Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Here at home in Chicago, I help to run an all-volunteer prison book project (Chicago Books to Women in Prison). We were fortunate enough to be featured on the local ABC news affiliate in Chicago this past week. You can take a look at the video here:
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8046241

As a volunteer at CBWP (www.chicagobwp.org), I have come to believe that the small act of answering a person's letter and sending a bundle of books his or her way can have a real--if individualized--impact. I recognize that this perspective is up for debate, and I think there is an important conversation to be had about incremental activism, abolition activism, and interpretations of radicalism in prison-focused movements. (P-CARE has submitted a proposal to discuss this topic at the 2011 National Communication Association Convention- we'll keep you posted!)

I am working on a longer post reflecting on the political aspects of small-scale prison outreach projects, but in the meantime I want to raise the issue of *kindness*. One woman currently being held in Chowchilla, CA sent a recent book request and included a note: "When you don't have anything or anyone out there that cares it is always makes you appreciate when someone that does not even know you reaches out and shows you kindness." Women who write to us at CBWP tell us that the isolation of incarceration can be dehumanizing, and we hope that sending books can help people behind bars feel more connected to others. One reason that I endorse and engage in incremental action is because it can be a way to provide personal connections, however fleeting.

There is something powerful in activism on a human scale.

2 comments:

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