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APFFC Newsletter 9

APFFC Newsletter 9

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Published by Toni Johnson
Issue 9 of The Akbar Pray Foundation for Change newsletter (APFFC)
Issue 9 of The Akbar Pray Foundation for Change newsletter (APFFC)

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Published by: Toni Johnson on Mar 11, 2013
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Like a great many of our readers, I was born in an era where men were the bread winders and woman maintained the homes and raised the children. Though that period in many ways was a simpler time, it nonetheless had its challenges. Very few people from that period went on to colleges, less to earn advanced degrees. However, in urban communities these numbers were sometimes vanishingly small. A great deal has changed since those times. Minority woman both African American and non-white Hispanics women’s numbers have grown exponentially as it pertains to college and advance degrees. In fact in most instances there numbers exceed those of minority men by nearly two to one. Over the last ten to fifteen years I have watched with amazement the number of women that I have met that have had masters degrees in various disciplines. For me personally it has been a rewarding experience. These women have been knowledgeable, insightful, and a

reliable intellectual resource, as I pursued various endeavors. However, I would be being far less than truthful if I said that the joy I experienced from these encounters were shared by many of my colleagues. There has existed a culture in both Hispanic and African American communities that almost like children, when it came to decision making, the belief prevailed that woman " are to be seen, but not heard, " that at the end of the day, with all things being equal, that ultimately a woman's decisions would be far to heavily weighed down by emotions. This premise in the 21st century as men, certainly does not work to our behest. When we fail to recognize the enormous intellectual resources that many women bring to the table, as friends, colleges, wives or lovers, we undercut our own chances of success. There is a teachable moment that is obvious, if one looks beyond his intellectual box and looks

around the world. Women have moved to the forefront of not just one or two governments, but now operate as President and Prime Minister from country as diverse as South Korea, Germany,!Liberia, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Brazil, and the list goes on. My brother an intelligent woman should not be viewed as a challenge, but rather as an asset. Not an asset such as a piece of property, but instead as a major plus in the ledger of life. She is a gift my brother, one of the few gifts in life that is selfreplenishing. Those of us trapped in the matrix of machismo ignore this precious gift at our own peril. Akbar Pray, Editor-In-Chief!



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3. In the USA the incarceration of women of African descent is rapidly increasing and the murder, rape, and other gender related violations are alarming, globally, and require immediate attention and “proactive” intervention. In the US the conduct/behavior of young females of African descent ages 5-25, but especially between the ages of 10-18 has, particularly in urban areas, become quite noticeably disturbing. After much observation and evaluation, MWM and affiliates have reached the conclusion that If Black/African women do not make some serious moves and actions for “Saving Our Daughters”, we will all pay the price. Our women (sisters) must step in and up as onlywe can do to provide our young girls with the proper nurturing, motherly love and sisterly affection, and the necessary insight and preparations for becoming a strong, confident, nonexploitable, skillful, morally sound, etc. African woman. 4. There is not one group/organization/ institution (until now) with the main objective and mission that is totally committed to the upliftment, empowerment, unification, etc. of women and girls throughout the African Diaspora that is designed from a historical, cultural, and self-determined frame of reference, from the grassroots through the glass ceiling inclusiveness, and from the cradle to the grave conviction of resistance for freedom and justice and of course the political stance of “Africa for Africans.” 5. It is time that the true spirit, beauty, greatness and essence of the” Mother of Civilization” (the Original Woman, the Africana Woman) be brought forward, upheld and readily exemplified and along with that the fundamental principles of Ma’at, for it is more than obvious that throughout the world there is a destructive imbalance and this must be rectified sooner than later. 6.We Owe It To Ourselves, Our Ancestors, and the Future Generations. In future articles, more insight into the history and legacy of the Million Woman March and the divine seven year mission of its Universal Movements (which include the development of an independent school for girls, community based holistic health a healing center, specific programs for women and girls who have been abused and/or are presently being violated (which include women that are incarcerated and those who are now out), special projects to fight for the freedom of our political prisoners, campaigns for greater community economic development and selfdetermined financial advancement, etc.), but for now we invite you all to join us in October 2013 for the (Power) Convention that will take place from October 21-24, 2013, the installation of the MWM “Sistah Saints” and the “Justice Now Rally” in front of the Justice Department on Friday October 25, 2013 and the “SWEET 16” Mass Assembly on Sat. October 26, 2013, all in Washington, D.C.Your support and participation will make assure an even greater success as we make HERSTORY Again !!!


! The MillionWoman March!! Put The “MARCH” In Women’s History Month
Originator/Founder:!! Million!Woman!March!&!Universal! Movements!


1. The fact that if our Sisters were/are well organized, nationally and internationally, with a specific plan, a fundamental agreement of modes of operations, and a clear concise “no sell out” agenda not only would much necessary work get accomplished, a serious and much needed holistically positive change would occur in ways too vast to mention. 2. Sisters (African women) are the primary care taker of the children; thus if our women are uplifted, empowered, edified, properly guided, and stabilized/secured, our children would greatly benefit as well.

Event Coordinators (to assist in the coordination for your city & state), Volunteers, Presenters, Exhibitors, Ujima-Ujamaa Business and Special Sessions Partners are wanted. Numerous MWM (Support & Active) Memberships are also now available Financial donations and in-kind services contributions are also very helpful and greatly appreciated. For more information e-mail: nationalmwm@aol.com or postal mail at:


National Million Woman March/Movement P.O. Box 53668 Philadelphia, PA 19105 Attention: “Sweet 16” Reunion


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I Call Her Big Mom (A Tribute) By Daphne Benyard

! ! ! !

by Semaj Thomas
Despite my normalcy, which you know is militant, Please know you are appreciated for your vigilance. You are loved way more than what words could express, Yet this passage is to convey those sentiments nonetheless. Though our journey as parents has been an uphill feat, We have weathered many storms - anchored in destiny. In all honesty, you are nothing short of a blessing, I proudly stand, raising my right hand to make this confession. I now see the error in my ways, Possessing a misguided focus for the passed fifty-one hundredplus days. At this very moment, I'm deeply grieved within my soul For having gone about my own agenda as well as goals. You are truly a lady; the blessed mother of my son, I bow to you like the Moon bows to the Sun. Use this passage as a scepter while you sit up on your throne, Please forgive me Amiya, lighten the tone of my soul......


Ones life is but a book, meant to inspire, entertain And enlighten by way of intriguing the perusers brain. It's said, "Silence is golden", but when I speak, it's priceless, Formative dictions are compared to King Solomon's likeness. It is truly an honor to possess such a gift, A modern day Richard Wright, yet with an urbane twist. They say, "History repeats itself", well, I agree, Clearly my soul is that of Langston Hughes definitely. Words becoming expressions - views of my mind, heart and soul. Providing a report on my tenure while here on this globe. I started out as a grain of sand within an oysters grasp, Now I've become a pearl, the entire world can marvel at. I now await my mate - the reincarnation of Queen of Sheba, To produce a union as beautiful as the grounds of Geneva. Poetry incarnated through the means of flesh and blood, Begetting a freshness like the effects of H20 and suds. In lieu of being volatile - becoming a mercenary, I've opted to be artistic - a poetic luminary. Without a single iota of a cause for a pause, I'm trying to have the masses give my Book of Life an applause...


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the broader economy, an adequate minimum wage can help ensure fair pay and stimulate the economy by putting more money in consumers’ wallets. Opponents of an increase in the minimum wage argue that it will harm small businesses, but that fear is exaggerated. Research shows that the extra cost is offset by lower labor turnover, small price increases or other adjustments. In addition, many low-wage workers at small businesses are tipped workers whose employers have been shielded for decades from minimum wage increases, and thus have room for an increase. Over all, the argument that a higher wage will kill jobs has been debunked by a range of studies showing that a higher minimum wage boosts pay without measurably reducing employment, while improving productivity. One study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found that a $1 increase in the minimum wage results, on average, in $2,800 in new spending by affected households in the following year, in large part because the increase helps workers accumulate down payments to buy cars. Owning a car, in turn, helps workers to keep their jobs. On Wednesday, Congressional Democrats said they would introduce bills to gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour. Both Mr. Obama and Democratic lawmakers have also called for annual inflation adjustments, an important change that would be made better by adjusting the minimum wage to keep it in line with increases in average wages, rather than with consumer prices. A higher minimum wage would be good for workers and for the economy. The challenge is to get it through Congress.

From the Bottom Up
editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal

New York Times Opinion Page February 17, 2013 President Obama was right about the need to increase the federal minimum wage, but it was too bad that he pulled his punches in calling on Congress to lift the wage only to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, from $7.25 an hour, where it has been since 2009. His proposal would boost the annual pay of an employee working full time at the minimum wage from $14,500 now to $18,000, which is still very low. Several economic measures — including purchasing power, average wages and productivity gains — indicate that the minimum wage should be at least $10 an hour today, not $9 an hour three years from now. In 2008, Mr. Obama campaigned on raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. Politically, the lowball proposal is understandable. Congressional Republicans are bound to oppose any increase. Representative John Boehner, the House speaker, lashed out against the proposal the day after the president’s State of the Union address, a stance that will very likely further alienate important constituencies from the Republican Party, including women, who represent more than half of the estimated 18 million people currently working at or near the minimum wage, and Hispanics, who represent one-fourth. Combined with tax credits for the working poor, Mr. Obama’s proposal could lift a minimum wage worker who is currently below the poverty line ($18,498 for a family of three in 2012) out of poverty. But the minimum wage is more than an antipoverty program. In fact, most workers at or near the minimum wage live in households with moderate family incomes above poverty levels but below the national median of roughly $60,000. For them, and for



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Hispanic Voices
America: An Immigrant’s Perspective

Immigrants!can!affect!the!United!States!both!positively!as!well! as!negatively.!Today’s!immigrants!are!fundamental!in!the! development#of!our!society;!transforming!the!structures!of!the! community!so!that!all!people,!rich!and!poor,!are!able!to!fulfill! their!human!potential!and!live!dignified!lives.!!Our!country!has! produced,!managed!and!distributed!with!each!sweat!an! immigrant!drops!from!his/her!head.!Through!an!immigrant’s! willingness!to!take!lower!paying!jobs!and!sustain!them!for!the! good!of!their!family,!the!U.S.!has!benefited!and!made!money!in! the!process.!! ! Immigrant!workers!help!the!United!States!because!they!work! jobs!that!most!people!wouldn’t!consider!doing!and!do!it!for!a! sad!amount!of!$7.25!or!less.!!Many!people!believe!that! immigrants!are!taking!away!jobs!from!true!citizens!of!the! country,!but!people!must!also!take!into!account!that!these!out! of!the!country!workers,!work!really!hard!in!agriculture,!building! and!grounds!maintenance,!construction,!food!preparation,! service!and!manufacturing,!some!of!the!areas!where! immigrants!are!most!present.!If!it!weren’t!for!these!immigrants,! who!would!build!your!house,!who!would!deliver!food!to!the! market?! ! A!problem!that!may!arise!through!the!effects!of!immigrants!is! riots.!Once!people!see!immigrants!making!money,!they!will! complain!and!say!they!are!taking!jobs!away.!Immigrants!aren’t! taking!jobs!away;!they!are!just!occupying!jobs!that!most! people!see!as!too!hard!or!difficult!to!do.!! ! Many!people!ask!the!question,!“Why!don’t!you!go!back!to! your!country?”!But!here!is!a!question!to!think!about…!when!

“But% here% is% a% question% to% think% about…% when%have% you% seen% an% illegal% immigrant% not%trying%to%succeed%in%his/her%life?”%
have!you!seen!an!illegal!immigrant!not!trying!to!succeed!in! his/her!life?!Everywhere!you!go,!an!immigrant!will!tell!you,!“I! came!to!this!country!to!give!my!family!a!better! opportunity.”!On!the!other!hand,!many!Americans!work!for! self6interest.!!Although!immigrants!receive!little!pay,!they! are!able!to!accomplish!many!things!through!“living!simply,”! making!choices!that!deepen!our!joy!because!they!focus!on! essentials!of!life,!not!an!illusion!of!what!brings!happiness,.!! Living!simply!brings!true!DEVELOPMENT.! ! th Carlos'Ivan'Vega'is'a'10 'grade'student'at'Central'High' School'Newark,'NJ.'His'parents'and'four'siblings'emigrated' from'Mexico'to'the'United'States.''

Director(of(Operations( Milagros Harris

Qasim S. Abdul Karim


Director(of( Human(Resources( Rahman Muhammad

Director(of(( Public(Relations( Toni Johnson


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“Can't live wit' 'em, can't kill 'em." ---a male joke of unknown origin

By Rudy Williams
Know it or not, when great poets dream they are praising Mother Nature's Glory. When songbirds and great divas sing, they are paying homage to HerStory. So too, when the greatest thinkers and philosophers think and wonder. But, when tyrants and weak little devils, plot and scheme, they cause Her to unlease Her raging thunder and sting. Thus, there's a divine reason why we call Nature "Mother". As a female, She's the Greatest Lover.

A female to me is absolutely the most adorable, fascinating and admirable creature in all of Creation. Everything that is, was, and will be was created inside the Divine Womb of Triple Darkness. If there's a Supreme Being It's a female.

potential love and comfort of the least female ever created. I don't speak from books; I speak from the heart. I can always gauge a man's true strength by his attitude and treatment towards women. If we are not! even strong enough to love and protect our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends, and stop treating them like trash and garbage, and calling them bitches and hoes, we will never, ever, be men, free or respected. For once let's be honest with ourselves and each other: The naked truth is we love "them hoes" more than anything, but we're just too dumb, weak, insecure and terrified of them and their mysterious powers to ever admit it.

There's only two sexes: Male and Female; if "we don't love them hoes", then who do we love? The exquisite luxury and pleasure of a $2,000,000 Bugatti pales in comparison to the

Akbar&Pray’s&Recommended&Reading&List& &
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery [Hardcover] Deborah Willis (Author), Barbara Krauthamer (Author). This book is a pictorial of African Americans, right after and then long after the emancipation proclamation. The black and white photos are moving and timeless. ! Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present... by Harriet A. Washington ( Harrowing accounts of all of the experiments that were conducted on African American subjects, from slavery, the Tuskegee experiments and more, this title chronicles the inhumane manner in which African Americans were used by the medical establishment in this country. (We’ve mentioned it before…worth mentioning twice). ! Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel by Alice Walker. Most of this book takes place in Africa and deals with amongst other topics, the custom of clitoral circumcision … interesting, though at times disturbing book.! ! Part of My Soul Went with Him by Mary Benson, Winnie Mandela and Anne Benjamin.&& Winnie Mandela’s account of her life with the living legend, Nelson Mandela and his 27year period of incarceration. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench an inspiring testament to the power of believing in oneself.! ! It Takes a Village, Tenth Anniversary Edition by Hillary Rodham Clinton "a textbook for caring.... Filled with truths that are worth a read, and a reread" (The Dallas Morning News).


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“Who decided the parameters of beauty? Are we doomed to be judged by solely by looks, with no regard to character, fortitude, intelligence or the qualities that make us not just human, but humane?”!
Photo!by!Carrie!Mae!Weems6Ain't! Jokin!1987688!Collection

Like so many little girls I grew up watching Disney princesses. When I was coming up, there were not nearly as many as there are today, no Mulan, Tiana, or Pocahontas for little girls of color to emulate. My personal favorite was Cinderella. Snow White had dark hair (but I was afraid of the dwarfs…didn’t want to be her). So just like Whoopi Goldberg in her early days of stand-up comedy, I put a white towel on my head and pretended to have long blonde hair. When I outgrew my princess phase, I picked up fashion and movie magazines in the hope of finding someone to model myself after, but again, no one looked like me. My friends and I ironed our hair to look like Ali McGraw in Love Story, but all I ended up with was triangle shaped burns on my scalp and hair that looked like straw. When the black power movement arrived and sisters proudly wore their Afros, my hair couldn’t do that, so one again, I couldn’t identify. I was marginal. I didn’t fit anywhere. That’s when I realized I must be invisible. Who decided the parameters of beauty? Are we doomed to be judged by solely by looks, with no regard to character, fortitude, intelligence or the qualities that make us not just human, but humane? While I have had the good fortune to be eye witness to both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Black Power Movement, I still see us as women in America, trapped by what I refer to as “the colonial paradigm of beauty,” a standard determined by white, patriarchal

hegemony that reduces women of all races and ethic origins to pseudo-white, sexualized objects. Even more unfortunate than that is, that many men and women of color have (perhaps unwittingly) bought in to this so-called standard. Issues of race and ethnicity have universally been used to stabilize societies. However, as Robert Mark Silverman states, in his book Doing Business in Minority Markets, “In societies with a history of colonialism, where dominant and subordinate roles have been closely associated with race and ethnicity, such stratification becomes more determinant.” In other words, in a multicultural society, such as exists in America, to maintain dominance, white standards must persist if whites are to continue to dominate and control our society. Nowhere is that more evident than in commercial hip-hop culture, where the fixation on the light skin and longhaired vixen perpetuates the myth that a woman’s worth is measured by the length of her hair (no matter its origin…if you can’t grow it, sew it) and the measure of her waist. The fixation on superficial material culture is a ruse, a red herring, a mere distraction that keeps us from focusing on the real issues at hand. We must teach our children to love themselves enough to BE themselves. But before we can pass it on to future generations, we must experience it ourselves. You will always be a better you, than you could ever be an imitation of anyone else. Self-love and self-acceptance is a lesson we can only teach through example.

“If we revert to history, we shall find that the women who have distinguished themselves have neither been the most beautiful not the most gentle of their sex” -Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

-Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)


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Africa," said co-author Marcus Feldman, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford University in California. This confirms the idea that Homo sapiens left Africa about 100,000 years ago. Each small group of individuals founded a new population in each new colonized region, using a smaller sample of the originally African gene pool, in a phenomenon called genetic bottleneck. Diversity clearly decreased during the migrations. "If you keep sampling like that, then mathematically you must lose variation," said Feldman. Other researchers looked at a maximum of 1,000 genetic markers, comparing just 3-4 populations. "It's sort of like looking at Mars with the naked eye versus with a big, very powerful telescope," said coauthor Richard Myers, a geneticist from Stanford University. The detailed analysis revealed a shared portion of genes between the Yakut, indigenous of northeastern Siberia, and Native Americans, matching the archaeological findings of migration across the Bering area. The research also showed a clear racial distinction between the northern and southern Chinese populations and between different European populations. "But perhaps even more striking is how similar humans are to each other. Some 90 % of the genetic variation occurs within populations, not among them. That turns out to be very profound, because it's not like we've got these 51 populations that are different species. We're really, really close to each other," said Myers. The team found that racial types were characterized by thousands of genetic markers. "Those genes which we classically use like skin color and eye color and hair structure to differentiate what we commonly call races is a tiny fraction of all the variation there is," said Feldman. "In particular, the pattern of variation shows that the route of migration out of Africa was into the Middle East and then to the rest of Eurasia, the Americas, and Oceania. That tends to agree with what we're seeing on the Y-chromosome side," said Spencer Wells, a population geneticist and director of the Genographic Project, which is charting the migratory history of humans around the globe. The study strengthened the idea of

Africans spreading into the Middle East, followed by Europe and Asia, the Pacific Islands and finally, the Americas." Populations in the Middle East have a unique signature of African, European, and Asian characteristics. It looks like a gateway. You see a lot more mixture there ... that's one of the types of findings you get by looking at this level of detail," said Myers. The research also showed that sometimes a person's roots can be traced to a small group specific to a geographic areaIf this does not give you a better perspective on woman, weather human or spirit then you will never understand how amazing they are. !

By Omifalade For thousands of years woman have played a very important role in this wonderful universe of ours. Through our revolving religious scriptures to the evolution of politics, women have always been at the forefront of everything: war, peace, birthing, creating, sheltering, embracing, and educating men, boys, and young woman. Through history we have learned that from the beginning of time, men have dominated all, even the royalties of their wives. Many aristocrats’ have made their mark in life not on the backs of their ancestors but in the bosoms and pocketbooks of their woman, as well as other men’s wives. With this being said, I have attached this article to show you how amazing and incredible woman really are and how she, meaning mother earth, shows us every single day not only that she is a fertile woman but a powerful one as well. This study is the most impressive research so far tracking our evolutionary journey. The new research published in the Nature journal confirms that modern humans emerged in Africa and then spread into Asia to reach Europe, the Pacific and Americas. The team focused on 650,000 genetic markers in about 1,000 subjects from 51 populations worldwide, the largest study of this type so far. "You get less and less variation the further you go from

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Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 In the film Snitch, which was inspired by real events, Dwayne Johnson plays a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. For its Social Action campaign for Snitch, "Sentence Change," Participant Media is teaming with Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth to create awareness, insight and outreach around the issues of mandatory minimum drug sentencing and the fair sentencing of youth, and tools to get involved. The Summit EntertainmentExclusive Media-Participant Media film opens in theaters today. Chad Boettcher, Executive Vice President of Social Action & Advocacy, says, "The U.S. currently has 4.6% of the world s population but houses 25% of the world s inmates 60% of whom are nonviolent offenders. And one of the leading causes for the pipeline of nonviolent drug offenders into the prison system is mandatory minimum sentencing and snitching. We found when talking with the experts, that this issue rarely comes to light, so building on the narrative from the film the campaign aims to inform the public and give them ways to make lasting policy change." The campaign also builds on the coalition s previous work, specifically around the passage of California s Senate Bill 9 to reform fair sentencing for youth, on empowering organizations and individuals to support policy change in these arenas. "Participant Media was an invaluable partner as organizers and the broader community worked toward the passage of SB 9 in California," said Jody Kent Lavy, Director & National Coordinator of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth. "Participant developed media materials that educated people and inspired them to act.” Monica Pratt Raffanel, FAMM Director of Communications, added, "Too few people in America know about the dirty little secret of mandatory sentencing laws, but SNITCH is blowing the lid off of it. Participant Media is using the best and most innovative tools to create an interactive experience that educates the viewer about snitching and mandatory minimums and engages them in FAMM s efforts to repeal mandatory sentencing laws." Participant s campaign includes a Social Action website: www.takepart.com/snitch featuring; A shocking animated video about the issues; An interactive infographic that highlights the costs and effects of mandatory minimum drug and "substantial assistance," (aka snitching); A petition to reform mandatory minimums; A curriculum for law and criminal justice students; An editorial series providing context and personal stories of those affected by these issues; A minidocumentary called "Path for Hope : Ending Juvenile Life without Parole"; And a multi-platform Fair Sentencing Media Kit designed to increase awareness and legislative action around ending Juvenile Life Without Parole sentencing including original videos, infographics and fact packets. About Snitch In the fast-paced action thriller Snitch, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is caught in possession of a package that, unbeknownst to him, contains enough narcotics to warrant a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. Attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission risking everything, including his family and his own life. Participant Media is an entertainment company that focuses on documentary and non-documentary feature films, television, publishing and digital content about the real issues that shape our lives. For each of its projects, Participant creates social action and advocacy programs to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Participant s online division and Social Action Network is TakePart. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, fights for fair and proportionate federal and state sentencing laws that embrace judicial discretion while guarding public safety. Please visit us at www.famm.org.

“The#punishment#is#supposed#to#fit#the#crime,#but#when#a#legislative#body#says#this#is#going#to#be#the# sentence#no#matter#what#other#factors#there#are,#that’s#draconian#in#every#sense#of#the#word.#Mandatory# sentences#breed#injustice.#“# 6Senior!District!Judge!of!the!U.!S.!District!Court!for!the!Northern!District!of!Florida! !


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U.S. News


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Akbar!Pray!Foundation!For!Change!Interviews! Bonnie Kerness
Ms. Kerness is Prison Watch Coordinator of The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, they nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social relations and systems.
APFFC: Bonnie I am sure that you have noticed as we have, the incremental but decided turns that has been taking place both in the political arena and the political theater away from the former policy of " lock them up and throw away the key " mantra of the past, to a more enlightened, though clearly not far reaching enough policy dealing with incarcerants. What do you attribute these changes to and how far do you think they may go? BK: After having received hundreds of prisoner testimonies from across the country, and recently publishing the second edition of “Torture in US Prisons – Evidence of Human Rights Violations”, it is hard for me to see any forward movement in the political arena concerning the neo-slave system of criminal justice. The testimonies describe conditions of confinement, including years of “no touch” torture”, racism, chemical and physical brutality, cold, hunger, filth, criminal medical care and so on. As I see it, the current system is an extension of chattel slavery, the Black Codes, convict leasing, Jim Crow laws and the 13th Amendment, which continues to mandate slavery for US prisoners. I think you are correct in noting that there is more dialogue going on in black and white middle class churches and community groups concerning mass imprisonment. Having been part of that dialogue, I am encouraged by the number of people who want to know more about what is happening to men, women and children imprisoned in the US. It is, however, hard for me to see how this will lead to any social change of substance. We need to eliminate every system that slavery and genocide gave birth to, most especially the criminal justice system. The expansion of prisons, parole, probation, the court and police systems has resulted in an enormous bureaucracy which has been a boon to everyone from architects to food vendors. How is it that a 15 year old in Newark, or Atlanta cannot even hope to go to college or find a job, yet once in the prison system, that black or brown child generates $30-40 thousand dollars a year?! I don’t think that the systemic pattern of handing public money into private hands via the criminal justice system is genuinely changing. The “system” never changes unless there is some benefit for itself in terms of economic growth. APFFC: We here at APFFC and I am certain many other community based organization, are fully aware of the role that you have played and continue to lay in attacking the pernicious prison policy of solitary confinement in both federal and state facilities. Where are you now in that regard and do you feel any real headway is being made in that area? BK: The American Friends Service Committee has succeeded in involving the ACLU-National Prison Project and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in isolation issues. There is also a wonderful on line newspaper called “Solitary Watch”, which publishes testimonies, stories and videos concerning the practice of long term isolation. Although the actual results have been minimal, there has been some success in moving emotionally distressed prisoners out of isolation. The general practice continues, though, including the isolation of women and children. There has been no forward movement in terms of releasing people who the government considers a political threat from isolation to general population. In many cases, the closure of isolation units has led simply to a “repurposing”, as exampled by the closure of the Security Threat Group Management Unit (“gang”) in NJ’s Northern State Prison to an ad seg punishment unit and the closing of the Tamms, IL supermax prison, only to have it sold to the federal government for the purpose of expanding the Bureau of Prison isolation beds. The latest trend in the growth of the use of isolation has been with the building of security threat group management units for street organization members, and the Communication Management Units for Muslims that the government defines as political dissidents. Racism and brutality as part of “conditions of confinement” continue unabated. For copies of the following suggested readings, contact: Bonnie Kerness, AFSC 89 Market Street, 6th floor Newark, NJ 07102 1. Collage excerpts from “Breaking Men’s Minds – History of this Behavior Modification Laboratory”. 2. Biderman’s Chart of Coercion. 3. Preface from Handbook on Corrections. 4. “Torture in US Prisons- Evidence of Human Rights Abuses”. 5. “Survivor’s Manual – Written by People Living in Isolation for People Living in Isolation.” 6. “NJ Political Prisoners Do Hard Time in Solitary” Bergen Record, 1992 7. “Modules or Cages – TSP Enclosures Stir Protest”, article by Peter Page, The Times, 1991.!



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Revolutionary Greetings to you all, Hope this newsletter find you all in good health and good spirits...As we/I honor Her Story, and the many contributions of Mothers of all Civilization allow me to personally give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon me through out my life journey. I cannot thank the Creator enough for the many contributions, blessings and inspiration from some of my HerStoric women like My Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Queen Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Nzinga, Queen Hatshepsut, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelo, Ida B.Wells, QueenMother Moore, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver, Fannie Lou Hamer, Jill Scott, Amina Baraka, Ramona Africa and my President-General Empress Chi of the Herstoric Million Woman Universal Movement, the largest gathering of Black Women, or of any women anywhere in the world. As the popularity of women's history celebrations continues to spread as more people are becoming aware of the contributions of women and girls worldwide. It is my duty to uplift and raise awareness of the contributions made by BLACK WOMEN. The Million Woman Movement cadre of women of African descent will not allow our history to be ignored or erased out of history. As a proud member of MWM, I will by all means do whatever it takes to uplift and share the great stories of the many contributions made by women, particularly of African descent past and present. So I challenge you as you read this newsletter to do some research and study these GREAT POWERFUL WOMEN LEGACY that history has very much ignored. A message to our sistahz, if we don't write about, study and honor OUR STORY. Who will?? We are a reflection of each other. Sistahood is POWERFUL!!! Today, Yesterday and Forever more.....

. As a formerly incarcerated female, I would betray my sistahz left behind bars if I didn't expose the plights faced while being incarcerated. While it is known that the prison population is predominately male. WOMEN are the fastest growing population going to prison the number of female prisoners has risen more than 800% in the last three decades, outpacing the 400% increase in the male prison population during the same time period. According to the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice report, “ Hard Hit: The growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 19772004, in 1977, the United States imprisoned 10 out of every 100,000 women, while in 2004 that number had increased to 64 out of 100,000. And because women are the caretakers, particularly of children. Mothers in prison, Children and families are in serious crisis. After the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements, Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs went into full force during the 1970s and 1980's, lower income and communities of color began to be policed more heavily as a way of neutralizing and preventing people from getting or staying organized. The War on Drugs, whose focus wasn't on everybody. There were specific images, like the Black Women on crack and her crack babies. Women who tend to be less nonviolent offenders, a large factor in the increase in prison has been because of the mandatory minimum drug laws, which was seen as a get tough on crime measure during the war of drugs. The Rockefeller Drug laws mandated that first time offenders for drugs got mandatory sentences. I can contest to that because for my first offense I was sent to prison because it was mandatory, no plea bargain or drug court was available to me at that time, during 1994. The Rockefeller Drug laws affected women who were at the wrong place at the wrong time with their boyfriends, in their cars or homes, they end up getting charged also if large quantity of drugs are found in both possession. Black and Latino women

were disproportionately affected by these draconian laws, as white women tended to have greater access to drug treatment centers and better legal representation. Women are usually the lower level player in drug deals. Poverty is a factor in the rise of women being imprisoned, because we resort to criminalized means for survival, especially if we have to make ends meet in a single mother home. Welfare and these lower paying jobs just wasn't good enough. During the Clinton Administration, Welfare Reform had a affect of women, they were removed off welfare and found themselves entering prison at a alarming rate. Much of what I know about women’s pathway to crime and prison, has to do with trauma from domestic abuse, addiction, unhealthy relationships, mental illness and being involved in crimes with their men. Crime like shoplifting, petty drug dealing and addiction are the driving force to why women commit these kinds of crimes over and over again, going to jail or prison fail to address the root causes that led to incarceration. Most of these things are symptoms of a dysfunctional family, poverty, lack of opportunities, inadequate education, sexual, mental abuse and lack of rehabilitation. These symptoms are happening inside and outside of prison walls. We must do all we can as women to raise awareness, to seek and provide SOLUTIONS to these issues that affect women, especially women of African descent because we are underrepresented in society. We must put an end and find ALTERNATIVES TO MOTHERS IN PRISON. MOTHER IN PRISON, CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN CRISIS. END MASS INCARCERATION FOR NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS, STOP THE SHACKLING OF PREGNANT WOMEN, WE WANT ADEQUATE HEALTHCARE FOR WOMEN NOW, STOP THE SEXUAL/MENTAL ABUSE OF WOMEN BEHIND BARS, RESTORE HUMAN RIGHTS TO ALL CITIZENS RETURNING HOME. In the Struggle,

Munirah El-Bomani



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"This is a man's world, but it would be nothing,nothing without a Woman"...
-James Brown

By “Heru” Blackwomen are without a doubt {Gods}most precious creation.However a study of nature will reveal that througout the mammalian species,the male is the dominant figure in the society.The reason is twofold: In the animal world because of the absence of intellect,moral and spiritual faculties "physical force" is the only way of establishing and maintaining law and order in the group.Secondly force is an indispensible requirement for upholding the law. Males of the mammalian species excel at brute force,and this is why and how men came to be the dominant figures in human society. Following an evolutionary path of progress,although not the evolution premised on Darwinism,Ourstorical Black cultures accomplished a balanced system of overall functioning with matrilineal inheritence law(all order was established from the female line)as the foundation.Which for man was the natural order of things.Our original Black ancestors from the continent of Afrika inherently knew what science has most recently availed to us:"That The mother of all humanity is/was/and will forever be a Black Woman". As a result it was within the harmonious balance that the QueenMother Ship provided the dictates of Justice and Order in Ourstorical Black society. Theres an old saying that says,"You can tell the condition of a nation by observing that nation's women." Most Black women born in Amerika do not have high lifetime expectations of their men,resulting in silent mental rejections of the trust, hope and mutual dependency necessary to promote sound companionship.Diabolical social engineering created this condition; see the Willie Lynch papers.Having had the father/husband ideation chipped away in her youth,the Black Woman experiences what will happen to a nation when the ability to be aware of one's heritage and culture is suppresed and destroyed. Black Women who have yet to acknowledge their inherent position as,"Mother/Goddess/Queen of ALL unwittingly deal a

death blow to a nation of people who have been beaten into submission by systemic injustices,confusion and self-hate. Black Woman you have a natural and balanced awareness of yourselves,of your beauty and grace,that when cultivated allows you to exercise your healing qualities upon your nation of Black Man/Woman/and Child. We need you and your serene sense of dignity. We know that you are drawn towards Power,Strength and Nourishment,this attraction as natural as it is for you compels(some of)us to be The Great God-Man we were born to be. When you fight for the proper curriculum for your children, and become"The" positive model for our daughters,when you begin teaching the baby even before it leaves the womb,feeding the right information to our future,you become the re-newed, reborn, righteous bearer of the title:GOD-MOTHER! 300,000 years ago you were here. It may not mean much to some, but it means the world to me.Science has evaluated you and found you foremost with no peer among your gender. From then to now,from Afrika to Amerika,in all your shades and all your ways I salute you,I love you.

To the young sisters: You must think deeply about the way of our ancestors.They are the ones who warned us about commiting treason against the culture and tradition that makes us Afrikan, lest we destroy ourselves.!

"Our desire to be free has got to manifest itself in everything we are and do" -Assata Shakur
Hetep(peace) M.M. Ankh "Heru" Ma'at.

Deathm the Author of of the Gam e




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The dominant culture wanted to reinforce the color and class lines, our youth said “fine”.#



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The Akbar Pray Foundation For Change (APFC) is a not for profit grassroots organization, dedicated to redirecting the lives of our urban at risk youth. It has been and remains our organization’s mantra that " we are the solution to our own problems." It is our core belief that there are those within our communities, if so engaged, who can help turn the tide of crime, delinquency and recidivism which grips the lives of so many our inner city youth. Operating from the premise that to effectively attack or address any problem you must start at its root, we have begun a program in some of our city’s schools and group homes, where we supply speakers, mentors, CDs and written material from the organization’s founder, which cuts to the heart of the problem experienced by many of these youths. Some times working with former gang members, inner city icons and others that have what is referred to as ‘street cred’, we have been able to achieve remarkable results. Expanding on our mission, we continuously recruit individuals from various work disciplines to aid in educating young men and woman with marketable skills. To those ends we have engaged people both inside and outside our community to come to our classes and or workshops to share and discuss the ups and downs, ins and outs of a wide range of work disciplines and careers. Never favoring one career path over any other, we have invited professors, urban fiction writers, successful members of the hip hop industry, general construction contractors and a Superior Court Judge to these open discussions and Socratic Circle seminars. Again, it is our core belief that "we are the solution, to our own problems." In closing. We invite your participation in this noble undertaking.


A Petition for a Presidential Commutation on behalf of Wayne Akbar Pray has been submitted to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. It is a request that his non-parolable life-sentence be commuted, making him eligible for parole in the near future. His success depends on the efforts and the voice of his community. Below you can find the numbers and addresses of those who are in possession of the Commutation Package. A call to any or all of them on behalf of Wayne Pray could make the difference whether he is returned to his family and community or spends the rest of his years in prison. Please make the call!
Correspondence to the Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney, may be sent to: Ronald L. Rogers Office of the Pardon Attorney 1425 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 11000 Washington, D.C. 20530 By Email USPardon.Attorney@usdoj.gov (no attachments) By Phone (202) 616-6070 • Congressman John Conyers • Washington Office: 202-225-5126 • Detroit Office: 313-961-5670 • Trenton / Downriver Office: 734-675-4084 You can also visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CongressmanConyers. Attorney General Eric Holder Correspondence to the Department, including the Attorney General, may be sent to: U.S. Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001 By Phone Department of Justice Main Switchboard 202-514-2000 Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555 By E-Mail E-mails to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General, may be sent to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov. E-mails will be forwarded to the responsible Department of Justice component for appropriate handling. Fax: (202) 225-7854 Congresswoman Maxine Waters 2344 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-2201 Congressman Donald Payne Jr.!103 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-343 Newark Office 60 Nelson Place 14th Floor (LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building) Newark, NJ 07102 Phone: (973)-645-32136

Why? Because it is your right!

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