by Michael Reed Dorrough aka Zah
There was a question posed by George Jackson years ago: “Why is it that California prisons produce so many Bunchy Carters?” Mutope Duguma, in 2011, answered that question, I believe, profoundly. “Ask yourselves why it is that so many New Afrikans who have a strong political line just happen to be locked up in solitary confinement units. We know they are not terrorists, we know they are not gang members and we know that they are not criminals.”
California, in spite of its reputation for being liberal, locks up more people and for more outrageous amounts of time than anywhere else. California is home to one of the most racist and inhumane criminal justice systems on the planet.
Communities of color, underdeveloped communities have been under assault for centuries.
Incarceration, enslavement is just a natural consequence of the inhumanity that our communities are subjected to and continue to be subjected to. Many of us who came to prison during the 1970s were politically conscious even then because we were influenced by the movement that existed at that time.
You come to prison as a child and when you leave – if you leave – it is possible to leave as a 40-or-50-year-old child.
But we were not necessarily politically mature. Even then many of us were housed in solitary prisons particularly. Solitary confinement is a place in which you do a lot of self-reflecting.
The education process begins almost immediately for those of us who were fortunate enough to meet the men, the soldiers who assumed responsibility for Black humanity. We read and studied for the purpose of understanding our reality, past and present.
I was first paroled from prison in 1983. And in spite of what I thought I knew, I was still politically immature. As a result, I could not put into practice the revolutionary teachings that I had learned.
Prison is not conducive to the maturation process. It never has been. You come to prison as a child and when you leave – if you leave – it is possible to leave as a 40-or-50-year-old child, in terms of what you do and don’t know.
There is no system in place in prison that makes it possible to develop in the kind of even manner in which you outgrow the mentality that brought you to prison.
We are intentionally separated by hundreds of miles of barbed wire and concrete from our families and loved ones.
Nothing is being done to prepare us for the technological changes that have been made. We are still given $200 and released into a world that we have been isolated from for decades.
Psychologically we are just not prepared. Many of us are lacking in the maturity that is required to make sense of the world to which we are being released. That must start before we are released.
California is home to one of the most racist and inhumane criminal justice systems on the planet.
In the process of doing the kind of self-reflecting that takes place, finding out about and working to fix yourself also means that you learn about the reasons for your oppression and the oppression of others.
For those of us who learn, understand and accept these truths, you develop the political maturity that makes it possible for you to make a conscious decision as to whether or not you want to embrace revolutionary principles and ideology.
The decision is not as difficult as some might think. No one wants to live under the constant non-stop assault on their humanity as we are and have been.
The decision that you make, that we have made, is to contribute to doing something about it. That just makes sense.
When Black people were leaving the South during the 1900s, they were not leaving simply to look for better lives – they were fleeing the South’s political, economic, social and educational oppression. The period between 1910 and 1975 has been called The Great Migration. Some 6 million Black people fled the South. Between 1880 and 1950, one Afrikan was lynched every week.
You learn as you sit and study that these inhumanities of yesterday, along with those that we continue to experience, are all part of the same story. People are made to feel unwelcome in this country every single moment of each day.
The humanity of women has been under assault for the past several centuries, and it continues to be. Young people are made to feel worthless daily.
Mass incarceration has robbed communities of color, particularly Black and Hispanic (Mexican) of their most valuable resources – people.
We see the shameful slaughter of people within the LBGT community and laws being implemented to exclude them from life. We see the modern-day lynching of Black and Latinx men almost daily.
We actually witnessed how Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini came to power in the form of Donald Trump in his assaults on the humanity of people who are Asian. This is exactly what fascism looks like.
Tulsa and Rosewood – and today the displacement and destruction of entire communities – is called gentrification.
How can we not want to contribute to changing the hate that has strangled us since the birth of this country. You fight back because it is simply the right thing to do.
Freedom will be won by the Bunchy Carters of the world!
Love and Strength, Zah
Send our brother some love and light: Michael Reed Dorrough, D83611, SATF,11, B3-6-4L, P.O. Box 5248, Corcoran, CA 93212.