12 years ago, I stood inside Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center’s (FDC Philadelphia) Receiving and Discharge unit, my mind blurred to the reality in front of me.
“What’s your number?!”
“6-0-1-2-8-0-6-6!” I reluctantly replied to the correctional overseer as I began to kneel down on the cold concrete slab that served as a bench to get shackled and handcuffed. 6-0-1-2-8-0-6-6 is what I had become, federal property complete with an eight digit bar code similar to a UPC bar code attached to consumer products. One-by-one about forty of us, all men of African descent, were led in single file formation underground far below the subway lines of Philadelphia’s SEPTA trains. As we trekked through this superbly constructed, well lit, climate controlled, subterranean tunnel, I experienced an eerie feeling- hisia Mimi nina uhakika wengi watumwa mateka African lazima kuwa waliona kama wao waliongozwa ndani mambo ya ndani ya meli ya watumwa kwa safari Passage Mashariki.
Mara baada ya sisi kufikiwa mwisho kinyume cha handaki, tulikuwa whisked hadi uso na ndani ya wenye mwanga hafifu, mabwawa kuvunda katika matumbo ya Mkondoni. Federal Courthouse kwa wakisubiri hatma yetu. Wengi hatimaye ombi kwa huruma au kusaidia kuonea kutega wengine. Nilifanya wala. Kama Kunta Kente mbele yangu, I defiantly stood up to an oppressive system and eventually received twenty-one lashings (miaka) for my so-called disobedience. Thereafter, I was remanded and subjugated to a place of hopelessness, ujinga, strife, and self-destruction.
Prison is constantly glamorized by rappers, so-called hood niggas, and their ilk. You know the ones who, if they get caught up, end up crying in court, pleading for mercy and even assisting the oppressor in order to save themselves. You can watch every movie about prison, every TV program, like “Scared Straight” na “60 Days In”, but contrary to what those shows mislead you to believe, prison is a place NO ONE can accurately describe and get you to understand until you experience it for yourself. And trust what I tell you- you DO NOT want to stand in ANY of our shoes!
As most of you stare into the rearview mirror at 2016 and look forward to 2017, I want everyone of you to realize that for me 2017 officially marks twelve years that I have been a slave to a criminal injustice system built on racism, servitude, corruption, collusion, duplicity, punishment, deprivation, calamity, urasimu, na dhuluma. mfumo dhuluma jinai kwamba ni maana ya uutu, humiliate, na baidisha wale wa kwetu ambao ni kuchukuliwa ndogo kuliko na mengine katika macho ya wasomi taifa hili kisiasa.
Over these last twelve years I have been overtly and covertly mocked. Dhidi ya matatizo yote, Nimekuwa lucid sana na nguvu azimio langu katika nafasi maana ya kuvunja wewe.
Waliweka pingu kuzunguka kifundo cha mguu wangu, kiuno, na mikono, lakini hawakuweza kamwe kunyamazisha mawazo yangu!
ubongo wangu bado unchained!