Cultivate the seed to grow: Inside prison and out, we must nurture our youth

by Mutope Duguma

I greet you all with love and respect as usual, and it’s been awhile, but I recently made a transition from Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit solitary confinement units to General Population – GP – here at Calipatria State Prison. I won’t bore you with my usual long-winded rhetoric but instead speak to some of the key contradictions that I am seeing that we as New Afrikans face in and out of these stoops.

Mutope Duguma in a photo taken Sept. 2, 2014
Mutope Duguma in a photo taken Sept. 2, 2014

Our young people for the most part have been seriously compromised, and we can see this in their behavior. And we who understand how a people should be socially developed inside a society in ways that lead to one’s growth and development have to be very proactive about how we nurture our young people.

No one is receptive to the hard hand approaches, but instead time and energy have to be spent on educating these young New Afrikans who have no “sense of self.” Many have come out of communities that have been demoralized; therefore, they have no “moral compass” as to how they are to behave.

We can hold responsible the educational institutions and the deprivations that many of them have been subjected to throughout their lives, which can arise in direct relation to the poverty and economic deprivation that they – and all of us – have been compromised by.

We have to realize that when a people have been socially engineered or conditioned to be a certain way inside a “malignant sub-culture” that teaches them to devalue themselves in every aspect of their lives and to which they were colonized for centuries, we cannot expect to reverse this psychic trauma overnight. What we have to do is put examples in place of what New Afrikans look like in practice, as well as spend time with those who are receptive to education.

Our young people for the most part have been seriously compromised, and we can see this in their behavior.

It’s a lot of our young people who are very intelligent, but they don’t have the nerve or discipline to speak to their peers without being ridiculed or subjected to some form of “peer pressure” by those whose intellect has not yet been cultivated.

The young people who have developed intellect, nerve and discipline tend to have no tolerance for tackling such contradictions in their peers. Therefore, those who tend to be dysfunctional get to run around recklessly, which leads to most of the problems that many of the social groups fight over.

It is essential that those who hold themselves as “men of influence” educate these young people. To not do so speaks to what they actually mean to you.

I’ve also learned that if the men of influence are not themselves educated and disciplined, then they tend to be a part of the problem. We have a serious responsibility to these young people behind these prison walls and in society.

It is essential that those who hold themselves as “men of influence” educate these young people. To not do so speaks to what they actually mean to you.

Ending hostilities is truly our lifeline

I have been out of solitary confinement for 90 days now, and my overview of our situation is that the penal system has failed across this nation. It’s not just a California problem; it’s a national problem, where prisoners all over Amerikka are being socially compromised due to mass incarceration.

And it is an incarceration that places us inside of a man-made social experiment that cultivates each of us inside a manufactured reality that is not of our choice, but instead is the making of the puppet masters – the lawmakers – who use their political power to coalesce men and women inside their prisons, jails, camps and juvenile facilities.

We prisoners have to ask the question why are so many human beings, especially of color, being carted off to these penal institutions, where billions of dollars, if not trillions, have been spent to maintain such repressive environments that establish us under social tyranny that makes its way back to our communities.

We have a serious responsibility to these young people behind these prison walls and in society.

We have to see these penal institutions as vessels that socially engineer us into a pathological, violent behavior that is diametrically opposed to our human development. We can now concretely identify in California prisons the violent nature of prisoners being a direct result of the cause of violence in our many communities.

The prison system is manufacturing a violent prison mentality, which none of us can actually be held responsible for because our “keepers” – government and especially CDCr officials – have always had complete control over the social tyranny in prison. No prisoner can be blamed for being placed in such violent environments that their keepers have chosen for them to be housed in.

We have to see these penal institutions as vessels that socially engineer us into a pathological, violent behavior that is diametrically opposed to our human development.

The majority of us coming out of California’s solitary confinement units, such as the Pelican Bay SHU, were compromised years ago – neutralized by being removed from general population completely and targeted for extermination.

This was and is our reality, where we who survived to the extent that we did, had already started psychologically preparing ourselves to die in the wretched environment of solitary confinement. But we were able to change our reality to some extent with the Prisoner Human Rights Movement and our hunger strikes.

So where is our movement today? We are right where we started off in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and each of us who know about these eras has to stay focused on what’s at stake. To not do so will set us right back into a pit of chaos, which can render each and every one of us vulnerable to our keepers once again.

The Agreement to End Hostilities is truly our life line. It has nothing to do with your courage or strength; it’s about changing a violent prison culture into a civilized environment that eventually entails – or demands – that each of us be released from these animal cages and be allowed back to our communities.

The Agreement to End Hostilities dictates:

  1. That we prisoners establish respectful communication lines between our four principal groups;
  2. That we prisoners establish a principled standard where each prisoner holds his or her own individual discipline;
  3. That we prisoners educate the younger prisoners as to why discipline in prison benefits us all;
  4. That we prisoners recommend to CDCr, collectively, that which is needed in each prison to facilitate bringing the Agreement to End Hostilities to life, such as educational programs and privileges;
  5. That we prisoners cannot expect the Agreement to End Hostilities to be successful without us seriously getting behind it.

The Agreement to End Hostilities is truly our life line. It has nothing to do with your courage or strength; it’s about changing a violent prison culture into a civilized environment that eventually entails – or demands – that each of us be released from these animal cages and be allowed back to our communities.

It’s a real struggle on these GPs (general population yards), one that I welcome wholeheartedly, because so much has changed in these GPs that it’s like they are all modified lock-up yards. I believe in time that we can change this by demonstrating how prisons are counter-productive to a free society.

One Love, One Struggle,

Mutope

Send our brother some love and light: Mutope Duguma (James Crawford), D-05996, CSP B5-C246, P.O. Box 5005, Calipatria CA 92233.