For My Sisters and the Burden We Share

This is the first zine I read from zinelibrary.info, which has free zines that you can print out yourself.  It was published by the Kids-A-Part Program, a program which provides education, advocacy, and direct service for children and families affected by a parent’s incarceration.  This zine compiles stories from mothers who are incarcerated.  The mothers write about how they miss their children, how they wish they could’ve done things differently, and sometimes how nothing will ever change for them.  Some will get out soon, and some won’t get out for a long time.  They all write with regret, more than a tinge of bitterness, and the feeling that their heart has been ripped out.  Reading this zine was very emotional and touching.  One woman writes about how she was dealing drugs because she wanted her kids to have all these nice things like new Jordans or a cute outfit.  She has since realized that people matter more than things, and her children would rather have their mother with them than all of the new shoes in the world.  The imagery of the mom putting her kids into a friend’s car, buckling them into their car seats, and kissing them goodbye as they asked why she wasn’t coming with them, and then having her friend drive away so her children wouldn’t see her get arrested, was heartbreaking.

I am a huge advocate of prison reform, so this zine especially spoke to me.  The stories demonstrated the unconditional love of a mother, and many of the women were incarcerated for things they did because they wanted to improve the lives of their children.  Although they did break the law, many were misguided; and perhaps had no other option, or felt like they had no other option, in their environment.  I feel that the best solution to this problem is not to incarcerate people like this.  These stories reinforced my belief in the need for change in our prison system and our society.

One thing that I thought was creative and unique, but also made it somewhat difficult to read at times, was the fact that some of the entries were written in “spiral” form, when the words are written around the border of a page or around an object so you have to continuously turn the paper to read the sentences.  Kinda made me dizzy.  I did like, however, that all of the entries, although centered on the common theme of incarceration, were very different in content and presentation, which allowed the creativity and personalities of the women to shine through.  However, because of the content material of this zine, after finishing it, I was not inspired or uplifted, as some endings of zines with darker themes may end, but I was left with a hollow feeling for these poor mothers and their children who also have to suffer for a crime they did not commit.

-Sentaniz Palmer

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