The authors are incarcerated on the Ramsey Prison farm in Texas, formerly the home of five slave plantations.
For the last several years we have protested the Confederate flag and demanded that statues be taken down, or we have just taken them down ourselves. Those symbols of power represent racism, oppression and the degrading of a people. They represent profit from slavery, the death of Black men, women and children dying in cotton fields, being lynched and people of color being treated more like animals than human beings.
When some see these symbols, they feel pride and heroism. We see victims, pain and suffering. We are reminded that justice, fairness and equality are a false promise.
Confederate soldiers wore dark blue, called Confederate Blue, and gray uniforms. In the Texas prison system, the guards’ uniforms are these exact colors. Yet Blacks, Latinos, Africans, along with poor whites and others unconsciously wear this symbol of racism to earn their minimum-wage paychecks. They wear it to incarcerate poor people from their own neighborhoods.
These guards wear hats that say, “We Protect Our Own.” Who is “we”? Is it Native Americans who were slaughtered and had their land stolen? Is it women and girls of color raped by their master? Does history really include us? Does this “we” include me? We wonder if Texas prison guards are even aware that their entire bodies are wrapped in a uniform of confederacy that makes them moving signs of power but also ignorance!
Prisons are indeed modern forms of slavery, and Texas has one of the largest prison populations in the world and has executed (or legally lynched) more prisoners than the next eight U.S. states combined.
We need to take down and smash all forms of racism, from statues to flags to prison slave plantations. Solidarity with the Durham anti-racist heroes!