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Letters to Our Family (May 2015)

Dear B&P and Family,

This is my first letter to you all and am a newly subscribed B&P member. An inmate I had befriended and who is part of the “community” had showed me the B&P newsletter and I was surprised that such material existed within the confines of prison and beyond. I’m a 25 year old gay man who has been through much emotional turmoil in my three years in this New York prison.

Recently more emotional stress has been put upon me when I was assaulted by a CO Sergeant when I told him I’d write him up because of his abusive derogatory language when I was trying to receive help from him for the misconduct of my dorm officer towards me. I suffered from a swollen shut black eye, a 1/2 inch gash that needed four stitches, and a fractured nose from the assault. I was subsequently charged with a Tier III ticket for assaulting staff, in which I had never touched the Sergeant. I’m now serving 6 months SHU time, and have also put in my appeal once I was found guilty.

I intend to bring a lawsuit against the State (for excessive force, as well as emotional and mental strain), and a Federal suit to sue the Sergeant and other COs who failed to stop his violent conduct in their individual capacity in a 1983 [Title 42 U.S. Code, § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights). It isn’t so much about the money, but to set an example to discourage the guards from such misconduct. Not only were my constitutional rights (8th amendment) violated, but my physical and spiritual being were violated.

Though, we all have to go through much stress and pain in prison, there is always some way to bring your individuality into light. If you are beaten down, don’t become the system’s pawn, but rise up and stand to fight what you believe is right. I have much to look forward to in life after my incarceration, such as my music (sing, guitar, bass, drums and trumpet), photography, videography, architectural design, and many other free spirited adventures. I mention this because you have every right to be free of constraint and should never give up any aspirations and or goals you have in life. Be free and live free, but only for the betterment of yourself and others. Here is a quote from a Taoist:

“Failure is an opportunity. If you blame others, there is no end to blame. Fulfill your obligations, correct your mistakes. Do what you need to do and step away. Demand nothing and give all.” -Tao Te Ching.

To all my Wiccan brothers and sisters in the “community” and to those who aren’t, Blessed be and keep your head up and heart with love. I shall write plenty more in the future.

Amor mis hermanos y hermanas,
Wolfgang, NY

 

Dear Black & Pink Family,

My name is Charles and this is my first letter to our newspaper. I am 28 years old and have been incarcerated since 2007. Being bisexual is hard in prison and trying to keep it hidden is devastating. There are risks that all LGBTQ people suffer and face, but there is no other way we want to be. We want to be who we are and do not want to hide, and we shouldn’t. I am bisexual and proud of that.

Prison is not good for anyone, true; but it takes greater toll on us than many of those incarcerated choose to be aware of. An old saying is that “Who guards the guardians and who watches the watchers.” This came from an old Roman phrase that is translated from its Latin form. This is a major problem with the prison concept and its application: There is nobody watching those who hold the lives of the prisoners in their hands; no system of checks and balances.

I am a young man with an old soul and often portray a wisdom and maturity that is far above that degree shown by many people my age. Sadly, this tends to leave me isolated and lonely. In prison this is worse.

On top of being bisexual and convicted of an SO offense, I suffer from a developmental social disability known as Asperger’s Syndrome. It is part of what is referred as the autistic spectrum, however, it is not the same as being autistic. The major difference is that autism is a disability that has a very isolative and anti-social desire; whereas Asperger’s is a disability which displays “normal” or “higher” degrees of intellectual adeptness and a desire for social interaction. However, while Asperger’s patients crave social interaction, there are issues we face with interpretation of social cues. In my case, I have a “high function” Asperger’s diagnosis. I am highly intelligent, very inquisitive, and observationally astute. In prison the traits are dangerous to possess, because the staff really hate it when you maybe—or are—smarter than they are. Oops, can’t have that. Worse, however, is that I am also possessed of a tenacity and persistence that shames much else. When I latch onto an issue, I won’t stop until I am satisfied with the result.

These traits do not make me very well-liked. Indeed, they are very difficult for those who choose to be my enemies to overcome and accept. They also make me rather abrasive and irreverent. I love a good argument, but I dislike violence strongly. I avoid it if it is at all possible. That is not good in prison as people tend to think that you are a pushover if you exhibit control—particularly other inmates.

Prison is unfortunate and is a massive place of suffering and those who run these human sweat shops would rather view us as animals than as humans. In 7 plus years, I have learned that well. Psychologically, it makes it easier for them to disregard their harmful actions to see prisoners as lesser beings. I am big on the concept of analogy as it is very effective. In this case, go back to World War II and consider the racist slurs used by American GIs for the enemy. Japanese people were “Japs” or “Nips”; Germans were “Krauts”. American troops did this as a subconscious psychological defense in order to kill the enemy without feeling the natural distress of a human killing another human. The slur hid the fact that the enemy is just like you. Prison officials do the same: “Staff” and “Inmate”, “Prisoner”, “Convict”… sound familiar?

I have received the Black & Pink newsletter for about a year now and it is always a joy to read. It is comforting to know I am not alone in my suffering. I love all of you. Your strength gives me courage and hope to continue my battle for justice and to defeat the P.I.C.

Many letters I’ve read speak of torment, torture, harassment, and abuse at the hands of prison officials. I am no stranger to that! The problem that I see as the biggest obstacle is a lack of unity in the prisoners. Prisons exploit and encourage that. Prison is a microcosm of the “Class warfare” we see in the outside world macrocosm. Without division of people into gangs, clicks, and such garbage, prisons cease to be justifiable because the conflict does not exist. Prison amplifies this by placing large numbers of people in spaces of insufficient size with too little of every resource. This encourages competition for resources, which causes conflict and fighting. Such activity is how prison officials justify the abuses and deprivations they employ.

It is a self-perpetuating cycle and many prisoners blindly participate. They march to the trough, never aware of the slaughter that awaits them. It is so stupid that I would love to just scream: “YOU IDIOT’S. DON’T YOU REALIZE WHAT IS GOING ON!?!”

The problem is that it isn’t just us, LGBTQ family, that need to unite and face the P.I.C. and its cronies. We are strong, sure, but not THAT strong. We can’t fight this battle and win alone. We need allies. We need to unite not only the LGBTQ community, but all those who share the common ground of desire for change and dismantling the P. I. C. Common ground is what we need.

I love you all for giving me hope and strength. When I read what each of you contributes, I know I am not alone and I take heart from that.

Brian, in Pennsylvania shot my heart out in the December 2014 paper. He stole the very words that I hold true. His letter is a light for me and proved to be the very support I need and still need now.

So, my family, keep your will strong. Never give up and never give in. Your hope is mine and my hope is yours. We are strong because of each of us, but we are stronger together.

We don’t have a local “chapter” of Black and Pink in Wyoming, but I got a card from Sage in Boise, Idaho. I am grateful for that. It was a great gift and I am grateful for your care Sage Raiden.

Keep strong my family.
Charles, WY

 

Dear Black & Pink,

I am new to the Black + Pink family. I am a 39 year old transgender woman. I am a girl trapped in a man’s body. I have not had an easy time in the 7 years I have been incarcerated.

I have been raped twice. I was afraid to speak up at first but then I did. The system did nothing but move me to another unit, where it happened again. I have been open about who I am from the first day in the system. It is on my file that I am a girl. I am convinced by the actions of the system they don’t care what happens to me. It has been 2 years since I was last raped. I have taken the power away from my rapist. I am proud to be the girl I am.

I want to encourage others to speak out against this injustice. You are not alone as I have come to realize. Take back the power given to these predators by not being afraid. We have to stick together to get changes made. You are a beautiful person and worth more than gold. Be proud of who you are. The Black and Pink newspaper has helped a lot. Thank you all. The unit I am on now is more accepting of me. They guys around me speak to me, and of me, as a girl. This has really helped me gain my self esteem back after the rape.

Keep up the fight Black and Pink family. I am. Change will come as long as we don’t give up. Best wishes to all my brothers and sisters out there. Thank you again Black & Pink family for speaking out and being heard.

Love always,
Robin, TX

 

Hello my dear loved ones.

My name is Huneey. AHHH my poem made it in our newspaper I’m so happy and excited. I wish someone would try to tell me I’m not C.S. Lewis, Frederick Douglass or some damn body because my Black and Pink family said so! Okay I’m done.

I’ve been watching every one of my beautiful Queens, my gay men and lez-be-honest my gorgeous women. I want everyone to know regardless we don’t have to know one another personally to give support, love and to be cared about. None of us are alone especially with our Black and Pink family going out their way to bring us together (Thank you Black and Pink staff and volunteers). The transformation in our newspaper is marvelous. I just want everyone to know that everyone has my gratitude for being yourselves. No matter what we have done in our past God has our lives mapped out and what doors he open none shall close.

I’m in a Texas Prison, the worst one possible (if that’s possible) and recently my wife Renee was split up. We came from “society” together and still going strong 6 yrs into eternity. To everyone who has been split up if y’alls love is as strong as your determination, when there’s a will you make a way, feel me? I’m not implying to buck the system because it won’t budge, but failure is never final with love. I’m saying all this to say my wife and I caught our charge together, reunited and was split up again, so I know every couples fear and struggle in here (prison) but like Tupac said “keep ya head up,” and if you don’t stand for something, you’ve already fell for any and everything. Just sayin. And when you don’t fail (at times) it means you aren’t trying. Life is lived in the moments between success and failure. A little more might get us there, but a little less just means we keep trying again, and again, and again. And even when our success is called failure from the beginning, we never give up. After all, it just might be a mix-up in names. Those words brought me encouragement & I hope it does the same to y’all especially to my wife. My love I’m in love w/you, need you & I’ll wait & stay pure & not drop my heart in the game, TNT forever & eternity. And if anyone in a Texas Prison know any information on getting us approved to write, lace me up. Also to everyone with a 3G (aggravated charge) in Texas know what’s up w/Rick Perry no good ass and us doing 60% of our time lace me up. Now to the family, I love yall so much and when we submit things it might not make it when we want it to but it’s a waiting process and you’ll still be overjoyed. Forever in love. Love,

Huneey, TX

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