A call to action – back to the future

Im-here-so-my-kids-dont-have-to-be-joy-protest-1400x932, <strong>A call to action – back to the future</strong>, Abolition Now!
“Black joy is mined from a different vein of human experience. Black joy concedes that, yes, we are a happy people. But don’t get it twisted. We are happy that we can function in a system that was designed to keep us obedient, invisible and disenfranchised. Happy that we are strong, that we can fight tooth and nail, be it for our communities, our rights, our health—and yes, for our country. Happy that we can move forward after witnessing one brutally televised police-related murder after another. Happy that we can bend a knee, but still be unbowed.” – Rachel Jones (Nat Geo, June 14, 2022, “What is Black joy?”)

by Mr. Howard Young

Prison Human Rights (PHR) editor note: This is a throwback to December 2020, and this Brother appears to have been released! But the piece is so positive, as well as the outcome, we had to publish it. 

Greetings, peace and blessings!

First, I want to thank all of you in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed and disenfranchised peoples in this country, around the world, and particularly for us in the belly of the beast. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It really takes a village. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated, and very much needed.

As I look at the news and see the protests and demonstrations going on, in this country and around the world, I’m almost forced to look at myself in the duty and responsibility that I have in my part to play – especially when I see women and children standing strong and tall, carrying signs and challenging the oppressors to do for me what I should be doing for myself.

As a Black man, born and raised during Civil Rights in Roxbury, Mass., subjected to racism that many of the women and children demonstrators have never even seen, it hurts me that I have allowed myself to now be subjugated to the California Department of Corrections and (very little) rehabilitation, instead of being on the front lines alongside and defending the women and children demonstrators who could be my sisters and nieces, and even my children.

When I see those beautiful women and children demonstrating to demand fair treatment, and the release of us men and women throughout these jails and prisons, to decarcerate due to Covid-19 and stop this mass incarceration, I’m forced to be called to action.

It is my duty and responsibility, as it is for all of us in these jails and prisons, to make the best use of this time by sincerely changing our lives, bettering ourselves and preparing for eventual release back into our communities. At the same time, we have a duty to fight for our freedom and fight until we are free!

Too many times, us in these prisons, we tend to become complacent and institutionalized.

I’m not talking about a physical fight either. I’m talking about litigating on our individual behalf. Whether it is filing a 602 appeal to be considered for Covid-19 early release, or whether it is finally a petition for writ of habeas corpus, including for Covid-19 early release, or challenging the denial of parole by the Board the Parole Hearings (BPH).

Too many times, us in these prisons, we tend to become complacent and institutionalized. Much like Lazarus we tend to wait for someone else to do for us that which we can and should do for ourselves.

Oh yeah, it’s beautiful to see all of those demonstrating for our freedom from these prisons. And to see all the voters of California voting for and passing Prop 57, Prop 47, Prop 36, etc. Thank you very much!

Yet, with the passing of all of these new laws aimed at releasing us from these prisons, sooner rather than later, us in these prisons know that CDCr and the BPH are not trying to comply with any laws that have anything to do with us being released, sooner or later. So our responsibility, in these prisons, first becomes that we must make ourselves “suitable” as you will, or worthy of being released to our communities. This time in prison cannot and should not be play time! As Don King said: “Don’t serve time, let time serve you.” 

We should be reading, learning, studying and positive programming, disciplinary free!

This is invaluable time that we will never get back! As such, we should be reading, learning, studying and positive programming, disciplinary free! Focused with our eyes on the prize. Not just on getting released, but also preparing to be a positive productive member of society.

If released today, what kind of job are you qualified to do? Do you have a vocational trade? Or do you have an excuse? I know, I know. You’ll flip burgers and work at any job you can find. Sounds good. Realistically, Covid-19 has tightened the job market. You may need a real trade or skill to be qualified as an essential worker to even have a job.

So let’s keep it clean. This is the time to do what we have to do to prepare us for what we can possibly do when we are released.

This is a call to action! Get up and shake the sheets! We don’t need to spend $220 at the canteen every month. And we don’t need a $200+ quarterly package every quarter. Whatever your resources may be, try skipping a month. And instead of eating that money, ask your family or loved ones to purchase you some books from Amazon or another approved vendor.

No, not urban books. I’m talking about vocational and educational books that can help you change your thinking and change your life. Knowledge of self is a good place to start. Most of us in these prisons know what I’m talking about. We did not aspire to be in prison.

At some point in our lives, and even today, we thought about something that we would really like to do with our lives outside of prison. Well, guess what? There are not many things that we cannot do today, and upon our release, because of our past criminal conviction(s). Even CDCr hires ex-offenders.

With that said, I want you to know that I’m currently practicing what I’m preaching. Yet, this is still a call to action even to myself. Because the biggest room in the house is the room for improvement.

You! Me! We! Us! Let’s make it happen!

I sincerely thank you for taking time, your valuable time, to read this letter. I hope it’s not too long, but I do hope that it is strong! 

Peace and blessings!

Your brother in the struggle, in solidarity

Bro Howard