To describe racism in the American prison system, why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? If you’ve read my previous posts where I shared poems and some short written pieces by my prison pen pal Thomas Porter, you will have noticed his raw, emotional honesty. No poem by him can leave you unaffected.
The following two pieces ( You Will be Tested and I Fight Against Opinions) explain racism in US prisons so much better than I ever could in a research essay.
I wish there was more I could do for Thomas besides getting the word out about the horrible treatment he receives. The inhumane racist laws may no longer exist in the land of the “free”, but racism is still very much a part of daily life …
You Will Be Tested
Upon walking into population I was unaware of the heavy racism that is a built culture here in these mountains, I walked into the cell that was provided for me, cleaned it with the soap I had brought from commissary and a rag that I was given as a wash rag.
I got on my hands and knees and focused all my anxiousness on the floor and walls, When I finished I stood at my cell door looking at the movement through the cell door slit of a window and I noticed the divination.
When it was my time to come into the unit dudes already knew who I was. I placed my name on the kiosk so that I could use it in 24 hours and I made some calls. Afterwards I stood alone, checking out how everyone was moving,
When everyone felt comfortable that I wasn’t crazy two different people pulled me to the side to speak prison rules of engagement amongst these 44 dudes. One was black and the other – who is now someone I deal with equally respectfully – was white.
The black dude asked “Do you have any connections to gangs?” I said no. Then he asked if I was religious. I said, “Why do you ask?” He replied: “How you are carrying yourself.” He showed me all the forms I needed and said, “Be careful in here, my name is …”
Next was the white dude who came that night after I was told about him being a Nazi or white supremacist. So I just listened to him speak and the very first thing he said was: “I know your circumstances because they are just like mine. I have life without parole for capital murder. So, listen up because I’ve been in these mountains for a while at both prisons.”
He continued: “You will be tested! Not just for your color but for having done something that these dudes don’t have the heart to do. You already have hate aimed at you for speaking with me but you seem capable of deciding what kind of prisoner you will be. Remember everything is a test with these COs (correctional officers) and administration, but unlike them I’m white-power-connected; you are going to be tested even harder.”
As of this very moment the blacks in my unit except for one hate me because I chose to vibe with a white supremacist and we walk the rec yard talking about the overall culture of his and mine and their differences. We are an odd pair.
By Thomas Porter
Scroll down for more of Thomas’s writing on racism.
I Fight Against Opinions
I am “a piece of sh*t,” given I killed a police officer who would have gladly killed me, justifying homicide under the title of I-am-a-cop.
I am a “piece of sh*t” that needs to be finished off when punched by some mental case dude who is praised by these COs who say “We let you do what you did, why didn’t you finish that piece of sh*t?” Yet the COs say they aren’t here to punish me.
“I am a police officer or correctional officer who took a duty to not be like us criminals” yet we all see that’s not true for some.
I am a “piece of sh*t” for loving white women or being able to show intelligence when having a conversation.
I am a “piece of sh*t” for not knowing my place in their racist ignorance.
I am a “piece of sh*t” before I am seen as a human being.
I am an opinion of pieces of sh*t!
By Thomas Porter
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