“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
– Luke 4:18-19
To Miss Marissa Alexander of Florida,
First of all, I would like to say thank you, Ms. Alexander for sharing your story with the world. No matter how much the white supremacist system we call “The Prison-Industrial-Complex” may try to suppress the truth, I am grateful that you are working to expose it by contending your innocence as well as your basic right as a human being to defend yourself from life-threatening abuse. As a fellow Christian, I affirm the words of the apostle Paul, that all human bodies are of sacred and immeasureable worth. It is my commitment to non-violence that drives me to write this letter in protest of your current detainment, in outrage over the Prison-Industrial Complex and its white supremacy, as well as the deadly misogyny you tried to protect yourself from.
Being well aware that there are a number of other persons reading this letter, the author would like to clarify how the Prison Industrial Complex operates. Much like its predecessor, the chattel enslavement of Africans, the P-I-C seeks to seek, kill, and destroy families of African descent. In contrast to the auction of the enslaved blacks during the first three centuries of our continent’s “discovery,” the P-I-C begins with the School-To-Prison pipeline. It all begins with the ground-level, white supremacist norm forming belief that all People of Color are by nature, criminal and deviant. Informed by this mode of thinking, groups of politicians leap into action, working with all forms of hostility to shut down public school systems wholesale through voucher programs, ableist & racist charter school plans, and racially-biased drug laws. With few resources, public schools are held hostage and have very little choice but to expel students who do not recieve the behavioral improvement and literacy help that they need. This creates a cycle of violence, one that starts with linguistic violence in the classroom to gun violence in the street, and then sexual violence in the prison cells. For more information on the P-I-C, please visit the U.S. Prison Culture blog and its glossary
I must confess that it has been a while since I have written on the topic of the Prison Industry. While it is true that I do visit a homeless shelter every month where former convicts often reside, I have not concerned myself with their specific concerns. As an educator, I see the P-I-C for what it is, a confusing network of corporate interests and desperate educators trying to help the oppressed survive. Afew years ago, I did write several times on the P-I-C and how conservatives and liberals can work together to save lives and tax payer dollars. I did a book review on Mark Lewis Taylor’s The Executed God, as well as confessed my hatred for procedurals and buddy cop movies. There are just way too many cultural reminders about the criminalization of People of Color.
But enough about the bad news; how about some Good News? There are people of faith that are praying/sending their positive thoughts out
for you, Marissa. Indeed, a powerful case can be made that the belief that there is a higher power can give courage to persons being told that the white supremacist Powers That Be are the only way. As Willie Jennings has rightly argued, Jesus was the Chosen One to liberate the oppressed and set free the prisoners. To partake in Christ’s Body is to undergo an inner transformation that leads to challenges to systemic injustices. Believers can even see God’s work in the social justice struggles of even persons who may not be “religious.” It is God’s Spirit that persuades people to do right and to know the just. This grace is made readily available to everyone. The MOST powerful witnesses in Christianity are those bodies who have been in chains, the apostle Paul’s the Frederick Douglass’, the women suffragists’, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther KingJr.’s, the Dietrich Bonhoffers’ who have written articulate theologies of grace and justice while in bondage.
Seminaries can never be the home to Christian ethics; that location lies in the bodies of the oppressed, the afflicted, those in chains. While excellent texts such as Logan’s Good Punishment and Taylor’s Executed God are highly recommended by myself, these works do not supercede King Jr.’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail, the apostle Paul’s letter to the Phillipians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters from Prison, or Marissa Alexander’s letters to her supporters. Alexander has a heart full of grace and forgiveness, in spite being held captive by white supremacist politics, she continues “to believe in our justice system” because of her faith in God.
From the above link, you yourself, as I plan to, can write Marissa Alexander at:
You can personally write to Marissa in prison at this address:
“Marissa Alexander #2012033887
500 East Adam St.
Jacksonville, FL 32202
If you include some First Class stamps, or even an address and stamped return envelope, it will be easier for her to reply.”
For updates on Marissa Alexander, please visit: