Full text of "Drum"
1 WOMEN MUST LEAVE
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2 MEN JT EMPTY
3 DO NOT CARRY ANY -
4 YOU Ml'
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BLACK LITERARY EXPERIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Boston Library Consortium IVIember Libraries
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THE DRUM, Winter, 1973
Vol. 4, No. 2
Editorial, Circulation and Ad-
vertising Offices located at 426 New
Africa House, University of
Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.
Printing; Gazette Printing Co., Inc., Northampton, Mass.
A Dedication to Black Women
A Note from the Editor
University/Prison? ? ?
Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole
Forgotten Inmates: Our Women in Chains or
Triple Jeopardy: Black Women in Prison Jackie Ramos
Who Is the Woman Offender?
The White Suburbanite Social Worker
Who Visits the Jail
A Triangle: Black Studies/Students,
Black Prisoners and Black Communities
Where Has Love Gone
Robyn Chandler Smith, Founder— Drum Literary Magazine
A Note from the Editor . . .
"Most of us do not know what it's like to experience the physical reality of
a prison but, in fact, all Black people do experience the reality of prison. From
the time of birth, Black people are born into a world which can be described and
defined as prisons.
Characteristic of the devil, the prisons confining Black folks come in many
shapes and forms. Whether it be the home, the school, the job, or whatever,
the scene is the same. You may not see iron bars, but the basic policy of ex-
ploitation, victimization, and containment is present. Each and every one of
us needs to do a little soul searching in answering for ourselves whether or not
we are engaged in a revolution and commit ourselves to bringing about the ne-
The above is quoted from an article written by R. I. Jones called "to be con-
tinued" (the Drum Vol. 3, No. 1, 1971).
In the following pages you will gain only a glimpse of what prison life is
like. Many, many things have been left unsaid. For the women incarcerated
at Framingham, life is and becomes more complicated daily.
The aim of this presentation is not to gain the sympathy of Black people for
Black prisoners but rather to give us an opportunity to empathize, an oppor-
tunity to gain a greater understanding of ourselves through them. The only real
prison is the prison of self.
What prison are you in?
"SLAVES ARE THOSE PEOPLE WHO ALLOW
THEMSELVES TO BE USED, TO BECOME THE
PROPERTY OF ANOTHER, TO BE ENSLAVED-
THEREFORE, THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF
FREEDOM ARE RELATIVE TO HOW ONE VIEWS
FREEDOM AS A NATURAL STATE OF THE HU-
One thing that becomes disturbingly clear after
being inside the infamous walls of Amerika's con-
centration camps commonly referred to by those cit-
izens of the so-called "free world" as prisons, is that
the term "prison" is not an exclusive reality.
That is, after you have been there for a rela-
tively short period of time you begin to focus on the
fact that far too many of your fellow residents "have
found themselves home". That is not meant to be a
term of ambiguity but neither does it mean what
would appear to be so obvious; that the persons con-
cerned had found themselves a home inside the walls
that was comparable in every respect to that which
they had previously known.
What is meant is that after you experience the
deprivation and concentrated oppression of that par-
ticular institution you can concretely make the hook-
up between prison as a physical structure and pris-
on as a societal tool for molding behavior.
And it all might sound somewhat bizarre, hor-
rendous and you can bet that it damn well is, but the
full implications of that realization don't bear fruit
until your perspective becomes one not founded in
the catch all emotionalism of a particular form of es-
capism, whatever it may be, but instead when it's
founded in clear cut, concise political reality.
It's only then that you too realize that you also
feel more at home than you will readily admit. At
home because for the first time in your life you truly
understand thru the real medium of your exper-
iences what prison is all about. You see that the wall
that divides you from the world is not real but an art-
ificial barrier which you are duped and/or coerced
into believing separates you from the rest of human-
ity. It ain't so! And the centralized, visible author-
ities of oppression with which you must contend
are only measures of the same oppression with which
you had to deal on the block— only this time around
they are concentrated so that you can't miss their
faces or confuse their images.
You begin to understand that the bad housing,
high prices, lack of community services, the inabil-
ity to find an adequate means of sustenance— you
begin to understand that all these you encounter up-
on entering the gates. The only real difference being
that wall which obstructs your view and those bars
which you have to peep thru to see the sunlight of
There it is all the bullshit that they are suppos-
edly taking you away from so that in changing your
environment they can change your reality, mak-
ing you open to their rehabilitating measures so that
after your time down they can insert you back into
society as a "productive member". But the reality
doesn't change and becoming a "productive member"
only means that as a member of the oppressed ranks
of humanity you have turned against yourself in the
best interests of your arch enemy.
For there still is the police brutality only now it
wears a different uniform and masquerades behind
the mask of "corrections". There's the same admin-
istrative neglect which you faced before your intern-
ment. The fact being that the administrators of
those joints are there not to provide for your best in-
terests thru reform, rehabilitation or release but are
concerned only with security. Just as long as your
ass remains behind the physical restraints of that ins-
titution which they are master of, their job is being
You're still subject to the worst food at the high-
est prices, the highest rent for the worst living quart-
ers (that price and rent being the time you spend in-
carcerated and the toll it takes on you). You still get
only the least professional medical services when you
get that; and all this is part of that reality which is
responsible for your being inside. So you don't es-
cape it, you discover it and in your discovery you be-
gin to understand some of the whys of your life.
And as you begin to question, to search your-
self, to read/study and analyze— as you begin to get
into the why's of your condition things begin to
crystalize that for so long just remained unsolvable.
You begin to understand that all the sociologic gym-
nasts can't change the fact that these "problems"
stem from the economic soil of capitalism. And all of
a sudden it's just very clear that prison as it is defined
can only meet the terms of that definition by main-
taining its physical aspects. If these are lost then pris-
on will just disappear into the rest of the imprisoned
state of the society structured on capitalism.
It's after this realization that the test comes. I
say this because before you are either following the
just actions of another or reacting to an external stim-
uli. In either case your motivation is not your own, so
therefore, it can be controlled by another. It's after
this reahzation that you face the prospect of choice
as a thinking entity with the ability to respond instead
of react, able to move instead of just follow.
And it's at this point that you begin to con-
sciously seek out alternatives. That is not to say that
in word you did not seek them before; but the great
possibility exists that what you were seeking in the
light of reality might not have been a viable alterna-
tive in the context of your cultural, social and pol-
itical well being. And one of the first alternatives that
you begin to seek out is education.
You proceed from the basis of "he who controls
the head controls the body" which logically leads to
your seeking out an educational experience which
will aid in the redefinition of your particular exper-
ience as a member of an oppressed group. An exper-
ience which will not, as a matter of process, lead to
your co-optation by the ruling class.
At this juncture you've seen the proliferation
and demise of Black Studies and other ethnic pro-
grams which upon initiation were nothing but the
shifting of the ruling class to a position where they
would momentarily bend (or seemingly bend) re-
linquishing what looked to be a great prize. In point
of fact it was but another means of co-optation in
which we as Black and Third World people played
an instrumental role.
We compartmentalized education seeing it as
the all powerful remedying agent. We allowed our-
selves to be used in the Colleges, High Schools, Pris-
ons by accepting their ability to bend for the mom-
ent as a major victory when in point of fact it was no
victory at all, much less a major one.
For if it had been such the colleges today would
not be able to cut back their Black Studies Programs
attributing this to monetary/budgetary difficulties.
They would not be able to do this and meet with the
token resistance which has shown itself. You see we
built nothing from those programs, or in those pro-
grams, it was all given. A gift of the ruling class ....
and it must be seen as that for it was not with a single
administration that battles were waged for these pro-
grams but with the giants of corporate Amerika for
they are the ones who control the boards of adminis-
tration of these various institutions. So these
programs were given and now they are being taken
away or cut back in every place but the Prisons. Here
they are beginning to proliferate.
Why? Because they are seen as a method by which
"the niggers of society" can be appeased giving them
time to formulate and operationalize a program which
will in fact be more rigid— but will appear to be the re-
linquishing groans of the powers that be.
This is the trap that the Brothers and Comrades
must avoid for these programs are only aiming to
send men and women out into streets after long per-
iods of internment able to tell you "who did what in
such and such a year". For the most part they do not
prepare you for concretizing the struggle.
What I mean by that is that our interests are
diametrically opposed to those of the ruling class who
presently control institutions of learning within this
country. Knowing this is not enuff. We must seek to
break that exploitation by exposing the true nature
of the social system and by educating ourselves and
children on the nature of the struggle. We must
also give to our children the means for waging that
struggle so that their level of understanding will not
allow for co-optation.
Seeking these alternatives, operating from the
understanding that neither prison or institutions of
higher learning are separate from the total commun-
ity— tho they would have us believe this to be the
case— the residents of these walled and barred prisons
come knocking at the door of the students and pro-
fessors who call themselves progressive and/or revol-
utionary, both being questionable. Nevertheless, here
stand the most politically aware and action-oriented
among us— and what do we have to offer them? The
dying remnants of our Black, Puerto Rican and Chic-
ano Studies programs? I say that doesn't even app-
roach being enuff.
And because of this it's an absolute necessity
that the Third World Studies Prison Extension Pro-
gram be something totally other than has previously
existed. It is being designed toward that purpose—
and it will either be implemented with that as a modis
operandi or not at all. And that is a direct challenge
to the college student of Third World origin. For be-
sides the patient of the mental institution you are
closest to the prisoner. Your realities are not dissim-
ilar, tho your mobility is and your awareness may
not be as finely honed. Yet you remain the closest el-
ement of this society to the prisoner behind the phys-
ical structures and fortifications.
For altho you have viewed the events of Attica
—and before that the warning cries of Folsom, the
Tombs, the Queens House of Detention; altho we
experienced all this in living color Rahway still fol-
lowed Attica. And the mysterious midnite suicides
still go on in every joint across this country where
Black and other non-white, and radicalized whites
are subjected to the wrath and vengeance under
the watchful eye of their hysterical keepers. But it
still goes on.
And at Attica right now, only ten months after
the thirteenth, three quarters of the population are
risking their lives by striking basically around the
same issues that caused the insurrection. Cause the
fact is, tho Oswald stated differently at the hearings,
that the twenty-eight demands which were agreed to
have not been met. And we still sitting!
There's a need today just as there has always been
a need where men and women were denied their mo-
bility under pain of death. There's a need for action
... a need to assist those Brothers and Comrades who
have taken a stand that they will never again be co-
conspirators in their own destruction. There's a need
for action on whatever level you might be able to con-
tribute your energies. Whether it be assisting in a le-
gal suit, writing a letter or making a visit, throwing a
bomb or organizing a cadre to carry forth acts of
sabotage, or whether it's just talking to your neigh-
bor and deciding once and for all that you will no
longer be led astray by the bullshit guises of the med-
ia. It's time that people got up off their asses and
knees and did something.
Have you ever done time ???
Pigs love doing time, enjoying telling you it's time to
time to eat lunch ?
time to take a break
time to go back and slave
time to sleep
time to get doped up.
While doing time i ran into others who passed time, all the time
trying to be "in time" with time doing nothing all the time
they say "ain't got no time
to read no time to get into me."
While all the time they crying about the time they got.
Comrades have time to watch funny time t.v. programs
have no time to practice what they preach
but find time for jive gossip and old time tricks
and just ain't got no time to have revolution of the mind time
me the judge gave a life time of time to do
not knowing that in the ghetto i always did time
and whether it be here or on the streets i will continue to do
until a lot of jive time people take time to have a revolution
of the mind
then we will no longer do time because it will be
During the past year I have worked in two of America's fringe institutions, a prison and a university.
Though neither of these institutions is hkely to replace a coalition of organized progressive and working
people in leading the transformation of American society, it must be understood that these two institutions
exert a powerful influence on our struggle for liberation. It is important that we understand not only the
ways in which universities and prisons differ in terms of function and power but also their similarities. The
following analysis has been drawn from the particular institutions where I work, the University of Massa-
chusetts at Amherst, and the Massachusetts State Correctional Institution for Women at Framingham. I
have attempted to determine the structure and procedural aspects which are common to all of America's pris-
ons and universities.
Briefly I will examine the differences in tiie history,
organization, and functioning of prisons and universities and
their relationship to oppressed people and then explore the more
important questions as to the similarities between these two pe-
culiar institutions and the degree to which the possibility for
revolutionary struggle may be waged within each setting.
Inequality of access to various institutions is basic to the
organization of capitalist society. Black and brown people and
poor whites suffer. They are denied gainful employment, decent
schools, adequate housing and many times do not receive proper
medical care. Prevented from getting an education, illiteracy
rates are high among the nation's poor, as are ill health and drug
addiction. It is for this reason that United States jails and
prisons are filled in disproportionate numbers with non-whites
and the poor.
Angela Davis has said, "As a consequence of the racism
securely interwoven in the capitalist fabric of this society, black
people have become more thoroughly acquainted with America's
jails and prisons than any other group of people in this country
(America). Few of us indeed have been able to escape some
form of contact — either direct or indirect with these institutions
at some point in our lives. We are acutely aware of the critical
function of the entire network of penal institutions as a buttress
assisting the ruling class to maintain its domination." Non-
whites (Blacks and Chicanos) constitute 26% of the total prison
population of the United States in the California prison system.
for Third World peoples this 'open door' policy to prisons has
been a convenient substitute for the slave trade system which
brought Africans to the New World. When slaves became
'Treedmen," the prison labor system became a useful part of the
exploitative apparatus of the state. The prison labor system
enables the state to have a constant cheap source of labor. As
Engels observed, the most essential instruments of state power
are the police, the army and the prison.
In contrast to the American penal system, educational
institutions have been historically closed to Blacks, Chicanos,
American Indians and poor whites. Public education has never
meant quality education to the masses of people. Soon after Re-
construction, Afro-Americans developed alternative educational
institutions to address the needs of the Black communities.
Whenever the doors to universities and colleges have opened
with tiny cracks to Black people, the very basis of the selection
process that determined who could and could not enter has, of
course, been rooted in class divisions within Black society. Put
most simply, these class divisions grew out of the plantation
slavery system that gave greater educational and other op-
portunities to the "house niggers" over the "field niggers."
Class constituency is a second major difference between
the universities and the prisons as instruments of control over
national minorities. To borrow from W.E.B. DuBois only the
"talented tenth" in Black America gained access to the uni-
versities and colleges (whether Negro or white), prisons on the
other hand freely open their door to the bottom ninety percent.'
Finally, as instruments of internal policy under capitalism,
revolutionary forces must ultimately change both institutions,
but in very different ways. Under socialism the people work for
the abolition of the penal system and with socialism the aim of
the meaning of obtaining education means just accessibility of
universities to all of the people.
In examining the similarities between prisons and uni-
versities as they affect the current struggles of Black people, it is
essential to point out that both are institutions of confinement.
The role which prisons play as institutions of confinement
is clear. Unable to find a job, women are often driven to drugs,
alcohol, prostitution, stealing, and murder.
In the United States, real unemployment among workers is
8% of the population. Among Black workers the government
admits to 11.1%, however, the figures of the Urban League show
that in some areas of the country unemployment is as high as
Universities are also being used as institutions of
confinement. Historically both white and Black universities
have only serviced the children of the petty-bourgeois. Fisk
University, Howard University, University of Michigan and
Harvard have traditionally trained Blacks to be doctors, lawyers,
and school teachers as were their parents. Recent events in
American history have caused changes in the profiles of Third
World students. Following the assassination of Dr. Martin
Luther King, urban rebellions occurred in the Black
communities all over the United States. America's ruling elite,
composed of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and gov-
ernmental agencies (HEW and the National Science
Foundation), studied the participants of the rebellion, finding
the largest percentage of rioters were young Afro-Americans of
college age. Big business, the foundations and the government,
aware that a response was warranted, made the decision to get
the young brothers and sisters off the street. Young Blacks,
unemployed or not to be shipped to 'Viet Nam, were spirited off
to universities and colleges. White liberals, wanting to ease
their consciences, lent assistance to tiie ruling class and
encouraged the Afro-American students to attend school. Thus
the change in the class composition of Afro-American students
occurred at this time.
The racist ideology of our capitalist society had prevented
the formation of a large section of a petty-bourgeois class among
Blacks. So, the ruling elite had to go to the street corners and
the pool halls to recruit Black students and hand out scholar-
Like the prisons, the universities now contained
potentially rebellious young people. The ultimate goal of
institutionalization is containment of the individual or inmate.
When the values of each institution become internalized, the
prisons need no bars, and the universities need no degrees to
hold their inmates. When prisoners are released, they have
acquired no skills which would enable them to secure a job, so
they return to the prisons and jails at alarming rates. Every year,
where I work, women give themselves up, voluntarily, go to
their parole officers and say they have broken parole and ask to
be readmitted to the prison. Equally, every year, the university
graduate students can no longer relate to the communities from
where they came. They return to enter graduate school, to work
in a university office, or finally they leave with great anxiety,
believing they have no place in the community. The students
have been taught that they have little in common with the
"average" American. For the most part, they establish few
relationships within the community and view themselves as
being separate from it.
A brother, Ahmad Al Aswda, writing in the Black Scholar
on the internalization of prison values has said, "When a prison
official speaks of 'adjustment,' he really means institutionaliza-
tion. The model' inmate is the institutionalized inmate. The
institutionalized inmate has no sense of self. He is programmed
and his actions show this. He no longer questions the validity
and the morality of the guard's command; all he does is jail. . . .
Very rarely will he speak of getting out because getting out
means being on your own to some extent, and being on his own
is something that he is incapable of dealing effectively with at
the moment. No, the outside world is better left where it
is — outside. " Prison officials allow and encourage
circumstances whereby some men and women come to "want "
prison. Homosexuality is openly allowed; the strong rule as
dictators over the weak.
This same process of internalization occurs in our colleges
among some Third World students. For many young Third
World students, the schools they attend offer a variety of
material attractions. For the Third World students, many of
whom are from lumpen backgrounds, the material and cultural
benefits, programs, food and warmth every day, divert the
students from their real needs. Some students, like some
prisoners, come to depend solely on these material things. Like
the prisoners, many Third World students are not taught
productive work. They come to view the university experience
in purely materialist terms. The university is a source of comfort
and little else. Some Third World students are trapped. They
expound revolutionary rhetoric, but their new material
dependence to the university prevents them from engaging in
The educational programs of America's penal and
educational institutions also operate as mechanisms of control.
Prison education can be explained very simply — they are
inadequate. With respect to prisons, there is one standard
situation, whether it is San Quentin, Framingham or Attica.
Prisoners are taught dying trades and, when paid for their
labor, their pay is far below the nation's minimum wage. A
prisoner on completion of his time will have only been taught a
useless occupation and have no savings. Prisons offer the
inmate manual training only. In a highly mechanized society,
the worthlessness of this program is obvious. Like the
universities, the prisoners must eventually return, since they are
not trained to return to the outside society as functional workers.
On the campuses this same process occurs. Blacks,
American Indians, Chicanos, and Puerto Ricans are prepared for
obsolescence. While whites learn engineering, the sciences,
economics, — national minorities learn sociology and study race
relations! Third World communities have not yet properly
assessed the needs of their communities and the university
would not be willing to take on such a commitment. Third
World people talking about community control is only the
beginning. Skills and knowledge are needed so that the
community can manage the lives of its members.
A major function of these institutions is the socialization or
resocialization of the inmate to the values of the dominant class.
Perhaps the most important value which is expressed is that the
class divisions which exist in North America are valid and just.
The prisoner is taught he is personally responsible for his
condition. The prisoner is told he owes a debt to society — not
that society should function to answer his needs. Students too
are taught that they have a class position to maintain in the
United States society. Their position is to keep the masses in line
and for this they are rewarded with the new poverty jobs, the
new meaningless executive posts.
Inmates are instructed in individualism. They are told
they are personally responsible for their own blight and if they
wish to become a 'model' prisoner, their success will rest on
someone else's failure. Inmates are told that only a few
prisoners are allowed out on work details, or receive special pri-
vileges. In much the same way, students are not taught that
their interests lie in cooperative efforts with others. Scholarships
and jobs like leadership positions are only obtained if the
student engages himself in fierce competition with his fellow
Women inmates, whether they be in our schools or our
jails, are all victims of chauvinism. Women prisoners are told
they are incapable of planning escapes (male prisoners can) and
they are told to spend more time with their hair and make-up.
In the colleges, women are taught to become teachers but tew
are expected to become doctors or scientists.
In both settings, racism is taught in its open and vicious
forms and in its subtle and equally destructive guise. History is
taught in a distorted form; that Africans were savages before the
civilizing experiences of America, that Chicanos are lazy, that
Blacks are unfit for leadership as shown during the
Reconstruction era. There is also open name-calling in prisons,
the beating of Third World peoples — and always the suggestion
is made that "these people" must be treated this way.
Similarities exist in the ways in which universities and
prisons are administrated. In each case, the institutions rule by
dividing the people among themselves. At the university, the
faculty is pitted against the students, white students are pitted
against Third World students, and finally, one of the most
devisive tactics of all, various Third World students are pitted
against each other. The schools foster the divisions among the
Third World students by only offering limited amounts of
funding or scholarships to be divided among Third World
This promoting of division is then carried out to the extent
where there is hostility between the ruling institutions and
themselves. Students are told to distrust prisoners, and prisoners
are told to beware of intellectuals.
I have outlined the problems of disunity which exist. This
does not mean, however, that the ruling class has been
completely successful in its tactics of 'divide and rule.' Change is
occuring. A brother from Soledad, Clifford Rollins (Jabali). said.
"The men caged in these warehouses are no longer so susceptible
as was once the case to the manipulation and gross malfeasance
of the prison officials. At long last, seen often as a matter of
pure survival, the convicts are exercising their demoniac racial
conflict, their puppet antics, long enough at least to criticize
motives: Is racial conflict in my best interest.-' And if it isn't,
why am I becoming involved.'' It is now apparent that the system
wants to keep Blacks, Browns, and whites in constant undefined
and clouded conflict, solely to prevent a concerted efl^ort on their
part to expose prisons and indeed the United States system as a
whole, an insensitive political system which allows an
administrator unlimited power over its wards." A similar
consciousness is developing on some campuses, where
organizationally Third World people are joining to fight "the
Prisons have been the scene of heightened rebellions. It is
important that we emphasize that rebellions have been a part of
prisons since they were first erected in North America. We must
keep in mind that Afro-Americans were first brought to this
country in 1619, as captives. We must also recognize too that
not all Black prisoners are political prisoners, for the acts of
pimping and selling dope cannot be glorified into a political act,
A list of our Black prisoners must include W.E.B. DeBois,
Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rap Brown,
Bobby Seale, Angela Davis. Ahmed Evans, Ericka Huggins,
Ruchelle MaGee, Cleveland Sellers, the Soledad Brothers — but
more importantly the hundreds of unknown Black men and
women who are incarcerated simply because they dared to
openly criticize the inegalitarian nature of our American society.
It is significant that rebellions at Attica, San Quentin,
Soledad, Walpole, etc., are based on concerns for conditions
within the institutions, for better food, more education, less
abusive treatment by the guards. But, in several prisons, the
demands are based on an analysis of the nature of capitalism.
For example, in several prisons, prisoners are demanding equal
pay for equal work.
It would be impossible for the average person to know the
scale and magnitude of prison rebellions since many are never
reported in the bourgeois press.
On both the college campus and within the prison, genuine
demands for change in the life of those within and outside of
these institutions are met with more and more culture'
programs. Wendall Wade, writing in The Black Scholar,
captures this perfectly: "What facist wouldn't be happy with
hundreds of Black prisoners singing and dancing and beating
conga drums instead of plotting for freedom.-* These prisons
boast Soul Shows, Black is Beautiful Days, and bongo sessions in
the yard. Black history appears also, 'but it must not get
political.' In other words, the niggers can sing and dance and
talk about the first Black man to do this and the first Black man
to do that. But they can't get down with real problems. . . .
When the brothers get restless, another Black function is
suggested, maybe a play or some poetry reading — just as the
Watts Festival assures that we will all forget what happened
This approach to the destruction of imperialism and
capitalism through the beats of bongo drums is of course ever so
familiar to the American campus scene. In response to
rebellions, we have been given Black houses (cultural centers).
Black studies. Black shows, and some of the best bongos that
exist in the Black world. We cannot blame the ruling class for
using this tactic — we must blame ourselves for allowing it to
sustain our movement.
Administrative reformist responses in the two institutions
are similar in their appointment of Black leadership. This is
done through the elections of inmates councils, or Black
Student Union groups. These groups can remain in a leadership
position only if they lead properly. As Wade says, "The leaders
of the responsible' prisoners know that they are only allowed to
exist as an organization if they avoid the real problems lacing
the prisoners. "
Recent reformist moves by the ruling class of a disturbing
nature are underway. In prisons, it is the move in a number of
states to release prisoners into communities under the pretext
that this will promote rehabilitation. Let me assure you it will
not. Prisoners when released are sent to half-way houses and
other settings comparable to the neighborhoods they were
involved in. Neighborhoods with dope and prostitution are not
prepared to give the political education and support which would
ensure the prisoner's well being. Rehabilitation must be based
on meaningful jobs and little is available to the ex-con. I submit
that the purpose of these programs is to break up the prison
populations so that the Attica type rebellions will be eliminated.
We must be able to separate our interest in offering
humanitarian relief (fully realizing that it is preferable to live
with five others in a house than 500 in prison) from our sense of
In the case of universities, there is a definite move to put
students. Third World as well as whites, into the community.
The argument is that we must teach them to relate to the needs
of their communities, we must make the universities
accountable to the people. This too is only a reformist
measure — to quiet students. The students are not sent out to
perform productive labor (contrast the work study program of
Cuba); they are sent out to join the ranks of unproductive social
workers (the do-gooders).
We must constantly be aware that the ruling class has
given us reformist programs in the guise of real solutions to
problems. Were they truly interested in change, they would
send students out to study General Motors and not to administer
one more questionnaire to a poor Chicano family. They would
end the war on poverty, the aggressive acts committed against
the oppressed of America, and turn that energy, with the new
student help, to a war on the rich. If the United States were
really interested in prison reforms, she would stop the narcotics
traffic from entering her borders, make sure all women who can
and need work can have a decent job, and provide good living
conditions for our people so that the prisons and jails will not be
filled with countless victims of capitalism who were forced to
commit crimes of survival.
In conclusion, what does all this mean.-" As I said initially,
it is by organizing the majority of Black working-class folks and
progressive forces that major structural changes will be brought
about. It will not happen in isolation among the incarcerated.
The very fact though that our educational institutions and
prisons are composed of inmates (in a real sense, in prisons, and,
in the psychological sense, in colleges) means that we can work
with captive audiences. We can engage prisoners and students
in true study, we can get them involved in political education.
This is not to say that study and the development of a
workable revolutionary theory are the sole responsibility of
students and faculty and prisoners. We must all understand
history and our particular condition; there are some of us who
are in the universities and some of us who are in the prisons and
Finally, on the fringes of the Black masses, there have been
a number of spontaneous rebellions which might well be
organized into sustained struggles. The working class of Black
folks have always engaged in one form of rebellion or another
— so have students and prisoners.
We must work to build the revolution wherever we are,
wherever we live, wherever we work, wherever play. We must
understand the dynamics of the institutions that we are in — we
must organize there so that we may transform them.
1 can only tell you, for the truth to be known;
for those who dream, believe, and were alone
an hour past noon, on a September day;
Let it be remembered and always stay
in the minds of those who know us not,
or the tear gas, brute force unto the lot.
How does it begin?
What caused such pain?
Those questions are play-backs,
deep in my brain.
Why are we suffering?
How strong is the lot
of 88 Black men,
"The Cream of the Crop?"
Was there a beginning
to which has no end
to inhuman treatment
of men against men?
And how, in God's heaven
can we tell you, the free
of our confined hell?
Would you truly listen,
believe, and remember
Saturday. 1 972— the 23rd of September?
Well, I don't give a damn,
if you do or not;
in "88" souls (Black)
time won't be forgot.
Nor unto our minds, or in our hearts
such will be, till death do we part!
Wait, before I confuse you
and turn you about;
let it be clear
how it all started out;
Noon was just breaking,
chow was near its end.
The voices of laughter, from confined men;
Not happy, but contented
and making the best,
doing their time,
20. 25. 12. 15. or less.
Trying their best to have peace of mind.
Lonely, without our loved ones,
But such cannot be,
no matter how hard we try.
We learned that much better
when we heard two Brothers cry.
They were appealing and pleading for their rights
to two hacks and a lieut., who wanted a fight.
They were asking for justice, you know.
The lady who do not see yet,
uses force and violence in give misery.
These Brothers, Black,
appealed their case
to the officials in charge; a total waste.
They were clubbed and cuffed,
before our very eyes
and to some of the free visitors,
to their surprise.
They were dragged from a hallway,
bleeding and cut;
slapped in the face
and kicked in the butt
by these strong and brave officers,
and there they stayed,
till the news got around
to all who had not seen them
dragged on the ground.
A small group gathered
outside, where they were held tight,
and sought to get assistance. Is this wrong or right?
Assistance from the warden
and a doctor, that's all.
Please sir, can't anyone hear our call?
Oh, it was heard,
with promises and a "yes,"
that the warden was coming,
with two doctors, the best.
So we waited, and believed this would be just.
And with faith, we honored a warden we trust.
Then came a voice over a speaker, real loud,
"Back to your cells, such gatherings are not allowed.
The yard is closing, get back to your cell."
And we knew, then, those two Brothers would catch more hell.
There were no leaders,
as the crowd thinned out,
and the ones who stayed
just mingled about.
We wodered, and still waited,
for we couldn't conceive
the warden had crossed us, this man who we believed.
The promises and message,
he sent by his men,
"I shall be there,
without doctors, understand!"
No, the warden is a good guy;
he greets us each day
with a smile, and, "How are you men today?"
So we listen not,
to the strange voice that spoke
over the speaker. This must be a joke.
Ha, ha! A joke it was, we soon found out
when they locked all the doors,
near, far; and about
an hour later, there we all gathered near,
believing we done nothing serious — we had nothing to fear.
Maybe the doctor and warden will come.
This was in the minds of all,
not just some.
88 Black men, waiting for the unknown;
soon found out,
man, you all are alone.
Then they came. 20. 30. 40. or more,
in front of us and from the back of space,
not as men of god's human race.
They wore masks and was loaded down,
guns (tear gas) and sticks,
dragging the ground.
Axe handles, bombs of metal holding gas.
They came to destroy us. To kick our ass?
No, they came to destroy us, beat us to death.
Gas us and take our very last breath.
They shouted, but their voices was muffled.
Some asked, "God, what are they doing with that stuff?
We soon found the answer, as they opened fire,
no man unarmed. To fight, no thought or desire.
"Wait, give us a chance. What have we done?"
"We'll tell you, you Black bastard, you dirty son. . . ."
We fell by their gas,
we ran to take cover.
"Come back here,
you rotten dirty mother. . . ."
They pushed us, collared us,
we didn't resist.
What they wanted us to do was this:
They wanted a fight, or just a mere raise of a hand,
and they would have beaten us, till we couldn't stand.
They stripped us, and lead us
to the cells in the hole.
Without clothing, for three hours;
it was very cold.
They put us in a cell
that holds only three.
6 to 8 men in such cells.
How can this be?
They did it, and let us lie for over a week.
One shower, that's all, and more, don't seek.
It was dirty, and our mail didn't come as it should.
All visits were stopped by these administrational hoods.
Some was released, a week after and two days,
as others wondered, "How long will we stay?"
The next day, some more,
and the day after, too,
leaving inside, the cream of the crop, to just a few.
The others still in,
about 20 or more,
they say these are the ones who started this score.
That's a lie, and they are being held unjust
All because of faith and a warden's word we trust.
What will they do to them?
As they done to us?
Forfeit our pay, and earned good days for this bust?
No, they are trying to bring charges against these men:
How, why, we know not even when.
Who can help them? Who can assist?
You, my black people in the free world can do this.
Write, call, and form groups to find out how to help
just what you can do.
We or they can't assist ourselves,
remember, no matter how little you believe,
every little bit counts.
If your sincerity conceives
what I have told you, such another can be stopped;
as it happened to us, 88 Blacks, The Cream of the Crop.
The men who are still in the hole need a friend.
Help us, let prison genocide come to an end.
Sparrow and the 88 Black Brothers of the
Atlanta Federal Penitentiary:
"The Cream of the Crop"
Forgotten Inmates: Our Women in Chains
Triple Jeopardy: Black Women in Prison
American penal institutions are the products of a particular economic and political system. The artificial distinction between "on the streets" and
"in the joint," will be challenged, since the penal system, as a tool of oppression, mirrors the same processes within a society.
Following a general introduction to the history and structure of American prisons, this essay will concentrate on that particular group of inmates
who suffer a triple joepardy — they are Black; Women; and Prisoners.
The earliest form of institution for women was
called a detention center. They were few and far
between but society had to create an institution for the
women who committed what was considered immoral
In the 19th century, women were first kept in
secluded wings on the upper floors of old man's
prisons. They were never allowed much fresh air and
As time passed, the need for separate facilities
grew because women were being repeatedly
imprisoned with no sign of improvement. Even then
the accent was on reform and even then it was
unsuccessful. In 1873, The Indiana Reformatory for
Women and Girls was formed. It was the first phys-
ical woman's facility in the history of the United
States. The second one was founded in 1878 and called
Women's Prison at Sherbourne, Massachusetts. By
1919, there were sixteen reformatories for women.
In 1937, a women's prison was established at
Tehachapi, California. This had been a prison for men
that was closed down. The women sent there had form-
erly been in a wing at San Quentin. All cottages were
racially segregated. The Lansing Reformatory for
Women at Kansas consisted of makeshift shacks left
over from WWI. They had been used as places for
treatment of women camp-followers who contracted
At this point, it is important to note the low
regard for female prisoners. The growing attitude of
staff members was very important. The inmates were
considered the worst low life possible. They were
sinners doing their pennance (since crimes were
considered as being against the church). Black women
were not even considered women, so it is important to
understand how little was thought of them in prison.
Some prisons were like caste iron fortresses. Each
woman was kept in her very own 6x10 room with dirt
floors, concrete walls, and a heavy iron door. Since
the accent was on the religious, many places kept
women in silence as a form of punishment. As far as
work was concerned, they scrubbed floors, washed
clothes, and ran early forms of assembly lines. Solitary
confinement was no special form of punishment,
because that was how they were always kept.
The offense that most often got Black women into
physical prison was larceny. Nothing was and still is
more important than the survival of her family. Many
young Black girls with no families knew no other way
As time went on, citizens united to change the
appalling conditions of women's prisons. They took
on a new name and supposedly a positive direction yet
recidivism remains over 50%. Rehabilitation centers
were developed with the new theory that criminals had
to be trained to reenter society.
The only thing that was really accomplished was
that the women were made dependent on the
institution. Their will was weakened to the point where
they felt secure in prison, and upon release couldn't
handle the so called free world. In many cases women
repeated their same offense to regain entrance into the
prison. So from one century to the next, we have
observed no change.
There is no secret about the second hand lives
Black people are born into. At some point, we have all
been faced with that negative self-image. Therefore,
imagine what Black women, as ex-offenders, have had
to face through the ages and changes in prison. Black
women have to live with the reality, that as ex-
offenders, they face a triple jeopardy. The permanance
of being Black and a woman is surpassed only by the
label ex-convict. As in the days of slavery, chains are
"One of the most effective strategies in society's
psychological warfare against Blacks is to turn as many
of us as possible into criminals, "says Dr. Alvin
Pouissant. The scars are permanent. A major objective
in the oppression of Black people, is to keep us
parasitic and easily controlled.
The physical conditions of a women's prison also
play a part in the mental attitude of women. Few
prisons have changed in structure. As a result, the
scene is still very depressing with its cold, grey, and
Exquisite sanitary conditions add to the physical
beauty of such places as Muncy in Pennsylvania, the
centers in New York, and many others. Angela Davis
spoke of the wall to wall roaches that crawled over
them as they slept in the center that contained her. Rats
also kept company with the inmates. There is no
doubt about the filth they are forced to live in. At one
time cleaning was a primary job for inmates, but now
at institutions such as MCI Framingham for Women,
residents are much too busy sewing American flags
and military insignias, to be concerned with sanitation.
Note the reinforcement of having to do such symbolic
The medical facilities provided for women are
very poor. Again for Black women it is even worse.
The racism is very blatant. There are cases of Black wo-
men going to the prison doctor complaining of severe
chest pains, and the doctor without an examination
would prescribe exercise and more work. In the state of
Connecticut at Niantic, where they kept Erica Huggins
and many unknown Black women, no medical
attention was given to the Black women who were preg-
nant. One woman suffered from malnutrition during
her pregnancy. If it were not for the strong spiritual
hand between them some would not have survived at
all. They had to pick and pull at the food in order to get
some semblance of a meal. How does a woman
maintain an appetite when she finds rat's tails and
roaches in her food.
Genocide, in prison, is handled with extreme ease.
It is common knowledge that young Black women are
given hysterectomies regularly and without their
permission. It is a simple process especially when she
may already be having a minor operation. There are
many factors that each Black woman has to contend
with in order to maintain her sanity and pride.
The question now is, what puts a woman in
prison? First of all, I think it is important to note that
female prosecution occurs very seldom due to what is
called the "chivalry factor", in the annual report from
the Commission on Law Enforcement and the
Administration of Justice, 1971. Men tend to shield wo-
men involved in crime, plus the court as willing to
indict females as readily as males. Of course, at the
same time. Black women are sentenced quicker and
longer than white women. The only crime that the
court may view as being more severe on the part of
white women than Black women is "prostitution".
Such immoral acts are truly frowned upon in terms of
white women yet it is expected from Black women.
Other studies have shown that to date, the nature
of crimes committed by women lies in the realm of
social survival. In small cities, more than half of the
women are forced with charges of shop-lifting,
vagrancy, drunkeness, and a few other minor charges.
In larger cities, on the average, women are jailed on
charges that directly or indirectly point to drugs. The
need for capital leads to prostitution, larceny, forgery,
and burglary. Third World women are more often than
not imprisoned for crimes of survival.
In a study once done by the AAUW (American
Association of University Women), they noted that
women in prison are not terribly dangerous and
maximum security is seldom necessary. Homicide is
not a typical offense. Such cases are considered crimes
of passion because they usually involve family
members or close friends. In an emotional state, a
woman may be imprisoned for killing her man.
Another thing to note is the rate of escape
attempts as compared to men. Women, when they
escape, will at some point go to their family, especially
if there are children involved. As a result,
Massachusetts, for one allows not much more than one
thousand dollars a year for the search and return of
Who commits what crimes in the Black
communities? The young Black female is most likely
to commit crimes such as shoplifting and other forms
of stealing. They are victims of this capitalist system
and the materialism shown in mass media. Propaganda
instills materialistic values in them and their socio-
economic status cannot contend with that.
After being sent to a detention center where the
experience is usually very bitter, chances are that when
she comes out of the detention center more ex-
perienced in what got her imprisoned. Another ticket
into an institution is drugs. If you can't afford minor
luxuries, what is to make you think that you can af-
ford a drug habit.
It doesn't take long for young Black women who
are out on the streets to have two or three children.
Though she may be educated in the ways of the street,
oftentimes she is not as educated in terms of her
personal well-being. In this kind of situation, when a
young Black woman has to go to prison, the Welfare
System will step in. Because she is poor, she is even
more so at the state's mercy.
In a case involving armed robbery, a fifteen-year-
old Black woman got involved with two older women,
who got away and left her to deal with the charges. She
got juvenile time, which was 18 months, but due to
the indeterminate sentencing in that state, she turned
18 while in jail and they turned her time into ten years
adult time. From then on, she was in and out of prison.
According the AAUW, 80% of the women in
prison have children. Since most come from welfare
homes, it is difficult to care for a relatives' children on
your welfare subsistence. There is also the possibility
that once a woman goes to prison, her children may not
have anyone else and are likely to be sent to foster
homes. At times inmates aren't even told as to the
whereabouts of their children.
If they do have husbands, the odds are against a
marriage lasting especially after he visits her at the
prison. It is embarrassing at the least to have a hus-
band see the lesbians, and wonder what is he thinking
about. Is his wife involved with a lesbian? The love an
inmate has for her family soon becomes very distant.
There isn't much she can do for them, so her capacity
as a mother is brought to a standstill.
For this reason among others, the Child Welfare
Department encourages Sisters in prison to give their
children up for adoption. If a woman entered prison
during a pregnancy with no legal relatives, the Welfare
Agency would handle the whole situation. For a few
months after birth, she may be allowed very limited
visiting rights. In many cases mothers will not consent
to adoption but prison rights become hazy and
although it is denied, such women are pressured into
consenting. This is almost a final break-up for them.
They get to lose — even the one thing that truly
belongs to them.
Prison is a very lonely cut-off from the
mainstream of life. Many young Black women fall
apart from the frustration of being alone. Friendships
are based on the commonality of loneliness. This is
one way to get involved in a homosexual relationship.
The other way, not so commonly used is forced.
After studying about lesbianism among Black
women in prison, I found that there is indeed a style
involved in breaking in new lesbians. One method is
to befriend a lonely girl and spend as much time as
possible with her. Then without warning, the
aggressor will abandon the friendship until the wo-
man is at her most vulnerable point, wondering what is
wrong. Right then she is willing to submit to lesbian
acts. The method involving force is not commonly
used any longer. What happened then was group
pressure until the woman submitted.
Since lesbianism is promoted in prison, it isn't
very difficult for some to get involved. If a woman is
already a lesbian, chances are she will avoid relations
of any sort in order to remain true to her mate. In any
case, it is one way to cut down on unwanted
pregnancies that are hushed up in prison.
Supposedly, there are prisons that try to keep
known lesbians apart. Administrators say that
lesbianism is one of their largest problems among in-
mates. Guards have been known to promote lesbianism
though it is denied. Noting characteristics of women
guards in some places would refute the whole ar-
gument against lesbianism.
In such relations. Black women are usually known
as the studs (the male counterpart). My analysis is that
due to the social order of things. Black women have
always been considered hard and tough and closer to
the masculine image than the generally frail and weak
white woman's image. Black women are also known
for their strength and independence. You could not
find better typecasting than on a prison stage.
Racism like lesbianism, is now kept quiet by the
powers that be, but it is prevalent nevertheless. The
common denominator of a prison class has had no bear-
ing on the racial overtones that are reinforced by the
staff. It is a given that united inmates would be harder
Guards discourage black/white friendships and
until very recently was extremely common that Black
women were talked to and about in heavily racist
terms. The racism is somewhat subtle now but still
there. For example, some institutions discourage
women from wearing Afros. Southern prisons do not
allow Black women to read all Black magazines.
Racial prejudice is not restricted to Black women,
but rather it is inclusive to all Third World women.
Non-English speaking Latin American women are not
allowed to converse at all. Since staff members cannot
understand their language, they are not allowed to use
it at all. Third World prisoners are at a great
disadvantage. The racial ratio of staff to inmates is
highly imbalanced. As a matter of fact, most women
staff members are from rural areas and are white. At
Muncy in Pennsylvania, for example, 47% of the
inmates are Black and not a staff member is.
The newest minority on the prison stage is the
female activists. Many women are being imprisoned
for their antiestablishment political actions. Some
Black women have manifested their strength in this
Third World people are struggling not merely to
survive, but to live in a just society. As we understand,
simply from studying our history, the rise of the Black
culture has always been a detriment to the white
culture. So we are in a state of quiet "cold war", that is
making more noise everyday.
At every turn, when the Black communities
decided to fight the power structure has been there to
make minor concessions in order to pacify the people.
The cleverness displayed is surpassed only by the
"devil" in his motives. As victims of mis-education
Black people never sought to go against "white sup-
remacy". When we were fighting about the quality of
education our children were receiving, integration was
put into effect. As far as many Black people were
concerned, that was the answer. No one stopped to
think of the inference. Black children learned best in
white schools. That is only one example of mis-
education . This very same kind of mis-education ends
in prison for many of us. Once behind bars, they no
longer have to be clever about what we are allowed to
Now that we are about re-education, Black
communities are becoming more aware of the injustices
that are done to us and even more important, the mali-
cious intent with which they are done. When we have
reached a very simple level of consciousness, we can
understand the need for political prisoners. In some
senses, the development of political prisoners is
another tactic in the warfare against Black people. One
way to insure the upper hand is to turn as many of us
as possible into "criminals."
Angela Davis has said, "I am a political prisoner.
The government intends to silence me, to prohibit me
from further organizing my people, to prohibit me
from exposing this corrupt, degenerate system by
convicting me on the basis of a crime that I had
nothing to do with."
Some political prisoners have been used as
examples to the people. This unfortunately thwarts
many different attempts by the people to expose this
system for the sickness it bears. Ericka Huggins and
Angela Davis are only two examples of Black women
who have been incarcerated to keep them from being
key figures in the Black struggle.
Freedom of movement that is growing in women's
prisons is working wonders on the public. Let the truth
be known, however, that Third World women are still
suffering greatly. The New York City Detention
Center for Women where Angela Davis was, allows
inmates to wear their own clothing as did many other
institutions; everyone except Angela, that is, because
she was a high risk prisoner. She was badgered by
guards and other staff members constantly in one ef-
fort to break her will. These kinds of details are always
omitted from the public.
Mentally, the struggle is at its peak. The
awareness of the need for solidarity among Third
World women in prison is ever-growing. Pride is more
than a sign of the times. It is a vehicle to motivate
strength. We realize that the physical prison is just one
way that we have been kept chained and bound. Until
there is "Black Justice," it matters not if the chains are
on in prison or not. Sisters all over the world are
displaying a kind of strength known only to the peo-
ple of the Third World. These sisters that serve as
guinea pigs to the man must serve as an incentive to
The responsibility lies with us. Since on the inside
they are an inspiration, we are obliged to do everything
in our power to see that there are opportunities
available and that they are not made to feel like
outcasts in our own communities. At the same time, we
must maintain the struggle to keep our people out of
jail. We must continually challenge the ways of the
political system. We have to venture into the arena of
battle, if we are to compete at all.
To be about any kind of revolution;
we cannot forget our women in chains.
To be about any kind of revolution;
we must understand that, "if they come for you in the
they'll be coming for me that night."
sitting in a situation
know/ing too >vell
what the hell
of living be
/being subject to sickness and death
where dread reigns supreme
and eyes hide
/masked by clouds of yellowed illusion
/or shrouds of dope
cursing any chance for tomorro>vs child
where woe men become
and there luvd ones things
to be avoided
to be possessed
tooled by manipulating administrators
bent by perverse longings for power
the programmed hours that manifest
as control over/
parole never . . .
unless under state control
and so the monstrous nites of alone roll on
. . . and you see them
drawn across the jagged edges of centuries of blackpain
knowing all that living hell again
sitting here in many hued beauty
/fleeting the legend
of the eternally damned
/yet lost to the luvers
where survival means /only
continuation of the old ways
a long strain of curses
on scre>vs >Mho mask as matrons
and then go home to dream
of that house they'll have someday
while playing with themselves
as a search for a brighter tomorro>w climaxes
and while sistuhs . . . just surviving
/speak of home
in terms of unconscious agony
on compounds where their fate
— their security
showing itself in terms of
where the hatred be
/yet talking bout going home
... a room /))) state controlled
. . .a feed /))) state controlled
. . .a bed /))) state controlled
a wire fence controlled
by their inability to move
beyond their surviving deaths
/soft in a strong v/ay
hard in the softest places
yearning for a touch
for an embrace
for a face of caring
that'll bring life a little closer
/take it past the wire walls
and psychological fences
take life beyond the boundaries
of time served
beyond the fear-ridden years of pain induced labor
separating mother from daughter
v/\fe from luver
leaving woman . . ./strong/proud/bold/selfassured
challenged daily by
/waiting to rob life from the living
leaving self dead
cussing and fussing
beyond the boundaries of a surviving death
beyond the fenced out agony of state controlled rooms
dying by surviving
Missing the meaning of
"an eye for an eye"
that masked by mascarrad/years
caught up in struggling daily
but never knowing where
luvd ones al>A/ays
precious in most rites
unriteous in alot of forced ways
finding themselves caught between worlds
wondering daily when the pain will end
caught inside of fenced realities
relating to women in the old ways
new >ways needed
challenged daily by the pain of pleas unheeded
issuing from the tortured reality of
/dying in survivals throes
for the possibility of a nation of unthreatened
Who is the Woman Offender??
Recently here at "camp framing ham," another tour came through, talking with officers, who for the
majority are only interested in earning their "bread and butter," gaping at inmates, but making no inquiries of
the supposedly "women offender." The purpose of this tour was not brought out. However, what I did bring to
the tourists attention was that to really know anything about the women in question, or to understand why a
woman's freedom was taken away from her, they would have to deal with the cause of the bust, circumstances
under which the woman lived, and the role society played in creating the crime.
First let's look at society. Who is society? The provoker of a crime that now claims that prisoners owe
them a debt. Why is the "Woman offender" here.'' Let's get one established fact down: society is demanding.
Society places wants over needs. Society is capitalist, (Capitalizing is an art of this capitalist). So in order to live
in a capitalist society (under society's definition of living) you must have a way to obtain capital. You either
work 9-5 or you resort to other various ways of obtaining money, deemed illegal by who but society. There are a
number of life-styles you can choose but being black there are but 3 offered to you.
Bourgeois blacks, who grew up in the ghetto, but moved to suburbia, or a better neighborhood, where there
are nice homes with beautiful lawns, nice social clubs, girl scouts, boy scouts, new cars. They are free of the
physical elements of the ghetto, but became heavy-laden with the psychological burdens of, "How am I going to
pay for all of this.''"
Night life, caddies diamonds, mink coats for women as well as men, money no trouble, nice apartments,
homes, or whatever. Many different ways of obtaining money, all illegal. A hustle to survive, but a hustle to do
more than survive, but to live as you see fit. Sometimes forfeiting sense of self, or the love of family. Dog eat
dog, night life, opposed to dog eat dog, credit system life.
Ghetto life-style, welfare mothers or working mothers, and no fathers, or working mother and father. The
majority of these people have no education to obtain any other job than that of factory work or if they do have an
education, the walls of racism hold them back. So factories offering hard work, low pay are all that they have to
go to, that or domestic work, offering $10 a day and transportation fare.
Out of these 3 life-styles you are given a choice, which one to choose, which one is the one you want, which
one pays the most???
In the process of becoming an adult you are faced with the problem of deciding, and if you know there is no
possible way that you can attend college you are left with the choices of barmaid, nurse, civil services jobs,
teacher in some cases, secretary, welfare worker. All of these choices force one to live in the dog eat dog world of
buy-now-pay-later. With discouragements from teachers, you soon give up any ideas of becoming a professional.
You soon learn that to survive is more than getting an education, and trying to make something out of yourself.
It's knocking down the walls of racism, cutting off the hand that holds you down. It's standing up fighting for
what you believe in, fighting for your rights as a human, for your rights as a black human being. So you choose.
Your choice is not always right. Many women tried to work on a 9-5 but couldn't adjust to giving their
earnings to the bill collector every week, so they ventured on into the night life, into some form of an illegal
hustle. Some women never tried to work a 9-5 because after seeing in their communities what happened to
workers, they didn't think that was a feasible way to live. Young women become taken in by a pimp's line,
become fascinated by the glitter of the night life. So in order to provide for themselves and their man, usually the
man comes first, they run tricks, sell their bodies, while living in a very distorted polygamous arrangement.
But this is not always the case. Some hustlers are successful in the night life and after getting money, investing
it and then later on in life settling down with a family. These are the exceptions of the night life.
Included in this black life style are drugs, made available by White society. While their drugs aren't
advertised on society's propaganda media, they are made available on every ghetto street corner, and have been
for years. Only recently, when white society's children became addicts, and started flipping out on LSD that they
concocted in their laboratories, did society acknowledge the fact that there was a drug problem. A drug problem
has existed in the black community for years, and will continue as long as society transports it from other
countries. So the drug problem is also a crime, and who says it's a problem?? Society.
(Continued on page 26)
since I had a
All time same time
wake up time
time to slave
slave time again
n P. M.
half sleep time
how much time?
time for walking
Walking out time
Time Time Time
My Time is
l*fli • t h2
Who is the Woman Offender??
(Continued from page 23)
So who is the offender?? The woman or society?
After incarceration, what does the jail offer for self development? Nothing. Group therapy, a form of
brain-washing where each person sits and tells something of herself to a white therapist who knows nothing of
black life-style, who has never lived it, read about it in papers during different riots in different ghetto areas.
And how does this therapy prepare a woman for release?? How does it teach a woman to deal with racism??
What does it teach a woman about her black selP Nothing, because it knows nothing about her blackness.
What steps are taken to prepare a woman for outside work?? Until recently women sewed, knitted, crocheted,
made pillows. Who expects to do this work on the outside especially after a woman has worked nights, making
more money in a night than all these jobs offer in a week. Now there are two business courses that may prove to
The woman offender, who is she? A victim of society. A victim of racism, of capitalism. An offender
because she offended someone? Or offended herselP Instead she's been offended.
If you have never been to Framingham, appearances would lead you to believe that M.C.I. Correctional
Institution is no more than a college for women, in a suburban town. Visitors coming into Framingham often
stand with mouths open in awe because, unlike other jails, there are no tiers, no wall with gun-tower, or no gun-
toting guards. Instead Framingham consists of five buildings, housing units known as cottages. Each cottage has
a living room with carpet, color t.v., love seats, and captain chairs, and a sewing room which includes a sewing
machine, ironing board and one large table. Next door to the sewing room is the kitchen with an electric stove
with four burners and an oven-refrigerator, about 3 feet in height. There is also a sink and wall cabinets.
Behind the kitchen is a trash room with an incinerator and wall racks for storage of mops and brooms.
Across from the kitchen is the Matron's Office where all police work is done: keeping count, calling to the
main building to inform another officer that an inmate is on her way over, and also where medication is given to
inmates who need it. Further into the cottage there are three corridors. This is where sleeping quarters are
located. These rooms are furnished with a bed, consisting of a foam rubber mattress and steel pseudo-hollywood
bed frames. We are given bed spreads of various pastel colors, and there are fiber glass curtains at the windows.
In two of the cottages, rooms are furnished with blonde wood, and two others are furnished with maple
furnishings. There is a desk and chair, a bureau, one bookcase, a bulletin board, a mirror and some necessary
toilet facilities. Some women decorate rooms to fit their own tastes and in fact some of the rooms have appealing,
home-made afghan bed covers and knick-knacks on the bookcase.
On some walls are posters of George Jackson. Women are permitted to have their own t.v.'s and record
players. Cozy rugs are on the floors and the rooms do become a home for some who are easily institutionalized,
and a place to sleep for the mentally strong.
That takes care of four cottages. Another building is the hospital. On the top floor of this building the
alcoholics are housed. These women stay no longer than six months. Their life styles vary from the rest of the
inmates. Because these women are older, there is very little socializing with them. This housing unit is called
A.R.C., and is located on the top floor of the hospital.
Also on this floor is the dressing room. In this dressing room, women are admitted to Framingham, given a
bath, and internals. (It has been said that women often try to smuggle contraband in their vaginas.) After
admittance to Framingham, women stay in admittance for a period of two weeks or more. Then they are staffed
to a cottage. The hospital section of this building, the bottom floor, is a farce! It consists of approximately
twenty rooms. On one side of the hall, the rooms are equipped with toilets, and twenty on the other side, minus
the comfort of toilets. This hospital has a kitchen, no stove, a dining room and a t.v. room. There are four
rooms known as the "cages," an extremely appropriate term, used for unruly inmates, withdrawing drug addicts,
and detoxicating alcoholics. Each cage has two doors, equipped with a rotating peep hole to observe patients, I
am told. About three feet of the wooden door is a chicken- wire gate, consisting of a door with a lock in it. The
reason being that the chicken-wire is really made of steel. Underneath the chicken-wire is an 18-inch rectangular
opening used to insert dinners. The manufacturer of these cages surely must have helped write "snakepit." I
have been told by comrades, who were locked in them, for none of the mentioned reasons, that they are
inhumane and pure hell. Next to the cages stands a nurses' office, where some medication is kept. But mostly
where nurses simply sit and gossip and talk about the inmates and how much they hate their jobs.
Welcome to the Dungeon —
Seldom "Regularly" Used But Still Existing
Women's Cottage — A Home Away from Home
The "nurses' station," as it is called, is surrounded by still another steel, chicken-wire fence with lock and a
hole for answering the phone in case the gate (as the door is so quaintly called) is locked. Immediately outside
of this office is a glass door operated by buzzer or key but never opened so that inmates may enter or leave as they
see fit. Next is a room for whirlpool baths which is very seldom, if ever, used. There are two bathrooms, one for
men and one for women, (dig that), and the optician's room, where state glasses are prescribed. Next is a dentist
oflSce, then the doctor's office, or Vet's Office. This is a description of the hospital according to Framingham
vernacular, the "Vet's Office."
Further up the compound is the main building, "The heart of the Jail." This is where all staff offices are
located, where the super has her office, where therapy is carried on, where women eat, and where all work
placements are located. Also located here is the church, the library, the school, the gym, and max security,
where women are held for punishment. (Max is a part of the building that needs to be closed down but hasn't.)
These people are not allowed books, writing paper, or toilet articles. The bed has a foam mattress with hassock
springs which are damaing to the back. This is solitude, but often friends call up from the sidewalk and talk to
The 'Women's Serving Room (dining room) is where we are fed, some horrible food. But in reality the
food is not as bad as Charles St. Jail. 'Women also work here. Slave Labor is carried out because we are paid
wages of 2^it or 50c a day. And at the end of every month, or shall I say at the end of every parole board
meeting, we are given pay slips. Half of this money for the month is put into what is called a Personal Savings
Account. At the time of your release you are given this money. It is a practice of the state to give women,
leaving for the first time, the sum of $50.00. This money is made up of your own personal savings and if your
personal savings don't amount to the fifty we are given the rest by the state. Recently we found that this money
draws interest but where the interest goes no one knows.
Another work placement is the laundry, where the Institution's laundry is done by the inmates. Also there
is Institution cleaning where women clean the halls, mop, wax and buff them. Now, Industries is where you sew
flags, U.S. flags!! They are sold for nice prices; where this money goes I don't know. Besides flags, there are
towels, pillowcases, sheets, street signs and silk screening done all for the same above mentioned wages. Across
the hall from industries is occupational therapy. Knitting, crocheting, alterations on officers clothes are done
here. Pillows are also made, but this work is being done for the fair which will be held sometime this winter.
This money goes back to the inmates. Next is education, which until recently, was empty because of lack of
classes. 'Women obtain G.E.D.'s here and secretarial skills. There is also a library, filled with antiquated books
that are of no value to anyone and a librarian who fits very well into the setting.
Next we have the Superintendant's Office, enclosed behind large picture windows and facing a swimming
pool. Her wall to wall carpeting matches the blue pool water. There is still another work placement, the store.
This place stocks all items necessary for the Institution's "Women who also work there and are forced to lift items
such as 100 lb bags of sugar, 50 lb bags of flour, crates of meat; weighing anywhere from 241 tb to 731 lb. They
must unload trucks in rain, sleet, hail or snow and they must deliver to cottages in the same way. This is a man's
job given to a woman, the men who work here ride around in green trucks, picking up garbage, ride lawn
mowers, replace light fixtures and other miscellaneous work.
This is Framingham. Surrounded by a fence, complete with a beautiful lawn. A physical playground for
women, see-saws and swings. Some physically deceptive shade trees, tennis courts, benches to sit on to enjoy
sunny days and last but by no means least, our swimming pool. This is Framingham.
My personal dealings with adjusting to a jail life-style are varied. My feelings on the subject of jail are
bitter. If it had not been for my sister inmates, many times I would have been dead, for suicide was a thought I
have given much contemplation to. But luckily my thoughts were, "Don't give in, for retreat is defeat," and I
grew stronger and developed a sense of me, of what I was about or wanted to be about.
Jailhouse life-style, can it be defined? Let me try. Sometimes the feeling of unity between the inmates is
overwhelming, other times women and their ways are sickening. Here in Framingham jailhouse life-style is
different from most jails and especially the male institutions, because of the physical comforts. Material objects
play a large part in the lives of inmates. Consequently, once again, as on the streets we are divided into classes.
There are suburbanites (self-defined). Then next we have the house-nigger, and in this case, color is no barrier.
Stool-pigeons walk freely, talk freely and live unhassled. In any other jail this is unheard of. But remember this
is Framingham. And of course, we have our working class, just the same as out there in minimum security. Next
we have the lumpen proletariat; which includes me.
In the joints, relationships are sometimes formed that become Hfe-long relationships. Friendship here goes
deep. It could be this situation that binds us together and gives us a common bond. Feelings are magnified to
such an extent that the tuning of the t.v. may cause a fight, but not often, because understanding plays a very
important part in our life style. It's like we are here, in the same boat and our faces reveal our sentiment — Sistuh
I can understand your plight cause I'm going through it too. And this link helps more than any therapist, or any
part of the staff. (They emit sympathy and we exchange empathy.)
The sharing of an experience, nothing beats it. Your best friend makes board you feel it, someone goes
home, your friend; you feel it, someone has an emergency at home; you feel it. These feelings that come from
the guts and refuse to be oppressed. Awareness on the black woman's part is heard of, but isn't as it should be so
we keep trying. You may hear whitey this, whitey that, pigs this, pigs that, but it's all empty, and rhetoric, not
meaningless, totally, but meaningless to the extent that it is nothing but talk, and nothing will ever become of it
For an example when I first entered Framingham, lights went out at ii;oo p.m.; mail was censored and you
could write only those persons your social worker had approved; slacks weren't allowed except at recreation;
there were no black faces to be seen except for five and there was no black entertainment, only hard rock played
by hippies. Now lights are on all night, mail is uncensored, you can write anyone you want to. Changes have
occurred. There was a time when it was mandatory that everyone come to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, when
you were locked for cursing, when reading materials were censored by the state. Change has taken place be-
cause of who?
The Superintendent when I arrived was Betty Cole Smith, a fair woman, but strict. Then there came
Gloria Cuzzi and all hell broke loose. During the time she was in, 99% of the above mentioned changes took
place. Why.'' Because this woman did not believe in reform, was not fair to the inmate, and had a plan to turn
Framingham into a Therapeutic Community. The level of awareness rose, women became aware that they were
being oppressed, and retaliated. On January i, 1972, 21 women were shipped to various jails throughout
Massachusetts. Two women were shipped to Alderson in "Virginia. Those of us still left held a sit-in, de-
manding the removal of Cuzzi and demanding other things. "We drew up a draft and asked for a complete re-
vision of the compound, instead we were given the things mentioned above. Pacifiers. They were accepted.
Eventually Cuzzi was thrown out. Mrs. Dorothy Chase, the present Superintendent came into office. She
had been working here for 11 years as a therapist. She had the same ideas as Cuzzi but rechanneled them, and
because she was known, she was accepted. Now the Therapeutic Community has been renamed, the honor
system. Chase is in, but the level of awareness has rescinded and people are happy at watching color t.v. and
enjoying the other luxuries the state has to ofi"er. So life goes on. People go to recreation, dance and laugh. And
when your friend feels depressed you feel depressed. But at times, the bond is still there. Like take this past
weekend, a woman was sick, and fainted. She had been sick for 3 days but nothing was done, so we took it upon
ourselves to take this woman to the hospital. When we tried to enter the buzzed door a hassle took place.
Officers and inmates clashed. I was grabbed, arms held and a hand was upon my neck. Thanks to friends who
came to the rescue I got out of it. But for a moment tempers blocked vision. And if it had not been for
comrade/ friends, a serious thing could have developed. In situations like that inmates are together.
In essence there will never be a total revolution of the minds in Framingham because of material objects,
various forms of escapism and the state of unawareness. A revolutionary woman cannot build her values higher
than that of material objects if she is taken in by the state's pacifiers.
In corrections today the latest "fad" is therapy and it's working in some places, it's working in Framing-
ham, women become dependent upon therapists to do their thinking for them. Prison reform, or revolution —
this is the question. In jails formerly it was physical abuse; submission was the goal — to be an inmate in spirit
and physical appearances. Now it's mental abuse submission to give over your mind, because people are
looking at the reason of crime, digging on the judicial system, and becoming aware that they are locked be-
cause they are the oppressed. And in this day and age with riots in every jail in every state, the way to the in-
mate is through his mind, because now people are thinking and know that they don't owe society a debt, but
this same society owes us/we a debt. So therefore therapy is the key to man's mind and it's working like I
said, but how long will the blind remain blind.^''.^ In the same rhetoric that comes from the mouths of sistuhs
has truth to it how long before they realize the weight of the truth.-'.''? Not long.
Where We Sew Flags,
"Across the Courtyard."
Outside of Kitchen.
and Religion Too!!
Bitches brew . . . bitches are always . . . brewing
bitches game on tricl<s
bitches game on their men
bitches even game on bitches
there are larceny hearted bitches
who lay in wait for a naive
one who will soon become a
who got her game from a
why can't women be women
sistuhs become sistuhs and stop
because another bitch stole her man because
simply because she was too busy
bitching to be a woman.
Saheeta l\/lorani (Tina Williams)
Unilu NeeJs ...
the white suburbanite social worker who visits the jail
feel no pity
look for no
expect no false smiles
want no welfare gifts
and we are tired of your
we ask that you not lay on our
need no comfort from you
you who never layed in my ghetto
who never sold your body
because you loved and because you
wanted something better in life
you the moral hypocrite
how dare you berate me
how dare you tell me of
all the nice colored girls
who have made something of themselves
because of rehabilitation
when all the time
stand in front of you proudly BLACK
REFUSING TO KISS YOUR ASS AND BECOME COLORED
TO BE RELEASED
Saheeta Morani (Tina Williams)
A Triangle: Black Studies/Students.
The link between Black Studies and the Black community should be clear by now, but the importance of the relationship of
the Black prisoner to that same community is sometimes ignored; seldom discussed, analyzed, or interpreted by either the
Black student or the community. Nevertheless, it is a deplorable fact that the Black community is being deprived of some of its
most political, powerful, committed, and determined minds. The perpetual incarceration of these minds and bodies is no strange
coincidence. The interminable strength of a Black prisoner, and his timeless commitment to the liberation of the Black com-
munity seems to necessitate reprisals from the prison authorities, which manifest themselves in the form of harassment, beatings,
and life-long incarceration. To define one's self from these reprisals may mean death for the prisoner. George Jackson's murder
is a perfect example.
A growing number of Brothers in prison are beginning to understand the oppressive nature of the penal institution, and the
role they play in the society-at-large, and particularly to the communities from which many of them have been railroaded. They
are beginning to view the prisons as nothing less than a microcosm of the society from which they have been removed. The inten-
Willie Wren -
Greetings and Power Sister!
You know. Sister, as to the petite-bourgeoisie view of relating to the
lumpens (the people in the ghetto), and your response to get them to
accept you, this can be looked at in two ways.
Black relationships have always been a wreckage, because of white
bourgeois mythology and our being the victims of colonialization.
enslaved by a foreign culture.
Black people must build the Black family power view of unity
within ourselves once again, and this can come about through
"comradeship," for it can be a view of family, individual, or collective
life, a racialist attitude of mind, which fall back into tribal days (Africa),
and gave to every individual the security that came from belonging to a
widely extended family.
This comradeship or collective principle was forcibly removed by
our oppressor, by physical force, as well as mental force, socially and
spiritually, in colonized institutions. There were many who objectively
moved to smash the Anglo-Saxon conditions that have and are continuing
to destroy us!! The rape dialectic of man's and woman's greatness.
Capitalism, an Anglo-Saxon or European system, not a system of people
of color, was imparted into the Third World Continents.
Earl Ofari wrote, "Modern Capitalism was an essentially foreign
import in Africa; the traditional cultural, social, and economic founda-
tions of Africa in tribal society were squarely rooted in a very ancient
form of communalism . . . 'Communism' . . . the concept of the extended
family and its translation to a political economic and social context.
African Communism . . . 'Communalism' . . . had been developed to a
very high level; basic necessities of life such as bread, shelter, and even
clothing were shared. Much of a tribe's land and property were held in
common. Often it was simply distributed equally among the tribe's
various members. From the early co-operative sharing, a pattern
developed, which facilitated acceptance by all in the tribe of a common
value system, and in turn gave a unique character to all African social
attitudes and the cohesion necessary to hold the society together as a solid -
ified collective unit was developed. "
Also the word comrade, which means friend, and this is a social
attitude; Blacks, who came from the lumpen life: pimps, dope dealers,
players, stick-up kids, gamers of all kinds, relate to comrade also as
"crimepartner" in the illegitimate capitalist life of lumpens survival.
Crime-partners became a man's or woman's most trusted companions,
just as this word can also relate to revolutionaries, for revolution is
"oudaw." Anglo-Saxon law is firmly into economics . . . Capitalism'
. . . Anglo-Saxon law protects property rights over people's rights; and as
revolutionary men and women are about the changing of this system, they
become out-laws/ crimepartners.
So their revolutionary consciousness, from the first act, uses various
devices to stay alive! ! Comradeship can also be looked at in this view . . .
"God made the first man as God is man, so now, man himself makes the
individual, who becomes the corporate or social man. It is a deep
religious transaction, when he or she suffers along, but with the corporate
group, whatever happens to the individual, happens to the whole group,
happens to the individual" . : . It can only be said, I am because we are,
and since we are, therefore I am. This is an African cardinal point in the
understanding of man and woman, juit as the Chinese Communist party
cardinal rule is, have faith in the people — and have faith in the faith.
As many of us revolutionary men and women view this as our
cardinal rule, we also view and must relate the African cardinal point as
well. What of comradeship in a relationship of man and woman as to
sex.' A look at the "Akamba " and "Maasai:" their lives are bound as
one, bound to each other for the rest of their lives. They are, in effect,
one body, one group, one community, one people. They help one another
in all kinds of ways and forms. And within their community, the wife of
one man is equally the wife of other men in the community, and if one
member visits another, he is entided to sleep with the latter's wife,
whether or not the husband is home.
This is "deep," a deep level of asserting the group solidarity, one in
which the group outlook is and feels, "I am, because we are, and since we
are, therefore, I am," solidarity, security, oneness, and the opportunities
of participating in corporate existence. Marx taught that existence
determines consciousness! This is the fundamental line of Marxism over
bourgeois ideology. Comradeship is absolute equality, male-female, just
as communalism (Communism or socialism) is basic to the goal of
absolute equality. Comradeship is respect, and to treat each other as
human beings, not subordinate to one; it is a principle of equality
between man, woman, and community; it is the wreckage of Black
relationship that Black people had!, and means Black relationship
(family) is coming back. We build the new concepts, and bring about a
new man and woman in values; we abandon our values of Anglo-Saxon
culture and capitalism.
Sister, if I said anything not to your liking, please criticize it. Well,
Sister, I am going to close for now. So until we communicate with each
other again. Power and may peace be with you, sister! !
Power, Peace, & Happiness
Willie (Yero) Warrior
Black Prisoners, and Black Communities
sity of the oppression that exists behind those prison walls forces even the most naive and liberal-minded prisoner to perceive a clear
picture of American society. The prison IS American society, with all of her brutality, racism, imperialism, suppression, repres-
sion, oppression, and depression, all very destructively packaged into one institution. The Black prisoner, once he understands
this, commits himself to struggling against it while in prison, with serious intentions of continuing that struggle when released. He
then becomes a student, and engages his time with "Black Studies," in its most serious and relevant sense — seeking means of
understanding and combating the evils of a capitalist society. The serious Black student and the serious Black prisoner then main-
tain a common goal: the liberation of their Black communities.
There remains a serious problem — that of the estranged relationship between the Black student and the Black community,
i.e., — the black "petite bourgeoisie" vis-a-vis the Black "proletariat." The following correspondence from an incarcerated
Brother in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary gives us his views on the subjea, as well as an example of the seriousness of the studies
of one imprisoned Brother and of the consciousness he has developed through that study.
The poetry which follows is the work of another Brother in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary: "Sparrow."
The problem with most of today's poetry is that it really is not poetry. Poetry is an art, and consists of more than simply the
pouring of one's soul onto paper.
What follows are hard, calculated visions and images of and for Black life, riddled with the sensitivity of a man who has ex-
perienced, felt, and understood his oppression and its effect on his own existence, as well as on the life of the Black community.
A Poem of BlackMothers of Yesterday
And 'Women of Today
Is there a woman with love more dear
To keep her man alive, she instilled in him fear?
Emasculating Black manhood and all manhood means,
Banking Blackfires with caresses and dreams.
Many are the lonely nights her heart wailed
For the son/husband in the white man's jail.
The salty tears Black eyes have shed.
Unwanted whiteman who favored Blackbeds.
But for a sigh and a prayer, now and then.
Who knows that hell a Black woman lives in?
All in all, that day is through.
Today, a Blacksun shines on you.
Yet, there is still that fear in your eyes,
And still, you endure so Blackman survives.
Her Name 'Was: 'Revolution'
Asleep, she was as fair as the Summer's breezes;
and deadly as the night in which I & her was born —
With lips, of stained blood-shed, we kiss the
Oppressor's heart lying still in his open
We sung, and dance about his children, who also
were as dead as he; we laughed without a tear to shed, as his
woman & her mother brought silver and gold — they were killed too!
A Father to a Son
What deeds will I have to relate to my son
when he asks of me, "Father, what's the most that you've done?'
A man is born, he lives and he dies.
Between the two he learns to survive.
"To Be An Assassin — To Be . . ."
... So let it be known, as it is said that you, as an
Individual Black Oppressed . . . means nothing at all to the
Oppressor; whom be aiming the Gun at your head — it is the
Art of Living and striving to live that makes his Mind and Body
function to react — to kill you, your Family and Friends of
Blackness too. Therefore, you must not falter nor fall as his
aim-sight; but in reverse, become the Hunter of Prey as him:
"If it be I, who must die for the Rights for a Black Life to
be lived; (Your Sons & Daughters and mine) than let
Death be my greatest boast; for the Oppressor whom which I was
his Prey, lies dead too!
What visions of loveliness will my memories be of
When my son asks me, "Father, what woman have you loved?
I found a Black pearl in a seashell one day
Then, like a fool, I flung it away.
There are many pearls at the bottom of the sea
Flung to the winds by fools like me.
Some we find on distant shores,
Some we name Wife/Mother/Whore,
Some are lost forevermore.
Tell me, my father, before my soul rests,
What must I do that I must do best?
You are Black or white, there the difference ends.
Be a man to a man,
Be a friend to a friend.
For a man is born, he lives and he dies
Betwen the two, he learns to survive.
"WHERE HAS LOVE GONE"
That poem you wrote about doing a bit
Hit close to home I must admit
But being a black woman I must take a defense
And tell you how it is on our side of the fence
Sure you men love us, all well and cool
But out on the streets we're the black man's fool
It's when you go to jail that you realize
That it's time to identify and discard your disguise
Now you want a love that's oh so true
And you expect me to stand by you ?
When at home with me you couldn't relate
You'd rather have me out on the street turning a date
If my money wasn't right, you best believe
A hell of an asskicking I would receive
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, or hail
Would keep you from placing me to the whitey's on sale
Sometimes busted I landed in jail
And was lucky if you decided to raise my bail
But of course without me, just what would you do
For I was your income and sidekick too
I had your kids, which you were kind-hearted enough to claim
But did never even consider trying to give them a name
Or to guide them into becoming strong young men
Instead of every now and then tossing them a ten
And what about me ? just what have you done
Besides beat me, humiliate me, and in public make fun
With all my investments in you I've stored
Do I have anything worthwhile to show for
Except for the scars to remember the pain
That I received for disrespecting your name
But now your Cadillac cars and diamond rings
When you're in jail don't mean a thing
And what are you gonna do with all that dough
That you made me go out in the streets for and 'ho
Now you suddenly realize all the wrong you did
And that your whole world is me and the kids
That the material things in life, out of proportion have been blowt |
You think now it's time to settle down and try to make a home
Take a look at yourself, with your thoughts hold a debate
Then come and ask me, if for you I should wait
Take a good look at what you've done to my life
While never once even considering to make me your wife
So I promised to stand by you while your time was being served
If I fucked you around, Baby it's what you've deserved
Don't ask for forgiveness or to give you some slack
Tor all the misery and pain sweetheart, this is your come-back
A lot of hostility for you I hold
And it's you, my man, that has made me so cold
I have no feelings, nor do I hide any guilt
Because around my heart, a stone wall I have built
When you come out of jail you'll have to make it on your own
Because no more money will I give, not even a loan
You'll learn to struggle in order to live
And not an ounce of encouragement will I give
Cod gave you two hands and a means to survive
Don't use me for a crutch to try to stay alive
When you learn to be a man and stand on your own two feet
Then maybe halfway with you I'll meet
But 'til then I sincerely don't give a fuck
Cause you have been nothing to me but a run of bad luck
So in closing I just want to say
Cood luck baby, cause I'm on my way
I know you didn't expect me to be waiting at the door
After all "Pimp" I'm only a whore
A CKNO WLEDGEMENTS
Words, no matter how extensively presented, could ever
hope to properly represent the deepest appreciation and
gratitude to those individuals listed below. Together we
have toiled and sweated many long hours to make this
document a reality.
Billy Roberts — Editor
SPECIAL RECOGNITION goes to:
Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole of the W.E.B. Dubois Dept. of
Afro-American Studies and to
Jacquelyn Ramos, a graduate student at the School of
Their time and energies seemed to be ceaseless.
Ingrid White for a contribution that added a much
needed element to our presentation.
For use of their special talents in visual production in
Special thanks go to Nat Rutstein for his constant and
increased confidence and academic support, and to
Brenda Walker who typed her fingers to the bone.
Lastly and by far Most Importantly our thanks to Tina
Williams and the other Black Women at Framingham
State Prison, whose names are too numerous to list,
but without whom this issue would never have become.