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Feb 26, 2021
1 Min read time
Assata Shakur — “Women in Prison: How It Is With Us”
Our members-only podcast is now available to all! A People’s Anthology is a reading series of radical essays and speeches. Season one highlights six short texts related to Black liberation struggles in the U.S., from Claudia Jones to the Combahee River Collective. Find the other episodes and links to Apple, Spotify, and more here.
Read by Aja Monet and introduced by Jackie Wang.
The teacher, poet, and revolutionary Assata Shakur was born in Flushing Queens. She became a socialist during her college years, and after a visit to the Oakland chapter of the Black Panthers, she joined the Party. Eventually Assata became head of the Harlem Panthers, and went on to join the Black Liberation Army—a loosely organized, underground offshoot of the Black Panthers, which advocated guerilla warfare against the US government.
She became the target of federal surveillance for this work, and was arrested in 1973. She wrote “Women in Prison: How it is With Us” during this period, recounting the experiences of the women she was incarcerated with and the racism that led to their imprisonment—especially the criminalization of their survival and their willingness to defend themselves.
Women can never be free in a country that is not free. We can never be liberated in a country where the institutions that control our lives are oppressive. We can never be free while our men are oppressed. Or while the amerikan government and amerikan capitalism remain intact. But it is imperative to our struggle that we build a strong Black women’s movement. It is imperative that we, as Black women, talk about the experiences that shaped us; that we assess our strengths and weaknesses and define our own history. It is imperative that we discuss positive ways to teach and socialize our children. — Assata Shakur
Aja Monet is an activist, poet, and author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.
Jackie Wang is Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School. She is the author of Carceral Capitalism.
Note: A transcript of this episode is available here.
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