Home » Articles posted by Stephanie Green

Author Archives: Stephanie Green

Reflection on Annette Bickford’s Guest Lecture

I found Annette Bickford’s guest lecture extremely interesting, especially her discussion of liberal humanism and how it protects institutions using the example of the multicultural classroom. Specifically, she describes how the multicultural classroom is a site that makes racism worse, as the brief cultural celebrations give an allusion that everything is okay, but in reality reinforces a white standard. I think that this logic can extend to other inherently racial states. For example, what does it mean to “give a seat at the table” in corporate environments? What does it mean when you put Black and Brown people in executive positions of large corporations that have histories of exploiting laborers? If capitalism (and other racialized sites) do not become ethical solely by representation, why do we, as a society, continue to push for it? If not diversifying the place, what is the alternative? The Bickford discussion left me with numerous questions on how we should think about making space for people, both what it truly means and its implications in upholding the current system.

Reflection on Eladio Bobadilla’s Guest Lecture

I found Eladio Bobadilla’s guest lecture extremely interesting, and left the discussion most intrigued with the quote “we didn’t cross borders, the borders crossed us” and how this concept plays into the conversation of the racialization of borders and how that’s shaped immigration history and policy. I had only considered the racialization of borders when looking at processes like gerrymandering, but not how racialized borders informed who is associated with immigration, which is often Brown people. Furthermore, I was extremely intrigued to learn about how an the intentionally anti-racist Immigration Act of 1965 became racialialized as countries that had more people applying for VISAs were those with predominately Black and Brown demographics. As Professor Bobadilla described a proposed California law in 1994 that would’ve allowed teachers, hospital workers, school counselors, etc the ability to ask and reject someone for their immigration status, it was interesting to see how Foucault’s idea of the carceral archipelago translates to immigration as well and its role in policing and the carcel state.

Prison Organizing against Cruel Women’s Conditions

by Stephanie Green

Great Speckled Bird page 1

1751560_19750710_0013 (1) page 2

Source: Great Speckled Bird, Vol 8, Issue 28, July 10, 1975

My primary source [1] describes a 1975 peaceful protest to eventual riot outside of North Carolina  Correctional Institute for Women. This prison is the only women’s prison in North Carolina and held primarily Black and Brown inmates. [2] This article is in The Great Speckled Bird, more commonly known as The Bird, which was a New Left, underground counterculture newspaper that ran from 1968 to 1976 out of Atlanta, GA by university political organizations at the university level. Given its underground nature, in addition to its younger demographic of curators, this newspaper’s audience is likely intended for those with similar backgrounds and ideologies. This article in particular was likely written to garner sympathy with those affected by the riot, hatred for the prison guards who inflicted violence on innocent protestors, and for the newspaper’s opportunity to take a strong stance against the prisons, the prison industrial complex, and more specifically, the conditions of the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. This source allows us to learn about the intersection between race and gender in gendered prisons, the lack of health care in prisons, prison organizing, and representation within prisons.

The first demand of the protestors was the abolition of the prison laundry due to the horrific conditions the women had to work in. the conditions are inhumane, being described by The Bird as including ““temperatures of over 120 degrees” where the inmates were pushing pounds weighing several pounds had to be “pushed across a dangerously wet and slippery floor.” These harsh yet gendered conditions present an interesting intersection with how race and gender inform conditions.  The gendered labor of laundry stems from historic ideologies that in order to create respectable women that could fit into patriarchal society, their most lucrative opportunity to regenerate them back into society was to teach them domestic labor practices. Angela Davis describes this process as “criminal women could be rehabilitated by assimilating correct women behaviors–that is, by becoming experts in domesticity–especially cooking, cleaning, and sewing.” Davis argues that this “produced skilled domestic servants among black and poor women.” [4] With the demands and conditions of prison laundry work in this facility, there are evidently racial undertones as well. The conditions of this domestic work, that may be considered too harsh for a docile white woman, further emphasize the topic of Black gendering and ungendering and how these strategies further capitalist production. Sarah Haley explains this double bind as being “forced to endure antiblack and gender-specific violence. They were caught in double binds, double burdens, and double jeopardy when it came to both labor and violence.” This demonstrates both the distinct and intersectional roles that race and gender play in prison laboring practices.

The neglect of inmates’ health care is reflected within protestors’ second demand, which asks for better healthcare facilities, with staff that have the inmates’ health in their best interest. This demand reflects an argument made by Foucault about the role the body has as an intermediary to the greater goal of penal punishment. As the body became less of a spectacle for punishment, Foucault describes how there was a shift in punishment “since it is no longer the body, it must be the soul.” [5]However, this didn’t lead to complete disregard of the body as a means of punishment. While quality, accessible, and affordable medical care can be argued as a human rights, Inadequate medical care can be used as one of the tactics to further this punishment of the body for those both out and inside of the carcel system. The second part of this demand, which asks for the removal of medical staff who are indifferent toward prisoner’s welfare, also plays into a Foucaudian argument related to the role that other institutions had within the carcel state. Foucault specifically calls out doctors as a body that’s “juxtaposing himself as the agent of welfare, as the alleviatior of pain, with the official whose task it is to end life. [6] Both the presence and lack of medical professionals within this facility demonstrate the role that medical providers can have in sustaining the use of the body as a means of punishment within the prison.

Protestor’s third demand related to the prison system as a whole, pointing specifically at delays in court processing and the expense of bail. This demand is particularly important because of the role that cash bail and long court processing can have on Black and Brown convicts. Guilty or not, bail is set so high that poorer families cannot afford, leaving people to risk financial hardship (and continue to face this hardship as they get lawyers, deal with court fees, etc.), pleading guilty to avoid financial burden, or waiting their processing timeout in prison. This can even have further implications, including losing your job or custody of your children. The implication of slow grievances makes it even more difficult to acclimate themselves back into society. However, this demand as it specifically relates specifically to the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women deserves further exploration

Increasing representation and diversifying spaces is not always the answer to fix racist environments, however, protestors’ final grievance was requesting for appointment of a Black man to fill the seven-month vacancy as superintendent of the prison. Of all the demands, this one least matched the abolition type framework presented previously. While this request is likely intended to decrease the racism present within the prison system, this effort is only a band-aid solution to a much larger racialized issue. This effort to mask inherently racist spaces is often used by politicians and organizers who want to appear like they’re doing good work. For example, former Georgia governor and president Jimmy Carter marked his career by “the use of representation to shroud the nascent neoliberal carcel buildup” as he “only incorporated incarcerated women and men into the narrative fold of those deemed worthy of political concern. [7] This demand also relates to the argument of liberal humanism and how it can protect and perpetuate systems of violence by establishing a white standard through pockets of diversity training and initiatives that hit “checkmarks” on different demographics.

This source is significant in understanding conditions of prisons, prison organizing, and protests during the 1970s. The 1970s was a popular time for organizing around prison conditions. The authors work is important to shed light on these issues and further emphasize the work that has been done and how we can use that to inform activism moving forward.


[1]  The Great Speckled Bird, Vol 8, Issue 28, July 10, 1975

[2] Ruralorganizing. “Southern People’s History: In 1975 Women Revolted at a North Carolina Prison.” Rural Organizing And Resilience, 20 Dec. 2018, ruralorganizing.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/in-1975-women-revolted-at-a-north-carolina-prison/.

[3] “How Gender Structures the Prison System.” Are Prisons Obsolete?: an Open Media Book, by Angela Y. Davis, Seven Stories Press, 2010, pp. 60–83.

[4] Sarah Haley. No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity. The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.

[5] “The Body of the Condemned.” DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH: the Birth of the Prison, by MICHEL FOUCAULT, PENGUIN BOOKS, 2020, pp. 3–32.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sarah Haley (2018) Care Cage: Black Women, Political Symbolism, and the 1970s Prison Crisis, Souls, 20:1 58-85Great Speckled Bird 1751560_19750710_0013 (1)Great Speckled Bird