Banned Book Week has arrived. It’s a time when the pervasiveness of censorship is highlighted. But is seems that each year, censorship behind the walls is forgotten. Imprisoned people live with censorship 52 weeks a year. We are denied access to knowledge and punished for producing knowledge. Our families and friends must overcome numerous hurdles to send us reading materials. One mistake and the package is denied. It is much easier to obtain drugs, weapons, or sports equipment behind the walls than a book. Why is that? And who benefits from these restrictions?***
Knowledge is power. And prison officials don’t want imprisoned people to have power. When an imprisoned person begins to study and understand the conditions of their life, a seed of change, of transformation, is planted. A learned imprisoned person is an affront to the prison industrial complex. That person understands who the enemy really is. That person understands the power of collectivity. That person connects with those around them and works to change themselves and their environment.***
The prison doesn’t restrict just any materials. It focuses on materials that effect transformation. It focuses on mobilizing texts. It focuses on texts that center the experiences of marginalized folx. These texts provide insight on not only how to survive racial capitalism, but also how to thrive outside of it. This is why political education and those who promote it behind the walls are targeted by prison officials. In every long-term solitary confinement unit you will find some of the most politically aware imprisoned folx. The assault upon knowledge behind the walls is relentless. And the campaign to counter it must be too.***
We need comrades and allies to join us in campaigns that expose the arbitrary censorship decisions by prison officials. We need comrades and allies to join us in actions that challenge these decisions. We need comrades and allies this week and the other 51 weeks too.