Prisoner Letter #1 on BAsics 1:13
I wanted to send a few words on the quote BAsics 1:13 “No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.”
This quote obviously has many layers, but to peel back a few of the layers and expose some of what it’s getting at I would relate this quote to the oppression of youth over all in America as well as around the world. This oppression is seen in the Barrios where the people are occupied by the pigs, it is seen in the projects where oppressed youth are chased into their own apartment by the occupied force and shot dead unarmed by those claiming to ‘Protect and serve.’ Our condemnation to an early death comes in various ways from flooding our neighborhoods with drugs to flooding other countries with guns and death squads which work to wreak havoc on communities around the globe. An early death is what youth around the world experience daily due to the work of U.S. Imperialism, whether this early death comes from children working in electronic waste or in coal mines, in working in cancer pesticide soaked fields in America or in sweat shops around the world. Our “fate” is sealed with the brand of felon which places us in a perpetual caste system where we are stripped of any so called rights or benefits. Our life of misery and brutality comes in a steel cage! All over America our youth are trapped in gulags where even children are held in solitary confinement by the thousands, this is the future of youth here in America. The system has destined so many who are not even born yet to this oppression by the building of so many prisons in its strategic task of continuing this mass incarceration.
Within this quote lies the mode of oppression that will continue so long as we allow it. Current events here in Amerika show this to be true and these events continue to accelerate in this death march we experience in America.
On April 9, 2012 in the small town of Eloy, Arizona two migrant workers were murdered in cold blood when they were ambushed by armed racist militia members. This event was handled as ‘business as usual’ by the bourgeois media. With known racist militias like Border guardians and minutemen operating in Arizona, where is the outrage? This is the “tolerance” that is being built in America, this is the “early death or a life of misery and brutality” I think of when I read this quote. But this type of brutality is not confined to fascist volunteer groups, on the contrary this early death is issued out directly from the state itself! The recent murder of a Black man in his 60’s, a Mr. Chamberlin who was issued an early death by the White Plains, New York police gave us all a reminder of legal lynchings in case we forgot. Mr. Chamberlin whose “crime” was setting off a medical alert, his service in the marines did not prevent his killers from calling him n***** and even though you hear him telling his killers he knows they are gonna kill him you can still hear his killers laughing and taunting him (1). This is the long lineage of legal lynching and white supremacy that infects the society we currently live in, it is the stark boldfaced oppression that clings to us like a wet T-shirt- it engulfs us like a shower of hot fish oil.
Our oppression in America is a long filthy lineage, a goat path cut all the way back to the earliest days of empire. Prisoners like the slave are used for the interest of our captors in many ways. When America gained its independence from Britain and the U.S. Constitution was created , it was only from the pressure of slave owners that the slaves were listed as three fifths of a person for the sole purpose of increasing the slave owners’ representation in the U.S. Congress. In a more contemporary similar light prisoners are counted as residents of a county, not as an act of equal treatment of “citizens” which would entitle prisoners to tax dollars for programs etc. rather to increase the population for more bourgeois representation in mostly white rural areas. Once more captives are used for the interests of the captors. This is the history of our oppression, of our misery and brutality. Our oppression comes not just in the physical form, that is not only with the lash or the gun but it is a deep psychological oppression, one most don’t even realize or identify. Even amongst ‘movement people’ most do not realize the underlying psychological oppression that straddles the mindset of oppressed people in America, it is done with stealth and in the dark, but all you need to do is take off the blinders and see what has been in front of you for so long. George Washington himself had owned 160 slaves at the time of his death, not only that but he was a fourth generation slave owner! Imagine four generations of owning Black people and get a picture of his mentality. Think about what this means when such a scoundrel who owned humans has statues and portraits, monuments and schools named after himself all over the U.S., he is America’s hero, how does this make Blacks and other oppressed feel? It is akin to Israel today having statues and portraits of Hitler, Goering or Rommel in Israel, schools and parks named after these maggots how would Jews feel calling Mangele a “founding father”?
As I began writing about this quote one of the things that keeps coming to mind when I think of so many being sealed off and condemned to an early death, despite my own condemnation in this concentration camp, this concrete coal mine where I resist the vampires of the state and these torturous conditions I still think of the recent spike in violence in Chicago’s streets. Having come from street life I understand that life very well. But to see poor people cutting down other poor, oppressed doing the job of the oppressor is too much. Capitalist society teaches us how to think even in the womb because it has taught our parents to teach us. The street activity is not something we have invented, it derives from acute contradictions of living under oppression in Imperialist America, it is a process of historical materialism. The reason why people are in the street chopping each other down some may think it’s just “drug wars” or “power grabs” this is on the surface, but historical materialism will show us these actions are brought on from years of state oppression where people ain’t got shit, but at the same time are told, taught and fed the false oppressor idea that they need to have certain cars, jewelry, and other bullshit, these are false ideas, propaganda the oppressor drills into our minds, instead of us building our independent institutions like newspapers, clinics, etc. for our communities, we are instead listening to the oppressor and wanting to “ball” wanting to “live large” like our oppressors. Once the oppressor allows crumbs (dope) to infect our communities, the people do anything and everything to get a piece of the oppressor pie, while the oppressor sits back and watches us cannibalize ourselves. The oppressor creates oppressor culture or capitalist culture, as society is drunk or high on oppressor culture the oppressor no longer needs the whip because the oppressed now oppress each other, he has essentially created millions of small time oppressors. There is in capitalist America a manufactured culture of “want” in place, firmly lodged that escapes reality. It is precisely this leap away from reality which helps to reinforce the oppression so many face on a daily. We need to firmly identify our oppression, only then will we begin to uproot it. We are good enough to be used to go fight other oppressed people around the world but not good enough to be free from misery and brutality. We need to get busy but get busy on ending our oppression, Eldridge Cleaver said in his better days that Blacks “are asked to die for the system in Vietnam, why not die right here in Babylon fighting for a better life …”? (2) Now this can apply to current circumstances in America in that oppressed people are asked to go die for the state in its wars for empire around the world but why not use our life to struggle here in America for freedom from our oppressors? This does not mean being a martyr but if we can end our life in some stupid shit or some crazy shit, why not use our life for some revolutionary shit? Some free the people shit.
What we need to finally realize is that we are condemned to an early death, it is a war on poor people that has gone on in America since its founding in one form or another, it evolves with the concrete conditions of society but remains a war none the less. This is not a conventional war fought with the military, rather it uses soft power for the most part with its court system, prisons, schools, media and culture mostly. But when you fight a war it don’t stop on the battlefield – the frontline is everywhere! For too long the people been thinking so long as the U.S. military is not monitoring our neighborhoods we must not be at war and for this we are paying through the nose with generations murdered and imprisoned.
In a recent news program it discussed an August, 2002, CIA audit that found over 700 people do not belong in Guantanamo and yet Rumsfield called them the “worst of the worst” but were really caught in a web of deception. This program went on to explain that the trained interrogators were told to “develop a state of learned helplessness”. (3) The program described how the abuse, treatment and brutality was all used to develop a state of learned helplessness, it was uncanny how I seen the similarities in the oppressed in America, especially in the SHU’s who undergo torture in the form of isolation and sensory deprivation. This mirrors what Guantanamo develops to break down those held captive in that gulag and this can also be seen out in society with our neighborhoods under attack by the state with hyper policing, gang injunctions, stop & frisk and murder or incarceration; this is a method of developing a state of learned helplessness in our communities where people begin to see they are occupied and an attempt to melt away our rebelliousness and compel us to conform and take on the oppressor culture and mentality. The oppressors would label us all criminals or the worse of the worse, but this is a cowpatty of distortion; the real worse of the worse is U.S. Imperialism and I say no more of that!
With a clenched fist from the robbin Island of America.
Notes: (1) 5-7-12 NPR “Democracy Now”
(2) eldridge cleaver, “Soul on Ice”, Delta Books, 1968. Pg 137.
(3) PBS, “Moyers & Company” 5-26-12.
From prisoner in California