This letter is to my lil Brim homies and homegirls.
This is your big brother King Sankofa. I’m writing this from a federal prison complex in Memphis, Tennessee. I was sentenced to 14-years for the hood and being who I used to be. I would like to speak to y’all about a few things. I know it’s a lot of young homies out there who don’t know me but have undying love and respect for me because of what I put down back then. Now, I want to give y’all a history lesson and let y’all know where my mind is at. I’m placing this on Live from Lockdown because this blog is for men like me to be able to get their voices out there and help fix a lot of the things that are going on. My take on things is in order to fix the present we must first start with the past and go from there because there is no future if there is no past. So I ask that you bear with me. I promise to get to the point in this letter because these Tru-Links [prison email] cost money. lol
A history lesson.
Back in 1999 I was a 21-year-old man facing double-life in prison for crimes that I was accused of but didn’t do. I stand on that because people still seem to think I made my name off of those cases and that is only half of the truth. See, what y’all have to understand is that people will believe whatever lie you tell them as long as it doesn’t affect them. Yes, I lived in those streets like a bum who lost his home. Yes, I was bad as a motherfucker and didn’t take any shit from anyone. But the one thing I stood on was accepting my role in anything that I did. Never once did I pass blame. While facing these charges I turned Blood and took the meaning of the letters B-L-O-O-D to heart. Those letters meant a lot to me because after hearing Khalid Muhammad speak at New York University (NYU), I knew that brotherly love would override oppression. Even though I was a little knucklehead, I still started to love my people more than ever before. I took to the Bloods with all heart and loyalty. Never once did I leave a man behind. Never once did I try to overstep myself and become some type of gangland boss. I never wanted that and still don’t. As time went on, I started to see that the love was only hidden in the hearts of many and showed in the actions of a few. It was nothing because I knew and understood that our people will always be our worst enemy. It was no different with the Bloods. I would love to sit here and say Brim is better than Sex Money Murder, or the Bloods is better than the Crips, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, or any other gang or organization, but in reality we all are the same in our thinking. If we have the same thinking then we have the same actions. Do you ever wonder why a Crip loves being a Crip, or any other gangster loves being who they are? It’s because they believe in what they were taught about that family, gang or organization to the point they are willing to kill and die for it. I was one of those guys. This is why my name has risen to the place it is today. I went so hard trying to put it down for the Bloods and my set that I didn’t catch the fact that I was living a hypocritical life. And the one thing I hated being was a man who seemed like he was a liar or faking it, so I tried to make myself think that what I was doing was right. I tried to teach the young sistas and brothers who came in contact with me the real way of Blood and loving who you are. My little sista Ashanti, who was the youngest Brimette, was 13 when she came to me on Woodland Ave and 11 Street back in 2001, and I remember telling her that this wasn’t for her because tomorrow she could be dead and all I could do is tell her parents I would pay for the funeral. Her answer to me was that she didn’t have a family and wanted to be with one that loved her and made sure she was ok. I asked her where were her parents. She said they lived around the corner on 10th Street. I was like why do you say you don’t have a family when they are right there? Her answer was they didn’t understand her pain and she wanted to be around people who understood her. I sat there and looked at this little lady who was only like 5’2 and a tomboy. In my mind I knew she was going to join this shit regardless of whatever I said. If it was not me, it would have been someone else. And I knew that in my heart she would be better off with me because I was going to make sure she was ok by any means. So I put her with my big sista Jelly and we watched her. One day she wanted to run away and I told her she had to go home because even though we were her family, her mother and father was her true family, and they would miss her and she needed to go home and respect their house. I held her while she cried and said she didn’t want to go back home. I knew it was the right thing for her to go home because there wasn’t anything in these streets but heartache and pain. I sent her home. This is why I have the love I have because I understand y’all pain because I was you. My mother wasn’t there when I truly needed a mother. My father didn’t get at me until I was about 10 or 11. I was a lost soul, and I took my pain out on them streets.
Yes, I was bad as a motherfucker and didn’t take any shit from anyone.
Now my lil homies sit and listen to all of these stories about how I did this and that, but y’all never hear the good stories on how I made sure my neighborhood was safe– no stolen cars or shootouts out there. If you think I’m lying, go to the land and speak to the people who were there. I helped fix my neighborhood, but I’m continuously blamed for destroying it. But I understand because at that time I wasn’t able to make my own way and be a true leader. At that time I was trying to be a man with a young man’s understanding of life. I’m telling y’all this because I want y’all to understand that yes, at times, it was fun and the love was real, but now things have changed. Y’all are being taught by guys who truly don’t care about anything but themselves. Any real homie wouldn’t want you out there on that nonsense. If you want to hold your brother or sista down that just got killed, how about going to see their family and making sure their family is good? You don’t have to go kill anyone. People think since my change of heart I have gone soft and left y’all out there to fend for yourselves but that’s not true. I’m trying to show y’all the true growth that has become me, your big brother.
Y’all are being taught by guys who truly don’t care about anything but themselves.
Unlike before I have the strength to say enough is enough. I have become a better man, and I want to see y’all do good. I gave the Bloods my word that I would do what it takes to show that love. This is what I am doing. In order for me to show you that I love you, I must do things for you that help you not hurt you.
Telling you to be a gang-banger isn’t going to help you.
Telling you to put in work for the hood isn’t going to help you.
Telling you to lie, cheat and steal from your family isn’t going to help you.
Telling you to turn your back on your true interests, passion and purpose in life isn’t going to help you.
How could a person say they love you and everything they do and say puts you in harm’s way? How is that love?
My job as your big brother is to give you life-lessons and make sure your eyes and ears are open. My job is not to dictate your life. If you want to live a life where you can’t even trust your own kind, then, by all means, do what you must. I’m not sitting here saying don’t love what you love. I’m saying there is a better way to show that love. You don’t have to show it by promoting hate and then profess to have love for the same thing that you are destroying.
How can a gang member tell people how to keep their kids away from gangs?
The purpose of my letter to you and anyone like you is to try and show you that life is something worth living, and anyone who tries to make you do things that will end your life is not your brother or sista. Period. I don’t care who they are or what they are saying. When I first wrote the book titled How to Keep Your Kids Away from Gangs in solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit (MCU) of New Jersey [Trenton] State Prison, my peoples asked me how can a gang member tell people how to keep their kids away from gangs? My answer was who else is going to tell them? Then he countered, but you’re still in the gang. I said well it’s not about me. It’s about saving the ones who still have a chance to fix their lives before it gets worse and they feel like it’s too late. I would be a piece of shit to want someone to come join me in the misery of prison. People say I’m friendly. I say I’m real. It’s too much hate out there, and it takes too much energy to hate. I already feel like I’m 60-years-old.
Learn from my mistakes.
I want to show that there’s still some real ones left. We haven’t been broken and turned people into the government, but still we have tried to help. People will call it disloyalty because you want change, but remember, misery loves company. It’s up to you to accept the invitation. Word. So with that my lil brothers and sistas I stand before you as your big brother who has seen the holes in the wall, shoe prints on his back and the knife sticking out of his chest. I have felt the blows, and through all that pain I looked back and saw that, if not all, most of it came from those I considered loved ones who came through these hard streets with me. The love I know exists is the only reason I still fight for y’all. Another person would have given up by now, but I’m not them and this isn’t it. So I ask that y’all learn from my mistakes and love life. At the age of 37 I have yet to travel outside of my state except on a plane with a U.S. Marshall. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to wake up and see that you are an old man or woman and your life has passed you by. But again, if you still don’t get it, then by all means put your hand over the fire and tell me if it burns.
Another person would have given up by now, but I’m not them and this isn’t it.
Regardless of how tough or loyal you are, these streets don’t care about none of that and the government don’t care about none of that. Death is death. Life in prison is life in prison. So I ask that you understand that your life is yours to dictate, not mine or anyone else other than you. I ask that you listen to the voice in your head telling you to chill out. Find something else to do with your life before you look up and a bullet hits you or those cuffs go on. By then you can’t say you are sorry or seek some type of forgiveness. Forgiveness is only a word in the Bible. In the streets and the criminal justice system forgiveness is used to manipulate us into thinking it relates to us coming from that lifestyle. The government or your rival has no understanding of forgiveness when they catch you trying to be a tough gang-banger. I only hope these words reach you and help you.
Even I had to kill Killa Reek in order for me to live.
Peace and I wish like hell you decide that your life is truly your own and you live it to the best of your ability.
I love y’all. I’m here for you and because of you, so use me to help you.
King Sankofa– born out of the fire and with the wings of an angel.