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Breaking the Prison Habit

recorded 6-23-07

 

1) 2:50 Radio Essay Mp3

2) 3:18 Radio Essay Mp3

 

Breaking the Prison Habit

[book review 6/23/07] (c) Mumia Abu-Jamal

 Review of: Kearse, Randy, Changin' Your Game Plan!: How to Use Incarceration As a Stepping Stone for Success (Self-published: Big Mouth Street Media, 2006) 'pp.234] (available fr: randykearse@yahoo.com) $14.99 [pb]

    This writer usually does reviews for political books, or ones which address the controversial or newsworthy events of the day.

    I will break that usual trend to review a book written, edited and self-published by a remarkable man, Randy Kearse, author of Changin' Your Game Plan!.

    This book will never be reviewed in the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, or the London Literary Review.  And that's not only because it's self-published. The reason has more to do with the intended readers of this work; prisoners, especially Black men in prison.

    Kearse writes to them, not to pontificate, nor to preach, but to share his own harrowing life story, and his climb out of the abyss, not merely of prison, but of the mind set that led him there, and which continues to lead others to the pits of hell.

    He grew up in a good home, with parents who loved and cared for him, and did well in school (other than being bored to death.)

    The lure of the streets called to him, and he answered, finding endless excitement, a lucrative (albeit short lived), career in the (shall we say - unofficial pharmaceutical industry?), drug dealing, which led him into a life of excess, of madness, and finally prison.

    He tells the tale not just of his falling, but of his rise, his rebirth in prison, and his ability to question his earlier beliefs, which did not serve him nor the vision he wanted to have of himself, his community, or the young who are to inherit this world.

    In a series of essays, Kearse addresses issues  of prison life and culture with a rawness and truth that can only be called refreshing.  I found myself reading things that I told friends just recently, in words that could've been my own.

        In an essay called, 'Playing the so called game', Kearse writes:

            We're the only culture on this planet that accepts prison as a [rite]of passage.

            We feel like we did something special when we come home from the jail house.

            We walk around like we accomplished something and that's not how it's supposed     

            to be. We use the term "I just came home", like we were off on some world adventure. [p.44]

    Years ago, while rapping with a young fellow who got caught up in the drug business, he began telling me about the hours he worked on the corner, or keeping his workers in line. I was, quite frankly, dumb founded.  He worked significantly harder than any 'square' ever did, he told of pulling 20 or 40 hour shifts, stopping at home only to eat, or sometimes not even that. I thought of him, when I read Kearse's take on the incredible work ethic of drug dealers:

            When we're on the streets doing our illegal grind we were workaholics to the fifth power.  Sometimes we'd stay out on the block from sun up to sun down. We didn't wanna miss a dime. When we made it big in the drug trade, we put dudes out on the strip for us, from sun up to sun down. Sometimes we'd be hustlin' so hard we wouldn't even take a shower when we finally hit the crib. We'd get a call early in the morning and be right out.  We put money in front of everything and everyone. [p.108]

    Kearse's words reminded me of Huey P. Newton's observation that street hustlers and other assorted criminals were "illegitimate capitalists", who differed little from their counterparts working on Wall Street.  Think of this: what's the difference between selling illegal drugs, and legal cigarettes? (To the consumer, not the vendor; for we know that one seller goes to jail, and the other goes to the penthouse!)

    Changin' Your Game Plan isn't a political book. Nor does it try to be. It is a motivational work, addressed to men and women who rarely have been directly addressed  (at least with love). For this reason alone, it is worthy of regard.

    There are quite a few youngsters, especially those doing their first bit, who will appreciate these words, for they will pull them back from the brink of madness to the road less traveled - that of familial and communal caring, and yes. love.

    Kearse has said goodbye to 'the game;, and hopes, with this work, to encourage many others to do the same.

    With honesty and courage, he speaks to another way out from the dungeons.

    One hopes his work will find a receptive eye.

(c) '07 maj [For: Prison Legal News]

 

  [Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]
===============================

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.

The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
========================================

To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
==============================================>

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe@topica.com
Read: http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns/read
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing
icffmaj@aol.com!


 

 

[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.] 

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
HELP CALL ATTENTION TO HIS CASE.

The campaign to kill Mumia is in full swing and we need you to
**please** contact as many publications and information outlets as
you possibly can to run Mumia's commentaries (on-line and
**especially off-line**)!! The only requirements are that you run
them *unedited*, with every word including copyright information
intact, and send a copy of the publication to Mumia and/or ICFFMAJ.
THANK YOU!!!

Keep updated by reading ACTION ALERTS!!
at http://www.mumia.org, http://www.onamove.com/ and their links.
========================================

To download Mp3's of Mumia's commentaries visit
http://www.prisonradio.org or http://www.fsrn.org
==============================================>

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - icffmaj@aol.com
AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Subscribe: mumiacolumns-subscribe@topica.com
Read: http://topica.com/lists/mumiacolumns/read
Subscribe ICFFMAJ email updates list by e-mailing
icffmaj@aol.com!


For additional information and to order Mumia's new book We Want Freedom,

visit: southendpress.org

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com


The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa