Day 55. The waning crescent moon had not reached midheaven as I waited for the sunrise over the Ochocos from my perch above the city. I should still have been asleep like most of the other humans. I’d stayed up late last night, talking into the early morning with a dear friend, but I was awake before sunrise. Day 55 I thought as I looked up at the moon. The sun burned its way into the sky. Off to work for a 9 hour shift serving lattes to tourists. Day 55 I said to a few of them. Blank looks. My co-worker pondered out loud as to why most of the media is ignoring the hunger strike. Even the BBC covered the events of 1981 on a daily basis. I guess most people would rather be twerking. And what about war in Syria? This summer is far from over.
I can’t bring myself to say anything yet about those who are dismissing the hunger strikers as common criminals who are getting what they deserve. To much anger. I’m reminded of the words of Cascadian poet philosopher Derrick Jensen who lives near Pelican Bay and used to go into the prison to teach creative writing:
“The whole reform vs revolution question is bullshit. I used to teach creative writing at Pelican Bay, which is a Supermax security prison. I fully recognized that every time I walked in to that prison that I was participating in the biggest, most racist gulag on the planet. You can’t get much more reformist than teaching creative writing there. But at the same time many of my students said that the only thing that was keeping them sane was our classes. So in that moment any sort of belief I had in reform vs revolution question just fell apart….”
This hunger strike is not happening in a vacuum. I’ll get to the statistics later, but it is not an exaggeration to refer to the US prison-industrial complex as a “gulag archipelago.” The mass incarceration of marginalized people is very political, racist, and about as colonial as it gets. And the consciousness and bravery of these hunger strikers is historically epic. And the use of solitary confinement is completely political.
We can look back and wonder at the cruelty of history’s famous evil heads of State, whether in Russia, Germany, or the occupied north-east of Ireland. What do they have to gain by being so calloused and sadistically stubborn? But colonists are heartless in the face of the suffering of the colonized, history shows us this over and over again. Now the State is threatening force feeding. I don’t know who is worse, Jerry Brown or Margaret Thatcher. I’ll ask my dreams tonight and see what they say.