Slavery

We are slaves in the midst of freedom, waiting patiently and unconcernedly, indifferently, and stupidly, for masters to come and lay claim to us, trusting their generosity, whether or not they will own us and carry us into endless bondage.

Martin Delaney (1812-1885 United States)

My name is Antoinne Pitt I am from Portsmouth, Virginia. This profound statement can be related to today’s time because slavery still exists but is done more intelligently. The Constitution of the United States abolished slavery, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party has been duly convicted.

Prison warehousing is modern day slavery and the convicted are the subjects. A system has been put in place that is designed for people of the lower class to fail. Projects and section 8 housing were built to house individuals with a low income. In these environments, the lower class people become susceptible to the things that go on, because the things that we see and hear are planted in our subconscious mind and stored as sensory data. This is where the term ‘product of my environment’ takes rise. We begin to adapt to these environments and begin to engage in some of the activities in what we call a will to survive. Adapting to this survival-of-the-fittest mentality has lead to the mass incarceration of the olive people.

Prison is a billion dollar industry and is truly legalized slavery. A system was put in place and designed for us to fail, but that does not mean we have to fail. Self government relinquishes the power of those that govern. This legalized slavery can be combated by governing yourself – if not, you are consenting to be governed. This is done by living a righteous life, right thought, right action and adhering to the universal law of cause and effect that governs all events. A person who didn’t teach you right has no intentions of treating you right.

You are only as free as your thoughts. Stop waiting for your master to give you direction, but direct the course of your life by mastering yourself. Peace and love.

– Antoinne Pitt, From Portsmouth / LVCC

Criminal

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…

– Q . Patterson, Brilliance Behind Bars Creator, #1392272

The Greatest Joy

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

Black America Inside-Out, the Sequel

Happy 1-year anniversary to Brilliancebehindbars.com! A year ago, we at set out on a journey to show society that incarcerated individuals were living, breathing, thinking human-beings, full of latent potential and intellectual prowess. Since then, our country has experienced the worst of it’s times. It has been hit with a highly contagious and deadly pandemic and governmental upheaval, widening the gap across race and political lines… but our mission to humanize and secure scholarships for incarcerated citizens has not slowed in stride…

Within this very month, we honor Martin Luther King Jr. and in our own special way, we show our respects by reviving our original assignment, our premiere event: Black America Inside-Out…

Participants from Lawrenceville, as well as other Virginia facilities, are to select a quote from a prominent black American figure, past or present, and write a paragraph or two about that quote and its relevance to the situation we face in this country now.

Multiple entries are encouraged and like always, do not forget to include your name, the city you’re from, and any other efforts (projects you’re involved in, books/pieces you’ve written, etc.) that you might want to incorporate for additional exposure. We are trying to shine a light on YOU and this is a platform of the people and by the people, so go hard!

With great love and respect for each and everyone of you,
BrillianceBehindBars Creator, Quadaire Patterson

Education is the Key to Every Problem

Here’s a topic that I live to expand upon, due to around the time of my incarceration, even before then, I honestly know that had I knew then what I know now, things would surely be different!

Education is the key to every problem. In order to solve a problem, you have to be educated on its solution. I strongly believe that applies to every dilemma that occurs (day-in/day-out). Proper education keeps us ahead of problems that may occur. From the smallest of them, to the big ones.

Prime example here is this Coronavirus that is plaguing the world right now. With the proper education, we can safeguard ourselves, while learning the correct chemicals to combat those sickened by it & it’s spread. “That means to mask up!”

There’s a quote that I always reference because of its realness, and it goes like this: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance…” I reflect upon that quote to the bitter end, due to my personal experience. I’ve paid dearly for my ignorance. A very steep price that no amount of money can compensate, and that I can never get back or replaced. I’ve paid with precious time – over 25 years. That comes from the lack of a proper & healthy education. Now I know… too little, way to late. But the lesson is definitely learned.

If people are properly educated in certain areas of life aspects, trials, and tribulations, then they can avoid the many pitfalls life will throw their way. Take it from me, I’m living proof. For those of you out there, take complete advantage of the education highway and learn all that you possibly can to help you evolve into the best person you were destined to become. Education is the key to life.

D. Moyler #1119539, Lawrenceville Correctional Center, Virginia

THOUGHTS ON VIRGINIA’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

by Lord Serious

The sooner the inmate population within the custody of Virginia’s Department of Corrections learn that the General Assembly has no intentions of passing any real prison reform legislation, the quicker they will begin organizing their own political coalition to force their hand. Neither the Republicans, nor Democrats, in Virginia’s state legislature have any interest in passing any substantial laws that will effectively reduce the inmate population. Neither are they willing to pass any substantial legislation that will effectively prepare us to reintegrate back into society as a rehabilitated men and women.

So you want to know my thoughts on Virginia’s Criminal Justice System? Here goes: this is a criminal enterprise ran and organized by a mob of slave catching, thieves, and murderers. The purpose of this system has always been to oppress and repress the movements of Virginia’s Black population and this will never change.

The prison population does not have to continue to hope and pray that the very people making a fortune off of warehousing us will one day become more humane and enlightened. We may “pay our debt to society” by serving time. But this does not mean we have to comply with their demands that we permit them to exploit us for our labor or our financial resources. We have the power to disrupt and dismantle this entire system, and we wouldn’t have to resort to violence in order to accomplish this either. All we would have to do is refuse to work, and boycott Keefe Commissary, Global Tel Link, and JPay.

They have to feed us, and clothe us. So all the inmate population would have to do is give up the luxuries and comfort gained from spending our money, and our family or friends money with these blood suckers.

This system cannot survive without our compliance. Therefore, since Virginia’s Criminal Justice System is just a continuation of the Old Dominion’s long history of keeping Blacks in chains and shackles. I’m of the opinion that we should stop playing by their rules. I think if these politicians and government officials are not careful, a day will come when people in my position will stop waiting for these corrupt politicians and slave drivers to free us. Instead, they will begin thinking up ways to hit these slavers where it hurts.

As long as the expense of housing prisoners can be covered by the tax payer, the politician and government official can balance the budget.

But what would happen if the inmate population stops cooperating with this system, and they removed their monies from their DOC accounts? What if prisoners stopped allowing themselves to be used as a source of revenue?

What would happen if this same inmate population decided to cost the Department of Corrections money in other areas as well? What if there suddenly was a spike in the cost of medical treatment due to more inmates requesting sick call? What if there was an exorbitant spike in the cost to replace broken or damaged state property, because the inmate population suddenly became a lot more clumsy or careless?

What if every criminal defendant took their case to trial and opted for a jury trial? But before the verdict was brought in they had a psychological breakdown in the presence of the jury that caused them to become such a disruption in court that it forced judges to declare mistrials?

This may not amount to much in days, or even months… but what if this type of non-compliance and correctional disobedience was employed for a span of years? I wonder how much money this would cost Virginia’s Correctional System? Would their corporate executives still receive their Christmas bonuses? Or would they find that their ledgers show a decrease in profits and the slave business and the mass warehousing of human beings isn’t as lucrative as it used to be?

It is my opinion that it isn’t too inconceivable for these things to start occurring should the Virginia Criminal Justice System continue to refuse to accommodate the inmate population’s modest request to pass legislation that will permit both violent and nonviolent offenders with an equal opportunity to earn up to 30 days of additional Good Time at a GCA Level I.

Life demands a balance and if you are not treating people fairly, then the universe will produce an individual who will come amongst you to reset the scales.

Lord Serious is an activist and the author of one of the most controversial books of all time. Apotheosis Lord Serious Hakim Allah’s Habeas Corpus Appeal is a must read for those who hope to understand the era of mass incarceration through the eyes of today’s modern day slave.

It is available at https://www.amazon.com/Apotheosis-Serious-Allahs-Habeas-Corpus/dp/1734220201

Prompt: (Non)/Violent Criminal Justice in Virginia

The fight to dismantle a racist criminal justice system and free disadvantaged minorities from the grip of systemic racism is an uphill battle… Fear is the prime strategy for politicians who favor long term confinement and profitable human warehousing, rather than opting to see the human soul as capable and worthy of rehabilitation. Fear is easiest, because it does not have to be given to anyone. It is primal, and everyone already has it in abundance.

I caught a bit of the Virginia State Senate meet on prison reform and wondered to myself how easy is it to hide the truth of profile-fueled mass incarceration behind the myth of a colorblind justice, and promoting “community safety” as a means of pumping more young black and brown men through the proverbial prison pipeline…

The senators, representing their respective counties, some for numerous terms and spanning decades of elections, stood to give their uninventive political spiel. Lofty, fear-writhed narratives framing Virginia’s prisons full of rapists, murderous lunatics who can’t for Christ’s sake ever be trusted with civil privilege again… That fantasy propagated by our state senate is far from truth… I’ve also come to find that most politicians at the state senate level just so happen to know numerous victims of overtly violent crimes, and no people incarcerated for crimes of any type. I found that concerning… it’s the tell-tell sign of a major disconnect between politicians and so many minorities who are faced with the ‘awesome’ fact of incarceration illy effecting their families and communities.

The senate pleaded for an amendment that extented the good time earning credit to only those incarcerated that have charges falling within the category of “non-violent.” This provision does not meet the cause for which special session was prescribed – reformation for racial and social justice. The simple fact being that most falling under the non-violent criteria happen to be white ‘victims’ of the drug epidemic. Once again, a chance for some correction of the racist system to take place may be manipulated, distorted, and amended to meet the needs of the already privileged.

Though the provisions for “violent offenders” likes to cite murderers, rapists, and other sexual offenders as the centerpiece of its public safety interest, it is an examination of the more ambiguous crimes of desperation that exposes a line-teetering sensible policy making and subtle racist devices of the past still being unknowingly used to disempower and disenfranchise minorities today…

The crime of robbery, majorally effecting downtrodden poor minorities, a crime of desperation, is considered a violent crime whether actual violence occurred as a result of the act or not. A large portion of the prison system is made up of robbery charges… some were accompanied with coinciding charges identifying violence, such as malicious wounding or assault. Others, not so much.

A crime such as robbery is not a result of some mania or perversion of mind in most cases. This crime directly reflects the pressures facing a 1st world society and its social systems failing its most needed citizens. It is economical disparities that create the prototype robber, not some lust for violence. It just happens to be black and brown Americans that make up the lower side of that economical ladder. Black and brown men are no more violent than any other race in this country, therefore there must be some deeper reasoning behind the mass incarceration of these people.

Aided by time and information, the once ago capital of the Confederacy has made strides in the abolishment of racism… But the dismounting of monuments means little if the ideals behind those statues remains in tact and still dictate how minorities are treated in this country today…

Prompt: What do you think about the criminal justice system in Virginia and how they are separating violent and non-violent offenders?

What do people need to know about you that would show them that you are human? Imperfect, but full of limitless potential and capable of astonishing change…

We are accepting different form of expression, (writings, essays, poetry, and art) that highlight the question at hand.

-Q. Patterson, BrillianceBehindBars Creator

How To Overcome Racism

by Lord Serious

We march holding signs,
We hold hands while we chant,
We sing we shall overcome –
but secretly we believe we can’t.

We plead with our oppressors,
We beg our enslavers,
We vote for our enemies
and hope they show us favor.

Our Black men live in chains,
Our Black women get shot,
Our children are miseducated
Are we free? I think not.

To overcome this racist system,
Blacks must face the facts,
We do not need the White man,
it is the White man who needs Blacks.

When he teaches us our history,
Blacks are traded like stocks
When we learn of Black empires,
this comes as a shock.

These books are never recommended,
These facts never mentioned,
Our so called White allies
are those who kept us dependent.

Your thoughts are not your thoughts,
Your own words you cannot talk,
So before you give an opinion,
you first must be taught.

The art of peaceful protest
that’s a tool for the poor,
But the rich and affluent
always threaten civil war.

The powerful understand power,
But the powerless are unsure,
This is why for every life lost,
they will lose a hundred more.

One day when Blacks lose patience,
One day when Blacks stop waiting,
One day Blacks in this nation
will overcome racism through separation.

– Lord Serious Hakim Allah / J. Boughton Jr., Chesapeake, VA #1404741

Lord Serious Hakim Allah is the author of the controversial book APOTHEOSIS LORD SERIOUS HAKIM ALLAH’S HABEAS CORPUS APPEAL available now on Amazon.com for $10.00 plus s/h. It is a must read.

Fear: Writing Prompt

The year of 2020 was anticipated with promise of change. Many of us prisoners here in Virginia were looking towards possibility of some relief, but as quickly as that light came, brilliant and burning with hope, the quicker that flame was doused and the gloom of despair and uncertainty reclaimed the reigns of our community. This time, the darkness came in a form fit for global impact – a pandemic. pestilence. 2020: affectionately dubbed the year of clarity and vision by most of us, has quickly wrapped into 2020: the year of the coronavirus.

Incarcerated populations across America have been affected by the disease at various rates. On the low end, staff’s refusal to work in possibly infected areas is slowing operations. At the high end, the highly communicable virus rapidly spreading throughout the confined quarters of prison communities, where social distancing is literally impossible.

So far, there is no apparent sign that the virus is here at Lawrenceville, but the proliferation of COVID-19 across cable television, the woes of our family members by phone, the statewide directives locking down prisons, and distributing sneeze guards keep fears fluid and real from one side of the gates to another.

Fear: the surrender of the help that comes from reason.

Behind the walls, fear is king. As incarcerated people, we deal with a set of fears most others do not. We depend on staff for almost every necessity. If conditions became somewhat apocalyptic and society destabilizes, prisoners will either be legally executed or abandoned in cells to futilely fend for themselves… a fear permanently etched in the back of the mind, and at the center is the motivation for all fear — the idea of survival.

Prompt: Define fear in your words. What are some of your fears? How do you see yourself overcoming them? What do you think could be done to alleviate today’s fears of sickness and death?

– Quadaire Patterson, Creator, Organizer, Writer VADOC #1392272

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know wants to write on this prompt this month and be featured on BrillianceBehindBars.com, send an email to yourlovedoneq@gmail.com with the essay and bio to review, or we can add inmate numbers to our Brilliance Behind Bars JPay to allow them to contact us directly.

Limitation.

FREEDOM.


What does this word mean to me? 7 letters with such a powerful impact that becomes more than the actual verb of the word itself. What I thought was freedom – able to come & go at will, no limitability – was just barely scratching the surface of what it truly represented. See, being incarcerated for a long time gives new meaning to simple (everyday) normalcy; and with time normally comes wisdom & insight. With that said, knowing the dynamics of its core definition, freedom does not necessarily mean that one is free to do whatever (without barriers). It just means you’ve been let go (for temporary purposes). But don’t get it twisted, you’re not all the way free. You still got limitations on your blackside. As a human being, coming into existence puts a limit on you; so you are never “free” to really be free, or have freedom.

A good prime example: this COVID-19 virus that is seriously affecting the worlds population right now. There is no freedom in that or from it. Young or old, big or small, hot or bitter cold, it affects all that comes into contact with it. This strips all of their “so – called” freedom in one form or another. If its not the virus itself, then its the government restrictions placed on society’s movements. New news for all of us!

Freedom is something that one will never really experience, due to life limitations & restrictions, no matter how much or hard one tries to achieve such. It’s just one of the many possibilities that we’ll never reach, no matter the exerted energy into it. Sad as they say, but so very true to the essence & core of the meaning. That’s my take and overstanding of the issue here.

– D.Moyler – Words of Wisdom :-), #1119539, Virginia