Join us, as matters of crime and punishment, “law and order,” and the systems which make the containment of those at the bottom of American society its priority are explored in Volume Six of The Tenth Magazine—Pen Pals, in which the fabricated laws of our civil society are turned inside out, the ethics of black queer “criminality” explored, and radical action is focused on bending the rather flimsy rules of America’s non-neutral legal and prison systems towards liberty and justice for all.


Across two volumes, The Tenth offers photography, art, and storytelling of the black queer perspective to the conversation around the crisis of mass incarceration in America. We explore the disparity in punishments for crimes that stain white collars vs. black ones; the unique cultural adaptations of gay inmates and their view of what reform looks like from the inside; and the effects of poverty on the pipeline to incarceration and the unfettered potential for technology to breach it. We also look at the much-needed social contract forcing those of us privileged enough to aid others with high-quality legal aid and interventionism, and the effects of the prison system on our family dynamics and culture’s relationship with authority.


We’ll explore participation in community policing as a form of demonstrated consciousness, the glory days of the “stunt queen” as a study in ideological reorganization around economics, and the ethics of outlaw activities from hacking to card counting and how engaging with may be the only way for us to make up ground in the game of power. We’ll look at the racial imbalance of HIV criminalization, the rising rate of domestic violence in the LGBTQ community, and other issues aimed at getting to the bottom of questions like: Who defines what crime is? Who gets to name the damage? Who doles out justice in a society where those who make the rules, ordinarily bend and ignore them, while those at the bottom are guaranteed punishment when not in line with them?