The increase in the African women prison population is an attack on the African nation

Throughout the month of March, feminists celebrate ‘International Women’s History Month’ but fail miserably to mention some of the major issues facing African women. The ‘achievements’ of white women, along with petty bourgeois Negro women, are held in high regard, while ignoring the fact that most of these so-called achievements are made at the expense of poor and working class African women.

In fact, African women continue to be criminalized for so-called ‘crimes’ (like braiding hair without a license) and demoralized by the same system that celebrates the likes of Oprah Winfrey and other neocolonialists who sold out the African working class for a piece of the parasitic capitalist pie. 

Meanwhile, African women are more likely to go to prison in the U.S. than any other place on Earth. Here in the U.S., we are incarcerated at four times the rate of white women, making us disproportionately represented in the women’s prison population inside the U.S. 

According to reports made in 2003 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in every 18 African women will go to prison in our lifetime. This is far greater than the rates for white women, whose rates are 1 in 111 women. And even as they are still imprisoned on so-called reservations, the Indigenous women’s prison rate is 1 out of every 45. 

Simply put, African women—just like the rest of the African nation—are under attack!

Attacks on the African family

Not only are we being pushed into prisons at a rapidly growing rate, once we are in the prisons, we are at the mercy of the State and there is no telling what can happen to us.

The State has even been engaging in modern day eugenics by sterilizing imprisoned African women without consent. It was revealed that nearly 150 women prisoners in California were forcibly sterilized between 2006 and 2016—most of them African.

With the imprisonment of African women, the State continues to fracture the African family. We are removed from our children and the rest of our communities, and removed from any means of raising resources to feed, clothe and house ourselves.

Instead, we are forced to uphold parasitic capitalism by working for major corporations—for just pennies a day—that won’t even think to hire us once we are released from prison and sent back to the streets.

We are funneled into a life in the illegal economy characterized by theft, drugs and prostitution that will only see us dead or right back into the prison cells—just as the State plans.

Additionally, our African children suffer from traumatic experiences of having a parent ripped from the home or forcibly placed into the foster care system, where they are abused and set into a downward spiral. This phenomenon is overlooked in the ‘conscious communities,’ which poses a stark contradiction.

African women can’t be ignored!

As one-half of the African nation, any attack on African women is an attack on the entire African nation. The fact that African men are also forced into the prison system is not a lesser contradiction, but there is a lack of emphasis when the State attacks African women. This must be brought to the forefront.

Point 6 of the African People’s Socialist Party’s (APSP) platform states, “We want the immediate and unconditional release of all black people who are presently locked down in U.S. prisons.” This includes imprisoned African women.

Our African sisters in prison must be brought into political life through African Internationalism, to understand the colonial contradictions that placed them there. Such an understanding allows for political organization––even behind bars––towards winning power over our own lives. 

African women must organize! 

As understood by the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO), there is no such thing as women in general––white women do not face the kinds of oppression and contradictions that African women face. 

‘International Women’s History Month’—and by extension the feminist movement—did not and will not speak to our specific issues bred from the colonization, attack and division of Africa by Europe. Only African Internationalism will.

The core philosophy of ANWO states, “We believe that a fundamental test of the progressive or revolutionary character of any organization, party, movement, or society is its commitment, confirmed in practice, to the destruction of the special oppression of women and the elevation of women to the rightful place as equal partners and leaders in the forward motion of the development of human society and as leaders, makers, and shapers of human history.”

Our struggle as African women must not be separate from our struggle as African people. 

Sponsor a woman prisoner that  you know by providing them a subscription to The Burning Spear newspaper. Our sisters on lock down can participate in and stay connected to the African Liberation struggle through the powerful pages of The Spear. Visit today!

Join the struggle to bring African women into political life by joining African National Women Organization at

Touch one! Touch all!

Defend African women!



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