My Dear Fellow Human,
If you are one of the 2,300,000 humans living in captivity in America, I am sorry, on behalf of my species, for the injustice foisted upon you. If you caused harm to the whole of us, that harm needs to be addressed (more on that later), but we all know that's not what's happening behind the razor wire. Our prisons aren't filled with 2.3 million Hannibal Lecters. They are filled with children tried as adults, single mothers bullied into pleading guilty, innocent parties who were named by people who--like most of us--would say anything to reduce the number of their own days spent in the hellish reality of American prison. It's... insanity. America's addiction to mass incarceration is insanity.
But what can we DO about it, right? Isn't that always the question? We are told to further educate ourselves (so we do!), and to vote (so we do!), and to call our elected officials and support such and such bill (so we do!), and to donate to non-profits fighting the good fight (so we do!), and to sign petitions (so we do!), and to go to peaceful protests (so we do!). And yet. This is what the world STILL looks like? Am I alone in thinking we can do better?
(Please know: this is NOT to throw shade at those fighting the good fight! We all do the best we can with what we know, and there are A LOT of people out there who know a lot more than I do. I am doing my best to join organizations and movements that already have history, networks, and momentum. And also...)
The way I see it, the earth is covered in five-alarm fires. It can be hard to know where to start. But I live in the U.S., and the trauma that feels most urgent to confront in my homeland is the physical caging of 2.3 million bodies. I have heard your S.O.S calls, my friends, and I promise you this:
I am dedicating my life to your freedom.
This promise terrifies and electrifies me in equal measure. But I cannot do nothing. And I cannot--personally--continue this magical thinking that somehow voting, calling elected officials, donating to non-profits, signing petitions, and peacefully protesting are the most correct and effective ways to FREE THE PEOPLE.
But what do you do when it's time for a revolution and you don't want to bring out the guillotine? What do you do when drastic change is needed but you don't want heads to roll? Know this now, fellow human: nonviolence is a primary tenant of this movement. Of course, I cannot control the hands of others, and I cannot guarantee violence will not be perpetrated upon me/ us. I do not invite this, but I accept the possibility. But I, myself, and anyone who claims allegiance to this movement, will never be armed. We will never be armed. We will NEVER be armed. The more I say it, the less likely there will be a future misunderstanding.
And here's the revolutionary act I committed once and will commit again:
I will impede traffic. It is the least hurtful, most disruptive thing I could conjure and it wins both ways: if I am not arrested, then I am standing up--literally--against this tyrannical status quo. If I am arrested, I accept the consequence, do not pay bail, and fill up our state-sanctioned cages with my/ our own body/bodies. Of course... this sounds silly when it's just me. Of course I, Evelyn Wallace, by myself, am not stopping cities in their tracks nor overfilling the already overfull jails. But if there were 2.3 million of us, one in honor of each of our brothers, mothers, loved ones, strangers who are sleeping on concrete beds TONIGHT, well, my friends, we could bring the system to its knees in a heartbeat.
The problem is, I've never been a terribly good salesperson. I don't feel comfortable pushing against someone's "no," y'know? So I'd love to say JOIN ME! Because YES, Please, JOIN ME! But I also TOTALLY GET it if you can't, or won't or have already been impacted by the system in a way that you feel utterly unsafe pushing against the system's structure in this particular way. I honor you and whatever path you're called to walk. And also: I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the path I was born to walk. THIS is what doing EVERYTHING I can LOOKS LIKE.
So, my friends, in chains or otherwise, peace be with you. Until soon,
P.S. YES harm needs to be addressed. NO, we need not perpetrate state-sponsored harm in said addressing.
P.P.S. The definition of harm CANNOT include: consensual commercial transactions, "self-"harm (tattoos, alcohol, etc.), or damage to property.
P.P.P.S. MOST harm is caused for one of the following reasons: (1) a person doesn't feel safe and causes harm as a last resort to ensuring their own--or a loved one's-- safety, (2) a person's perception of reality is altered by a perception-altering substance and causes harm based on what they (falsely) believe to be true (3) harm was caused in the past upon a person--often a child--and no one in charge kept that person safe; this person causes harm because that is how they were taught the world works. Locking harm-doers in cages until they are on hospice addresses none of the ways in which WE have failed harm-doers.
P.P. etc. S. We are ALL us. When we all thrive, we all thrive.
THIS is how it felt to WAKE UP to truth