Andrea James, who spent a year-and-a-half in prison, speaking at the Free Her rally in Washington, DC.
The women of Orange is the New Black are, for the most part, fiction. But this summer, actual women who were incarcerated at the prison where the hit Netflix show takes place are organizing in real life for prison reform.
• Lupita Nyong has optioned the rights to Americanah, one of the 10 Best Books of the year last year, according to the New York Times Book Review. The love story centers on a young man and woman from Nigeria “who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.” We’re looking forward to seeing how the project develops. [The Root]
Two weeks ago, women incarcerated at Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona staged a hunger strike. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who runs the jail, told media that the women were striking over the all-vegetarian meals being served. His direct quote was actually: "They ought to shut up and eat what they have, they happen to be in jail and I'm the sheriff and I'm the chief chef I decide what they eat.” Spinning the women's actions as just a knee-jerk response to having to eat vegetarian food helps turn a serious hunger strike into a punchline.
Netflix's Orange Is The New Black debuted at a perfect time for numerous reasons—we were starving, really, for a racially diverse female-driven show unafraid to tackle queer and transgender narratives.
But the timing is particularly perfect politically, because now more than ever the shameful, counterproductive, racially biased and monumentally expensive criminal justice system deserves national interrogation, and this show could potentially help move that conversation forward.
In 1923, 17-year-old Carrie Buck was raped and impregnated. Her adoptive family, trying to avoid the public shame of having an unwed mother in their midst, had her committed to an institution for the "feeble minded." Because she was supposedly "feeble-minded" and the daughter of an unwed mother herself, the State of Virginia sought to sterilize her and, in 1927, the Supreme Court ruled in its favor.
One would think we've come a long way since 1927. But apparently we haven't.