Revolution #206, July 4, 2010
Prisoners Correspond On:
“What, to the American Prisoner, Is Your Fourth of July?”
In 1852, anti-slavery fighter (and former slave) Frederick Douglass wrote and delivered his powerful and famous poem, “What, to the American Slave, Is Your Fourth of July?” This year, the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) called on prisoner subscribers to Revolution to correspond on that theme. Below are excerpts from the responses. The full letters and more can be found at prlf.org.
Plain and simple: the Fourth of July don’t mean a damn thing to me. The Fourth of July is a day that celebrates when this country—the U.S.—was stolen from a peaceful nation of people. It is also a day that celebrates the lies & treachery of a nation of people who don’t give a damn about anything but capital.
Why would anyone want to celebrate a day like that with people who “founded” this country on deception & murder?!?! When you rejoice or celebrate by shooting fireworks in the sky, you are saying that you are okay with stealing, lying, murder & exploiting anyone you can just to make it to a top position in this so called “land of the free.” You are saying that you are okay with killing millions upon millions upon millions of people just because you are in a position to do so at the time. You are saying that you are content with living under a Capitalist-Imperialist government who most likely has their foot on your neck.
I urge anyone who is reading this to look deep into the history of the “Land of the Free” and learn of the many, many lies that have been told for hundreds of years. Upon learning the truth, I encourage you to join the revolutionary movement founded and led by the wonderful Mr. Bob Avakian.
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When people celebrate the fourth, they shouldn’t forget they’re celebrating their country which kills and exploits other countries and their armies for financial gain and corporate profit. The freedoms boasted are not equal nor for all. Money dictates equality more than race or age, while birth still predicts best who will have the most money. For prisoners, most of us don’t have much to celebrate. We were given tough conditions, sold the “American dream” and lost in a unforgiving justice system. Now, in concrete cages this fourth of July doesn’t bring hope nor celebration.
No, for the prisoner in America there is no celebrating the “fourth of July.” The extra portions we are given is mocking us who have nothing to celebrate. America’s wars do not benefit us. We have to feel for the exploited and the oppressed whom we can relate to; not the rich and the powerful who’ve committed our same crimes, but walk free and privileged because of it.
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To the prisoner in America your 4th of July is a sham and a farce. Your advertised justice and equality in the light of so much injustice is cruel and deserves mockery.
America’s proclamation that this is the land of the free is absurd and hypocritical. America has about 5% of the world’s population; but has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. In 2007 the number of prisoners in jails and prisons totaled 2,293,157; and that’s not counting the population in ICE facilities, military, or juvenile detentions! So to call America the land of the free is like a slap on the prisoner’s face; it is telling the prisoner that he is non-existent, that he is not even worth mentioning; that his life is worthless.
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What to the prisoners in America, is your Fourth of July? A celebration of over 500 years of parasitism, another year of experiencing the miscarriage of justice that exists in this country....
We use prisoners in America as the new victims who are blatantly singled out and segregated and stripped of the so-called Civil Rights. Prisoners in this so-called land of the free are not free at all even after being released. Prisoners in America are most often unable to obtain work as job applications ask, have you ever been arrested? If you say yes you will not get hired, if you lie you’ll be fired after they check, so even after a prisoner is released, he has done his time, he is still punished with no work and means of subsistence. These are the conditions the prisoner in America has to be grateful for in the land of the free.
Poor People are pitted against each other out in society along with prisoner against prisoner so that the real culprits continue their vileness undisturbed. I call the people everywhere to see this upcoming July 4th this year and in the future for the day of horrors it really is... Never again will we celebrate the ‘master’s’ anniversary of slaughtering our ancestors....
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To answer the question, “What, to the prisoner in Amerika, is your 4th of July?” Well, I believe I can speak for us all when I say that the 4th of July means nothing. To celebrate this day would mean that we are either unconscious or content with the injustice that is continually dealt to us prisoners by this system. It would mean that you do not want better for yourself or for humanity as a whole.
Me personally, I want emancipation for all the oppressed people in the world. Which is why I’ve chosen to follow the leadership of the great Bob Avakian.
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Your ideology of independence has oppressive connotations and was structured as a dictatorship using violence, fear, murder and imprisonment to maintain order over the multitude of captives; this celebration of freedom can have no meaning to me as long as I remain in chains locked away in your gulags now called a correctional system that has been turned into a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business that denies its inhabitants life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Your 4th of July is a reminder of the outcome of a revolution against a tyrant government who had a deliberate systematical plan of keeping the people oppressed, and here we are over 200 years later still being oppressed; it’s time for a new revolution where steps are taken towards an existence in which the people count for more than the establishment of a capitalism imperialistic system of power and greed; the political atmosphere in America is now charged with both deep animosities and new hopes for bettering the world.
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We greatly appreciate receiving letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not necessarily Revolution newspaper.
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