Response on the Streets of Chicago to Prisoner’s Letter

“Damn, that touched my heart”

August 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Revolution Club in Chicago has been using a prisoner’s letter that was posted on recently. (From a prisoner to the Brothers and Sisters of the Street Organizations of America: “I read The BAsics… It’s time for us to focus that fearlessness towards a BETTER WORLD”) We’ve been struggling with people to get out of fighting and killing each other and get with the movement for revolution and into BA. This letter is coming from someone who was caught up in that same madness and speaks directly to people who are still caught all up in it.

We decided that we had to make good use of this letter so we made posters and very deliberately put them up on poles right where some of these youth hang out. We’ve also gone right up to these youth and some older cats to challenge them with what’s in this letter. Just about everybody we’ve used it on in one-on-one discussions has been locked up themselves and are, or have been, part of “the life.”  There have been different responses worth recounting but rather than go on and on doing that, I’d like people to know about one young guy’s reaction.

We walked up to a group of youth who like others in this neighborhood are semi-friendly because they know the police don’t like us and we don’t like the police but at the same time don’t want to seriously engage us when we tell them to get out of the shit they’re caught up in and into the Revolution Club. They all scattered when we tried getting them to engage some BAsics quotes but one of them stayed to tell us how he sees things and how we can’t actually change nothing. We kept trying to get him to be serious but he was all over the place. At one point we took one of the posters of the prisoner’s letter that we had in our hands and told him, “Man, check this out. This is from a prisoner doing life who was caught up in all the same shit.” One of us just started reading the letter and even had to stop him from interrupting at one point where he wanted to talk about how the prison conditions in Illinois are worse than Texas: “Look, man, the point of this letter isn’t to talk about prison conditions or where the worst dungeons are. Just listen to the rest of it, it’s important.” We read the whole thing and by the end of it his whole attitude had changed; he said, “Damn, that touched my heart” and he started calling out to his friends, “Ay, y’all gotta see this, this is from a prisoner doing life.” He asked if he could have one and if we could give him some tape. He walked up to a wall on a corridor leading into some apartment building where many of these youth hang out while continuing to call on his friends to come check this letter out. He said, “Y’all gotta see this, he just pours his heart out here. On my brother, he speaking some real shit. Y’all gotta come over and read this.” He seemed a little dejected by the fact that he wasn’t getting any response from the friends he was calling over and just kept putting more and more tape on the letter to make sure it wouldn’t fall off the wall. We asked him, what had touched him about the letter and he said, “What he saying about us doing what they want us to do, we destroying each other and being our own worst enemy… how they just killing us off and we’re helping them do it… We might as well put the gun in our own mouths.” We told him that this prisoner is also telling him to fight for something different and he’s telling him to get with the revolution and get into BA. We held up BAsics and told him, “This is the book he’s talking about, this is what you got to get into. This system is what has us all fucked up but it don’t have to be this way, we could make a revolution that will get rid of all this shit but you got to get out of that and you gotta get into this.” He nodded his head and when before we couldn’t get him to stop talking and listen, now we couldn’t get him speak. He walked away without answering and we just called out to him telling him that he was going to have to decide what his life was going to be about, he just looked back and nodded but kept walking.

We didn’t recruit this youth into the Revolution Club on this day but this letter clearly had an impact on him and we want to highlight the importance of prisoners who are getting into BA writing to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) and addressing their letters directly to these youth. You are making an important contribution and so are the people who are donating to the PRLF and helping sustain Revolution newspaper. This isn’t just about hoping that the Revolution Club does a good job in Chicago; everybody who sees the urgent need to get these youth to stop killing each other and become gravediggers of this system and emancipators of humanity has a role to play.




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