This self-interview was conducted by a member of our Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) in 2012, and describes the power that SRLP’s prison newsletter In Solidarity has for those behind bars who identify as LGB and/or T. Read on to learn more about this amazing PAC member!
with Synthia China Blast, Daughter of Oshun.
Where I grew up:
I was born and raised in the South Bronx. However, since age 15 I have been raised in “Prison.” In fact, since age 16 I have only been home once in 1993 for 3 months. I’ve been in prison ever since. I’m 38 years “young.”
How long have you been a PAC Member?
I’ve been a PAC member since the first day it started. I joined PAC because I have so much love, respect, for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. For Ms. Rivera (RIP) herself. And, for all the Collective Members who I’ve come to know. This is a fact; I am a Political Transgender Woman/Prisoner. I strongly support the rights of LGBT brothers and sisters in the community who are imprisoned also. They may not live in a cage 23 to 24 hours a day like I do year after year with no fellow-prisoner contact but, they too face the constant torment that LGBT prisoners face in here. Lack of adequate medical care. Abusive and evasive treatment by law enforcement officials. Denial of basic human rights. The freedom to live amongst the “straight” society without fear of retaliation. As a whole, in or out of prison, we all suffer. My membership consists of one voice. I want my voice to be heard. I want my dreams to matter. I want people to know who I am because tomorrow is not promised. As a PAC member I’ve helped my sisters in here. Ms. Rusty, a darling daughter in my eyes, Ms. Jessica Brooks, Bianca, Jackie, Todd, etc., know that I have embraced and loved them as my own blood/kin. Being a part of PAC is not only doing a project that SRLP asks you to do. It’s a way of life. It’s how you carry and conduct yourself in here [“Prison”]. We each have to be an example for one another. We are “minorities” in here. If you’re part of PAC then you’re either directly or indirectly a part of the LGBT family. In prison we have constant threats that seek to humiliate us, e.g., gangs, guards, and selected religious organizations run by prisoners. When we see each other in prison we must learn how to embrace each other with love and respect. We must not be jealous of each other. We must not turn our backs on each other because of race or other reasons. In my eyes you are beautiful. I love you just as you are. You’re a part of my family. Our family. Our home began with the SRLP but, ends with us. So when I’m asked why did I join PAC? I smile because I didn’t join anything. I found my family.
Sacred Sounds of Santeria (Rhythms of Orishas) and (Rhythms of the Goddess), By: Raul Canizares
El Cantante (Feat. Jennifer Lopez as Puchi Lavoe and Marc Anthony as Hector Lavoe)
The Dilloggun (The Orishas, Proverbs, Sacrifices, and Prohibitions of Cuban Santeria), By: Ocha Ni’Lele
I am presently writing a small “booklet” on my life. All that I have suffered. I will complete it soon and forward it to the SRLP so that they can make it into small packets to send out to all PAC members and have copies available to SRLP members. I want people to know me better so they might understand what it’s like being in prison. I can’t wait to have it finished and mailed in. My hope is that someone reads it and learns from my mistakes.
As a Santeria Priestess I’m also perfecting another language (Yoruba). It helps me in my religious growth.
Finally, I’m working on coming home because I live for the day that I can retire my PAC membership and become a SRLP Collective Member or Volunteer. The SRLP is my family now. I intend to be around until my God (“Olorun-Olodumare”) calls for me.