"Sexism Can't be Tolerated Anywhere" Bro. Khalfani Malik Khaldun on the Dangers of Sexism in Prison Organizing
Sexism Can’t be Tolerated Anywhere
(IDOC Watch on the Inside)
More and more, conditions inside and outside of prison, activist young and old, men and women are coming together to fight for the rights of prisoners. Organizations and coalitions are being organized to expose and oppose wrongful convictions. Without keeping a moral check on the pulse of the progress of the overall operation of all of this, things can and will get out of control. Sexism is a poison that can destroy an entire organization. It can cause our comrades who are women to lose hope in doing this work. So, we will not tolerate the following negative behaviors from anyone:
1. Communication: Prisoners who write us seeking materials to read should always be professional and respectful. Never demanding anything or acting like you’re entitled to it.
2. Introduction: always compile an introduction of yourself so that we may learn who you are and how we can be of help to you.
3. Relationships: We realize that prison is an abnormal place that breeds loneliness. But, we have to enforce a moral code of conduct. We have comrades who are women college students. Who enjoy writing to prisoners to help keeping your spirits up. Who are not looking to get involved in a relationship with you. So please don’t go there with them. Our work is bigger than that. It takes time to be someone’s friend, or even comrade. Don’t destroy and push away somebody that could be a good friend in your life. We don’t condone, encourage, or promote sexism, racism, or homophobia of any kind. You should be only trying to establish outside support, not seeking out a relationship with women activists.
4. Predatorial behavior: Our women comrades are dedicated to activism and challenging prison conditions that are harmful to prisoners. They should never be victimized by someone negatively pursuing them sexually or any other way. Conscious men don’t act that way. They demand to be honored and respected, as you do male comrades. Sexist behavior, sexist language, will not be tolerated. We are not predators. So don’t display those characteristics. You will not be assisted by anyone if all you are in search of is exploiting our women comrades.
Historically, sexism has been the cause of destruction of organizations. Causing leadership in organizations to fall apart. Causing strong women to leave groups and stop supporting the struggle. For those of you who don’t know how to identify sexism or know what it means, we can provide you materials and books on the subject. We can also open up a collective dialogue to help you confront and challenge yourself so that you can stop this behavior before it gets out of hand.
The Political Prisoner
The Political Prisoner, Prisoner of War, and the Politically active Prisoner should never be engaged in behavior that sexualizes women comrades. That goes for any woman. We have to purge ourselves of sexist tendencies and engage in dialogue with prisoners who are interested in political activism to ensure they are familiar with the need to combat sexist behaviors. We live in sexist male dominated culture, and it is deeply embedded in many men outside and inside of prison.
The prison environment, once in it, we are cut off from our contact with our partners. So, it’s easy to get emotionally caught up with women who write us from society, due to our loneliness. It creates desperate emotions. So, we understand when it happens. We just want you to know, it’s not about getting a woman. It’s about helping you get support, contacts, and eventually being there for you upon your release. This is our primary objective. This is what our female comrades want for you. Because this is what IDOC Watch is all about. Peace and love. Power to the People!
What I Remember
Between the years of 1990 up and until maybe 2001, sexism had a major impact on the Indiana prison struggle and our movement as a whole. A lot of women groups and women as individuals began to answer the call for support for Indiana Political Prisoners. Our mission was to build a coalition of women and activists to represent (all) active comrades in Indiana. However, this never happened because at times sexist politics took over, and the agenda became muddled by comrades establishing personal intimate relationships with our women comrades. What should / could have become a great movement, became women only supporting a high-profile comrade and not the movement as a whole.
The reality is women get lonely also and they may become attracted to a comrade. It’s sometimes unavoidable. It’s just wrong, and against our code of conduct, to let sexist tendencies override our Revolutionary Politics. I am not against finding love, I am simply keeping my Politics in Command by not mixing the agenda with my desire to find love. We really have to think more about building an organization that is qualified to reach a lot of prisoners inside the Indiana Department of Corrections. This is primary right now.
Women who are Looking for Love
As stated early in this writing, our women comrades who are members of IDOC Watch are not looking to be in an intimate relationship with anyone, simply because you may receive a letter from them. There have been some instances where women activists through engaging in activism developed an attraction for a comrade inside these walls who eventually pursued an intimate relationship with them. We have no control of love, so when this happens, as long as the relationship remains principled, we have to allow the universe to govern that. Sometimes God will place people in our lives to be companions in our survival, and to help us get to the next level we need to get to. Doing time has multiple effects on the human body and mind. Everybody who enters through these gates never leaves the same. The impact of this experience will last and be with us years after we are released. Having good friends and comrades, men and women, a part of your support team makes your fight to be free again worth the while.
I pray this essay helps you in your journey. We have to never forget to be mindful of our behavior toward our women comrades. A luta-continua!
Bro. Khalfani Malik Khaldun #874304
P.O. Box 1111 M-218
Carlisle, Indiana 47838