Bending the Arc: My Journey from Prison to Politics | BIPoC Affinity Group

Bending the Arc: My Journey from Prison to Politics | BIPoC Affinity Group


Apr 20, 2023 - May 20, 2023    
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Resource Center for Nonviolence
612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060

Event Type

The Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) presents a series of antiracism book circles as an act of radical education and collaboration.

**Due to the fact that Black and Brown people make up the majority of incarcerated (many likely wrongfully so), this book circle will be available to Black and Brown people exclusively. We greatly appreciate the support of our allies who are not BIPOC, and invite you to procure the book and create discussion around the topic of the injustice prison complex system and its wrongful persecution of the global majority.**

Date/Time: Thursdays 5–7pm | 4/20, 4/27, 5/11, 5/18, and 6/01

Location: In-person | RCNV 612 Ocean St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Group Facilitator Madonna Camel

I am a local African American Artist and graduate of UCSC. I recently retired from UC BERKELEY after 32 years of service in the field of Social Behavioral Research. I have co authored and published technical papers on qualitative data collection outcomes impacting transportation and end user access. A major component of my research included conducting focus groups with self selected as well as targeted respondents from various backgrounds.

Book Description

A searing exposé of the profound failures in our justice system, told by a woman who has journeyed from wrongfully accused prisoner to acclaimed public defender

Keeda Haynes was a Girl Scout and a churchgoer, but after college graduation, she was imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. Her boyfriend had asked her to sign for some packages—packages she did not know were filled with marijuana. As a young Black woman falsely accused, prosecuted, and ultimately imprisoned, Haynes suffered the abuses of our racist and sexist justice system. But rather than give in to despair, she decided to fight for change. After her release, she attended law school at night, became a public defender, and ultimately staged a highly publicized campaign for Congress. At every turn of her unlikely story, she gives unique insights into the inequities built into our institutions. In the end, despite the injustice she endured, she emerges convinced that ours can become a true second-chance culture.

About RCNV Antiracism Book Circles

RCNV aims to spread love and eradicate hate by helping to dismantle all forms of supremacy as the first step in creating a just and joyful future for all.

As part of this effort, our volunteer-facilitated online book circles offer participants from our region and around the world courageous spaces to help one another engage in transformative antiracist, equity-focussed learning.

Antiracist conversations can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Strong feelings can arise as a natural part of the process. Antiracism Book Circles are an opportunity to learn how to navigate and support one another as we move through transforming racism, patriarchy, and all forms of bias from the inside out. With support from RCNV staff, volunteer facilitators cultivate inclusivity, mutual respect, and collaborative learning.

This program is offered on a donation basis. Funds go to support the work of RCNV and cover administrative costs. Any amount is highly appreciated, traditionally we suggest $25 per person or more for those wishing to grant space to others, but any donation amount is accepted and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

After you register and as our circle start date nears, your facilitator(s) will reach out with more details. We look forward to having this journey together.

Affinity Groups

Due to the sensitive racial nature of the books offered, we sometimes offer separate affinity groups to respect the process of participants and to provide more safety and depth for those individuals identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPoC).

Mixed-race individuals are welcome to join affinity groups matching their self-identification.

Possible Discussion Topics for Each Week:

Week 1: April 20, 2023

  1. Introductions to the group
  2. Share initial impressions in relation to what you have read and/or heard about the book and the author’s story
  3. Outline the ‘rules of engagement’
  4. Share, if comfortable, personal experience(s) with the criminal justice system

Week 2: April 27, 2023

  1. Encourage group discussion and enumeration of general, overarching themes in the book (i.e. racism, sexism, industrial prison complex, prison) as the ‘modern plantation’, public defenders, like Ms. Haynes, as conductors of the new ‘underground railroad’.
  2. What are the similarities?
  3. What roles do class and privilege that come with it play in Ms. Haynes ‘journey’.

Week 3: May 11, 2023

  1. Encourage group discussion of comparisons between their personal experience(s) with the industrial prison complex and Ms. Hayne’s experience.
  2. Deeper dive into the specific themes that raised questions.
  3. What are/were those questions and to what extent, if any, are the questions resolved for the reader.
  4. Tell your story. What was your journey?

Week 4: May 18, 2023

  1. To what extent are you motivated and/or encouraged by the author’s journey? In what ways?
  2. How do you imagine the plan playing out in real life?
  3. What are the motivating factors?
  4. What are the resources and support systems?

Week 5: June 01, 2023

  1. Is Keeda Haynes a heroine or an opportunist?
  2. How can a system such as that described in the book be changed?
  3. Can it be changed for all or only the few who have the resources?
  4. Where do we go from here?
  5. What questions remain for you?
  6. What challenges remain for the system?
  7. Unstructured conversation about the discussions to this point.
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