An open letter from Maria Butina to Angela Davis, edited for readability

Pricey Professor Davis,

Pricey Angela,

My title is Maria Butina, I’m a member of the Russian parliament. Nonetheless, I’m scripting this open letter to you not as a state official, not at the same time as a Russian citizen.

I’m writing to you as a human being, as a girl, as a sister who has been by way of the identical expertise as you. I used to be an inmate in an American jail for 15 months and 10 days, and I promised to your black incarcerated sisters to jot down this letter personally to you.

I don’t need to discuss politics or political concepts. Even my case, consider or not, doesn’t matter proper now. What actually issues is the horrible circumstances during which your black sisters are struggling proper now in prisons and jails throughout the US.

I’ve been by way of the entire hell of the CCB (Central Cell Block) in Washington, DC – strains and features of iron-cold and concrete cells the place poor girls scream in ache all evening by way of, the place we sang your black gospel songs collectively so the screaming wouldn’t harm an excessive amount of. You, Angela, know that they don’t even give girls pads, so all of the metallic partitions are lined with menstrual blood. You recognize, I’m certain, that there isn’t any consuming water within the cells and probably the most one can get for breakfast, lunch and dinner is a sandwich of baloney, two slices of cheese, two little cookies, and ketchup on the facet. We needed to share this “meal,” two of us, with my bunkie since they simply forgot to present her one. 

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Angela, these girls have been always begging for assist, however nobody listens to their voices. They, Ms. Davis, are dreaming of plea bargains, since there isn’t any different probability for them to get out. They comply with plead responsible to something in these circumstances, they’d confess to something, even loopy and infamous crimes. And the prosecutors are comfortable to take these “voluntary” pleas. They don’t care who is actually responsible and who will not be. They simply need to clear their lovely, American-dream streets of these they don’t like. The poor black individuals. They don’t need to hear what led them to be homeless, begging for meals and cash on these streets. They don’t need to clear up the issue. They’re vacuum-cleaning the streets, throwing these in want in jail cells to work there for pennies. That is the America nobody ought to see and nobody ought to discuss. I promised my fellow inmates that I might to seek out you and make clear what’s going on. I promised that to your sisters who’ve turn into mine, too.

I’m within the minority, properly, mainly, I’m the one one right here in Russia who is aware of for certain that BLM is actual. Sure, it’s. Sure, in fashionable America. This isn’t a political sport, as many on the planet and in my nation, sadly, too, need to see it. Like, , Republicans’ and Democrats’ video games. No. That is actual and I’ve been speaking about this all over the place I may – within the media, on social networks, on TV. Sadly, I may solely do it in Russia, as a result of within the US they actually shut my mouth so properly, nobody may hear the reality. Let me provide you with an instance. Lesley Stahl got here to do an interview with me in jail and later after my launch in Moscow. On digital camera, I instructed her every part in regards to the discrimination that I witnessed towards black girls in jail. However, guess what? They merely reduce this half out of the 60 Minutes present. I attempted to publish my ebook Jail Diary within the US the place I wrote in regards to the difficulty as properly. Guess what? Nobody was desirous about publishing it.

Nonetheless, I’ll hold attempting, Angela. I promised my sisters that I might put the reality out.

Black individuals within the US don’t have anything like equality, nothing like equal rights – they’ve lived in ghettos for years, so they’re residing in the identical nightmare at present. I gained’t even use the phrase ghetto in quotes, as a result of I actually imply ghetto. These poor neighborhoods of, for instance, the southeast of Washington, DC, are similar to ghettos.

I’ve to admit, Angela, I’ve been on the opposite facet. Me and my American boyfriend, in addition to his white mates, laughed at black individuals, saying their poverty was the results of their laziness, and their lack of ability to learn fluently was linked to a scarcity of psychological capability to study in addition to white individuals.

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I used to be mistaken. And ending up in jail to see how mistaken I had been was a blessing. God gave me an opportunity to see the reality. God gave me an opportunity to see with my very own eyes what’s going on behind these partitions. God gave me the prospect to turn into a well-known particular person. God gave me a platform to talk publicly. And it could be a real crime for me to remain silent now.

You’ll in all probability ask me, Why now?

It has been precisely three years since I used to be launched. As I discussed earlier, I wrote a ebook in Russian during which I talked about all of the hardships that black persons are residing by way of in prisons. I additionally wrote that, regardless of the hell round them, they all the time stayed so type, beneficiant and good to me, saving their humanity by way of madness. They, your black sisters, who have been the bulk in ADC, VA, the place I served my time for the primary ten months, knew that I used to be Russian however they couldn’t have cared much less about this. They couldn’t have cared much less what my crime was. They liked me, they helped me simply as sisters do, as people ought to. They taught me to hope once I forgot the phrases of prayer, they gave me garments once I was freezing in a solitary cell, they gave me meals once I hadn’t any cash, they gave me water once I was dying of thirst. They modified me from a pure righty to a pure lefty, studying {that a} authorities’s duty is to assist these in want. The market’s invisible hand doesn’t work.

In merely a month, you will have the midterms in america. I’ve been following the agenda very intently within the hope of seeing that one or different political social gathering would take note of the US prisons however sadly I don’t hear any voices talking about it. You’re the hope for all of us. The hope for all these girls in jail cells on their bunks.

Sadly, within the upcoming midterms, the candidates are centered on pure political populism – they’re speaking about more cash for overseas army campaigns, toying with one another over political photographs, making tons of claims, empty guarantees and declarations, saying how they do care about minorities and races equally. However all this seems like vocal populism, Angela. Watching all this, I ponder how, let’s say, kissing somebody’s sneakers and kneeling down on digital camera close to black individuals actually helps even one little woman or boy residing in a poor neighborhood ghetto with none actual entry to a very good college, nutritious meals, a very good home, or a good revenue for mother and pop?! They fail to handle not simply jail circumstances; they keep completely silent as to what truly leads black individuals to have their households ruined when one of many dad and mom goes to jail for years and years, and why then their youngsters are successfully destined to be locked up subsequent?! They faux to not learn about “three hots and a cot,” as inmates round me used to say after they felt fortunate… gosh, they actually meant it – to be fortunate to finish up in jail – since they’ve by no means had an opportunity of creating ends meet, of incomes sufficient cash to outlive. That is the problem they really want to handle – actual inequality is when you don’t have any probability of elevating your youngsters, giving them a very good schooling, discovering a very good job with a good wage. They create a facade of combating for racial rights however do nothing to essentially win the battle for equality.

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Angela, you see that I’m writing from the depth of my coronary heart. I’m addressing you, since you will have turn into a logo for hundreds of thousands of incarcerated females, whose lives have been ruined, who’ve been led to medication, stealing and prostitution to outlive. Please be our hope, please elevate your voice repeatedly. There may be only a month left earlier than the midterms. Please push them to look into the disagreeable, disgusting darkness of jail cells and study the real-life tales of the ladies there. Make them face this drawback and alter the nation for the higher.

I will likely be all the time at your service to assist our minority sisters in want, as as soon as they helped me to get by way of a nightmare.

I consider in gentle, however I additionally consider that to be able to get there, all of us have to undergo the darkish occasions of combating.

Sorry for my language. English will not be my native language, however these phrases are honest.

Greatest regards,

Maria Butina

My cellphone: +74956924501

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