BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Sunday, September 27, 2015

From Trauma to Hope: How One Initiative Is Transforming Prisons

Image result for watchdog california prisonsThis is the second article in a three-part series on mass incarceration and the Church. Previously, we discussed how a variety of discriminatory factors converge to put millions of people behind bars, a disproportionate number of whom are our black and brown citizens. Here, we examine one organization’s attempt to bring redemption to a broken system.

Prison can feel like a forgotten place. A place where we send our broken and unwanted to hide them away from the nation’s consciousness. For so many, it is a place of trauma, of retribution, that only adds to a lifetime of hurt. But what if instead, prisons were a place of redemption, a place of hope? What if prison became a beacon of God’s love, not just to those living there, but to the world?

These are some of the questions that the Horizon Prison Initiative tries to answer. 

Horizon grew out of the Kairos Prison Ministry when several leaders saw the opportunity to expand beyond a brief three-day encounter into a more in-depth program that could build lasting relationships to truly transform lives. They found that “removing your inner scarring and resentments toward yourself and others is not a simple process; it is achieved in a 24/7 year-long living, learning, and loving environment.”

Image result for Hands through prison bars with the quote: "poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.” -Chris Hedges
After an initial launch in Florida, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Hunsaker says the program expanded to Ohio when a compassionate warden saw the importance of faith communities within prison walls. Horizon aimed to do what the prison institution couldn’t—to love on prisoners with God’s love in a profoundly transformative way. Hunsaker observes “you can’t pay people to care about people.” It has to come freely, and from the heart.

Horizon’s mission is to “transform prisoners to embrace society, not harm it. These transformed prisoners then transform prison cultures. Then they transform home communities.” Horizon graduates are told “you are a living example of faith, love, and respect. As a graduate your message of spiritual development and personal growth will impact prison culture. You will make light out of darkness and bring hope where little is expected.”

In explaining how he came to lead such a unique and sometimes trying endeavor Hunsaker said “It’s about calling. You have to be called to do this work. I could not resist it.”

Jeff Hunsaker
The Horizon Program

The structure of the Horizon Program gives participants the opportunity to live out the lessons they are learning as they experience their transformation. As a sort of monastic community, participants are grouped into family units that meet regularly together. “That family part is critical” says Hunsaker. It helps the participants learn to live together, encouraging each other and resolving conflicts as a functional family, even if this hasn’t been their experience with their families outside of the prison.

Though Horizon participants are required to maintain their normal work schedules and prison life during the day, evenings are spent with other participants in a variety of Horizon programing. There are eight core components that are mandatory elements of the program:
1. Awakenings: Enhancing Spiritual Wholeness. Awakenings helps participants find meaning from their experiences, confronting thoughts and habits that contribute to current beliefs and behavior.
2. Building Community helps participants learn to resolve conflicts in constructive and meaningful ways and to gain “faith solutions to life’s trials and conflicts.”
3. Character Reformation is a time set aside to address how one’s thoughts and attitudes can themselves perpetuate negative circumstances and interactions.
4. Daily Family Meetings contribute to participants’ sense of belonging and help foster abiding relationships within family groups.
5. Faith Fundamentals shore up the foundations of participants’ spiritual beliefs and offers the building blocks for a committed faith.
6. Outside Brothers meet with participants to connect them with the outside community in solid, caring one-on-one relationships.
7. The Trauma/Healing Awareness Workshop allows participants to examine how trauma has affected their lives, and about breaking the trauma cycle.
8. Victim Awareness gives participants the opportunity to reflect on the effects of various crimes on victims, their families, and their communities.

Each program element provides an essential component of Horizon’s success, and participants can also create their own activities and electives. Hunsaker notes his particular gratitude for the Outside Brothers who work closely with each participant. He says that they “bring the grace of God,” entering into conversation with no agenda, but listening and loving unconditionally. They bring hope, helping the men realize “I’m not this piece of dirt that people are saying I am.”

Participants also have the opportunity to join in the Family Letter Writing program, which provides them each with two stamps and two envelopes per week. After weeks of exchanging letters with individuals back home, relationships can begin to be healed and families can be restored.

Graduates of the Horizon Program can return in subsequent years as Encouragers. Each family unit is assigned an Encourager who guides the group through the program, helping to resolve conflicts and to serve as a mentor to the men as they progress.

One of the Encouragers, known as Coach, attests “I love what I do. It’s about inmates helping inmates to change their lives. Who’d have thought I’d have the opportunity to go to prison and change lives?”

Transformative Community
As a result of Horizon’s work, lives are changed both inside and out of prison walls. The Horizon Program realizes that “prisons don’t successfully transform lives. Prisoners do.” It is sometimes the first encounter with the deep love of God for men who have never had anyone care about them.

Thus, faith plays a central role in the Horizon curriculum:
“Faith is a critical ingredient in Horizon’s transformation process. Horizon is not a place for quick, short-term, and for-show jailhouse displays of religiosity. The faith experience is real and deep with meaning – one that uncovers truth, gives purpose to those who thought they had none, and reinforces the changes they so desperately want to make.  It provides a way for atonement and forgiveness—of self and others. It invigorates people from the outside to volunteer and places of worship to become reentry lifelines. It gives hope where hope is not expected.”

Horizon also focuses on trauma recovery, knowing that “trauma not transformed is trauma transferred.”
Jimmy Cheadle
Those on the inside note that “just coming to prison is trauma itself.” There is a victim offender cycle in which those in prison were often first victims themselves before becoming perpetrators. Horizon helps them recognize this cycle, and to forgive.

Jimmy Cheadle is a Horizon graduate, and served as an Encourager on the inside. He now works as an Urban Encourager and Reentry Coordinator with UMChurch for All People in Columbus, OH, offering support and programing for recently released citizens. He explains “Horizons changes a few people at a time, letting them go back into the rest of the population to change the culture of the prison. But changing the culture takes a long time.”

That’s why Hunsaker says he actually sometimes prefers to enroll men serving life sentences. They have the opportunity to have the greatest long-term impact on prison culture. There are men who have graduated the program that are “far more effective inside than they would be on the street.” Thus, he note that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), even inside prison walls.

Horizons volunteer Sue Wolfe acknowledges that much of the transformative power of the program comes from the men themselves: “we recognize that we’re with them for a few hours a week in a long week.” The men are doing their own work of “reclaiming their own humanity, to learn they are also a person of worth.”

Word art of Romans 8:28 with gears in the background: " We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."The Horizon Initiative believes that “Honor, Respect, and Dignity are due to each and every Human Being, not because of the greatness of their achievements nor how they have behaved, but because they are home to a soul that is inherently Holy.” Hunsaker elaborates “it’s all about instilling hope and saying that you don’t have to be defined by what society has told you about you”

Wolfe notes that “too often prisons are about retribution, not restitution, but that Horizon can “restore who God created us to be.” She has interacted with many men in the prison who “had thought they were not smart, who were told they aren’t, but now are learning so many things…it changes who they perceive themselves to be.”

Not a One-Way Street
Horizon has become part of the volunteers’ spiritual journey as well. “The volunteers will tell you they receive more than they give,” says Hunsaker. And indeed, the testimony of those visiting the prison attests to this. “I’m braver than I thought I was” Wolfe notes about her interactions and experiences, “I didn’t think I could do that.”

Men in the Horizons program
Susan McGarvey, also a volunteer with the Horizon Initiative shared that she “always lived and worked in communities similar to me. Certainly my world view has broadened immensely.” She goes on to explain “it makes us realize we are more alike than we are different. We sit down at table with each other week after week and find out that they are flawed human beings just like I am.”

The Horizon program provides an important step for volunteers to live into the faith they profess. McGarvey expounds “it’s a real opportunity to find out if the things you’ve been saying your whole life are really true: grace , mercy, forgiveness, loving the unlovable.” She has had a tremendous impact on the lives of men, and the men on her.

McGarvey notes that she also came to realize how similar we all are, that we all do “foolish things could have turned out differently. Hunsaker agrees, “we’re all part of the great uncaught.”

Image result for love behind barsA Lasting Impact
When Dale, one of the Horizon Encouragers went before his parole board they asked him what benefited him the most while in prison, “Head and shoulders above, the answer was Horizon.”

With a recidivism rate that is five times lower than average, Horizon graduates make good use of the tools provided to them in the program. With government budgets becoming ever tighter, the program notes that “for every 10 Horizon participants that get out of prison and stay out, the state stands to save $260,000 per year, for every year they stay out!”

This makes the $1,600/person yearly cost of the program more than worthwhile, with the “return on that investment being in significant reduction in recidivism,” explains McGarvey. In the face of bloated prisons and broken legal systems, more programs like Horizon are needed to let the Light of God shine in dark places.

Having looked at the effect that God’s transformative love can have inside prison walls, we will nextexamine what local churches can do for those who have been recently released and are looking to rejoin our communities. If you would like to learn more about the Horizon Prison Initiative, or to support their work, visit:

The above article originally appeared at Urban Faith

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Fruit (09/25/15)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Responding to the Prison Industrial Complex

Political cartoon: Stripes of the American flag used as prison bars for people. Caption: "land of the free"This week, we begin a three-part series on the prison industrial complex and how the church can respond. 

In the United States, the land of freedom and liberty, we incarcerate more of our citizens per capita than any other country in the world. What may have at some point been intended to maintain safety and security for our citizens has resulted in an abusive system that perpetuates itself for its own sake.

There has been a 500% increase in our prison population over the last 30 years. Though only 5% of the earth's population lives in the United States, we house over 25% of the world's prisoners. More than one out of every 100 adults in the country is currently behind bars. As elections are won on 'tough-on-crime' platforms, draconian prosecution policies and mandatory minimum sentencing have bloated jails and ruined lives.

Rather than intervene and rehabilitate, the criminal justice system as it currently functions serves to further entrench marginalized communities into a cycle of oppression. Inmates most often rejoin society having been ill prepared to make meaningful change in their lives. Drug treatment is only available to one out of ten inmates that need it. Approximately 200,000 inmates have serious mental illnesses that receive insufficient treatment in prisons. As budgets tighten, crucial resources for education, counseling, and spiritual guidance disappear. Without meaningful programming to develop necessary skills and strategies while on the inside, old habits will quickly reemerge once prisoners are back on the outside.

Graph showing huge growth of the prison population after the war on drugs is launched. Caption "The US State and Federal prison population has increased over 800% in just 40 years"Having a criminal record also means losing access to the support structures necessary to getting back on one's feet after incarceration. After release, ex-offenders often cannot qualify for food stamps or public housing. They face severe discrimination in finding jobs or applying to schools. They can no longer serve on juries and forfeit the right to vote. In reality, it's not actually a 'return to society' at all, and over 75% of prisoners released are re-arrested within five years.

Race, Profit, and Mass Incarceration
The criminal justice system in the United States is severely biased along racial lines, resulting in the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown citizens. In her book 'The New Jim Crow,' Michelle Alexander asserts that "by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the US criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control...even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness." Indeed, even though African Americans comprise 13% of drug users in the United States (paralleling population demographics generally), they represent over 40% of those incarcerated on drug offenses. One in three Black men, and one in six Latino men, are apt to be imprisoned in their lifetime, while only one in seventeen white will ever be. Similarly, Black women are incarcerated at a rate six times higher than white women. Seventy-five percent of them are mothers. Angela Davis notes that “the fastest growing group of prisoners are black women, and Native American prisoners are the largest group per capita.”
Political cartoon: conveyor belt carrying people from a the mouth of one man representing public education (sign: "Sorry, no funds") to the waiting mouth of a man representing the prison industrial complex (sign: "welcome")

These disparities are the result of systematize discrimination at all levels of the criminal justice process. From the school-to-prison pipeline and stop-and-frisk policies, to bias in sentencing and racialized drug legislation, the odds are stacked against citizens of color in the United States. For example, the development of crack cocaine made narcotic use more affordable in low-income communities, including in cities that were already segregated across racial lines due to redlining and white-flight. Along with the emergence of demographic differences in drug choice, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 mandated that possession of 5,000 grams of powdered cocaine carried the same sentence as possession of only 50 grams of crack, a 1:100 disparity. In addition, aggressive and racially slanted immigration laws have led to a six-fold increase in detentions. The majority of these new detainees are Latino, further skewing incarceration demographics along color lines.

Heinously, there is much money to be made from a system such as this. Though we spend almost $50 billion per year on the prison system, some individuals and institution are using the opportunity to get rich. The term 'Prison Industrial complex' describes the system in which private corporations and government institutions partner together to create an inextricable alliance resulting in tremendous financial profit. The prison business can be quite lucrative. Private companies make millions through the construction of new prisons, government contracts for prison management, and supplying prisons with furnishings and consumables.

Moreover, inmates are made to work for as little as $0.12 on assembly lines and work crews. The prison companies can then sell the product of their labor at substantial profit. Thus, the prison population is seen as a captive workforce, one that can be minimally paid and that need not receive any employee benefits such as insurance or retirement. There are no union strikes, no paid sick leave, no spouse or dependent benefits, and the employee are always on time. Is it any wonder that our jails stay filled?

Indeed, stipulations are often written into the contracts of prison management companies to require 90%occupancy of the facilities. The two largest for profit prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, played significant roles in crafting criminal justice legislation in the United States, leading to increased mandatory minimums and incarceration rates. Concurrently, companies cut costs by reducing quality of life and basic care for inmates, leading to overcrowding and inhumane conditions.

Reporter Chris Hedges observes that “poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.” Thus, the current system of incarceration and labor exploitation is often seen as a continuation of practices dating back to labor chain gangs and slavery in the United Sates.

The Church’s Response
Scripture tells us that we are to “remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them" (Hebrews 13:3). But Angela Davis describes how we instead intentionally hide society’s unwanted members away from our collective consciousness. She notes that “homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages…Prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings.” This is why Jesus reminds us so sternly to visit prisoners and insists that it is among these that we will find him (Matthew 25:36).

Image result for Hands through prison bars with the quote: "poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.” -Chris Hedges
Unfortunately, the Church does not always follow Christ’s example with this regard. Lawrence T. Jablecki asserts that “the for-profit criminal detention industry and the Christian right are joined at the hip by a draconian moral and political perspective that impedes the realization of a genuine system of criminal justice that protects the dignity and rights of every person.” Christian communities and political organizations often perpetuate unjust systems of incarceration in the name of “Christian values” and “biblical morality.”

Others though are taking a stand for prison reform. In an interview for Huffington Post, Rev. Robina Winbush suggests that “the ministry of Jesus the Christ was about challenging unjust systems that held individuals and marginalized communities in bondage."

Indeed, in early 2014 leaders of Christian Churches Together, a large coalition of church leaders in the United States, declared that “the church in the United States has a moral and ethical imperative to protect human dignity and must address the problem of mass incarceration in our nation.”

Shortly thereafter during Holy Week preparations for Easter, a multidenominational group of Christian leaders released a statement advocating reforms to “repeal policies that unnecessarily criminalize millions of people and place a vastly disproportionate burden on poor and black communities.” They concluded their statement by invoking the symbolism of Easter itself “we, leaders of faith call for a rebirth and resurrection of communities burdened by the harms of injustice oftentimes masquerading under the guise of law and order and criminal justice."

Huey Freeman from the 'Boondocks': " The prison-industrial complex is a system situated at the intersection of government and private interests. It uses prisons as a solution to social, political, and economic problems. It includes human rights violations, the death penalty, slave labor, policing, courts, the media, political prisoners, and the elimination of dissent."Rev. John Jackson of Trinity United Church in Indiana asserts that “the policies of this failed war on drugs -- which in reality, is a war on people who happen to be poor, primarily black and brown -- is a stain on the image of this society…. If the resurrection season means anything, it means that people are to be loved and not used. People should be helped and not harassed and that people should be placed above profit."

Mark Osler, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas, suggests that not only should Christians join the fight for prison reform, they should be leading the way: “For Christians, this system violates the basic rule of compassion and balance that infuses the morality of the faith. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, in particular, bar any role for mercy. This result is utterly inconsistent with Jesus's teachings and actions, which emphasized mercy in our dealings with one another.”

Scripture tells us that "the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners” (Psalm 69:33). As Christians, we must learn what it means to "let the groans of the prisoners come before you" (Psalm 79:11) and to listen to those whom we are called to minister.

Continue to part two to explore how Christians might better remember and serve the incarcerated, and learn about a prison program in Ohio that is meeting success, even in the face of challenges...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friday Fruit (09/18/15)

Youth at protest
Mike Brown Means...
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More children, different border:
Who gets to be a refugee?

Young children in a refugee camp
More children, different border
Once again, families are on the run, children are crossing borders, governments are making decisions about whether to open or close their doors. Will the Church offer any sanctuary?

Like police brutality in the USA, too often our hearts begin to open only once graphic pictures and videos emerge. But blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. We mustn't be so hard to cajole into compassion.

And just like deaths in the USA, the we are more likely to sympathize with many lives lost suddenly, than with same numbers dying in individual trajectories. So it's only when we see a boy on a beach, or a boat of 900 capsized, that we begin to feel moved.

But late is better than never, and public sympathy has begun to turn. We are convicted. We feel someone should be doing something. As long as it is someone else.

Graphic of USA indicating highest and lowest states from refugee immigration
How welcoming is your state to refugees?
How welcoming is your church?
(h/t @GCORR)
So we play a game of 'not it' with millions of lives hanging in the balance. Indeed, the UN predicts that nearly 1,000,000 people will cross into the EU by next year, and even if each of the 28 member nations agree to receive 160,000 refugees, the vast majority of those fleeing their homes will have no safe place to go. The USA, in its generosity, has committed to receiving 10,000 of these (less than 1% to the wealthiest nation in the world). But only of the "good" kind.

Indeed, while some get to be 'refugees,' receiving extra assistance as they flee truly horrifying situations, others remain 'merely' migrants and so must wait. And many will perish while they stand in line. 

So who is worthy of our assistance? Who needs our help bad enough  to grovel? We have decided we will help you if you're from Syria, but not Afghanistan. From Iraq, but not Libya. They may come from different places, but they've cross the same rough sea to escape. They've endure the same hash conditions, the same squalid camps. They've made the same harrowing decision, on the off chance of their survival.

Political cartoon. Man on military ship: "Where are you from?" People on a crowded life raft: "Earth"
Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, describes it well:
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
(read the full poem here)
It is easy to question the compassion of countries thousands of miles away. It was not long ago that children streamed across the US border looking for refuge. We too turned them away. But the Lord says "I will be swift... against those who thrust aside the sojourners, and do not fear me" (Malachi 3:5).
Anti-immigration protest signs
Meantime, on the USA/Mexico border...

We are a Church whose history is filled with refugees who have been the pillars of our faith. We remember Noah, who stuffed his family onto a crowded ship, and endured the tossing waves to to escape eminent doom. We honor Moses, who also floated on a life raft on troubled waters to reach safety as a baby boy. We worship a Christ who was also refugee child, fleeing across the Egyptian border to save His life. Indeed, we pray to a God that does not heartlessly tell us to "go away," but says instead tells us "welcome home." Will we not offer others the same?

This article is part of a Mennonerds synchro-blog on the Middle-Eastern Refugee Crisis.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Friday Fruit (09/11/15)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Labor Day

Cartoon: Executive hanging a 'happy labor day' sign while standing on the back of a laborerOnce per year the USA celebrates Labor Day, a national holiday originating from 1800's celebrations of trade workers and the social/economic benefits they bring to our society. So, is this holiday only an antiquated excuse for an extra time to sleep in?

Let's use the day to examine the serious economic and labor struggles that still plague our country.

It is increasingly difficult for the average worker to support a family. In most states, minimum wage is well below the living wage (there is a big difference between the two). Ironically, thousands of folks will go to work on Labor Day because they need the money and can't afford a day of rest.

When folks are desperate for work, they will endure any number of abuses or indignities. They may work in dangerous environments, or be paid less than promised. Workers may be given insufficient training, leading to injury or embarrassment when they don't perform to standards.

A cartoon shark dressed as a loan shark
Employees may be held at work long after their shift is over, if that is what the boss deems necessary. Maybe they need to pick the kids up from school, but they don't dare leave and risk losing their jobs. Workers may be required to maintain an open schedule to be placed in shifts as is convenient for the company, but may not be told their schedule until the last minute, and so cannot line up child care or other jobs.

Folks may spend an hour on the bus to get to a job, only to arrive and find out they aren't needed that day. Or they work for two hours and then get sent home. "Try again tomorrow." And if they don't show up for that chance, they know they loose the opportunity for later.

There are serious consequences of this labor disparity. Workers skip meals so that their children may eat. Folks turn to loan sharks to make ends meet, entrenching themselves in a spiral of debt (see post: The Cost of Being Poor). Families make tough choices to cut out "non-essentials" like medicine (see post: Healthcare Reform), clothing, and nutritious food.

And if the nation experiences a 7% unemployment rate, unemployment in communities of color remains at 13%--the same racialized wage disparity ratio that Dr. King bemoaned in 1967. Indeed, while analysts fret about about the housing market, there continue to be huge disparities in homeownership across race.

Book cover: Nickel and Dimed
Take a close look at the words of Jeremiah 22:13-16. Woe to we that profit from injustice and gain economic security at the expense of others! We "who make our neighbor serve us for nothing and do not give them their wages." Jesus himself urges that "the workers deserve their wages." And yet, as more states put an end to collective bargaining, the wealthy receive a smaller tax burden now than they have in the last 80 years.

Part of our problem is that we have a very warped perspective of economic reality. Particularly since housing in the United States is largely segregated by economic standing, people look around themselves and feel that, on the whole, there is equal opportunity and prosperity for everyone.

PBS News Hour recently conducted an informal survey, asking people identify the sort of economy that exist in the USA. Their findings are telling. Also, Jon Stewart points out the huge economic disparities that most folks gloss over. Both of these videos are embedded below.

Take time this week to give thanks for your own economic security, no matter what level it is at.
For more insight into the issues mentioned above, read Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Nickel and Dimed' or play this excellent interactive game to see what choices you would make given some stark realities.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Fruit (09/04/15)

@GirlBodyPride via Twitter
@GirlBodyPride via Twitter
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.
Creative Commons License
By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @BTSFblog