Prisoners Write On:

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


In early June, Revolution issued a call to our readers in prisons to "draw on all you have learned about the world and your life experience" to express their thinking on the theme "What to the prisoner is your Fourth of July?" The call began with a quote from a 1852 statement by Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the struggle against slavery, titled "What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?" Here are some letters we have received so far in response to the call.


"The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!"

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

The Fourth of July...? Independence Day...? Yeah right, What on earth is that? Let's break bread on this subject and I'll tell you exactly what it is.

This system's Fourth of July, to me, is just business as usual. It is just another day of oppression, suppression, and repression within this belly of the beast. It's just another painful day of these redneck fascist pigs employing strategically designed tactics to keep us focused on the irrelevant issues that prevent us from uniting as a cohesive force to stand against their mental and physical brutality. This Fourth of July is just another day on the plantation for D.O.C. [Department of Corrections]—a poor mother will get an unfortunate call from the "chaplain," saying her child is dead; some cell extraction team will be running into a defenseless prisoner's cell five deep to violently remove him from his cell (but not before they shed blood and break a few bones); another prisoner will be tortured by being placed on strip (property restriction—nothing in a room except the prisoner, his boxers, concrete, and steel—that's it!) and then sprayed with huge cans of mace designed to burn the skin & eyes and suck out the oxygen supply in a room; and the list goes on and on.

One of the major contradictions I see within these walls of misery and despair are prisoners actually celebrating Independence Day!! How can a prisoner celebrate Independence Day?! Oh wait... hold on a minute... I get it now, they're celebrating being "In-Dependence" of the Department of Corrections, lol!! As a grown man, I choose not to participate in calling our potentially revolutionary forces belittling names, but come on man!! It's time for my fellow prisoners to wake up and begin the process of learning what in the world is going on!! The continuous cycle of "business as usual" must be broken and shattered to incomprehensible pieces. The system that is routinely used against us is as old as the mythical concept of religion. But just like religion, the consequences of the systematic use of distractions and deceptions are so ingrained in the minds of the masses that they revel in being repressed!

On this Fourth of July, I believe we all need to struggle with at least one or two people on the sharp contradictions of this holiday. Let the injustices of this backwards system speak loudly as clear evidence that this present system must be wiped from the face of this earth. It is absolutely impossible to ignore the grievous damage done by this country to its own people and the human family worldwide.

This Fourth of July is a day of reflection and a time to honor all of our fellow prisoners who died within these walls. The prison agents of the state have free reign in how they choose who lives and who dies. Just because one of my fellow prisoners chooses to defend himself from an onslaught of violence from the prison agents, that means he must sip the deadly cocktail of army style boots against the skull, black gloved hands against unprotected flesh, MMA [Mixed Martial Arts, eds.] styled take down while he's restrained, or the cold steel of a prisoner's ice pick who has been commissioned to put in work.

Because most of my fellow prisoners' minds are wrapped around the wrong aspects of life, they fight and kill each other over the most fatuous of things and then blame it on the "principle of the matter." How many lives have been lost due to the asinine "principle of the matter"? Indeed, there are things that we must stand up for, but I've learned a very valuable lesson in dealing with people in general: we, those who are more intellectually enlightened must think for those around us. Most people do not fully grasp the type of danger they place themselves in by doing idiotic things. So due to that fact, we must look past alot of their deeds based on their own ignorance and struggle with them to show and prove to them what's right. How many lives have been lost to the useless warfare against each other over government ran facilities and these wannabe hardcore prison agents? How many more lives have to be lost before we decide to stand up together and say, "No More!"?

I absolutely love the stance my comrades-in-bars are taking out in Cali. I salute all of you revolutionary minded and disciplined men in respect, strength, and solidarity. You courageous men are the last of a dying breed in prison—peace to you all. This Fourth of July as we reflect on all of our fellow prisoners who died in this struggle, let us also reflect on what must be done to combat this deadly situation. Those deaths could have been prevented, things do not have to be this way.... The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!

The following is a piece of a letter written by Frederick Douglass to Gerrit Smith (the abolitionist) called, "No Progress Without Struggle! 1849." I believe this is a fitting close for this letter!

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exiting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."

... All power to the people, always and forever!

In Revolutionary Courage & Strength,
peace to all the comrades ready to ride!


"A Day to Forget" (Not Remember)

Dear P.R.L.F.:

You have requested that we submit something for the 4th of July. On the back is a poem that I just did for you and your cause. I am the author of the poem. Feel free to do whatever you choose to do with it. I hope that it helps your cause. Keep up the good work. And thank-you for the work you do for prisoners.


A Celebration For A Country That Is Rooted In Violence,
The Truth About This Country Many Still Want To Hide It...
A Celebration For Some, A Nightmare For Others,
Memories Of What Was Done To Their Fathers And Mothers...
Never Before Recorded In The Pages Of History,
Kidnapped, Enslaved, And Beaten Is What Was Done To Me...
Segregated, Isolated, And Treated Unequal,
Locked Up For Minor Crimes, Over 2 Million People...
What To Me Is The 4th Of July?
When I Think Of All The Killings And All The Lost Lives...
Endless Wars, Drone Attacks, And Sexual Exploitation,
Poverty And Low Wages... Destroying A Generation...
What Is The 4th Of July To An American Prisoner?
A Day I Choose Not To Acknowledge Or Even Remember...
"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death," So Tired Of These Conditions,
Every Issue Of "REVOLUTION" Is Like My Declaration Of Independence.
The 4th Of July, A Day Of Sorrow And Regret,
A Day You Want To Remember, But For Me,


"To this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave…'their' Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!"

What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?

I don't know what "Their" Fourth of July is to my fellow prisoners. But, to this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave (how can I call myself an African-American, when I don't see the same equality as other Americans?) "their" Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!

"Their" Fourth of July shall remind me of the arrogance and ruthlessness they showed in forming this so-called Republic. As it shall remind me that "their" amber waves of grain was fertilized and irrigated with my ancestors' blood, sweat, and tears!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when the "Founding Fathers" declared that all Men are created equal, that they're endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: That they hold these truths to be self-evident; they were not thinking of my ancestors as Men, nor humans, for that matter!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when Rev. Samuel Francis Smith penned, "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty," he was, definitely, not including my ancestors!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me of the double standards, and different interpretations of the Laws for certain "caste" of individuals that live in America nowadays!

Now on this Fourth of July, as I sit in my High Security Cell, I shall feel the lashes on my back from long ago; the heartbreak of the families that were sent to different plantations. I shall feel the slave masters' violations of the slaves they raped; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I shall feel the grip of death, just as Ramarley Graham, David Sal Silva, Terry Laffitte, Trayvon Martin, and many others did at the hands of the "so-called good Americans." I shall feel the desperation, but, also, the determination of all the women who are fighting those who are trying to oppress and repress them!

So, as this Fourth of July reminds me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I shall contemplate on the fact that I was born in America, but never truly treated as American. And wonder if I should take pride in being a bad, un-American person of color?

Oh, one more thing this Fourth of July shall remind me of—Revolution—nothing less!

In The Struggle!


"A ready made plate of illusory freedom"

"What To The Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

To me it is a ready made plate of illusory freedom served to us that we are coerced into accepting.

The 4th of July is yet another facade of illegitimacy that the system perpetuates by alleging it is built of freedom and liberty for all. When is actually it is a capitalist machine of exploitation, assassination, control, imperialism and mass incarceration.

The 4th of July popping of fireworks sounds like a totalitarian hand slapping the face of a slave. While their celebrative clacking of champagne glasses sound like the clinking of our shackles and handcuffs closing around our lives.

So as I sit here in prison I think the 4th of July isn't so much a celebration "for us" as it is "of us"... of us being exploited, led to believe a huge fallacy and of our slow demise.


"The height of hypocrisy on display"

…I wanted to quickly answer the call made to prisoners in Revolution asking, "What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?" The height of hypocrisy is on display every 4th of July and it's important for all to know that the birth of this nation is nothing to celebrate. To celebrate the 4th of July is to celebrate the freedom of white settlers to massacre indigenous people and steal their land further west. It means celebrating the freedom of slaveowners to expand the slave system beyond the thirteen colonies. It means celebrating the freedom of Manifest Destiny advocates to wage war and steal half of Mexico. And it means celebrating the freedom of capitalist-imperialists to viciously exploit and violently oppress people the world over ever since. Objectively, that is the freedom that is being celebrated. Across the country people will defy all logic and express their gratitude to soldiers for the sacrifices they make to protect "our freedom." It doesn't matter that these troops are actually waging imperialist wars in order to DENY freedom in the countries they bomb, invade, and occupy, or that the only real threat to our freedom is here in this country and is posed by our own government. I like to tell people that in order to be patriotic in this country you have to be either a white supremacist or completely ignorant of its history. For anyone who approaches a study of history and current events with an open mind, who honestly pursues the truth no matter where it will lead, Frederick Douglass's words will ring as true today as they did in 1852 and they "will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

Thanks again to you, all the PRLF volunteers, and all your donors for the very important work that you do. You're changing lives that will help you change the world. Keep up the great work. I hope to hear from you soon.

In Solidarity


"The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed"

i seen your call for thoughts on July 4th so i thought i would send you this short writing on thoughts i had on the subject, i hope they help in some small way…

The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed that remains hanging around our necks like a heavy chain dripping in blood, this is the Amerikkkan holiday of July 4th.

A day that celebrates colonialism and its tentacles, that have sucked the life force of so many on this continent and around the world, from that first day of tragedy.

The oppressors holiday which seeks to uphold white supremacy through its jingoistic spirit and well heeled vestiges, candy coating exported horror and internal oppression is this Imperial cookout.

The tombs that hold the poor in cells, Padded in concrete see not the fireworks that sear societies hearts and minds with illusions of grandeur on this day of mourning.

Torture centers have captured thousands who continue to resist the colonizers holiday who are isolated until we surrender, until we become numb, until we expire or until we transform because of this day of Contact.

I stare at the off white wall in front of my torture cell and i listen to extreme silence, i look for a window or shaft of light and none exist and once more i grasp how foul is the Fourth of July to the prisoner.

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