“One of the best things about struggling is the people you meet. Before I became involved I never dreamed such beautiful people existed. Of course there were some creeps but I can say without the slightest hesitation that I have been blessed with meeting some of the kindest, most courageous, most principled, most informed and intelligent people on the face of the earth. I owe a great deal to those who have helped me, loved me, taught me, and pulled my coat when I was moving in the wrong direction.” – Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
Solidarity is lovely! I’m quite convinced that the ghosts of Augusto Pinochet and J. Edgar Hoover lurk about in the Polunsky unit mailroom committing random acts of treachery, but luckily I have friends on the outside who are quite skilled at exorcising and vanquishing assorted demons, ghosts and ghouls—I’ve just received a big fat stack of mail, mail that I’ve been waiting on for all month. People on the outside have been pushing the mail issue so they obviously just decided to round up all of my mail and give it to me.
In the stack was an envelope from my most excellent compañera who sends me my facebook printouts and in it were all of the printouts from around my birthday. (Yes, it took a month to receive these!) Reading through all of the messages filled me with an immense amount of warmth and inspiration. This is a very powerful thing in this wretched little sick and twisted Orwellian Hell. Most days I spend 24 hours in this small cell. Our one hour a day ‘recreation’ is nothing more than a sad little joke—‘rec’ is being allowed to walk around by ourselves in a cage that is in front of our cells for an hour. I generally prefer to be in my cell where I have my books and writing material. Sometimes, it can feel quite lonely in here.
All people who have done time in solitary confinement and have written about it speak of the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that can sometimes engulf a person. No one can fully escape this and believe me it’s a terrible feeling. This feeling of isolation is heightened when on ‘disciplinary status.’ (I’m still on disciplinary status Level 2). You can’t possibly imagine how enlivening a nice message of Solidarity can be. And many messages of Solidarity like I received tonight? Absolutely brilliant!
Struggle is hard but struggle can be beautiful. I so very deeply appreciate everyone out there who stands with me in my fight, which is part of the overall fight for social justice. You are all my eyes, my ears, and my interpreters. I swing my battle-axes at the roots of oppression and your energy and actions ensure they strike with brilliant precision. I unleash mighty war hammer blows to the foundation of injustice and your Solidarity makes certain that they land with electrifying force.
Later on today the benefit concert for me, for us, for my struggle, for our struggle will occur in Leipzig. I’m so inspired and excited by this that I probably won’t be able to sleep! I can almost feel everyone’s enthusiasm for the event building. We’re doing such a very important work—humanitarian work, civil rights work, social justice work, human rights work. I feel so very honored to have such righteous and dedicated people fighting with me and I look forward to meeting and working with more in the future. All of the above was really just a more lengthy way of saying that I love each and every one of you.
Ah, and a poem just came to mind, one of my favorite pieces by Assata Shakur, which I’d like to dedicate top all of my people out there in the struggle:
Love is contraband in Hell,
cause Love is an acid
that eats away bars.
But you, me, and tomorrow
hold hard and make vows
that struggle will multiply.
The hacksaw has two blades.
The shotgun has two barrels.
We are pregnant with freedom.
We are a conspiracy.
In the spirit of Peace, in the spirit of Love,
in the spirit of Solidarity I’ll sign off:
From the Polunsky Death Camp
In the East Texas Piney Woods,
With Dedication and Loyalty:
Damn…just, damn…one of my neighbors just hollered at me and told me that earlier when I was resting they came and snatched Hank up from downstairs. Some C.O.s came and said the Major wanted to talk to Hank (Skinner). He left and never came back. Later on some shakedown officers came on the pod and took Hank’s property and told the pod officers that he was moved to a Death Watch cell because he was given another execution date. Hank surely didn’t expect this and no one else did either. Not letting someone pack their own property before they’re moved is a wretched tactic of oppression—having officers pack one’s property generally means everything will be thrown together haphazardly.
Hank was given a ‘secret’ execution date and then immediately attacked with a little COINTELPRO relocation and property confiscation maneuver. Orwellian depravity! These things upset me, oppression upsets me—but this is all the more reason to fight harder. Yes, indeed, I’m glad to have you all by my side in the midst of such a wretched Hell…