Asking for my critique like I’m somebody

Prisoners often use art to heal and endure and make sense of their life behind bars. Many use the time to educate themselves embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Malcolm X, human rights activist and our shining prince is one such former prisoner who reclaimed his identity by removing his last name inherited from the days of chattel slavery and adding the X, signifying he is in fact somebody identified on his own terms. – Art by a prisoner in Aotearoa, New Zealand

My name I chose is Farrakhan Muhammed Shabazz. I’m named after my three favorite teachers, Minister Farrakhan, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcom X Shabazz. 

I tried to follow the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad as now come through the Honorable Minister Farrakhan, but it’s too hard to get those teachings as an indigent prisoner. 

I know, I tried for over 10 years and I never got a Bible or a Quran to study, but I did get their newspaper for a year or two. It changed my life.

I said all of that to say this, Minister Farrakhan teaches that we should not talk down on other people who are trying to do good, especially other Brothers and Sisters, if we think somebody is doing a bad job and we think we could do a better job.

Instead of saying we could do a better job, we should show and prove that we could do a better job with our actions. That’s why I never wrote in before about the things that I disliked about the Bay View.

Plus, there was so much more I did like about the paper I didn’t want to look like a hater by saying what I didn’t like.

Then, I’m a lifer who’s been in prison since 1998, so I know how hard it is to get halfway decent Black reading material. I love about 85 percent of the articles in your paper, so I wasn’t going to say anything, plus I was getting it for free. I really wasn’t going to say nothing – beggars can’t be choosey.

But you’re a real newspaper and you want my point of view and you asked for my critique like I’m somebody. Then you even said it’s my newspaper.

No wonder why you been in the game so long and why your paper is so good. You truly are the people’s paper. Made for us, by us. You really care what we think about the people.

The only thing I don’t like about the paper is the Behind Enemy Lines and other prisoner articles. Don’t get me wrong; some of them are good and some are really good and well written. 

My problem with the articles is they’re very one sided and you paint us prisoners with a broad brush. 

We aren’t all revolutionaries (revs) and rebels. Most Brothers that’s woke are not revs. Most Brothers in here ain’t rebels either. 

These Brothers in here are so nice when it comes to the authorities – including me now that I came into knowledge of my true self.

It’s a lot of thugs in here that when they do come into a little knowledge and are trying to wake up yes, it is true they do turn into revs and rebels, but that’s only because they’re young, dumb and angry and they have plenty of right to be angry. And I don’t like to call anybody dumb – I’d rather say misinformed – but I’m just trying to speak the real with you.

Back to the point. Yes, thugs turn into revs and rebels when they are trying to wake up. But that’s just the first step. 

Going from rebels without a cause to revs with a cause, that’s just their anger talking. They still haven’t learned how to love themselves yet.

Nine out of 10 of your prisoner articles are of these Brothers who are in their first stage of development like we are just stuck on stupid and can’t get past this first stage of development and we are destined to only be revs and rebels for life and that’s not true.

I know because I was a thug, then I was a rebel, then I was a rev, then I was a Black Nationalist Muslim and now I’m a Christian striving to be a Pan-African.

All you have to do is ask these revs a few questions: Do you really want to go to war against the No.1 army in the world? What are you going to do if they turn off your water supply? What are you going to do if they cut off your food supply? Do you really want to blow up the country where your grandmother, mother, children and extended family live?

So let’s live for our family, let’s live for our ideas, let’s live for our philosophy and let’s fight the white man with what he’s killing us with – our mind. Because at the end of the day if you’re intelligent, that’s all it is, a fight for hearts and minds.

See, most revs just think war is about fighting and they down for that. They down to fight for their rights, but why should we fight the devil for the country they stole from the Indians when we got a whole continent that needs us and welcomes us to come help them? 

And if they are just stuck on being a soldier, why don’t they join the African Union and fight for the Black man’s motherland? But that’s just me being a Garveyite, a Pan-African that never been to Africa.

See, most revs are just young, misinformed Brothers trying to prove they ain’t scared to die for what they believe in which only proves that they are scared to live for what they believe in, scared to live for their family, scared to live for their ideas, scared to live for their philosophy and most of all scared to fight the white man with their mind and not their fist or guns, which is dumb because any gun we can get the white man got a bigger one.

So let’s live for our family, let’s live for our ideas, let’s live for our philosophy and let’s fight the white man with what he’s killing us with – our mind. Because at the end of the day if you’re intelligent, that’s all it is, a fight for hearts and minds.

In this war for hearts and minds, why be a foot soldier when you could be an officer? Why be on the front line when you could use your mind to win hearts and minds? 

It’s silly and childish to talk about war, war, war! You’re leading these lambs to the slaughter and these lambs happen to be our Brothers and Sisters.

That’s my only bone to pick with the SF Bay View. The articles by prisoners are mostly revs and rebels and not one of them wants to take responsibility for their actions. 

They want to be just like the devils who put them here. They want to kill, steal and destroy without nothing coming back on them. They want anarchy in 2019 and it’s not realistic.

Revs and rebels want to be the same devil that they want to destroy. They just want to put the shoe on the other foot and do to the devils what the devils are doing to us. 

Revs and rebels just want to trade places with the devil and inflict the same pain on them as they are inflicting on us. But an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.

Sometimes I feel that your paper enables revs and rebels to be hardheads and keep doing what they’re doing instead of taking responsibility for their actions, instead of living for their cause.

We have to be smarter than that. We have to be the change that we want to see; otherwise, we are just as evil as them. How can we say they are evil, they’re wrong and they are devils if put in their position we would do the same thing to them as they are doing to us?

Are we devils too? The answer to that is no we are not. We have to take responsibility for our actions and stop shifting the blame to other people by calling them snitches.

I got to give these revs and rebels the best piece of advice that I gave to my last cellmate: If you stop committing crimes, people will stop snitching on you. And he looked at me like I was the crazy one, like he can’t live a crime-free life. But if you don’t do nothing, there ain’t nothing to tell on.

Sometimes I feel that your paper enables revs and rebels to be hardheads and keep doing what they’re doing instead of taking responsibility for their actions, instead of living for their cause. 

The Brothers from the Nation of Islam they live in America, they’re Black, they don’t commit crimes. Some of them are ex-cons –  they stand up for their people; they stand up for their rights.

Some of them are more real than you and me. So don’t tell me it can’t be done when they’re doing it, they are living it and they are not the only ones.

It’s Pan-Africans, Black Nationalists, Christians, Orthodox Muslims and all kinds of others. Brothers out there living right. 

It’s not just the Nation of Islam. That’s just the Brothers who I learned to live right through the Fruit of Islam (FOI).

They are not just living right out there. Some of them are our peers and in prison living right, turning their lives around in the belly of the beast, becoming changed men. 

And these revs and rebels could do it, too, and I believe the SF Bay View could enable them to live right and to live for their cause instead of die for it.

By featuring some of the Brothers I mentioned above, if your paper featured more Pan-Africans, Black Nationalists, Christians and Muslims, the people that read your paper could turn over a new leaf, especially the Brothers Behind Enemy Lines.

Reading the Final Call changed my life and I believe the SF Bay View could do the same thing for institutions of higher learning. That’s really the only way to abolish the prison industrial complex because the devils won’t keep building them if they are helping people instead of hurting people.

That’s my suggestion on how to make the SF Bay View a better paper for the people – you asked and that’s my solution.

Thank you for reading these few words.

Thank you for your time.

Have a nice day.

Peace and Love,

Farrakhan

F.M. Shabazz

The Truth

Send our brother some love and light: Terrell Young, 93127, NNCL, P.O. Box 7000, Carson City, NV 89702.