Published in: SF Bay View, February 17, 2012
Everywhere I go young people are dying of thirst, starving for truth and guidance, something real they can relate to. Unfortunately this isn’t something everyone can do. How can someone who’s never been a drug addict truly relate to someone suffering from addiction? They can organize a means of assistance, but there must be people who’ve survived and overcome this illness of addiction to bridge the gap.
It’s the same young people in the streets and the prisons. Young people are naturally drawn to the truth, a righteous path when given the option. Even in the few days I was in High Desert State Prison in Nevada before being waylaid, spirited out of state in the predawn hours, in the unit I was in, there were 10-15 young men, Black and Brown, all of them starving for guidance and knowledge from someone among them they could respect and believe would not bullshit them, someone of strength and character.
But too often, because we don’t have the needed outside support and because the truth is never in line with the self-serving interests of the state – the 1 percent – men and women inside the prisons who try to organize and educate these young people on a righteous path are labeled and shut up in the Pelican Bays, the Centennials, the Ely state prisons all across Amerika, psychologically tortured and physically brutalized for years and decades on end.
Meanwhile the rats and vultures are allowed to prey on these young people because it serves the 1 percent state more for these young people – who have the potential to become a Malcolm X, a Huey Newton, Assata Shakur, Che Guevara – to be victimized, remain undereducated and killing each other, divided by race, religion and pieces of concrete rather than striving together, up on what’s really happening, socially conscious and taking an active role in healing our communities, building up the hood and serving the people. No, the state, the 1 percent, will not have that.
The rats and vultures are allowed to prey on these young people because it serves the 1 percent state more for these young people – who have the potential to become a Malcolm X, a Huey Newton, Assata Shakur, Che Guevara – to be divided by race, religion and pieces of concrete rather than striving together.
Here too [Ikemba, who has been a prisoner in Nevada for many years, has just been transferred to Colorado without explanation] I see many young people, but I must be cautious. I don’t want the 1 percent state thinking I’m some sort of revolutionary trying to organize, mustn’t make any sudden movements, reaching for my wallet or my cell phone, any excuse other than my mere existence to blow me away.
Many people, even those who consider themselves conscious, don’t realize in prison there is no such thing as “free speech.” Every word of decision comes at a cost. My man Jack Abbot said it best in his book, “Belly of the Beast”: Once a person is made a ward of the state, a convicted criminal, a simple mention of our criminal record or whatever lies they choose is the way they describe us.
In my case they’ve continually labeled me as “extremely violent with a complete disregard for rules,” though in my 21 years of incarceration and for over a decade now, I’ve not had a single act of violence on my record that was not in self-defense, in defense of another convict being brutalized by the pigs or otherwise victimized or because some disrespectful loudmouth needed a fat lip to help make him a little more thoughtful, though I admit I never did hold the rule of these pigs in high regard.
They’ve continually labeled me as “extremely violent with a complete disregard for rules,” though in my 21 years of incarceration and for over a decade now, I’ve not had a single act of violence on my record that was not in self-defense, in defense of another convict being brutalized by the pigs.
OK, but the mere mention of our conviction is all that’s needed for any of these pigs, the state, to justify whatever abuse or brutality they choose to beat on our heads, murder us if they decide, defenseless in chains and shackles. This is why I am in awe of all the courageous men and women in these prisons who brave the spirit-crushing penalties of speaking out against the state for you to know and get up on what’s happening.
The public needs to know how the guarantees of the Constitution mean nothing behind these walls and why the struggles for prison reform, judicial reform and prisoners’ rights are so very vital to the overall freedom struggle against oppression – to the so-called Arab Spring , Occupy Wall Street, the youth movement in France, people’s struggles all over the planet.
Remember that it has been, is and will be the prisons that the 1 percent, these capitalist elite, use to shut up and put down our leaders, those of you in the Vanguard. And so I agree with the men there in Pelican Bay, Corcoran and others who’ve called for a universal list of demands outlining clearly in simple terms what the people want and how it should be done, and until it is done the people – we – must be relentless. Tens of thousands occupying the major money centers of the 1 percent capitalist control, hundreds throughout every city occupying the front doorsteps and offices of local legislators, politicians etc., have been posting for the world and their communities to see and shame the names and photos of any pig who so much as abuses you to scrape a knee.
These people, peaceful protestors exercising their rights as human beings and citizens, demand no more wars in our name for the benefit of corporate greed and consumer enterprise. No more outsourcing Amerikan jobs to evade the principles and policies we profess to uphold and call on other nations to follow. No more spending trillions on sending spaceships to Mars while there is a single hungry or homeless person left in the land. No more sending our children behind bars.
We want an immediate end to this prison for profit ideology and the use of prisons as a tool to marginalize the voice and power of the people. Shut ‘em down. No more predatory lending. No more profiteering off the sick and elderly or higher education. We want FREE education and FREE medical care for every citizen. And while non-citizens may not receive all the benefits of a citizen, we want our immigrant brothers and sisters to be respected and treated fairly.
We want an immediate end to this prison for profit ideology and the use of prisons as a tool to marginalize the voice and power of the people. Shut ‘em down.
These are the humble opinions of a simple man, here in chains, the voice of the condemned, the convicted, conscious thug, reformed outlaw, striving to do my part, to give the benefit of a sour stomach.
Update: Black genius in jail cells
To all of you at the Bay View, on the front lines and behind enemy lines, Comrades: I’m writing for two reasons. First, to say how beautiful this latest issue (December 2011) is. This is that rilla shit that’ll make your brain swell. I’ll be using this one to educate myself and fellow convicts for years to come.
And you should know this is what happens whenever you or anyone puts out some real knowledge and insight. These articles, papers, books etc. exchange hands and are read thousands of times, for years, even decades, inside these dungeons. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece by the brothas J. Heshima Denham, Zaharibu Dorrough and Kambui Robinson of the NCTT Corcoran SHU program.
These are the messages that need to get out. The intelligence they showed and the elegance with which they shaped and presented this undeniable, ugly truth no one wants to see but must acknowledge …”Wow.” I mean I already know.
The tragedy is that so many beautiful, strong, talented men and women are inside these pens. And it has got to stop. The use of these pens as a means of profit to revitalize rural communities and shut up and shut out some of our best and brightest from the conversation means now you have poor people relying on the downfall and imprisonment of other poor people.
Each of those men who could very well be our next Malcolm, Huey or MLK is representative of the incredible talent languishing and wasting away in Amerika’s prisons. And I don’t know how anyone can see that and not be moved to do something.
But I’m not waiting for the world to wake up. I’m going to do my best to wake up these brothas right here: my celly, that brotha in line for the phone, over there playing dominoes. I’m saying it’s on “us.”
I’m writing to ask if readers will please send me some information on each of the following: The New Afrikan Movement (ideology etc.), Black August (history of, observations etc.), and the history of the Black Panther Party to use in awakening these brothers. Also any photos, symbols etc.
The brothas and sistas that have a date, that’s going to see that gate, they gotta leave these pens with a plan. Do for self. We gotta get out and organize our own shit, our own support lawyers and the whole nine, plus one, you dig?
And those of us who have no date, we’re probably going to die in these pens. No time for feeling sorry. It’s on us to become the professors, the mentors, examples of righteous men and women for the young ones to follow.
Second, I’m writing to ask if readers will please send me some information on each of the following: The New Afrikan Movement (ideology etc.), Black August (history of, observations etc.), and the history of the Black Panther Party to use in awakening these brothers. Also any photos, symbols etc. I’ve found that photos and artwork that reflect various teachings are very powerful and effective.