Live from Lockdown (LIVE) works to usher in the prison renaissance – a cultural rebirth in urban communities based on knowledge and understanding of history, self and society – strongly influenced by prisoners, that will result in a culture shift away from underachievement toward one of social responsibility and self-determination. Prison culture has long had an impact on urban culture. LIVE amplifies the voices and talents of enlightened prisoners with great influence among their peers and in their communities to encourage others to avoid the pitfalls of the streets and prison in order to realize their potential and help build prosperous communities.
I’m not trying to advocate that prison is the answer or the way to attain growth, even though that’s what it took for me. But I realize that a rebirth is needed for a lot of us– a reprogramming if you will, and a re-education.
To know where you’re going, you have to know where you come from.
In my opinion, the problem with black people today, and the not so distant past, is that they do not fully understand their heritage and that they are descendants of greatness. Sure, we all have a vague idea, but we did not and do not really know the half. We do not know because we have lost the oral tradition we once had of passing down our family history and traditions.
There was a time, not so long ago, when we were forced to educate ourselves in a very dangerous environment under the threat of brutal punishment. We had a keen survival instinct embedded in us from the time we could walk. When you left your home – man, woman or child – you knew exactly what the world had in store for you. We were taught at home. We were better educated in one-room shacks by teachers who looked like us, who knew exactly who we were, from where we came, and what we endured along our our journey. Now our children, teenagers and young adults are trapped in rooms with teachers who know little about from where they come, what they’ve been through and what they go through on a daily basis. Many of these teachers today are scared of black youth and care little for their health, safety and well-being. Now, single mothers and fathers who work twelve-hour days to put food on the table are also being punished for their child being late or absent. Causing a parent to lose their job will not help or prevent that. Don’t get me wrong, parents, single or otherwise, should be held accountable, but the first response should not be punishment. When all of our teachers looked like us and came from where we came from, test scores were not the schools number one priority, zero-tolerance policies weren’t applied to children for minor infractions, and the quality of education was better for our children, teenagers and young adults.
Once upon a time, before a child was punished for being late, he or she was asked, why? And if he or she had good reason, the second question was, is there anything I can do? Back then, we cared about one another. I think that the quality of life was better, at least in the sense of family and togetherness. We understood and cherished the nature and dynamics of family. The minute we went to the beggar’s table of our captors, if you will, in my opinion, was the moment we lost semblance of who we were. Make no mistake, we lost our identity and culture a long time ago. We assimilated into the culture of our captors, such is the nature of captivity and the conquered. The problem with us, as I see it, is once we were freed from the chains of slavery, we were like a prized dog that had had been broken and crawled right back to its master, head down and tail wagging looking for acceptance and a pat on the head and recognition for a job well done. Sure, to us, it looked like we were fighting for equality, and a lot of us died in that fight. But come on, deep down, did anyone truly believe that our captors and our captors’ children would ever see us as equal or anything but chattel?
Now, if I’ve given the impression that I believe all white people are evil, I’m sorry. That was not my intent, nor do I believe that to be so. But it must be understood that 95% of my interactions with white people, personal and otherwise, have been negative. From the white man who took me away from my family, the white man who gunned down my friend because he ran away from him, to the white prison guard who calls me nigger and treats me less than an animal every day.
Being black in America means we’ve always had to fight extra hard for everything. But, at one time, at least we had each other. It’s sad to say, but now that’s no longer true. We have allowed our communities to fall so far that the minute one of us makes it out we never come back. And we look back with shame and disgust in our eyes and in our conversations with others about our people and our communities.
I say it all the time, and I’m saying it again: we are all that we have in this world. And if we do not wake up soon, we’re going to extinct.
Let’s stop allowing others to define who and what we are and what we bring to this world.
In the vision of knowledge, wisdom and understanding #RaiseUP