Asymmetrical tactics for surviving the pandemic at the Q

San Quentin State Prison, located on San Francisco Bay just across the Golden Gate Bridge from the city, is California’s oldest prison. – Photo: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters

by Malik Ali

Dealing with human experiences behind layers of concrete and steel requires a working central nervous system and a healthy mental state of being. The coronavirus pandemic has become the Goliath to both of these reflexes of mine.

As a California prisoner here at the Q (San Quentin), it has become evident that feeble-mindedness from the administrative camp is the new normal.

For example, it was obvious that the men and women in uniform were not concerned with promoting and practicing ethical and moral behavior. No compliance with the mission statement they swear to.

They held no town hall meeting to alert us to the looming catastrophe that has now become the chief part of our everyday lives. In the onset of this crisis, there was virtually no communication between us and them.

It took for us to formally grieve through the CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) administrative process to get any recognition. You on the outside may have expected a show of humanity, especially since we are in these so-called progressive times.

You see, our lives have been classified on what we do instead of who we are. This outlook allows for us to be disregarded.

We had to digest cold beans and cold grits for a number of days because there was no empathy for our wellbeing.

Please let’s be perfectly clear: This commentary is not intended to arouse sympathy of any sort. I am merely chronicling the atmosphere from a New Afrikan point of view, since we are also affected by this virus.

To date and to my knowledge, there have not been any fatalities as a result of COVID-19 here at the Q. We are remaining strong, despite the much needed quarantine.

We the prisoners are better equipped to deal with the isolation due to the fact that we are already experienced with solitary confinement.

I am not one to hunt for conspiracies, but it does appear as if CDCR will use this incident as a means of usurping some of the advances that we have won in recent years. I ask that we continue to use Umoja (Unity) as a tool despite the shape, the size or the color of the opposition.

Send our brother some love and light: Malik Ali, BF5110, San Quentin State Prison, 1-W-91, San Quentin CA 94974. This is the first letter with personal testimony about the pandemic that the Bay View has received. We look forward to many more.