Tu wa moja watu (We are the people)


by Ikemba S. Mutulu
Source: SF Bay View

Dear Bay View readers, and especially my fellow convicts throughout the country, I send this call out to you to join with me in showing some love to the Haitian people. Yes, we all have problems. I too have many of my own. But they all pale in comparison to what’s happening in Haiti: over a hundred thousand estimated dead and missing after a 7.0 earthquake destroyed what little infrastructure the people had. Tens of thousands more injured, left with no medical support, and forced to sleep in the streets with no food or water.

Long before this great tragedy, though, the Western world has been shitting on the people of Haiti. And Amerika has ignored the plight of Haiti long enough. We in Amerika, especially Blacks and Browns, have a responsibility to stand with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

For the young Gs and Sistas who don’t know, because the schools lied to you and hid the truth: Prior to the European invasion – or arrival – of Christopher Columbus in 1492, a single island nation occupied the island of Hispaniola, now shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It was inhabited by the Carib and Arawak Native tribes who were all but killed off after welcoming the Europeans, who staged brutal massacres, during which they raped and murdered both women and children.

As in Mexico and South America, African slaves were brought in by European colonists to supplement the enslaved Natives, sick and dying from European diseases. They were brought to dig for gold and cultivate crops etc., which were then shipped out to the European rulers.

Under the leadership of African and Native warriors, they were able to break their chains and escape into the mountain jungles, where they organized raiding parties to free the people and to build an army. Best known of these leaders was an African named Toussaint L’Ouverture. Together the Africans and Natives waged war, over many years, to eventually repel these European invaders, defeating their great armies and declaring independence from European rule in 1804.

And if not for the blood and courage of our ancestors there in Haiti, we here in the U.S. would not have our freedom today, as it was the example of Haiti defeating the great powers of Europe that sparked numerous other rebellions against slavery and oppression – in Mexico, South America and here in the U.S. Nat Turner knew about Haiti, David Walker, Harriet Tubman and countless other freedom fighters knew of and were empowered by our people in Haiti.

The schools tell you Abraham Lincoln is the father of freedom, that he freed the slaves. But if you want the real, look at Haiti. And in solidarity with our brothers and sisters there today, all of us – convicts and comrades reading these words – donate what you can. If you have no money, write to your loved ones and ask them to donate. You can send your extra stamps to the Bay View and they’ll make sure they go to the cause. I personally am pledging $40 and will be organizing a stamp drive here in my unit.

In the Nevada prison system, 10 percent of any monies we receive is taken and placed in a savings account up to $200. We are not allowed to spend this money, as it is used to bury us when we die, or it is our gate money when we leave. But if you are broke and you wanna donate to a known nonprofit charity to help the brothas and sistas in Haiti, per A.R. 258 (page 2), you may submit a DOC-515 form for approval to do so. I’ve asked the Bay View to list the name and address of a legitimate charitable organization for you to donate to.

Tu wa moja watu (we are one people)!

Editor’s note: The Bay View heartily recommends the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, which was founded by Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover and attorney Walter Riley, who heads its board and, incidentally, is the proud father of Boots Riley of The Coup. HERF has a long track record of aid and solidarity with the people of Haiti’s grassroots, who are often passed over by other organizations. Make your check or money order payable to “Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC” and mail it to East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, 2362 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704. Or donate online at http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/HERF.html. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged.

Send our brother some love and light. Write to: Ikemba S. Mutulu, s/n Marritte Funches, #37050, ESP, P.O. Box 1989, Ely, NV 89301.

No change


This letter or essay was taken over from Nevada Prisoner Voice:

The news of the legislators failing to arrest corruption in Nevada prison is not surprising. And I doubt they will until their hands are forced. Either by public outcry, or something else. Were they to start drug testing for guards (inmates are regularly tested) half would quit before the ink dried.

I believe you may have misunderstood some things I wrote you last. Trust I know more than most we can’t do anything without you on the outside. I say the future of prison and judicial reform lies with the convicts themselves, because there are so few of you out there who care.

Society views us as permanent outcasts. There is no interest in us redeeming or educating ourselves. Indeed the state officials, fear mongers they are, say to society that we will only misuse our knowledge, if allowed to educate ourselves to our natural impulses. The reality is that it is they who are afraid. That if we educate ourselves on the truth, we will tear down these walls, put an end to this mad house of misery and pain.

As technologically advanced as we are, we are not an enlightened society. We are a society filled with anger and hatred, built on insecurities.

Nothing happening now is new. England’s penal history gives us a clear view of where we are headed. Poor people desperate to feed their families getting their hands chopped off for stealing a loaf of bread. Today, instead of chopping off our heads, because that wouldn’t be profitable, they’re handing out life sentences like it’s nothing. And the more laws we create the more corrupt we become. Our job, our obligation, those of us who know and can see the truth, is to help people realize no matter how much time in prison you give a person, if the conditions do not change, if the convict remains uneducated, unskilled and unloved, his/her return to crime/prison is inevitable.

The only real solution to crime is judicial/prison reform and early prevention. Putting an end to the disparities in the education system. The quality education and programs available to children in affluent communities, and the lack there of in poor communities. A new curriculum to install pride and self worth based on good deeds rather than materialism, and appreciation for all peoples, encouraging leadership and innovation. Right now many young people, especially of color, can’t relate to what’s happening in the schools, which in reality is only giving them enough to be good workers for rich people. We have billions of dollars to bail out these fat cat corporations, and billions more to manufacture these bullshit wars/nation building. Then we have money to create more (relevant) programs for young people in the hood.

Fix this broken juvenile/foster care system. Give grants to community organizers, and more job training. These are the types of things that will cut down on crime free health care for our citizens, free education.

Being uneducated does not equal ignorance or lack of comprehension. Level of education does not determine a person’s worth. I know many men in these pens who have no education, but they are hungry to learn.

The question is who will teach them. It hurts my heart to see so many young people taught so many lies. That their worth in this world relies on the material. How to prey on each other rather than embrace each other. That our women are bitches, undeserving of respect or love. It hurts to know I am a citizen of the richest nation on earth. Living next to one of the poorest, an example of man’s cruelty to man. The people of Haiti are suffering horribly, and we do nothing. I noticed there were some new comments with the piece about the gang trial. Some of those comments are very telling to the ignorance and deep-seated hatred so many people carry inside. They need someone to blame, someone to feel better than. This is the psychosis of a capitalist society. Which is really an expression of man’s insecurities. Why would one man want more than he needs to live and provide for his family. Why do people create items of luxury that serve no purpose other than to scream out, “I have more than you, I am better than you.” The machine spits out misinformation, and by the insecurities of man, his ignorance, he is manipulated.

Ely State prison — a.k.a. — “the cemetery,” is the worst prison in Nevada. There is no regular every day pissing on the guards. The convicts here do not condone such vile acts. On the rare occasions when it does happen, more than not it’s an act of desperation. Locked behind these doors 24/7 the guards feel free to disrespect and dehumanize these men. Just in the time I’ve been in the unit I’ve lost all contact with my daughter because the guards are too lazy to pass out the phone. And if you complain, well, you don’t get the phone or anything else. I could write you a laundry list of all the games and psychological bullshit these guards do every day, that we must deal with.

For those ignorant enough to say well that’s what you deserve for breaking the law, well, I’m in prison for something I didn’t do. But that’s irrelevant. My response is this: just as we are men, we are human beings. When you treat human beings like animals, in time they will begin to act as such. And what happens to the sadistic boy who teases the tiger in its cage. Pokes it with his stick, throws rocks and firecrackers. To the boy it’s only a game. But when the tiger leaps the walls of its cage, then we all learn it’s not a game. People must realize these are human beings were talking about. Most of them will get out of prison one day. And when that day comes, who do you want to see, the man or the tiger. So the people should be concerned what’s happening in these prisons, how these men (human beings) are being treated. Prison is their punishment, not death by 1000 cuts, or medical neglect, or to be driven to insanity.

Imagine the madness it takes for a man to handle his own feces, to collect his own urine, and to mix this vile concoction together and throw it on somebody. Imagine the desperation. Again, this does not happen often. And if we were not locked in the cells 24/7, it would not happen at all. The older convicts wouldn’t allow it. But when it does happen, just like any other act of violence against prison staff, 99.9% of the time it is “not” unprovoked.

Corruption among the guards. Many of them who participate in gang activities or show sympathies toward white racist groups like the skinheads, etc. They were not somehow brainwashed or recruited. They came into the job with that. And they don’t smuggle in drugs out of fear or coercion. They do it out of greed! A house and nice car aren’t enough. They want a bigger house, nicer car, the latest high-powered rifle to hunt and kill defenseless animals for sport. They talk about it every day, what animals they killed, their guns, the latest thing to dress up their trucks. In the worst economy in our lifetime these guards have good paying, secure jobs. But all they do is complain all day and sit on their asses. I’ve never seen people get so much for so little and complain about it. Not that there are no decent people working in these prisons. But they are often manipulated by the us versus them argument. When they do tell the truth or speak out on behalf of the inmates, they end up either fired or ostracized.

Marritte Funches 37050
P. O. Box 1989
Ely, NV. 89301

P. S.
Peace is not the absence of trouble.