Oxy in New Orleans
Solidarity, Not Charity

Angola, Louisiana State Pennitentiary

Has the United States of America truly abolished slavery?

After what we witnessed today, our answer is No. Before passing through the gates of Angola, we walked into the museum and eerily saw an enormous wall paper of a black-and-white picture of mostly black prisoners working in the field. In front of this picture is an elderly Caucasian couple, welcoming us into the gift shop and encouraging us to “enjoy our tour.”

We were let into Camp F (dormitory housing approximately 84 inmates, with original space for only 60 people) and Camp J (23 hours, 7 days a week lock-down of nearly 400 inmates) and were able to interact with a few of the “offenders.” Many of us spoke with Brandon, one of the young men on 23/7 lock-down, and he was shocked when asked his name. It’s not strange that someone would react this way, certainly after being regarded as an “offender” or called by their “prison number.” Even after their death, obituaries label each deceased man “Black” or “White.” Identity is stripped from these men, along with their citizenship while becoming slaves in this country.

Dehumanization is what the men at Angola experience every day they’re locked in a 6′ by 9′ cell in Camp J or in an overcrowded hall in Camp F. Some examples include the cages the men on lock-down are put in for for 1-hour-a-day, to breathe in fresh air while put in a fenced in cage with barely enough room to run or truly exercise. The men of Camp J are also given their meals in a loaf (the day’s food put in a blender and baked like a meatloaf). The inhumane treatment continues through the false sense of self-improvement, advancement, and reality of what it means to be human by the state sanctioned “correctional process” of having the men work 8-hour days for wages (ranging between 4 cents to 20 cents per hour) when they can’t even spend it in the first place! This only perpetuates the culture of dehumanization that embodies our country’s prison system. Additionally it cemented our notion that Angola operates a de facto system of slavery under the guise of law and order and “progress” that typifies modern American notions of law.


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