A.J. said he is going through a down time right now. I don’t really know how to respond to him right now. Sometimes people need to be left alone in order to ponder and think.
What is crazy is that I also heard from my cousin who is doing time. I haven’t heard from him until now. He gave me a lot of insight of what it’s like to be an inmate. His biggest gripe was the traumatic effects of being institutionalized. Losing his ability to be a man. He has a fiance and he sometimes has to beg her for commissary money to get by. He told me stories of him working in the jail cafeteria, only to get paid 13 bucks a month. He is in prison right now getting paid 21 bucks a month cutting hair. It is insane how jail is literally legal slavery. My cousin wrote me an 8 page letter, which really shocked me because I heard that he didn’t write at all. He apologized for not responding, and promised to start responding from now on. All sins are forgiven in my book. Besides, he has 9 more years of mail that I will send to him, compared to zero. Once people get thrown in jail, they often get forgotten about and abandoned. No one wants to talk to them or hire them because they wear a felon jacket. No one wants to hire them or deal with them period. I can’t erase the public’s stigma of inmates, but it is really sad when you commit a mistake at 18 years old as a black man, you get the maximum punishment that someone of a different background may get a fair sentence for. All that I can do is tell these inmates to read books and become self taught geniuses. Take advantage of correctional facility programs that are available to them. I want to see these guys become more successful than me. For some it may or may not happen. There could be underlying drug issues or mental illness, so it could be a complete crap shoot for all I know, but it is worth the effort.
What’s up guys? I’m back again with the drama for your mama. The reason I chose this picture as the header is because I haven’t been updating you guys on the let project letters. As far as A.J., he sent me a couple letters talking about how so far he is very appreciative of all the books and letters I’ve sent him. He thinks that I am changing his life. The original letters have been destroyed by water being spilled on them. I told him about the programs that were available in prison and he says that he has already enrolled and graduated with a g.e.d. and a welding class certification. I sent him two more books during the x-mas/nye holiday;
Carter G. Woodson’s “The Mis-Education Of The Negro” is one of the most essential books for black people, or African-American’s. This book should be labeled as the “Black Bible Of Consciousness”. It is a book that not only confronts white supremacy, but reprimands brothers and sisters in the black community who fall victim to bourgeoisie ideology. Yes, you can be educated and misled. Hence, the proper term mis-education. This book was the first time I realized that you could have more degrees than an oven, but still be socially and subconsciously controlled by society’s standards. He predicts the pattern of black politicians and their behavior towards blacks.
This is an amazing book, and an amazing man. It is absolutely essential that A.J. reads this book.
Another book that I’ve sent is Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.
This book breaks down the entire prison system, from the beginning of slavery up to current times. I told him to take his time with these two books, because it is heavy material. This book was what gave me the inspiration to start this project of trying to curb jail recidivism. I’m for damned sure not a millionaire, but I am strapped with the knowledge that could change a person’s life. Why not use that information to uplift someone in need?
What’s crazy is that I received a new letter from an inmate named “Cory G”, here is the letter.
In so many words, he thinks the let project is an actual prisoner reform program that is funded by the government. He is interested, but doesn’t know how to move forward. The mistake of my introductory letter, is that my mission statement was too powerful. I am only one person, trying to help as many prisoners as I can. I will definitely help this brother, but the whole “can my homies get on also?” stuff is dead. That is why my project is a project, and not a program. The few chosen are the few selected for an amazing opportunity.
Went to the mailbox yesterday to see if I received any letters and I got nothing, smh. What in the hell will it take to get more inmates to participate? I will have to double my efforts and send another thirteen letters this weekend. I already roped 1/13 inmates. Next time I will send a stamp and envelope with the letter to see if that is more effective.
Many of them are like, Why in the hell do you want to help me?… Why am I special? I have to convince them that I want nothing else other than to improve their mindset. It is almost like a mindset barrier that many men and women have to break open, in order to allow help. I’m not giving up, just realizing that I have to reach the ones who are open to change.
So I sent AJ some books. The first book is a dictionary, because it is literally like a translator in jail. It helps expand his diction. The second book I sent was Tupac ‘the rose that grew from concrete’ in hopes that he could be inspired by some of Tupac’s poetry. AJ says he likes poetry, and I think this would be the book he would read first. The third book I’ve sent him was ‘Man’s search for meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. You guys will automatically see me send this book to almost every inmate. This was a man who survived concentration camp under Nazi rule. Incredibly heartfelt book, it shows the power of a positive mindset under any circumstance. This book is hands down the greatest book for any one facing a difficult time. I can’t wait until I hear his take on the book(s).
My name is AJ, I received your letter and I am very interested in the program you provide. The only question that I have, how you know about me…other than that, yes I want to be a part of the program. I have a lot to say, I write poetry about different things don’t mind putting it out there to be seen. I am not really sure what to do next. I would appreciate a response what kind of stories are you looking for, if you please give me some type of clue of how the program works I will gladly send some poetry to you guys. thank you.”
Wow! Right when I was re-strategizing, I get this letter. This gives me hope that I can change someones life.
The LET PROJECT