We’re happy to say things are moving at a good pace for our collective, bringing two new members onboard and soliciting pieces for the fourth volume of Propter Nos. Our periodical publication brings together Black and revolutionary abolitionist theorists, creative writers, poets, artists, scholar activists, and grassroots community organizers. You can check out the first three issues of PN >>here <<
Our last issue meditated on questions regarding a “negative” orientation to theory and practice, devoting attention to the poetics and framing work of the “anti-” and the “non” in Black Studies, Gender Studies, critical theory and abolitionist activist scholarship. It was a push to steal time for this project, however PN 3 did make the rounds at several bookstores in Chicago. The publication was furthermore distributed at zine fests and non-academic conferences during the summer and is circulating in prisons and a few jails around the country. PN also was included in the catalog of some anarchist distros, with orders taken from a few radical collectives in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, South Africa, and England.
Stevie Wilson, whose writing on prisoner study groups appears in our last issue of PN, was just interviewed by our friends Rustbelt Abolition Radio, who a member of ours had the pleasure of meeting at Bend the Bars in Lansing this summer. The interview can be downloaded here 👈, but is embedded below:
Stevie and one of our editors is working on a new abolitionist publication, tentatively entitled Inside/Out, which will primarily feature imprisoned artists, writers, theorists, and organizers, as well as news updates on the prisoner movement from inside. Related to this periodical, there is a historical anthology called Queer in Here: the Writing and Art of Queer and Trans Prisoners in the works.
In other news, we will be self-publishing Don’t Worship Anybody, Not Even Me: The Selected Writings of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin—Black Revolutionary Community Organizer, possibly with a university press imprint. If the latter is the case, we are looking for complete autonomy with the creative content and in editorial process. It is not your typical university press printed book of academic scholarship, but it is an incredibly important (and provocative) set of scholarly texts that should be treated as archival materials, as theory, or more holistically as living “praxis” in the anarchist, abolitionist, and Black radical traditions. That is, Lorenzo’s theorizing is linked to over four decades of concrete practical experience in movements for Black liberation from the 1960s onward.
True Leap Press is a radical publishing collective based in Chicago, with active members in New York and Los Angeles as well. The current open projects of the group are divided between our publication of Black studies and revolutionary abolitionist analysis and commentary, Propter Nos, currently edited by three members of the group, and a growing zine-to-prison distro, ran currently by one member, with the support and mentorship of imprisoned abolitionist activists, organizers, writers, and artists around the country. We have been operative as a collective since the release of our journal in 2016.
We are constantly looking for funders and donations to keep our zine-to-prison distro afloat and sustain our inside-outside organizing work, which includes a wide range of expenses including: cost of mailing/packaging zines and maintaining correspondence (snail mail, Jpay, ConnectNet), supporting comrades inside with commissary and funds for the phones during crisis and emergencies, making photo-copies of our journal for easier distribution inside and other special printing tasks.
Our distro operator currently is the outside facilitator for over a dozen different “PIC Abolition” study groups around the country, and several existing groups of imprisoned abolitionists have begun to borrowing from our materials. Our catalog, which has been sent alongside this proposal, details the materials we send in. The content we provide comrades inside—all at no charge for the recipient—include photo-copied and zine-published educational materials on such topics as the prison industrial complex, abolition, prison movement history, transformative justice, Black Studies, Native Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, anarchist theory, organizer’s toolkits, jailhouse lawyers guides and legal handbooks, catalogs from books-through-bars groups, and other informational resources. Our literature is also circulated by grassroots organizations like Chicago Books to Women in Prison and the South Chicago ABC Zine Distro.
Our biggest expense is mailing supplies and postage, which has cost roughly $100-$300 dollars every month. Stamps alone most months decimate the fragile pot we pull from. We currently have several imprisoned activists whose communication our distro operator funds out of pocket. Prison activist collaborators that we are publically sharing right now include Stephen Wilson (Fayette) and Kijana Tashiri Askari (Vacaville). We supply expenses for art supplies for Heriberto “Sharky” Garcia (New Folsom) and Steven Levy (Mule Creek) as well, whose art we have used across multiple zines. We also have a running list of queer prisoners in Illinois, who reached out in 2017 via Black and Pink, and people incarcerated at women’s facilities in several states, who we hope to begin sending materials to more regularly as funding becomes more readily available.
The 50+ members of The W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program, a Black/New Afrikan prison activist mentorship project led by Tashiri Askari would receive materials more regularly if we were funded properly. The W.L.N.M.P. has suffered many growing pains this last year from our failure to attain adequate funding; some members have not even received a copy of the group guidebook yet. Hopefully this will change. Members of the group Jailhouse Lawyers Speak have been organizing in pockets around the country drawing upon our materials, however we need more funding in order to sustain the requests that are coming in nationally from interested “open members.”
Our biggest project as of lately however will be building back up a network of study groups with Stephen Wilson, recently transferred from SCI Smithfield to SCI Fayette. In the middle of this past summer, prior to Stevie’s censorship, removal from gen pop into an RHU, and transfer to another part of the state, there were approximately 80 people participating actively in four different abolitionist study groups at Smithfield. Stevie held this formation together, and the network inside Smithfield started gravitating toward becoming a mutual aid network and inside/outside direct action group just prior to his becoming a target by administrators (record of our work at Smithfield can be found at http://www.abolitioniststudy.group). Now at Fayette, we are at work building up the grounds for a similar formation. We have a Patreon account for the project which brings in $150 dollars a month that we then put on Stevie’s books. Some more funding would be helpful here as well.
If you could find it in your hearts to donate for operating costs, for sustaining our mailing for ten months of mailing, postage, stamps, and for general distribution to prisoners for political education and information justice you can send donations directly through PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or become a sustainer for the study group network at https://www.patreon.com/abolitioniststudy.
Our average monthly budget is approx:
– $200 mailing/postage/stamps, general distro
– $150 for projects with Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition (network)
– $100 for projects with W.L.N.M.P. (network – outside ran)
– $50 monthly for special printing requests
Thank you for taking the time to read about our fight this past year. Your support is greatly and humbly appreciated!