by Imara Mwasi aka De’anthony Chaney
I am a 22-year-old young Black brotha currently housed in Corcoran SHU, arrived here Nov. 27, 2012, after the hunger strike. I came from Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) in Tracy, the Reception Center Ad-Seg – the hole – where I’d been since July 15, 2012. I received my first actual 115 disciplinary write up in prison there, my first SHU term also, for an SBI (serious bodily injury) on an inmate during a riot and was given a 15-month SHU term.
I’ve been to Pelican Bay’s BMU (Behavior Modification Unit) program that was designed for Ad-Seg and SHU kickouts. I was put there for disciplinary reasons for conduct in CYA (California Youth Authority). I was a fresh 18 and new to prison, and here I was already labeled a threat of some sort.
I was housed on Pelican Bay’s B Yard, the active yard, a war zone at the time compared to Pelican Bay’s A Yard, which was considered a programming yard, where no action was jumping off. I’d arrived at Pelican Bay Dec. 27, 2008, with 92 points, making me a Level 4, based on my conduct in California Youth Authority, and my release date was June 10, 2009. They wouldn’t make an exception for me to be able to program!
Prison is horrible enough, but now I get to see firsthand what the SHU is designed for – to break a person down to their lowest and weakest state of living, to where they just want to give up from all the pain and anguish of it all. Mentally, it is a task to stay well and sane, to not let the relentless torture get the better of you, and it remains the same struggle, trials and tribulations from day to day.
One’s mental state and wellbeing are also based on one’s support system. Not having a support system just means it’s going to be that much worse and unbearable at times to cope with than it already is. I don’t have a TV since I came from reception, so I sit here by myself – writing, pondering, working out and pacing the cell – reading any knowledge that I can get my hands on.
So upon getting here to Corcoran SHU I had a celly before we split and he had a TV, but I’m not much of a TV person. I’d rather read or write, obtain knowledge. So I inquired about some literature, and my celly said that Brotha Damu Katika Chimurenga down the way has some, to get at him.
Prison is horrible enough, but now I get to see firsthand what the SHU is designed for – to break a person down to their lowest and weakest state of living, to where they just want to give up from all the pain and anguish of it all.
So I get at the brotha about some knowledge and man, did he hook it up with the Blackness. The brotha was then like, “I’ma shoot these newspapers over there too.” Me, not knowin’ what he was talkin’ about, asked my celly, like, what papers he got? USA Today or something? He like, “Naw, just some Oakland newspapers that show about the hunger strikes and stuff in prison.” I’m like, oh word, waitin’ on the brotha to shoot the papers, so I can check them out for myself.
So me and my celly split. All by myself – no literature, just some old letters to read, poetry I write, and an urban book I’m working on.
The brotha Damu Katika Chimurenga gets the papers to me, which are Bay View newspapers. And I just went into a trance upon inspection, dissecting and soaking up all my Black history and worldly happenings. Each article captured and demanded my attention! I’m like, damn, this is deep.
My beautiful Black people and all the pain, anguish we’ve endured and still endure today – all brought to the surface and put into the limelight by Bay View, really opening my eyes to a lot, broadened my views towards the struggle. Wow! It was immensely critiqued in every article on a lengthened journey around the world, straight in your face exposure of the injustices done to us in the past and that are still being done in the present.
All our Black New Afrikan leaders are and were slandered, tortured, murdered for speaking out, uplifting our people – all the violence directed in hopes of silencing their revolutionary wrath, empowerment and enlightenment for the people throughout history, as we still struggle to be free in Amerikkka, strive to be free – mentally, spiritually and in some cases physically in the US of A, the so-called land of the free.
Being oppressed, I’ve come to realize in my unconscious state of mind it was easier to take my anger and aggression out on my own oppressed people, because you don’t have to look far or face the facts that we’re the oppressed and our anger and aggression should be directed at the powers holding us down, keeping us back.
My beautiful Black people and all the pain, anguish we’ve endured and still endure today – all brought to the surface and put into the limelight by Bay View, really opening my eyes to a lot, broadened my views towards the struggle. Wow!
All our energies and efforts should be put to use in overcoming oppression. I’m not dumb or ignorant. I was once a lost young brotha, without a sense of direction, without a clear perception of my history and the world around me. But as I grow mentally conscious of who I am and who my ancestors were before me and what they’ve had to go through in this land, the clarity of it all becomes more transparent in my learning – a lot of what we’re not enlightened to in schools. They don’t want us to know who we are, how we got here, and what this country was founded on.
I reflect on my childhood, when my loving mother used to try and tell me to the best of her knowledge and ability what I was up against as a Black man. She’d always say, “Son, don’t get into trouble, because once you’re in the system, it’s hard to get out. Most of our Black men are locked up.” And I’d be like, “Aight, momma,” nonchalantly, but I know now more than ever that it’s true.
The Bay View helps one keep in touch with the struggle, today and historically – uplifting and empowering our people. I hope to be of some assistance to the people and my community in the struggle. I have a lot to learn and overcome in doing so.
I’m feeling what the brothas in the Pelican Bay Short Corridor are laying out for the community in assisting and uplifting our people in the struggle. Next Black August, BAMCC (Black August Memorial Commemoration Committee) – those are some intelligent brothas working from within in support of the struggle. Remarkable.
Salutations to those active in the struggle and to those behind the walls pushing the struggle, because it may very well be twice as hard, due to the physical and mental restraints you may endure because of your political, revolutionary endeavors. Stay strong, keep striving, never give up hope.
May peace and blessings be upon you all.
This came by email from the writer himself. He’d been released from prison March 3 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s now a Bay View subscriber.