“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” -Malcolm X
This quote just spoke to me as I read it this morning – because for millions behind the walls, their outlook of a future is bleak. Their daily view of life is bars, concrete and metal. Their days consist of daily counts, consumption of food not fit for humans, wearing the same orange/blue/brown jumpsuits (for the most case). I ask, how does one prepare for a future when they have no idea what the future holds for them? They were given decades long sentences and laws continue to overlook them because of their offense. They are deemed outcasts, a threat to society and threaten public safety. Some are innocent and punished for exercising their right to a fair trial. Others were teenagers, immature or dealing with mental illnesses and made a bad choice. How can they prepare for a future when they are not promised one outside the walls? How can your future belong to those who are prepared for it, when their future lies in the hands of legislators and lawmakers!
Over the last month and even some in 2020, I witnessed lawmakers and legislators sit in a box, debating the future of thousands of men and women behind the walls. Having intense discussions about their very livelihood as if they were discussing a non-existent thing that has no life. When they were discussing the fate of a human—a person that lives, breathes and who has the same red colored blood flowing through their bodies as them. But they argued and determined that their lives do notmatter. They made decisions to kill bills that would allow those persons to come home to people that love them, children that miss them and spouses that bears the weight of life without them daily. These lawmakers and legislators do not know what it feels like to live this life every day because at the end of each day, when they are done making choices and decisions that keeps men/women behind the walls—they go home to their family, their children, and their spouses. They go home to family dinners and spend time tucking their children into bed each night. They sleep in a bed that is plush and comfortable. They have access to an unlimited supply of necessities. They do not worry whether they will wake up to see another day.
These men and women still strive to have a positive outlook on life. They still strive to lay the foundation of a better future. They do not allow their current situations stop them from becoming a better person. They have owned their bad choice. They are not making excuses for what happened to them. Daily, they are growing, maturing, and changing the trajectory of their future. They have not allowed the obstacle of their path deter them from working towards their FUTURE!
In the words of our first black President: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama
The quote that I selected for this months assignment is from a past-prominent African man. Malcolm X. His quote reads: “We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society.”
In today’s society, I feel African people in this country are still faced with adversity on this exact quote as we speak. Prejudice, discrimination, and repression; African people are still faced with now in 2021 as if we were still in the 1960s. There are numerous examples of Malcolm Xs quote that exist to name to date to live in america as a African man/woman that continues to happen as if nothing has changed much from now as it was back then that we still see on the news and social media now.
To be a criminal is not soley a matter of self determination, no more than being homeless is. It is accompanied with a lack of social responsibility as well. Almost no one randomly wakes up and says “I just want to commit crimes for a living.” No.
Illegal acts are social dilemmas, mostly committed in states of distress, where individuals are seeking immediate relief from very present, very persistent problems. In this search, they make grave mistakes, sometimes harming others… inconsiderate of others, because of the apparent lack of consideration for them by others. The pressures and problems they face are less likely of their own making. Crime on a large scale is a societal problem that plagues the impoverished. A problem few of our leaders see fit to impute upon the victims or simply ignore.
Where the jurisdiction of social responsibility ends, the choice of an individual to select a destiny of their choosing must take precedence. The identity of a criminal must be shed, because a criminal is not what you are just because a crime is what you’ve committed. In opposition, society’s inclination to be “tough on crime” and continue to demonize those who (for the most part) are victims of society’s failures, does not allow for such realization. Truth is, society has had a great hand in trapping millions of people into the role of the “criminal.” Showing them that their lives are less and beyond redemption; that their existence does not amount above the mistakes they have made.
The abolishment of parole and the reluctance to restore it, along with the restriction of earned sentence credits disregards the practice of incentive as a means of enforcing ethical behavior. In fact, it enforces the idea that no matter your behavior, your lot in life is unchangeable, breeding despair and further instilling the persona of the criminal.
To be a criminal is not a crime, it is merely a product of an imperfect society, but to remain one is. To assume that this problem is definite is a grave injustice that stands to keep destroying countless lives and stagnating the evolution of society as a whole…
My name is Shaveek Pittman and I am currently in Lawrenceville Correctional Center. I lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia for about 5 or 6 years. I have had quite a few different experiences since moving to VA from New Jersey, and this is why I can relate so well to this quote from Malcolm X that I chose for this assignment.
This quote from Malcolm X that I chose says: “It is only after the deepest darkness, that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison, that the sweetest appreciation can come.”
It is self explanatory what is being said here, but still so many people feel as though they can understand what prisoners, minorities and everyone else suffering from some form of poverty are going through – simply because they read a book or heard about it from another source. The truth is: unless you have fallen under this category yourself, it is highly unlikely that you will ever truly understand the struggle that those who are at the bottom of society must endure.
For all of those people who can relate to these difficult circumstances, the meaning of this quote brings us hope to keep pushing forward, because your time of success and liberation are inevitable. It may be difficult to see this through the thick darkness that permeates the world we live in, but all it takes is just a little patience, a little perseverance and every step of the way becomes much clearer.
This invisible line we have drawn between the upper class and the lower classes is totally dependent on the lower class’ willingness to subject ourselves to the ways of the world. For example, there are many blacks who would agree that in terms of jobs and careers, we will always get “the short end of the stick,” unless we are privileged enough to be given an opportunity to establish ourselves in this corporate America.
The problem with this outlook will always be that – until we understand that this country was built on freedom, justice and equality, there will continue to be roadblocks everywhere we go. These roadblocks may have been set up in the interests of those who seek to control the masses, but it’s actually an indicator that we all do not have to walk the same paths in order to be prosperous and to free ourselves from whatever obstacles stand in our way.
– Shaveek Pittman Contributing Writer | Fredericksburg, Virginia #1870834
“When I was in prison, I read an article – don’t be shocked when I say that I was in prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means: prison.” – Malcolm X
Every prison has a warden, and Uncle Sam is yours. When you’re in prison you have to work, because Warden Sam will throw anyone who refuses to work in the “hole” (debt). In prison, minimum wage is $0.27, for you its about $10.00 an hour. In here, we think we’re making big money if you get a $0.45 job, likewise, you think you’re advancing if you can make $17.00 an hour. But when we both get paid the Warden takes his cut out of our miserable checks first! Then with what we have left we get overcharged for the basic necessities we need to survive, in prison we call it commissary, but you call it going grocery shopping. With our remaining balance, we pay for the little comforts that bring us joy and find ourselves broke all over again. Now, we have to get a high interest loan just to make it through the rest of the week. In prison, we call the loan shark a store box, but you’ve been tricked into calling it a pay day loan. You get one soup, he needs two back, for two sodas he wants three back. When you’re in prison, you can’t earn a livable wage that allows you to sustain yourself so you find yourself miserable, in debt, and you’re left feeling like the walls are closing in on you.
– Lord Serious Hakim Allah / J. Boughton Jr., Chesapeake, VA #1404741
Author of “Apotheosis Lord Serious Hakim Allah’s Habeas Corpus Appeal” and “The Powerless Pinky” both are available on Amazon.com. You can email him at: IamLordserious@gmail.com.