Message from the youth: Abolish slavery

by Kojuan Miles

I am a reformed gang member from South Central Lanes. I am now practicing Islam, which translates to mean submission, obedience and peace. Being incarcerated right now, I am in a state of submission and in order to retain peace I must be obedient.

Kojuan Miles at age 20 – seven years ago – was playing football in Tacoma, Washington.

I grew up in Los Angeles, where there is a certain intensity applied to gangbanging that stems from tribal warfare, and through this unruly violence there is still solidarity that unites the worst of adversaries in the closest of compounds to fight for equality for our known or unknown brothers. As was once said to me by a fellow Muslim brother when I embraced Islam, “If you can take that same intensity that was applied to gangbanging and apply it to Islam, you will become a great Muslim.”

Well, it’s the same for this fight we have on our hands induced by this modern day slavery in Texas. NOW, people, is the time to break these chains.

As spoken by my brother Keith “Malik” Washington in the March 2016 Bay View: “We cannot do what others have done because we have not reached the level of solidarity and political development prisoners in other states such as California have reached.” But like Sam Cooke once sang, “A Change Gon Come,” and the time for change is now.

To create this mentality of solidarity, we have to all come together and become one like the bricks in the wall. And in order to come together, we as a people who are aware must spread the word to the unaware and awaken society on what’s taking place in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Let not the fight begin only in Texas, but let it extend as far as this message of truth can reach. Because loved ones afar are still affected as well. Take me, for example. I am currently incarce­rated in the state of Texas, but I have no family in Texas; every­one is back in California. Being trapped here causes stress on my family because Texas keeps denying my parole for reasons unrelated to what I was charged for.

NOW, people, is the time to break these chains.

At the same time, they keep telling me I’m getting paid for work time and good time, but yet I keep getting set-off after set-off. It seems almost impossible to get out of Texas and back home to my mother, who is very ill from diabetes, so we helped her getting some medicine online from that actually help her a lot. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has come from another state and been bound by this modern day slavery.

So let this be the beginning of a battle that extends as far and wide as possible so this fight won’t be just for us in Texas but in other states if any are affected by these same circumstances. So let’s spread the word and awaken awareness because a closed mouth doesn’t get heard.

Amerika must know that slavery has not yet been abolished. One can still maintain peace, submit and be obedient as a Muslim, but if given a righteous cause, one can still fight. So we the people must recognize this cause and fight for what’s right.

Amerika must know that slavery has not yet been abolished.

To my Texas brothers, to my Texas sisters, to my Caucasian brothers, to my Latino brothers, to my brothers of affiliation, we as a whole are being affected by this centuries old plague of bondage. So let’s not look at it as something only the Muslim or the Blackman is going through but something we as a people are going through –  one love!

These are the photos Kojuan is referring to, this one taken in 1975 at the Cummins Prison Farm in Texas. – Photo courtesy The Marshall Project

Tell a family member; tell a friend. Let’s start aiming at the media to shed light into the darkness. Let’s start blogging about it. Let’s create discussions about this in political environments through the internet. Let’s email people of great importance who will hear this condition that we prisoners in Texas prisons live in and will make a change to end slavery in Texas once and for all.

In the Bay View March 2016 issue, there were pictures from 1975 and 1978 of inmates in Texas being shouted orders to work by a gunman on a horse – work that no one can actually prove we are being compensated for. How different is that from when my ancestors used to pick cotton over 200 years ago? Not much. Ain’t no difference between those 1970s pictures and what goes on today.

Generally speaking, we just don’t have pictures of today. Same cowboy boots, same spurs, same Confederate gray uniforms, same cowboy hats, same pistol and shotgun, same “Bossman” shouting orders on a horse to this day.

We’re not asking for a lot – just to be recognized for our hard work through compensation. Every man should be paid for his hard work and effort and not be told he is getting paid so TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) can just sound and look good to the public.

We’re not asking for a lot – just to be recognized for our hard work through compensation.

Both parties – us prisoners in Texas and TDCJ – know that no one is getting paid and no one is doing any paying. If a legitimate and professional analyst were to look into this so called system of payment for our work time and good time, he or she would find this system to be fraudulent. This is what is keeping us from going home to our loved ones.

This photo was taken in 1978 at the Ellis Unit in Texas. – Photo courtesy The Marshall Project

It’s a franchise for modern day slavery. If they can keep us bound in chains, then they can continue to make money off of us; if they let us go, then they lose profits and proceeds. This is systemic bondage built on slavery and Confederate principles.

Through these words, I hope that same intensity that came from my days of rampant gangbanging can radiate an energy in you that signifies a calling for solidarity. That’s a word often used by my brother Keith “Malik” Washington in his article on the abolition of prison slavery in Texas in the March 2016 issue.

Taking a stand starts with us and we can build a mass movement if we can stand together. So, people, hear me out because this is far, far more than just an outcry. Let this instead be the beginning of a struggle that does not begin with me but it begins with us. Power to the people.

Taking a stand starts with us and we can build a mass movement if we can stand together.

Send our brother some love and light: Kojuan Miles, 1912338, Coffield Unit, 2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony TX 75884.