Fighting Poverty with Passion
February is Black History Month, and while most people are celebrating by looking back at the accomplishments of Black Americans over the year, WWAV and other Black organization are looking towards the future in what has been reclaimed as Black Future Month. BFM is about Black Americans taking the time to envision themselves and their Blackness into the future and asking the necessary question of what surviving in Blackness looks like in a world dominated by White supremacy. One of the main issue area that WWAV and countless activists across the country have identified as a key threat to survival and success in the Black community is the Prison Industrial Complex. The money making PIC in America is riddled with classism and racism which is clearly manifested in its methods and consistency in criminalization, policing and incarceration of Black (and brown) bodies in the United States. One of the most important levers that the criminal justice system uses to continuously incarcerate and trap Black Americans into this present day caste system (as Michelle Alexander articulates it) is through the harsh penalties that come with non-violent crimes, specifically drug related crimes, especially marijuana.
Women With A Vision is currently in the process of organizing a summit, New Directions-New Orleans: Toward A Health-Based Approach to Drug Policy along with the Drug Policy Alliance, Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE), Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), ACLU of Louisiana on April 2nd, 2015. This one day convening of public health practitioners, criminal justice advocates, policymakers, public safety professional and community advocates will explore how drugs and the drug war affects young people, families and communities as well as looking into fresh approaches to drug policy and mass incarceration as a result of the criminalization of a public health issue. The summit is designed to deliver a coordinated, comprehensive approach to drug policy reforms that envisions drug use as a issue of public health and safety and not criminalization.
Before the conference kicks off, WWAV is organizing a screening of “The House I Live In”, a powerful film about the impact of the War on Drugs in poor and African American communities across the United States. The film is a searing criticism of the Prison Industrial Complex and illustrates the true impact of the War on Drugs. In the past 40 years, this war been responsible for 45 million arrests, playing a large part in making the Uniter States the incarceration capital of the world (Louisiana in the incarceration capital of the US and New Orleans is the incarceration capital of Louisiana) and has had devastating communities on poor communities not just in the United States, but in communities abroad.
We hope you will join us for the conference and/or the screening. Please email Mwende@wawv.-no.org with any questions.