“It is imperative to distinguish carefully between the rhythms of flourishing and the rhythms of decline in every single thing.”
– Myyamoto Musashi
Devastation sets deep in my aching heart as I continuously see all of these young faces coming through these decrepit doors of prison madness; 15- and 16-year-olds, and sometimes younger. With no true guidance and no true leadership, they are locked up and thrown to the wolves, learning quickly to fend for themselves, follow others, or fall off, and got lost in a dark, dreary world of misery, anguish and pain. They look for strength, knowledge and counsel in their older homeboys, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that all of these years most of their older homeboys have been in these dungeons wasting away, deteriorating, on some straight nonsense, not really trying to do anything useful or productive with their time.
Many of these older cats have neglected to take true strides to better themselves, or to elevate their positions in life, let alone their thinking… And so, therefore they really don’t have nothing good to say, or to give these youngsters, and so a lot of these youngsters are coming through here, and they see this and many of these youngsters – the ones with any sense, that is – quickly begin to lose respect for these so-called O.G.’s and they start to look at them differently, and usually with a disdainful eye.
The ones that don’t have much sense, that’s a different story… They don’t know any better, and don’t have anyone to show them or to teach them, so they get caught up in all of the madness and degeneration, and usually they end up becoming degenerates themselves, and that’s all bad.
Yet, amazingly, I often come across many sharp youngsters in here, who have been eager to learn and to really take their thinking and their lives to a new level, and I’m always impressed at how sharp some of these youngsters are, and yet a bit saddened whenever they confide in me that they wish their older homeboys were more on point, sharper, brighter and more on top of their game when it comes to passing down strong, useful knowledge.
They talk about how they wish their older homeboys would take the time to give them literature or put a book in their hand, discussing real shit with them and trying to teach the, something new, or something with true significance and applicable value. I once asked one of these youngsters – whom I couldn’t help but notice was extremely sharp and really on top of his game for only being 21 years old – what does he look for when he needs someone with an “O.G.” Status? And this is what the little dude told me:
“When I meet someone with an “O.G.” status I look for someone who carries themselves in a manner that one can look up to, I feel he’s supposed to be able to teach you things and show you things you need to know of what’s to come in this lifestyle; he should give you the history of what you represent and why certain things are the way they are, he should encourage you to educate yourself and push you to want to be something better in life, and as a person, he should be a rider “still”, he should want to help you and not just use you, he should teach you about war and what’s worth and not worth going to war over; he should help build you up and make sure you stay the best you can be… I had an “O.G.” homie who once made me read a dictionary because he said I said “cuzz” too much and I needed to expand my vocabulary. An “O.G.” should always want to see you do something with yourself and not just always want to see you in some bullshit in the name of “da set”… “
These are words coming from a young warrior that I quickly became very fond of, and I assure you that his words are definitely a reflection of precisely how many of these youngsters feel, as they can’t help but notice the evident deterioration around here and the lack of true leadership from many of their so-called o.g.’s.
Me and this youngster had a couple of good sessions, I taught him the difference between Honor and Dignity, I passed him some good literature to read and we chopped it up about that, I helped him write an article about the psychological warfare tactics that these pigs use on us in here. His writing skills were already on point, and he wrote the whole article by himself, actually, I just gave him some advice on how to tighten it up a little and he took my advice and redrafted it and it came out hella good.
I told him what he said about what he looks for in someone with an “O.G.” status was definitely on point, but not to forget to look at things from both sides and also realize that there’s a lot of youngsters who come through here who think they know it all and who you just can’t tell ‘em shit. He said he knew what I was talking about and that he used to be like that too. The fact that he’s not like that anymore and that he’s eager to learn, tells me a lot about his character and his potential, and it’s youngsters like him that I’m eager to embrace, because I recognize that determination and that fire and strength and that passion that resides inside of them and burns so fiercely in their young warrior hearts. I only had a couple of weeks to kick it with this particular youngster before they moved me to another unit, but I hope the impact I had on him was as strong as the one he had on me.
I don’t look at people in regards of rank, status, or class, as long as they’re solid and they have something good to share, then I’m as much as their pupil as I am their teacher. We each grow and learn and get stronger from each other. This youngster taught me something and showed me lots of things that I’ll never forget, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s as much as a leader as those he refers to as “O.G.’s.”
Since then, I’ve come across many other youngsters like him who wanted to learn and who were looking for realness and truth in their lives, and who also had things to show me, and who have taught me things I’ll never forget… I came across one young, twenty-year-old cat who came up with an acronym to describe some of these older cats around here who just lie around like dead weight. He calls them “Dead P.O.S.S.O.M.S.,” which is an acronym for: Pile of Shit Sorry Old Man. When I look at things through these youngsters’ eyes, I’m surprised at how clearly I can see where they’re coming from, and how right they are about so many things.
I can’t help but to acknowledge the fact that there are a lot of piece of shit individuals in here; I’m talking about people who are foul in character and deed, and who loathe change and despise growth and all they know is to be foul. I avoid people like that, because there’s not much you can do for them, and really nothing they can do for you! It’s the youngsters with the potential, the eagerness to learn and the ones who refuse to stay at the same stage in their lives that I’m always trying to reach. I want them to really be able to see and recognize that the state has thrown them in prison and given them this time, not to help them but to destroy them, and that’s exactly why they have to be strong and wise, and use this as an opportunity for growth and prominent change. I want these youngsters to see and sincerely understand that there’s more to life than “the set;” than to be gangsters, a predator, thug, criminal, etc.
They can still be strong, and they can still be warriors, but I want to encourage them to be strong, sharp warriors so that they can fight the right fights, not the wrong ones.
I tell them that when I came to prison I was 19 years old, I came in with a hardcore gangbang mentality, maxed out on all of my sentences, caught more time in here, and now I’m 33 years old, close to the gate. What the fuck do I look like, 33 years old, getting out of here and going back to the same shit I was doing when I was 18 years old?? That would make absolutely no sense at all… and when I tell them this, they feel me, and they begin to look at their own lives and they start to think about it a little more, and once they begin to understand this, and the true, beastly nature of the State, and once they become aware of the truth behind poverty, oppression and racism and see that the true design of these prisons is to crush us as a classless people, then that’s when they begin to take serious strides to build themselves up as a man and a human being in life, so that they can do good things, make a positive impact and help the youngsters that come after them. And with all of this, I’ve noticed that once these youngsters truly begin to understand that being on some bullshit is only going to lead to more bullshit, they begin to reevaluate their priorities and the course of action that they’re going to take in life, and once they see that the bullshit does not really lead them anywhere good in life, then “change” starts to look like the best thing going!
I’ve noticed that a lot of older cats, especially some of the ones who have been doing time for a long time, think that because they’re older and that they’ve done time longer, that that automatically gives them the right to assume some type of position of seniority over you where they think they can just freely meddle in your affairs, telling you what you should and should not do, talking about “how back in the old days…” and always talking about racial separation and shit like that… and yet, some of the advice these cats try to give, instinctively I know that if I were to follow their advice, I’d have been dead a long time ago! If not in the physical sense, well then, I’d be one of these walking-dead zombies that you see so much of around here, because all of the things that are true to me now, and that I know are right and real, the things that make me who I am, all of these things would fade away, and I’d be nothing, man, I’d be dead inside…
I was living next to some older dude who has been doing time – in and out of prison – since 1983. This is a cat who got out and supposedly robbed all kinds of taxi cabs so that he could use the money to score dope and get high. He got caught and they sentenced him to 50 years! He was willing to trade 50 years of his life just to go out and get high for a couple of months, and now he’s living next to me, and his whole life now consists solely of how he’s going to score his next shot of mud, he does not read, he hasn’t even tried to strive for any real change in the whole 14 years that he’s been down, all he does is gamble, drink coffee, work-out, talk shit and watch the “idiot-box” – all day… and so when he tries to give me all of his advice about “prison life” and all that shit, I kindly tell him, “look man, I’m close to the house, my mind ain’t on none of this bullshit that goes on around here.” So then he switches up his tact and tries to give me advice about the streets, so I had to break it to him as gently as I could, and I told him, “Look, with all due respect, I appreciate what you’re trying to say and all that, but look at you man, you’re somebody who exchanged 50 years of your freedom for a few months of getting high, and now I’m supposed to be listening to you? Don’t you see the irony in that?” Now, maybe if I hadn’t immediately peeped out that he only had ulterior motives for associating with me in the first place, then I might’ve taken more time to pay attention to what he had to say… But I doubt it. Thinking about cats like these reminds me of what my young comrade said about “dead possums”… But the thing to consider is all of the many younger and naïve cats who have come through these doors and have fallen prey to the designs and manipulations of these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In my opinion, there are indeed a few things from the past that are definitely still worth preserving and handing down to the next generation of “convicts”, but I think there’s also a lot of things from the past that need to be put to rest once and for all. The enforcement of these silly racist policies and ideas of racial separatism, the senseless ongoing gang warfare; the disunity that comes with all of these things, in my opinion, are amongst some of the things that need to go…
Also, another thing I want to point out, just because someone is older, or they’ve been doing time longer, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re worthy of being leaders or teachers. It wouldn’t hurt to actually sit back and listen to some of these youngsters and listen to their ideas, and what they have to say, and to invite change into their lives, let evolution take its course, because those who hold on to the past are only holding on to old, ineffective, outmoded ways, that can’t and shouldn’t be applied in these times, under these circumstances… Not only that, but when it comes to being a leader and being someone who passes down knowledge it is sad to say, but the truth is, I’ve only come across a select few in this foul ass system, who actually have the pedigree to lead and teach, on an effective level. That’s just something to think about…
If you call yourself an “O.G.”, a leader, etc., and yet you don’t have anything good, or real, or meaningful to give to these youngsters, something that they can go through life with – even if it’s just one thing – then maybe you might want to reevaluate your position and “status” in life. Anybody can preach and talk and make their words sound real colorful and pretty and glorified, but talk has always been cheap, and it’s getting even cheaper by the day. I think you really have to ask yourself, as a leader, why would someone want to follow you? What would really make someone want to listen to you? Look at yourself, listen to how you sound when you talk, your character, your conduct, your actions, the way you present yourself, if all of that doesn’t match what you say, then ain’t nobody gonna think twice about anything you’re talking about, and in effect, all you’re doing is making noise. The change you want to see elsewhere has to start within you first.
Once consciousness has been raised, then things start to move in a different direction. The thing that I’m trying to convey here is that there’s flourishing and decline in everything in life, things can’t always stay the same forever, and they shouldn’t! Especially when you look at the way things are right now; ain’t none of this shit real, ain’t none of this shit right. It’s time to reevaluate, it’s time to raise the stakes. These youngsters are beginning to see what we’ve failed to see long ago. They know that if a little bit of freedom is a good thing, then a lot of freedom is a great thing. If a little bit of pleasure is nice, then a lot of pleasure is glorious. They are not content to settle for whatever left-over scraps of self-determination and joy come their way under the system that subscribes their lives today, and I do not blame them!
I feel that if you don’t have nothing good to give, or to share, then you need to move over, get out of the way, ‘cuz all you’re doing is muddying this shit up. I’ve seen a lot of these so-called shot-callers who have let that shit go to their head, they demand all kinds of respect that they don’t even deserve, they rule through fear and not through love; they’re all about themselves, not about their people, they’ll go to war over some bullshit and are putting their people at risk over some bullshit, but won’t stand up to the real enemy over some real shit. These type of people don’t impress me, and I have no respect for that shit.
That’s why I’m about what I’m about and do what I do, and I’m starting to look at all this shit differently. I see that a lot of people are motivated by their own jealousies and hate, and their own personal feelings, but I’ve come to find that wisdom lies in being able to see things objectively, not subjectively. I have nothing but respect for warriors of all types, and I respect the old warriors of this system (Nevada) who have been putting it down way before I even came to this disgusting place; (15 years ago) when I came to prison, those old warriors were my mentors. I’ve learned many good things from them, and I’ve learned a lot of good things from my own experiences too. I don’t waste my time trying to explain myself – my ideas, my standards, views, etc. – to people who I know aren’t going to understand. Nor do I have time to entertain other people’s old, tired-out, detestable ways and ideas. Indeed, it is good to learn from others, but if all they’re trying to teach me is how to become obedient and complacent, then they can’t really teach me nothing. Obedience is what got us in this situation we’re in now, and complacency is what’s keeping us here. When there’s nothing to respect, there’s nothing to obey, and if you take a good, square look around you, and if you’re honest with yourself, then you can see that there ain’t nothing respectable around here! Not a damn thing. So there’s no lesson for me in obedience, no lesson for me in complacency, so please miss me with all that; thank you very much, but no thanks!
While I’m still here, I’m going to keep trying to help others, no matter their age or race, and I’m going to keep reaching out to these youngsters, teaching them how to become leaders, so that they can do the shit that needs to be done and keep the good shit going, when there ain’t no one else around to teach them or to show them. I’m here to pass the torch and to keep this fire of resistance burning strong until it ignites everybody, and then we will come together and use that fire to burn this shit down!!! These pigs and this administration can keep trying to come down on me, they can try to suppress me all they want, I don’t give a fuck! Because I know what I’m doing is right and I know it’s what needs to be done. They can put me in the infirmary, behind double doors, isolate me, or whatever they want to do – they’re always trying to present some weak shit to strong individuals – but it doesn’t matter, ‘cuz I’m still going to find a way to do what I do!
These youngsters get snatched up and thrown into these cesspools of inhumanity before they can even learn how to think for themselves, and the ones who do the thinking for them, rarely have their best interests at heart. That’s why I use the expression of them being “thrown to the wolves.” The nature and the design of these prisons and these cells is to annihilate our youth, to break and destroy them, just like you see all if these older cats who have been broken and destroyed, with no fight in them, no life, no passion, no determination, and nothing good to hand down to the next generation of the young, free-spirited men that unwillingly get shoved through these unrefined doors of misery and hopelessness. So many times have I seen these youngsters come into this scandalous world of deprivation and perversion, and when they have become subjected to all of this foulness that has been laid out in front of them, they quickly absorb this shit and assume these foul, degenerate ways themselves, and that really ain’t cool.
It’s on us to start taking the time to elevate ourselves and re-educate our youngsters around real concepts of struggle and unity and growth, and we have to organize around the issues we are faced with in life, every day – the things that are right in our faces – rather than what race we are, or what region we come from. That shit hardly matters when we’re all going through the same shit. Oppression, poverty, capitalism, racism, gangsterism, this shit has an ill-effect on us all. We should take it upon ourselves to start igniting the flames of revolution in these youngsters’ hearts and in their minds, giving them something better to strive for and something real. We should find ways to give them real-life lessons that they will learn and gain from, taking these young minds filled with fantasies of gangsterism and helping them transform their thinking into guerilla warfare strategies to hopefully one day be used on any and all establishments of oppression. Because, from what I’ve seen, all of these bullshit racial policies that prisoners are forced to live by – by other prisoners, nonetheless – and all of the madness we see now, doesn’t do anything other than keep us all divided – and therefore conquered.
Those of us in this situation are all an oppressed people and we are all under the same gun. We have to stop emulating the ways of the pig – the oppressor – and start finding ways to uplift ourselves until we have the power we need to control our own lives.
We want change, we want truth, we want freedom, we want everything. We want complete control over every aspect of our lives; we want to taste the sweetest happiness and the most exhilarating liberty this existence has to offer. We don’t want to be slaves no more, we don’t want to be robots; we want to lead lives that are as adventurous, as magnificent as any we could read about in books. We want high stakes: we don’t want to just let our lives pass us by, mediocre and tiresome, stale and stagnant, as so many others have before us.
We see these cats who don’t have no life in them, no spark in their eyes, grouchy and miserable, no fire, no soul, and we don’t want to be like that. We want to live lives that mean something. For this, we are willing to risk anything; for this, we are willing to fight.
Things are changing and moving in a new direction now, more people are waking up, and soon enough we will start to see radical and revolutionary prison groups, chapters, movements and collectives sprouting up in Nevada, and in prisons everywhere. These collectives will be designed to give prisoners strength, solidarity, and will show them how to rise above oppression, not to mimic the ways of the oppressor, not to stay stagnant and stuck in a perpetual state of misery and despair and domination, but to challenge it, fight it, and to defeat it all together! Things are changing, we can look at what’s been going on in prisons in other states these last few years, not only for examples, but also for evidence that the prison struggle continues. A prison was burnt down in Kentucky a few years ago, then we’ve seen the biggest American prison strike in Georgia, followed by a successful hunger strike in Ohio – which was, in fact, kicked off by 3 of the Lucasville 5 – and now we have just seen the largest hunger strike ever, in California.
When we see these things we see the power of Unity in full effect. More prisoners are resisting, more people are coming together to challenge the injustices and to seek solutions. These are definite signs that change is about to come. It’s time for us to start making new history.
Until then, the devastation in my heart remains as I continue to bear witness to these young men being shuffled inside of this perpetual death-trap. But while I’m here, I will do all I can to try to bring forth greatness in every youngster that I come across, and one day, rather than desperately trying to seek knowledge and strength in their older comrades, they will begin to look for these things within themselves.
Resistance, Solidarity and Strength
Anarchist Black Cross – Nevada Prison Chapter
Black August 2011
Ely State Prison, Nevada
Note: At the time of this writing, these pigs have snatched me up and moved me to the infirmary to try to isolate me and keep me separated from comrades and peers; they said that I was trying to organize. And [ass. warden] Brooks (no longer here! Hooray!) had to come in to 4-A, along with Lt. peck to feed us our dinner; ‘cuz the pigs were too scared to come onto the tier to feed us! Later that night, they came and got me and took me to the infirmary. I stayed there for a month, then they moved me to 3-B, where I’m at now.
This is an ad.-seg. [administrative segregation] unit, but I’m on D.S. [disciplinary segregation]. I got kicked out of the hole! (the first person in ESP history to ever get kicked out of the hole!). I’m doing my D.S. time on this unit now, because there’s no youngsters on this tier, no comrades. They’ve got me here not only to isolate me, but also to pacify me. The atmosphere on this unit is way different and more mellow, the mentality of the prisoners here is nothing like what I’m used to seeing in the hole, everything’s quiet and still and the pigs don’t go out of their way to fuck with none of us over here.
The conditions on the unit are a little better than the deplorable conditions you see in the hole… I guess they don’t like it when someone goes from tier to tier bringing all of the youngsters and all of the convicts together to stand up and resist the disdainful conditions of the hole. They see that unity and they fear it, so they try to do everything they can to keep us stymied and separated, everything that is, but what they’re supposed to do!
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