January. Such a paradoxical month, isn’t it? At the same time that I’m raring to start fresh and forge ahead, I’m tempted to cozy up, hunker down, and nap through the duration. You too?
In the spirit of embracing both sides of the January coin, here’s a make-believe that makes room for a little bit of both. Dangly earrings alongside a cozy sweatshirt. A fresh calendar alongside a new novel. A pink tea and yellow pillows and a fluorescent pencil, cause we’ve got months to go before there are blossoms on the trees and a little bit of color might help us get to the other side.
A salmon-colored sweatshirt for a bit of rosy cheer.
Bright yellow pillows for channeling the sun.
A print magazine about a warmer place.
In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, here are a few things we might do to help folks in far greater need this January.:
To comfort a prisoner: Send a letter. Become a penpal with an LGBTQI prisoner through The Prisoner Correspondence Project. By starting correspondence with an incarcerated person, you can make a prisoner feel less isolated and more emotionally supported. The Prison Correspondence Project’s resource library provides important information about healthcare in prison, information about safe sex and HIV/AIDS, and resource guides for minorities like this guide for incarcerated Native Americans that can be printed and sent to incarcerated penpals. For more information on LGBTQI issues faced in prison, read Coming Out of Concrete Closets.
To support formerly and currently incarcerated women: Donate to organizations doing the hard work. Justice Now supports people in women’s prisons, working to end incarceration and gendered violence in the justice system. They provide legal advocacy services to incarcerated women in California, especially in support of women facing terminal illness and other medical crises. You can support their cause by donating here. For formerly incarcerated women re-entering society after imprisonment, A New Way of Life helps folks find permanent housing, enroll in educational and training programs, rebuild relationships with their children, and apply for jobs. You can donate to A New Way of Life right here.
To keep folks out of jail: Pay bail. The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund raises money that contributes to a “revolving community bail fund” to pay bail for New Yorkers. The inability to afford bail keeps people in jail as they are awaiting trial, whether they are guilty or not. In order be released from jail as they are awaiting trial, many plead guilty, harming families that are already struggling. When it comes down to it, this organization ensures that “the right to a fair trial is not dependent on your ability to pay bail.” To support this cause, donate here.
To stay informed: Open your laptop and turn on your radio. The Life Inside series by The Marshall Project, features first-person essays written by people who have first-hand experience in the criminal justice system, whether they are imprisoned or working with the imprisoned. Likewise, the podcast Ear Hustle shares “stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny and always honest” about life inside the American prison system.
Many thanks to Anna Jacobs for contributing editorial research for this post.