Thursday, March 25, 2010

Media Justice and the Crime of Poverty --An interview with Tiny from POOR Magazine

Media Justice and the Crime of Poverty

--An interview with Tiny from POOR Magazine

By Angola 3 News

Tiny (aka Lisa Gray–Garcia) is a poverty scholar, revolutionary journalist, PO' Poet, spoken word artist, welfareQUEEN, lecturer, Indigena Taina/Boriken/Irish mama of Tiburcio and daughter of Dee and the co–founder and executive director of POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork. POOR is a grassroots, non–profit, arts organization dedicated to providing extreme access to media, education and arts for youth, adults and elders struggling with poverty, racism, disability and border fascism locally and globally. Tiny is a teacher, multi–media producer, and author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, published by City Lights.

She has innovated several revolutionary media, arts and education programs for youth, adults and elders including the first welfare to work journalism program in the US for poor mothers transitioning off of welfare, PoorNewsNetwork — an on–line magazine and monthly radio show on KPFA, and several cultural projects such as the Po' Poets Project, Youth in Media, welfareQUEENs, and many more. She is also a prolific writer who has authored over a hundred articles on issues ranging from poor women and families, interdependence, and the cult of individualism to gentrification, homelessness, police brutality, incarceration, art and global and local poverty. For more information see

Angola 3 News: How did POOR Magazine get started?

Tiny: POOR Magazine is a poor people led/indigenous people led grassroots, non-profit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, education and art to youth, adults and elders locally and globally

POOR the magazine was launched in las calles, welfare offices, social security lobbies, and shelters in 1996 by an Indigenous Raza mother and daughter team who barely survived homelessness, extreme poverty, disability, criminalization, racism and survived on underground economic strategies. We began with community journalism workshops focused on telling our own stories, reclaiming our own scholarship and redefining in and of itself what media even is and who controls it.

We practice eldership, ancestor worship and interdependence as a resistance to the destruction of capitalism, imperialism, colonization and white supremacy.

POOR Magazine defines indigenismo within an urban indigenous context of shared identities and shared struggles. We are landless African, Taino/ Boricua, Mexicano/Mexica/Raza, Iroquois, Pomo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Celtic, Hawaiian, Samoan, Jewish, Arabic, South Asian, Oaxacan, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and many more, We are Elders, Youth, Children, Mamaz, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Families and Individuals brought together through the shared struggle of poverty, survival and ‘thrival.

To this end, POOR Magazine has implemented the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples as a revolutionary resistance document. This is one of the ways we practice redefining the capitalist systems of oppression, philanthropy, the prison industrial complex , the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), and systems of controlled and stolen resources, land and information.

In 1999, while my Mama and I were still "in the life" and while I personally was being told by my welfare worker that I needed to realize what a waste of taxpayers resources I was, taught myself how to write an RFP for a welfare to work grant to teach poor mamas like me and my mama how to be journalists, writers, and media producers.

I successfully mastered the linguistic domination skills necessary to reclaim those stolen government resources and give it back to the people. With it we were able to start our indigenous news-making circle (which up-ends the hierarchy of both independent and corporate media), our KPFA radio show, our on-line news service and our media training classrooms.

In 2002, we lost all of the government dollars when they saw that we were teaching people how to write about the very systems that were oppressing all of us (ie, the welfare to work locus of control).

This almost killed us—but we are not sorry that we reclaimed those funds. It would elitist and illogical. But that government-sponsored inquisition still almost killed us. And when the government dollars left, so did all of the philanthro-pimped private donations.

This tragedy led us to not only fight harder, but to build a curriculum around the myths of philanthropy, and launch The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute as well as a completely new concept we call Revolutionary Giving.

A3N: How is POOR Magazine different than the corporate media? What kinds of stories will readers find?

Tiny: First of all, POOR Magazine is not just a media organization, we are a family of poverty scholars teaching on and speaking on issues of poverty, racism, disability, border fascism and indigenous resistance. To this end we have launched:

  • PeopleSkool—Escuela de la gente—Education for ALL peoples outside the Institution.

  • FamilySkool is our multi-generational teaching and learning project.

  • POOR Press—the publishing arm of POOR Magazine—aimed at infiltrating the racist, classist publishing industry that demands a series of access channels.

  • The Po Poets Project and the welfareQUEENS' revolutionary poets and cultural workers in poverty and resistance.

  • Hotel Voices is a play on the experience of surviving and thriving Single Room Occupancy hotels.

  • HOMEFULNESS—our most important project—is a sweat-equity co-housing project for landless families in poverty, which includes a school, media center and micro-business projects. This has the goal of reclaiming stolen lands and resources and moving off the grid of controlled systems of housing and budget kkkrumbs. This project is informed by the teaching of MOVE founder John Africa.

As far as media, POOR Magazine aligns ourselves with other poor people led/indigenous people led movements such as the Shackdwellers Union in South Africa, POCC, and the MST (landless peoples movement in Brazil) who actively reject the ideas that someone else has to tell our stories for us, perpetuating the 21st century missionary/default kkkolonizers position that just because you have access to a computer, a micro-phone or a camera, our stories suddenly become your stories, your property.

We also resist the myth of objectivity and how if an author or media producer writes in the "I" voice it automatically takes away its legitimacy.

How do you ensure that the silenced voices of people in poverty are heard? By addressing the subtle and not so subtle ways in which our voices and research and scholarship is separated out and suppressed. We teach on our forms of media revolution and media justice at the Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute and PeopleSkool.

We redefine media as art, hip hop, graffiti, spoken word, poetry and talk-story.

All of our media, whomever makes it includes the lens and voices of the writers who have experienced positions of poverty and oppression first-hand. For our allies who have different forms of academic privilege, we also ask for the same inclusion of “I” voice and personal scholarship.

A3N: In regards to the issues of homelessness and poverty, what do you think are the biggest lies propagated by the corporate media?

Tiny: That we, houseless folks, are a tribe that walks the earth, rather than people who need a roof; That we are all criminal by design; That our voices are irrelevant and our solutions un-informed.

We at POOR no longer use the NPIC term, “homeless” because it is another way to turn our problems into profit for NGO's and NPIC's across the globe.

A3N: How does the struggle to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC) relate to issues of poverty and houselessness?

Tiny: It completely relates. It is why I was incarcerated in Amerikkka and why I wrote the book Criminal of Poverty: Growing up homeless in America. It is illegal to be houseless in the US and arguably it is illegal to be poor. We have modern day apartheid and slave plantations called prisons, and they have to constantly feed this machine with fresh meat so the PIC industry can make revenue. Racism, poverty, and disability are all linked and are alive and well.

Throughout my childhood - my poor mama of color and I were houseless and living in our car, and I was eventually arrested for those "crimes." I am light-skinned and look white even though my mama is Boriken, Taina and Afrikan. I look like my kkkolonizer dad, so I could lie to a landlord about being a single adult with a job and the landlord would accept it rather than that my mama was a hard worker who was responsible.

But it isn’t just houseless folks. Its migrant workers, youth of color, people in poverty living with a mental disability, micro-business people, foster youth and on and on. Our struggles against racism and criminalization are linked.

A3N: What are the most recent projects that POOR Magazine is working on?

Tiny: We just completed the very beautiful anthology, Los Viajes/The journeys, which is a beautiful compilation of peoples crossing over false criminalizing borders across pacha mama.

We are trying go to the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference in Detroit to lead a PeopleSkool workshop on media, akkkademia and research, as well as a forum on linguistic domination.

Also, we are gearing up for a new session of PeopleSkool in Summer 2010, and we launched the equity campaign to raise funds or acquire land for HOMEFULNESS- in 2010/2011.

--Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A3 Newsletter: Springing Forward??

Spring is just about upon us. One year since the 5th Circuit Court took on the review of the overturning of Albert's conviction. One year with no word and no decision, while Albert waits and waits--over 37 years of waiting for justice. As we wait, we know that Herman and Albert would want their supporters to fight for the rights of other prisoners and most certainly, our beloved Mumia. Long time Angola 3 supporter and prison activist, Yuri Kochiyama has made a special plea to have activists everywhere send birthday greetings to Mumia. Pam and Ramona Africa are focused on other campaigns to free Mumia that we can all take part in.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Angola 3 film by Vadim Jean, 'In the Land of the Free...', is premiering at the end of this month. Robert King will be headed to England next week to speak at the many film previews (see the schedule below). The opening of this film has brought on a flurry of fabulous new press in the UK. We hope you'll have a chance to read the articles that are linked below. Another Angola 3 supporter, Lauren Muchan, whose short documentary is also linked below, won an award for "Visiting Angola", a truly beautiful piece. Congratulations Lauren!!! We're thrilled that her excellent work brought her to the attention of the filmmaker and promoters of 'Land of the Free...' and she's been using her talents to help promote the film.

Hard to believe that the remarkable creative talents of so many people have been brought to bear in this case, as well as the hard work of numerous skilled lawyers and still..... we wait. How in the world can prisoners without the benefit of these resources ever hope to find justice?

Read the complete newsletter here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Guardian article, European Tour Schedule, and Trailer for new Angola 3 movie: In the Land of the Free...

Erwin James wrote today for The Guardian:

The case of the Angola three first came to international attention following the campaigning efforts of the Body Shop founder and humanitarian Anita Roddick. Roddick heard about their plight from a young lawyer named Scott Fleming. Fleming was working as a prisoner advocate in the 1990s when he received a letter from Wallace asking for help. The human tragedy Fleming uncovered had the most profound effect on him. When he qualified as a lawyer, their case became his first. "I was born in 1973," he says. "I often think that for my entire life they have been in solitary."

Through Fleming, Roddick met King and then Woodfox in Angola. Their story, she said later, "made my blood run cold in my veins". Until her death in 2007 Roddick was a committed and passionate supporter of their cause. At her memorial service King played two taped messages from Wallace and Woodfox. In the congregation was film-maker Vadim Jean who had become good friends with Roddick and her husband Gordon during an earlier film project. "Anita's big thing was, 'Just do something,'" says Jean. "No matter how small an act of kindness. Listening to Herman and Albert's voices at her memorial was like having Anita's finger pointing at me and saying, 'Just do something'." And so he decided to make In the Land of the Free, a searing documentary, released later this month.

Read the full article here.


WEDNESDAY 24th March 2010

LONDON Ritzy Brixton

Moderator: Polly Toynbee

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King

Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve

Screening Time: 7pm

THURSDAY 25th March 2010

LONDON Curzon Soho

Moderator: Terry Waite CBE

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King, Clare Algar, Executive Director, Reprieve

Screening Time: 6.30pm

FRIDAY 26th March 2010

LONDON Screen On the Green - Islington

Moderator: TBC

Panellists: Vadim Jean,Robert King

Screening Time: 6.30pm

Sunday 28th March 2010

LONDON Picturehouse Clapham

Moderator: TBC

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King

Screening Time: 3.30pm

Monday 29th March 2010

CAMBRIDGE Picturehouse

Moderator: TBC

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King

Screening Time: 6.30pm

Tuesday 30th March 2010

LONDON Amnesty - The Human Rights Action Centre

Moderator: Intro By Kate Allen

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King, Sam Roddick

Screening Time: 6.30pm

Tuesday 31st March 2010

LONDON Lexi Cinema Kensal Rise

Moderator: TBC

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King

Screening Time: TBC

WEDNESDAY 1st April 2010


Moderator: TBC

Panellists: Vadim Jean, Robert King

Screening Time: TBC

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Racialization of Crime and Punishment --An Interview With Nancy A. Heitzeg

The second part of our interview with professor Nancy Heitzeg was featured by Truthout. org. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the full interview here.

Angola 3 News: Your article, "The Racialization of Crime and Punishment: Criminal Justice, Color-Blind Racism, and the Political Economy of the Prison Industrial Complex," was published in 2008 by American Behavioral Scientist. What are the key arguments that you make along with co-writer Rose M. Brewer?

Nancy A. Heitzeg: Dr. Brewer and I argue that that the prison industrial complex is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy with its economic and social benefits both in and with the law - "all domination is, in the last instance, maintained through social control strategies" (Bonilla-Silva 2001:103).

As movements for Abolition and Civil Rights worked to end the institutions of slavery, lynching and legalized segregation, new and more indirect mechanisms have emerged for perpetuating systemic racism and its economic underpinnings. In this era of "color-blind racism," there has been a corresponding shift from de jure racism codified explicitly into the law and legal systems, to a de facto racism where people of color, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws, excessive surveillance, extreme segregation and neo-slave labor via incarceration, all in the name of "crime control." The prison industrial complex is the current manifestation of the legal legacy of the racialized transformations of plantations into prisons, of Slave Codes into Black Codes, of lynching into state-sponsored executions...

(ABOVE PHOTO: Convict tied for punishment at a Georgia prison in the 1930s. The photo is from

Monday, March 1, 2010

Letters To Angola—An interview with filmmaker Lauren Muchan

Letters to Angola from joseph sharp on Vimeo.

Letters To Angola—An interview with filmmaker Lauren Muchan

By Angola 3 News

In February, filmmakers Lauren Muchan and Joseph Sharp (from the University of Whales, Newport) were given a Student Television Award from the Royal Television Society for their short film entitled Letters To Angola. The film focuses of Muchan’s correspondence and friendship with Herman Wallace of the Angola 3. Be sure to watch this excellent new film, embedded above.

Angola 3 News: How did you first hear about the Angola 3?

Lauren Muchan: My mum actually found out about the Angola 3 by reading an article on Anita Roddick's website. As she became more and more involved I started to learn about their story, and I was moved to start writing to Herman myself.

A3N: Why do you think the case of the Angola 3 is so important?

LM: It is so important because it highlights the draconian nature of the U.S. prison system, a topic that is largely ignored by mainstream media. When the stories came to light of the tortures that took place in Abu Ghraib people all over the world, including in the U.S. were outraged, and yet this kind of torture is taking place inside America everyday.

A3N: When did you first start writing to Herman Wallace?

LM: I started writing to him in 2005.

A3N: How would you describe him as person?

LM: Herman is the strongest person I know. He has a fantastic sense of humor, and is very clever. He has a big heart. It takes a truly remarkable person to be in his situation and not only maintain some level of sanity, but in fact be an inspiration to so many people.

A3N: What are you communicating with your movie?

LM: The film is essentially about the human spirit. I wanted to tell the story of the Angola 3, but didn't want to make a film that left the viewer feeling crushed. It was important to myself and Joe, to show how strong Herman is. Despite everything he has been through, his spirit has not been broken. This is what makes his story so compelling.

--Angola 3 News is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. We are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more.