by Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Bro. Balagoon K. Muhammad
The whole idea of “Revolutionary Huemenism” is rooted in the struggle of conscious prisoners reaching back for their humanity, under diverse, tactical conditions and the most racist treatment imaginable.
Revolutionary Huemanism is our way of looking at ourselves juxtaposed to the way that this environment and the hood has taught us to view ourselves.
Revolutionary Huemanism is a way of thought, deed and action that radically changes how we live behind the walls, and how we move towards a future beyond the walls rooted in genuine humanity and an awakened capacity for a greater level of intelligence.
In essence, Revolutionary Huemanism is an act of resistance; not just against an inhumane system that has a green light to exemplify the full measure of its bestiality, but against that primitive thing in our own nature – that can by necessity be called on in the act of self-defense – to destroy. It is a dive into our somatic experience of being, that provides us with a new center to live from and a path back to wholistic Huemanism.
This is a new day in which a new mind amongst convicts is developing.
Understand that in the minds of some corrections staff, mistreatment is justified by the fact that we are prisoners, convicted of crimes against humanity. Hence, we deserve the most oppressive conditions, repressive treatment and suppressive mind-games that they can conjure up, some of the first points of attention that illuminate the madness of prison culture – and help us understand that this is a new day in which a new mind amongst convicts is developing.
A mind-set that makes clear that our Oneness with the world beyond these walls is still intact, that there is no “out there” that exists independently from our conscious state of humanity.
Hence, we will no longer be forced to readily submit to the treatment that utterly denies our humanity and the dignity of our personhood.
The genesis of this thought process is rooted in the Prisoner Human Rights Movement. Needless to say, this radical move to embrace our essence as New Men and New Wimin is the birth of a new level of consciousness and by extension a break with our old racially charged gang identification, and much of the prison political dogma imposed on us via institutional gang investigators and opinion shapers of gang policy.
The historic Agreement to End Hostilities, by the wise and intelligent warriors of each racial group – and by extension each gang leader – put a checkmate on CDCr’s tactical manipulation of gangs.
Remember to Remember, Never to Forget that by fomenting racial tensions and divisive gang politricks amongst us, the department has not just been able to use our violence and disruptive behavior as a repressive tool, but as the prime factor in their proposals for “more correctional officers” and “more money” in their budget to fight the [alleged] rise of prison gangs, violence and organized criminal activity by gang members.
Of course, the historic Agreement to End Hostilities, by the wise and intelligent warriors of each racial group – and by extension each gang leader – put a checkmate on CDCr’s tactical manipulation of gangs and acted as a direct challenge to both our conditions of confinement and the lack of viable programs in the existential void that would help us prepare for parole.
Thus far, the power of our unity, consolidation and group operation has held and acted in our favor. CDCr has released hundreds of wrongly isolated men from the SHU; reinstated educational and self-help programs that we can use in preparing for the board and made it possible for a few people (Elders) to see the streets after 40 and 50 years behind the wall.
But there was still work to do, as thousands of highly intelligent reformed, Revolutionary Huemanists who have served well beyond their base terms and are still languishing in prison for no other reason than that they will no longer view themselves as anti-social, criminal types beyond all redemption or play the games that the parole board demands.
Some of these Elders are on their last leg, desirous of a chance to simply make final arrangements and to die amongst family.
Many of these men are now Elders who have emerged from 20 and 30 years [and more] of long-term SHU programs, for gang validations that were bogus. They’re now suffering from cancer, heart problems, respiratory distress syndrome and much more.
Their primary focus is on health and living out their remaining years peacefully – or getting the most out of our bodily intelligence and the visceral experience of their humanity – not the gymnastics of parole preparation. Some of these Elders are on their last leg, desirous of a chance to simply make final arrangements and to die amongst family. Yet the parole board persists in playing games – some commissioners advised us to: “Work from your hospital bed;” “Do a book report or something…” This is inhumane, the most flagrant misuse of power and an affront to the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Elder abuse is thought to be a term and set of actions that belong to the medical arena alone. However, studies will show that elder abuse takes on forms that play out in parole hearings more often than we know.
Nonetheless, elderly abuse is more likely when Elders are isolated, afraid of being harmed further, subjected to not having their complaints of abuse taken seriously, etc. When we speak of abuse as it relates to the parole board, we’re speaking of psychological abuse such as the use of words like antisocial, or the action of denial of parole for three, five, seven, 10, 15 years. That causes stress and anguish. Even restricting what an Elder can read, e.g. newspapers, or who they can socialize with is considered a subtle form of elderly abuse.
So, our concern is not just with the process of psychological aging or the normal disorders and medical issues that constitute the aging process, but the abuse that Elders encounter in a high and intense, stress-filled environment.
Hence, it’s once again time to rekindle the fires that will make compassionate release for Elders a hot-button issue and focal point for change, as the struggle for the freedom of Elders is key to the total purge of a broken system and release process that played out during the 1980s term of Governor Deukmejian.
Upon taking office the governor said that he wanted to: “Empty the California prison system of those prisoners who came in as youth; have come of age in prison and are now old men; Elders reliant on the state for healthcare issues related to old age.”
In fact, the very idea that governor Newsom would still pay millions of dollars per year to a 14-member panel of commissioners whose thoughts, ideas and values are not 100% in alignment with his own is incomprehensible.
Remember that upon taking office, the governor said that he wanted to: “Empty the California prison system of those prisoners who came in as youth; have come of age in prison and are now old men; Elders reliant on the state for healthcare issues related to old age.”
As Elders, we are reminding the governor of his own vow and stated intention, and have initiated the Agreement to Come Home. We are a collective of Revolutionary Huemanists, demanding recognition of our humanity and a chance at existence beyond the structures of this environment.
We demand a change in the thinking of those charged with the duty and responsibility of evaluating us for the governor’s office, a change in BPH thinking and practice more in alignment with the governor’s plan to clean out the system.
The Five Core Demands (in short) of The Agreement to Come Home are: 1) Immediate release of all elderly prisoners aged 50 and over who have served at least 10 years of their term in the interest of Justice. 2) Immediate release of all elderly prisoners suffering from an ailment that could lead to their death in the interest of Justice. 3) Immediate release of all elderly prisoners who have been incarcerated 25 years or more in the interest of Justice. 4) Immediate release of all elderly prisoners who have come before the board for suitability three or more times and met at least three of the demands imposed in the interest of Justice. 5) Immediate release for all elderly prisoners with sound plans that include a viable Social political economic community outreach or Gang Intervention Program – or some type of proposal that will contribute to the various Community Development projects and initiatives on the governor’s desk.
We contend that indefinite sentencing under Marsy’s law (Prop 9), is inhumane and a punishment that is disproportionate to the term that the courts imposed.
Let all political strategists, social activists, media opinion shapers, family members and convicts 50 and over flood the governor’s office, Board of Parole Hearing, Chief commissioner and Board Executive director, Jennifer Schaffer, with advocacy letters and letters of inquiry demanding: 1) A change in policy and the public narrative about human beings under life sentences; 2) A definite explanation of ‘suitability’ that coincides with the demands imposed by the Board for the purpose of showing rehabilitation; 3) The immediate release of all Elders who fit the criteria specified in the Five Core Demands.
In conclusion, reason is the most supreme faculty, actual facts its fuel. If we can learn to act reasonably, we’ll feel our way forward through the darkness of incarceration towards a beacon of ideas that exemplify the full light of freedom.
Rediscover your humanity, stand firm and rattle the Kage!
In struggle and solidarity,
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa and Balagoon Kambone Muhammad are advocates for the Strategic Release program, an Agreement to Come Home Collective as well as the Agreement to End Hostilities and the 2011/2013 California Hunger Strikes.
Special note: Prime Minister Balagoon is the creator of the term Revolutionary Huemanist and has developed an extensive set of ideas around that title that coincide with his ideas of spirituality which we hope to share in the near future, ashe!
Send our brothers some love and light: Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, C-35671, CHCF D-FAC B1A-127, P.O. BOX 213040, Stockton, CA 95213. Balagoon K. Muhammad, C-95955, CHCF D1A-129, P.O. BOX 213040, Stockton, CA 95213.