Fighting The Oppressor

By Kevin Cooper

This essay speaks to one of the many forms of oppression.
As an African American who is committed to fighting, and ending oppression, no matter where it happens, or who it happens to, I have to speak the truth. And my truth is what I have witnessed and personally experienced here in San Quentin Prison on Death Row since 1985.

I find myself in a real life-and-death situation here on Death Row, where hate, and for certain people, self-hatred, is an ongoing situation. Of course, this is not true concerning all the death row inmates, and I would be lying if I said that it was.

But what I am writing about happens enough to deserves attention.
Here, in this institution, as well as in all other modern day plantations there are only two types of people. They are the Oppressors and Oppressed! I am an oppressed person, and in truth, all the other inmates within these walls are Oppressed, even if some of them don’t think that they are, or aren’t  aware that they are.

There are certain inmates, who instead of uniting as one strong oppressed people in order to make all of our lives more peaceful and better, would rather (and in fact do) raise their fists in violence than raise their voice. They speak words of disrespect towards other oppressed inmates for whatever reason, (even if that reason is a made-up one), in order to hate and start trouble and keep madness going among us. Yet, these very same inmates refuse to raise their voice to the oppressor. They refuse to even raise an ink pen to write about the oppressor and this oppressive system of death that has us all imprisoned, and is trying to execute us—this system that is made to destroy us mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and every other type of way that it can before it murders us physically.

Whether these inmates do this consciously or unconsciously isn’t known by me or other inmates who also see this and shake their heads in disbelief like I do. What we do know however is this truth: The oppressor and his supporters love for this to happen, and they love to see it happen. They want and need to keep us oppressed people fighting each other. The good old game of divide and conquer is one of their most effective tools. These so called Brothers who are doing the oppressors’ work for them claim to know all about this game of divide and conquer, yet they still keep participating in this game to the detriment of we who are oppressed!

In 1964, the late Malcolm X stated to a crowd of people in Harlem that, “If you aren’ t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”! He further stated, “The Oppressor is fighting you in the morning, fighting you at  noon, fighting you at night, and fighting you all in between, and you still think it’s wrong to fight them back! Why?”
This is exactly what is going on within this and other modern day plantations to one degree or another. I must also ask “Why?” As I and other inmates continue to do our part in this historical struggle for our collective human rights we do so consciously, and we refuse to do the oppressors’ work for him!

Though I and others are forced to live in such a place against our will doesn’t mean that we have given up or given in. It doesn’t mean that we will let the oppressor make us turn on each other in a negative way. We will continue to work to end all of our collective oppression as best we can.

Those inmates who choose to work against us and for the oppressor either don’t know, or don’t care that they are being misused by the oppressor. As the late Bantu Steven Biko, who is the father of Black Consciousness in South Africa, once said: “The most powerful weapon of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed!”

Many of us on these modern day plantations refuse to give our minds or our spirits to these wholesale oppressors.  Those that do, “That’s their bad.” Only in acknowledging what is going on, can some of us avoid this trap that is easy to fall into here behind enemy lines.
In Struggle and Solidarity from Death Row at San Quentin Prison, 
Kevin Cooper  

February, 2014

True soldiers needed

From: SF Bay View
By: Amy Buckley, Dec. 24, 2013

Through the years women have played important roles in the revolutionary movement. Today it seems that women have lost interest in being a revolutionary, but it is time for that to change.


[Woman prisoner – Photo: Julie Schwietert]

Women, we have some big shoes to fill, but we can do it if we just step up. It is time to make a lifetime commitment to fighting to end oppression, injustice and inequality. It is time to join forces with our men and be true soldiers for the betterment of the world.

As women, we are most affected by capitalism and war casualties. We are also most persecuted by men. It is time for these things to stop!

Women make up 53 percent of the world’s population, so imagine the difference we can make if we unite and work together. We have so much to offer the movement. Not only are we able to organize and teach, but we also bring fresh perspective to a male-dominated movement.

We must step up and educate ourselves and our children, being willing to give our all for what we believe. Our children are the future, and it is up to us to teach and guide them, to prepare them to take over the movement and make a difference.

Our men can do only so much on their own. They need good strong women to stand with them and for them. Women who see the need for change and are ready to do whatever is necessary to bring that change to fruition.

We need you! We need women who are true soldiers, committed wholeheartedly to the struggle. Are you that woman?

How willing are you to stand united no matter what obstacles come your way? Together we can bring an end to oppression. The question is, how badly do we want it?

We live in a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Oppression rules and the oppressed can never get ahead. This has been accepted for far too long, and it is time for change.
People all over the world are beginning to unite, working together, organizing occupy movements and rallying against oppression, injustice and inequality, among other things. This is only the beginning of things to come.

Women make up 53 percent of the world’s population, so imagine the difference we can make if we unite and work together. We have so much to offer the movement. Not only are we able to organize and teach, but we also bring fresh perspective to a male-dominated movement.

As I stated previously, we need true soldiers, so allow me to elaborate on what a true soldier is. True soldiers do not allow fear to rule their lives. They understand the price they may have to pay and are more than willing to pay it.

A true soldier lives and breathes the struggle – to give up is not an option! They will gladly lay down their lives for what they believe and for their comrades. True soldiers stand unmovable in the face of adversity and give their all in every battle. They do not admit defeat for they know that every battle won brings them closer to winning the war on oppression. Are you a true soldier?

Women, for too long we have let our men fight, primarily on their own, to bring about change. It is time to step up and join our men in the revolution. We should be working alongside our men and each other, fighting as hard as they have and still are.

For every man in the movement, there should be a woman – there is power in numbers. The movement needs us!

The future of our children is at stake. It is our responsibility as women and mothers to set good examples for our children. The changes we fight for today are so they will no longer have to suffer. We owe it to our children, our men and ourselves to join the fight for change. If we don’t, who will?

Women, for too long we have let our men fight, primarily on their own, to bring about change. It is time to step up and join our men in the revolution.

Today I am calling all true soldiers – warriors willing to join the movement and fight to the end for the betterment of the world we live in, soldiers who will stand up and make a difference.
To the soldiers who are no longer with us – Marilyn Buck, George Jackson and more – and to those who are still fighting today, I salute you! All power to the people!

Send our sister some love and light: Amy Buckley, 150005, WCRCF C-Pod, 60 Stokes King Rd., Greenville, MS 38701.

Writing materials no longer allowed inside Mansfield Ad. Seg….

We received this from a correspondent who is currently in the “hole” in Mansfield C.I.:

Oct 10, 2012
Mansfield C.I.
From the “hole” (administrative segregation)
This is the last working pen we have. Guards said they no longer provide pens + they won’t let us get to our property to get pens, so this is a way to silence the entire segregation population. Isn’t it coincidental that policy changes like this occur every time I’m placed in segregation? You would almost think this is an effort to silence me, and everyone else impacted are just dolphins caught in a tuna net. So this may be the last anyone hears from me for a while, including my attorney. No pen, no outgoing mail.
As a last matter, all reading material sent to me is withheld, it would be wonderful if out of spite a million people sent reading material and overwhelmed the […] mailroom.

People: Please send this man some mail and interesting politically progressive reading materials (copies)!

Sean Swain # 243205
Mansfield C.I.
P. O. Box 788
1150 North Main Street
Mansfield, Ohio 44901

(or via

See for Sean’s writings and thoughts: