Personal musings. Views are my own.

Peace festival in NY

Crazy, so on May 5th, my girlfriend and I did a dance at the Hot House. Sunday afternoon, we’re doing the same dance at a Peace Festival in New York! Each performer is preparing a statement against the war in Iraq before their piece. Here’s what Sheena and I are going to be saying:

I’m Sheena, the daughter of Malayalee Catholic immigrants from Kerala, India. I’m nikhil, the son of Gujarati Hindu immigrants from India. We stand in solidarity with Ollin Imagination and all those who are speaking out about the negative effects of the current Iraq occupation on our communities. As others have spoken about today, the “war on terror” has been used to justify an escalation of attacks on immigrants’ rights and civil liberties.

The piece we will be performing today is about the prison industry in the us. With more than 2 million people behind bars, the US has the highest prison population in the world, both in percentage of its population and in sheer numbers of people kept behind bars. according to a 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, immigrants are the fastest growing segment of the domestic prison population. Incarceration rates for immigration offenses have risen by 394 percent since 1995 as a result of laws, exective orders, the special registration initiatives and other efforts to criminalize immigrants. In 1995 there were 3,420 people in prison for immigration offenses, in 2003 there were 16,903, and the numbers have increased since then. and the prison industry has aggressively expanded its reach at both the state and federal levels, cashing in on the opportunity to provide more beds for immigration detainees, especially after 9/11. Many people don’t know that when immigrants are detained, they are actually housed in prisons. It is profitable for the prison industry when more immigrants are incarcerated, or when they are detained. prisons also serve as a means of social control, and immigrants and people of color had been scapegoated in the name of national security even before 9/11, and it keeps getting worse.

Before we begin our piece, we want to read a brief excerpt from a speech made by Arundhati Roy (Indian writer and activist) in Brazil in 2003 entitled “Confronting Empire:”

“What can we do? We can hone our memory, we can learn from our history. We can continue to build public opinion until it becomes a deafening roar… Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling–their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: we be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. ”