Our Books are Banned in Prison!
Yes, in prison systems across the country. Not just the self-empowerment guide, even science-based texts like “The Science of Self” are banned! You don’t just get a reprimand for reading our books,You Go to the Hole! Solitary confinement. 23-hour lockdown. For inhumane stretches of time. For reading self-help literature?
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Here’s what anyone should know about these books.
- There’s never been an incident of violence or unrest related to our books or their readers. Yet these books are considered a “security threat” because they “threaten the functioning” of some facilities. What functions are being threatened by inmates reading and becoming study-oriented and wanting to improve themselves and help others?
- The books don’t increase criminality! Despite the attention-catching headlines, this book shows people how and why NOT to be criminal, and how to live righteously. They explore the risks of poor choices and how to live wisely for a better future. Who does this threaten?
- Mental health goes UP when people read. When they read empowering literature, they are less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior and spend less time stressing and reacting!
- Recidivism goes DOWN when you read our books. When young warriors enter the prison system and encounter our books and the guidance that comes with them, they rarely re-offend! Is this ultimately what threatens the functioning of these facilities? That prisoners don’t come back?
- Book banning is like slavery! In fact, since prison remains the only legal form of slavery not abolished by the Constitution or its Amendments, perhaps literate and self-motivated people are indeed a threat to the functioning of the system. Prisons are profitable – is recidivism the goal? Are we being targeted for cutting into the free labor that keeps this industry in business? Who thinks this is wrong?
Is this why Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow was once banned in prisons as well? Was it dangerous for Black people to learn that prison was modern-day slavery because it might shake some out of accepting that lot as their life? What do our books do that warrants them still being on this ban list?
IF PRISON ISN’T SLAVERY, WHY IS LITERACY SO DANGEROUS?
Why are inmates treated so harshly simply for owning The Science of Self, a scientific text full of references on genealogy, astronomy, and evolutionary history? Or a health text called The Hood Health Handbook? Or a history book on ancient Black civilizations? What do the prisoners forced into solitary as a “security threat group” for owning a book called Knowledge of Self or Black God have to denounce about themselves to get free? It just sounds crazy. These books are used in universities and schools, so we’re sure they don’t espouse hatred – only self-love and self-development. They’re also nonfiction works full of references. So what’s really happening here? We know prison education programs push profits over people and typically don’t help. Our books do. Is that the problem? Are educated Black and Hispanic (or Indigenous/Native) people that scary – that books teaching ancestral values and self-empowerment must be banned – and people who have done nothing else “wrong” must be thrown in 23-hour SOLITARY CONFINEMENT simply for having them in their possession?
LET’S MAKE A CHANGE!
All that to say – time for our books and readers to be given a break! If you’re of moral conscience, you know there’s no good reason for any of it. I considered editing each line that some officials had cited as their “evidence” these books could cause problems, but I soon realized I could rewrite the books in full and they’d still end up blocked somehow. That’s when I realized this was a First Amendment kind of situation, and predominantly Black and Hispanic people are being stripped of their civil and human rights! Meanwhile, you can find white nationalist literature like Mein Kampf in many prison libraries! Something is seriously wrong here! Rather than spend our time trying to change these books any further, I’d like to raise a demand for prisoners to be given their rights, including the right to educate themselves and read empowering literature that changes lives.