The Secret US Prisons You’ve Never Heard of Before


Worth noting: “CMUs” self-contained housing units, black holes, an abbreviation for communication management unit. These spaces, a “prison within a prison” where prisoners are kept for an undisclosed amount of time, denied physical contact with their family, and closely held under surveillance. A CMU is where animal-rights activists are also held by authorities as “balancers” to the high number of Muslim (Brown and Black men) contained here. The men are the surplus from more than one walk of life, contained out of fear they have the potential to commit crime – personally choosing not to distinguish and politicize acts of terror from criminalization. In this extra-judicial space. African American studies professor, Naomi Murakawa, in a piece posits, “the U.S. did not confront a crime problem that was then racialized; it confronted a race problem that was then criminalized.” She is speaking of course of contemporary and historic US race relations and the prison-industrial complex. So much of our discussion in class mentions or can be related to the Arab Mind and a complex argument over what pathologies have been embedded into the American/Western imagination created for the sake of proliferating intervention into “Brown countries” and how much is actually true. I am asking, does Murakawa apply, are US Black/white race problems analogous?

Perhaps we can assume this is the case. In Murakawa’s research she contends such radicalized pathologies have formed uneven (even brutal) conceptualizations of Blackness and Black bodies. Reading Black bodies as inherently criminal has been one of those ways. In the same way we must confront our domestic anti-Blackness, it would be wise and in line with Murakawa to confront our global perceptions of Blackness. When terror rhetoric begins, the face of this imaginary is not an American, not a woman, not white. This face is Brown, his names is (mis)spelled in Arabic, and the garments laid over his body, whether the photo is accurate or an sketch artists interpretation is of a style distinct from the West. Such is an example of anti-Blackness we must consider and also consider what justifies any form of intervention, occupation, or presence in a country the US should have no claim to.

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