Filed under: Editorials, Incarceration
Reflections from a prisoner in North Carolina on conditions in prison and how it relates to the wider Black liberation struggle.
“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or destroy it.”
“To fight and win! That’s the real objective. Not just to make statements, no matter how noble; but to destroy the system that oppresses us, by any means available to us. And to do this we must be connected, in and communication with those in the struggle on the outside.”
Pender CI, Burgaw, NC
Greetings comrades! I’m speaking as loud as I can from these concrete walls and wire fences. I’ve been pondering for a while, what’s worth fighting for? Because for the last year that’s what has been heavy on my mind.
Is it injustice or justice? I don’t know. But a week ago I listened to 8 to 10 officers spray and beat a fellow prisoner with boots, fists, and batons for 45 minutes to an hour. Then they let him sit in a cell that had been gassed with the pepper spray, so he can’t breathe—face bloodied, body swollen, and completely naked. Is that enough to fight for?
Or a prisoner with a brain tumor tell his orderly, “My head feels hot.” He’s taken to medical, who in turn tells COs to take him back—no one called him. When they returned him to the block his nose began to bleed like a river. An hour later he was pronounced dead. Don’t forget the day before he could have seen his mom but they was turned away for a reason I’m not aware of. Is that enough to fight for?
Or how a prisoner in a dorm that houses kitchen workers was taken to the hospital for Covid-19 and still all the kitchen workers reported to work as if nothing happened. As if the 14-day quarantine period doesn’t apply to them, because otherwise the staff would have to prepare and deliver the food and clean up themselves. This camp currently has over 132 cases and at least four prisoners have died according to NPR. Four out of the six dorms here are currently quarantined. But when it’s a dorm that would force the officers to do more work, the prisoners aren’t quarantined. Is that enough to fight for?
Yes, the lives of human beings are worth fighting for! But at this plantation they do not agree. It’s inhumane to treat a human being as if he or she is an animal. It’s inhumane to treat a human being as thought it wouldn’t matter if he or she lives or dies.
So I’m standing to fight for my humanity, and I hope that others do the same. Because right now we as prisoners are going through the same treatment as the Breonna Taylors, George Floyds, and Trayvon Martins. Yes, killed, as well as physically but mostly mentally dehumanized, and emotionally, spiritually, and mentally depleted. So with that being said, what is the mission? What’s worth fighting for?
photo: Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia