Dear Family,

We write this letter to you with deep gratitude and exhaustion. As we continue the fight to abolish the Prison Industrial Complex, imagine new ways of being in the world, work to get 45 out of office, manage through a global pandemic, and grieve the countless murders of black people - this is our offering to you. This is a sacred space. This is a tender space. This is a space of listening, learning, acting, and dreaming.

Letters from the Etui is a platform displaying animated shorts and a series of workshops to further support abolitionist frameworks, from personal to political practice. An Etui is a small ornamental case holding needles, cosmetics, other articles, and often sacred items. Each film is precious and intimate, like a letter. A sacred item we are revealing from our collective Etui. The video series is a collaboration between Professor Zachary Zezima’s  Cal State LA's Animation Option students and Dr. Kamran Afary’s Lancaster State Prison's Communication Studies students.  Each film utilizes the writing and narration of incarcerated students in conjunction with animation to illuminate and visualize the inner and outer lives of those in the prison system. Our workshop series is designed to further explore the intricacies of the shorts, giving participants tools to take actionable steps towards abolition.

Letter writing is the primary form of communication for many incarcerated folks. It is an intimate process shared between loved ones, a gift to hold onto forever.  Talks of memories and stories that reveal one’s love and longing for whom you are writing to. Letter writing has also become a form of advocacy for many incarcerated folks around the world. Sharing the truths of their experiences, exposing corruption, lies, and systemic brutality.  Many times, this leads to more systemic punishment for those already incarcerated.  We honor the intimacy, vulnerability, and strength that is shared through these films. This same intimacy, vulnerability, and strength are suppressed by the same system claiming its intentions are to rehabilitate people’s lives.

Please join us in collectively cultivating a country where we all not only have access to the resources we need, but a place where we feel dignified and self-actualized; a world where we can all rest, laugh, play, imagine, and indulge into our greatest pleasures.

Thank you for joining us. We are fighting, grieving, and imagining with you.