Introduction (a message from ya’iyr)

A brief message from Ya’iyr.
Video transcript:
hey everybody i want to invite you to join us in recognizing those who came before us in the fight for freedom. we’re gonna brush up on our history & celebrate the ancestors & we’re gonna turn up our workouts. so let’s come together, we’re doing it all in community & solidarity. those of us behind the wall want you all out there to join our tradition & commemorate Black August with us. check out the pieces & leave a comment & we’re gonna share our thoughts with you. so join the Black August Solidarity Cypher. this is the movement.


“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Frederick Douglass, 1857


Peace to you, Relatives & Comrades! Welcome to the BLACK AUGUST SOLIDARITY CYPHER! We behind the wall thank you for joining us as we come together to recognize our elders and elevate the movement to the next level.

We know that Social Justice can only be approached by dismantling the status quo — and it won’t be easy. But we believe the power of LOVE & SOLIDARITY will overcome oppression, so what better way to do our part than to BREAK WALLS, TEAR DOWN FENCES & LEARN TOGETHER?

Black August is an important time for many people in prison & our supporters on the outside. This year we wanted to share the tradition with as many folks as possible, so with some collective creativity, this site was born!


What is Black August?

Every year during August we recognize those who fought & sacrificed in the struggle for Black Liberation. Those freedom fighters & political prisoners who chose to resist racial oppression charted a path, and left legacies, which should never be forgotten.

This tradition began in 1979 in San Quentin state prison as a commemoration of the deaths of Jonathan P. Jackson (died 08.07.1970), and his brother George L. Jackson (died 08.21.1971). These two brothers laid down their lives for their people, yet they are often overlooked when Black Histories are told. So Black August is not another Black History Month. It is more like a Histories of Black Resistance Month. It’s a time of fasting, strengthening ourselves and studying.

We can do these things individually (and many do because of forced isolation, or solitary confinement). But in the spirit of comradeship, solidarity and communalism, we encourage doing one, or all of them, with another person, or group of people and acknowledge the interconnectedness of our struggles.


Fasting, Exercise, and Political Education

A message from Ya’iyr about the practice of fasting and working out together during Black August.
Video transcript:
when it comes to fasting for Black August it’s not only about discipline & bringing the body under submission of the mind & the will. this is also a form of resistance & self empowerment. in prison there’s times when the overseers get petty & try to use food deprivation as punishment. you might be in the hole & somehow get on their bad side. you might not even know how or why. so they skip by your cell at mealtime leaving you hungry. they’re messing with your head. but if you’re accustomed to fasting, you’re already prepared to do with out. you know your body’s strength & resilience. the oppressor can’t get in your head so he can’t break you. i see a parallel between this power dynamic & the relationship you folks out there have as consumers at the mercy of corporations. it’s interesting that while most people struggled during the early months of the pandemic the richest of the rich unexpectedly made billions in extra profits. did they pass along any of that wealth (to employees & consumers?) did it “trickle down?” now I keep hearing about inflation & possible recession & those rich corporations are raising prices. it’s not just exploitation it’s oppression & it looks like they’re punishing folks for organizing unions & demanding higher pay. i’m sure they would say “it’s not that simple” even though the results are the same. maybe it’s just a coincidence that during every crisis the rich & the powerful get richer & more powerful. and they couldn’t care less about the folks who are hungry. how do we take back our power? first we have to recognize that those who flex their power over us are not our friends. then we have to look within ourselves to find ways to stop being so dependent on them. even if we have to make some sacrifices. resistance is about discipline & sacrifice. that’s the spirit of Black August.


“You cannot claim equality with a person who provides your daily meals.”

Akan Proverb

Many people use fasting as a means to lose weight. But in this time, ours is preparation and not vanity. We fast to practice discipline & how to thrive in a state of deprivation. By learning how to function in this state, we become unbreakable. Those without self-discipline will eventually be disciplined by someone else. Ptahhotep once said, “He who is ruled by his appetite belongs to the enemy.”

With resistance comes sacrifice. And we preempt our oppressor by sacrificing the satisfaction of our appetites (which the oppressor frequently uses to try to oppress us). Customarily, in prison we choose a fast from sunrise to sunset. Some abstain from food, water, TV, music and other comforts. Some choose a twelve hour fast, say from 7am-7pm. Some choose to eat just once per day. The dates of August 7th and August 21st hold special importance and are recognized by extending the fast. Consider what fasting commitment you want to make and proceed with a warrior’s spirit!



“The one nearest the enemy, in pursuit, is the real leader.

– Ganda Proverb

We exercise to strengthen our bodies in coordination with our comrades. It promotes health and solidarity. It will make no difference when we gain our liberation if we are not fit enough to enjoy it – or defend it. Develop a workout program with a partner, or a group, and attack it with a warrior’s spirit!

Here are some workout routines shared by comrades on the inside:



“An educator in a state of oppression is either a revolutionary or himself an oppressor.”

– Lerone Bennet Jr.

We have been brainwashed. We are programmed to regurgitate the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and xenophobic ideologies that keep us divided and oppressed. In order to decolonize and reclaim our minds, we must free them by consuming the necessary information (tools) needed for resistance. We must grow intellectually. We must know the depths of that which harms us so that we do not replicate that which we seek to free ourselves from.

This is why political education is important. We welcome you once again as we elevate our collective consciousness. Let us push forward together in the spirit of the ancestors who began the journey so long ago.


5 thoughts on “Introduction (a message from ya’iyr)

  1. I was raised muslim and so I fasted sometimes during Ramadan. When I did, it meant something profound to me and I felt spritually fulfilled in it. After reading this, I feel motivated to fast again because there is a beauty, fullfilment, and critical strategic importance to be found in “thriving in a state of deprivation”


    1. from Ya’iyr to March, I think there is something profound in your words about fasting & fulfillment. we are hungry but we are not empty. we are not eating but we are feeding ourselves


    2. from Craig – Hey March, I’m glad you brought up fasting. It’s been such an integral part of Black August for me because it adds a very physical element to the experience. One of the benefits of being a white male in our society is that I don’t have to be part of the marginalized if I don’t want to be. The second I leave prison I could put on some khaki pants and a collared shirt with an alligator emblem, show up in your town, and everyone would give me the benefit of access, the benefit of community, and the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to slip into the comforts that whiteness and maleness provides and forget that the privilege I have shouldn’t be a privilege – it should be the way all people experience life. And when those hunger pangs hit at work or when I’m in the yard, they grab me and carry my thoughts back to the people whose skin or gender or faith practice or income level makes it impossible for them to have a moments rest. The fasting transports be into their struggle for peace and calls me to make it my own.


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