Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
"Actin' Like Life's a Ballgame"
written by Mumia-Ablu Jamal
3.44 MBs, 4:18
by Bernard White & William Kunsler;
When I hear
politicians bellow about "getting tough on crime" and
barking out "3 strikes - yer out!" rhetoric, several images
come to mind.
I think of how
quickly the tune changes when the politician in on the receiving
end of some of that 'tufness' after falling from grace.
I am reminded
of a powerful state appellate judge, who, once caught in an intricate,
bizarre web of criminal conduct, changed his long-standing opinion
regarding the efficacy of the insanity defense, an option he once
in a flash, how illusory and transitory power and status can be,
and how we are all, after all, human.
I also think
of a young man I met in prison, who was one of the first wave of
people imprisoned back in the '70s under new, tougher youth certification
statutes, where teenagers are sentenced as adults.
This man, whom
I'll call Rabbani, was a tall, husky 15 year old when he was arrested
in south eastern Pennsylvania for armed robbery.
tried as an adult, convicted of all charges and sentenced to 15-30
years in prison for an alleged 'armed robbery' with a CO2-air pistol.
He grew into
manhood in shackles, and every time I saw him he seemed bigger in
size but more bitter in spirit.
I was always
struck by the innate brilliance of the young man; a brilliance immersed
in bitterness; a bitterness so acidic that it seemed capable of
dissolving steel. For almost 15 years this brilliance has been caged
in cubes of time and steel.
For those critical
years in the life of a male, from 15 to 30 years of age, those years
that mark the transition from boy to man, Rabbani was entombed in
a juridical, psychic, temporal box emblazoned with the false promise
"corrections" upon it.
Like tens of
thousands of his generation, his time in hell equipped him with
no skills of value to either himself or his community. He has been
merely warehoused in a vat that sears the very soul.
He has never
held a woman as a mate or lover; he has never held a newborn in
his palm, its heart athump with new life; he hasn't seen the sun
rise, nor the moon glow, in almost 15 years. And all for a robbery
"armed" with a pellet gun at 15 years old.
When I hear
such easy, catchy, mindless slogans, like "3 strikes - you're
out!", I think of men like Rabbani, who had one strike (if
not a 'foul'!) and are, for all intents and purposes, already outside
of any game worth playing.
From Death Row,
2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.