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There is a branding within our communities that is honored, praised and promoted – a branding that has been adopted out of ignorance and is more dehumanizing than the word nigger. Yet, this branding has been promoted and ingrained into the psyche of many within our communities to the point that it has been accepted and even worn as a badge of honor, not unlike the derogatory “nigger” terminology. The branding I’m referring to is the mark of a beast, a killer, a robber, a drug dealer or, simply, a criminal.
Every American faces brutal, armed psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheelchairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.
On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it comes to mind that from day one our society and culture have been heavily influenced by film. The recent slavery-related films, “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg, and “Django Unchained,” directed by Quentin Tarantino, will have a social, economic and psychological impact.
Ask anyone who has ever been on a hunger strike; the process of intentionally starving oneself is a very painful ordeal. And yet, there are places on this planet where the idea of death is preferable to continuing down a path that offers no hope or relief from suffering. I live in such a place; I know.
In a letter to the Bay View, SHU prisoner Mutope Duguma (s/n James D. Crawford), who wrote “The Call,” published in the Bay View online and in print in June, sheds light on the background leading to the hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Penitentiary that is set to begin July 1.