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  • Writer's pictureChad Bradford

A note for Transparency

A post for transparency: Much of the content on this website comes from me, Chad Bradford. I founded Voices UnCaged because of my close and personal experiences with the criminal “justice” system. However it would be disingenuous of me to pose as if I truly know what it is like to be imprisoned. Nor do I know what it is like to be persecuted because of the color of my skin. In the past I thought that posting as a faceless entity was helpful to keep people focused on the articles I was sharing rather than my opinion. I realize now that these actions feel more non-racist than anti-racist. So I want to change. The reality of America is that our prison industrial complex ensures that nearly 70% of incarcerated individuals are people of color despite being only 35% of the overall population. This is accomplished through the targeting of these communities through biased policing, racist policies (such as profiling), a prison system that does all it can to become a revolving door rather than a path to recovery, and by the deliberate deprivation of essential needs. These numbers are proof that systemic racism exists in America. Voices UnCaged is based on the belief that the creation of art takes us on a journey of self-inquiry. It is only through this journey that a person can become aware of their own programming and transform it, allowing for integration into a more authentic, whole self. This ultimately leads to healing and needed conversations with those who experience the art. Therefore, knowing the power of self-inquiry, it is imperative that I, as the founder, also have a personal commitment to looking deeply into my own programming and expand my own education, particularly about what it means to be black in America. The events of the past few weeks have rocked me. I realize now that the ubiquitous white supremacy prevalent in our culture had begun to wear away and blunt my enthusiasm, lulling me into a state of resignation. Thoughts like, “someday, things will be better” had started to cross my mind at a rate that in retrospect I now find alarming and shameful. In this light, I’m committing to listening, to learning more, and to using my privilege (and to be precise, my privilege as a cis white heterosexual male) to double down on my efforts to amplify voices of change. In the coming days, you’ll see a series of articles and stories on this page that detail the predatory nature of the prison industrial complex and how that has inflicted undeserved suffering in communities of color in America. Now is a time of great change, and as educators and leaders we have a responsibility to reexamine our own lives and beliefs in order to provide an education that is anti-racist, loving, and accepting. This responsibility falls even more heavily upon those of us with the most privilege. It is our duty to provide students the tools necessary to ensure that their voices are heard and respected. I am appreciative to everyone who has acted as a guide or teacher to me through the years. This organization is very small and couldn’t have grown into what it is without Josh Rice and Pilar McKay and my Shake on the Lake family of artists. They inspire me everyday to lean into the uncomfortable parts of leadership, to be thankful when I am corrected, and above all, to never quit. I’m going to mess up, and I apologize in advance. However, I’m committed to doing better and will not give up. Thank you for supporting us and for supporting the movement for a more equitable America. #BlackLivesMatter ----- Below are some pictures from our 2018 Voices UnCaged Educational residency at Groveland Correctional facility (that's me in the beard, glasses, and navy button up). I wanted to post these pictures for a couple of reasons: -I'm committed to engaging more and honoring our brave participants for their work and commitment during the process. I hope you'll get a sense of what generous hearts were in the room. These participants may have made a mistake in their life, however, their hearts and souls were kind, forgiving, and caring. I want people to see that. -I also have been listening to some of my brave friends talk about the importance of seeing joy in the black community. That hit me hard. So I hope you will feel the creative and joyous spirit of these individuals. Again than you for supporting us! #prisontheatre #selfeducation (Photos by Nick Lippa, from Buffalo's NPR affiliate WBFO, who covered our 2018 residency for a piece called "Prisoners find their voice through Shakespeare at Groveland prison." Additional photos by Phil Baker with VUC and SOTL. If you need more information on me, please contact me at or visit

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