and empowering your group, organization, or community on this critical issue."
James E. Williams, Jr.
Public Defender & Chair of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Criminal Justice System
"Broken On All Sides is an invaluable teaching resource. The American penal system has to be at the center of any discussion of racial inequality, and this documentary powerfully demonstrates the human toll of this inhumane system. While clear-eyed in its assessment of the many obstacles to change, it is a compelling call to action."
Instructor of Racial Politics, University of Virginia