Social Mechanization

How many of us actually understand the complexities associated with social structures and their influence on the minds and lives of their participants?

It is a common thought amongst most of the incarcerated – that we are the sole producers of our fate… that if we are rejected, abused, or oppressed, it is solely our fault. That where we come from or the state into which we were born doesn’t hold power over our destiny. We are right, but only to an extent…

Most of us, here in the penitentiary, are obilvious to the influence of social machination. Which made it hard to understand what is now neatly prepackaged by media outlets as systemic racism. The common mindset of the incarcerated, myself included until recently, is that of self-determination. Nothing more, nothing less. That it was our choice to commit crimes rather than succumbing to pressures brought on by hostile environments and unfruitful conditions. It may be a matter of pride to take on the responsibility of our crime, than to acknowledge that there is a force beyond our control, before our time that has planted us in a position tilted in the favor of failure…

The design of racism and its effects are ideological. It begins in the form of idea, before it festers and works its way into culture, and then manifests into mental illusions, stereotypes and prejudices that the masses come to affirm as facts. The weapon most effective in a democratic society is that of idea. Once the people can be made to believe customized ideas, then laws customized to serve agendas outside of public interest can be easily accepted… leading to a social system that makes a single race out to be villains. Villains who should be kept down thus they rise up to enact some form of violent justice… politicians scapegoating on the backs of an ostracized and victimized people, all the while diverting attention away from political failure and corruption… sound familiar? It’s textbook Hitler.

Not only has the plague of racism infected the minds of the common American, regardless of race, those prejudices gave life to legalisation that created way for mass ghettos largely populated by black people, writhed with violence and poverty. It also gave way for laws that allowed mass incarceration and its great racial disparities facilitated by our American justice system. Even laws for gerrymandering and districting to render black voting less effective and obscure the practice of scholastic segregation.

Sure, many of us have heard of Willie Lynch (or maybe should educate ourselves on the subject) and his divisive philosophy designed to control black slave, but who could of thought that that same system and philosophy could be modified to control American citizens. The methods of divide, fear monger, and conquer… these are the foundations by which we allow our government to ensure that a great deal of young black lives are born and may very well die in specially designed situations manipulated generations (and may sustain for generations more), because of a hatred based on a fear they had no hand in creating…

Yes, the seams of the white supremacist power structure has been identified and called out, but if us as a people do not know where to look for sustaining, meaningful change, then what use is a strike… look into the system. Even though many of us did not experience Jim Crow directly, the aftereffects of its era still haunt our lives with racist laws that have a more subtle tone, are a little more hidden… activated by fear and racist undertones that still serve today to accomplish the mission of great racists, dead and gone… whose hate lingers on, hurting and killing innocents by the hundreds… and sabotaging children’s lives before they even get a chance to live them…

I encourage you to continue to fight, but know what you are fighting for. Want life. Want the right to live. Life for your children, life for your family, life for your human brothers and sisters… and know where to look to get it…

Knowledge is power. Power to change, power to grow, power to rise above…

All power to the struggle…

– Q. Patterson, Creator of BrillianceBehindBars

The Blind Indifference

Racism… I wasn’t brought up deliberately to hate another race of people. Sure my grandmother had a lot of animosity directed to the race of people who aimed water hoses and sicked attack dogs on her purely because she recognized and fought for her identity as nothing less than a human being, but she didn’t propagate such lessons of hate.

My mother came up in a time (mid 70s-80s) where the blatancy of racism was considered taboo and uncool, so racism took a more subtle approach and found less need to make spectacles because the concept of racism was inculcated deep into the social system. It suffused its ethereal existence in prejudice and stereotypes that painted one race superior to another. This form of idealism sunk into the minds of pro-Jim Crow generations and served to maintain the grip of white superiority in the battlefield of the mind on a level subconscious and virtually invisible to the masses of Americans.

By my generation’s coming, racism was still projected in its most overt form, as an egregious, flagrant prejudice where most Americans – black, white, and other – would not believe that it existed beyond alt right racist organizations such as the KKK and neo Nazis, but such was its greatest achievement. Just as the old saying goes, racism’s (like the devil) greatest trick was to make people believe it did not exist.

It took more for me than most to believe that racism was prominent amongst Americans. Most unknowingly partaking in the vile and divisive culture of racism. Myself, in my ignorance, included. But now, the Age of Information has dawned, shining a light so bright that the dark subversive culture of racism can no longer leech off the mind of the Free People. People who are now armed with a knowledge and a weapon undefeatable in a war where fear stoking and ignorance is the primary strategy of its enemy. This weapon is Truth.

The only way to ensure that we, Free People, continue to press the enemy back in our unending fight for the America’s soul is to continue to have the ugly conversations. To continue to sound the horn on watch against threats standing in oppostion to the ideal of equality. Continue to believe in the cause and its eminent ascension…

Know that the struggle for equality, in its truest form, is unceasing.

In this struggle, vigilance is key. Vigilance is mindful awareness.

In this struggle, vigilance allows no enemy to gain ground.

In this struggle, ignorance is blindness…

In this struggle, blindness to a very real enemy is lethal.

– Q, June 2020

F.L.Y

“Martin crawled, so that Malcolm could walk.
Malcolm walked, so that Obama could run.
Obama ran, so that we could fly!”

This is the process that pioneers of human right and revolution sacrificed their life for and its quotes, like this one, that intrigue me and inspire me to find a just cause in this life and defend it from injustice.

One would say, “What are we fighting for in 2020? ” I would answer that question with the above quote… In my opinion, we as citizens of America, have two common enemies: oppression, and ignorance. Oppression is the main reason, so I would say that we are fighting to f.l.y. (free lives, yes!)

Freedom is based on being unbounded, and/or unrestricted in all realities of life. Life is to be lived in peace, so when you ( as a human being) are treated inhumanely you tend to rebel against the source of oppression. Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” sums up the point I’m expressing. Peace!

Romello Harris, #1987153, Greensboro, North Carolina
Aspiring Singer/Producer

The Battle is Within, by Brandon C. L. Hope

Greetings to the readers, my name is Brandon C.L. Hope. I am 19 years of age. I am incarcerated at Lawrenceville Correctional Facility in Virginia. I have been incarcerated since the age of 14. Through the process that the judicial system has put me through, I have become enlightened to many beautiful things of this country that we live in, but I have also been enlightened to many detrimental issues.

Right now, I would like to speak to the topic of “What’s free?”

Despite my obvious lack of freedom, and despite all the complaints that could be brought to society’s attention, that is not the aspect of free that I would like to indulge in at this particular time.

The lack of freedom that I would like to bring attention to, is that of not the oppressed, but that of the oppressor. Yes, the oppressed obviously lack freedom, but freedom is not just physical. There is also a mental and spiritual aspect to freedom. Although we, the oppressed, often view the oppressors as powerful and free, that is not truth at all. The truth is that the mindset of oppression has enslaved humanity.

Often times, the oppressor only oppresses because of demons and struggles they battle within their personal life. So, the simple fact is, that the battle for freedom is not the oppressed against the oppressor, nor the oppressor against the oppressed… the battle is within. The fight is humanity against physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional slavery. Unity is key.

Thank you for your time…

– Brandon C. L. Hope, From Hampton, VA

Oppression

“Freedom is never given voluntarily by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” -MLK

The origin of oppression has always eluded me… why does the oppressor oppress? Why does the oppressed accept the circumstances enforced by the oppressor?

As opposed to a condition of nature – for animals do not share in unoriented oppression beyond survival – I feel as if oppression (the deliberate and willful use of power to deject the progress of an individual or group of persons) is a common condition of human folly. A compensatory action of fearful emotions. The oppressors fear the image of their own perceived inadequacy – and to reinstate to themselves a perception of strength, they choose already disadvantaged victims to afflict upon, reinforcing an illusionary form of power. This process is not only fallacious for the oppressor, it is just as so for the oppressed.

When oppression is prevalent, it is so because the oppressed subscribe to a fallacy. That fallacy is one that promotes a dominance held by one over another. This allows the oppressed to accept what they believe to be a matter of fate rather than one of self determination. Forfeiture of will, the core of the human spirit immobilizes the oppressed and empowers the oppressor… oppression germinates in fear and thrives in despair.

In the past it took the form of physical slavery. Now, it has a more subtle body. Distrust in political processes, or a form of systemic slavery. The oppressed today in America are the dejected men and women who disregard political activism as a means of bettering the state and quality of their lives. The oppressor will not willingly give up even a grand figment of power for a minuet reality of powerlessness. It goes against the very nature that breeds it. But the oppressed have a choice… a choice to grab hold of self-determination and free themselves from the illusion of powerlessness.

But this is a CHOICE, unprovoked by the oppressor, that must be decided for one’s self…

– Quadaire Patterson, VADOC #1392272, From Virginia Beach, VA