Word to the People
Kamau Tebogo Zulu Damali (Raynell D. Morgan),
March 4, 2007
is often stated that the youth are our future, and that if we want
our future to be promising we must give them the guidance to be
successful members of this society. In the Black, Brown and Red
communities of Amerika, the youth are being sucked up by the prison
industrial complex, and falling victim to homicide and self-destruction.
If it is true that these youth are our future, then unless we get
involved in their lives, and reclaim control of our communities,
we're in a lot of trouble.
assessing how our youth and community are being consumed by the
prison system it must be noted that, at the dawn of the 21st century,
the United States of Amerika has a cumulative incarceration populace
of 2.7 million citizens of varied ethnicities-a non-negotiable figure
that exceeds the prison population of China, which stands at 500,000,
in a nation of over 1 billion people. The population of United States
barely exceeds 291 million.
the first three quarters of the 20th century, the U.S. incarceration
rate remained relatively stable, at about 110 prison inmates for
every 100,000 people. In the mid-1970s the rate began to climb,
doubling in the 1980s, and again in the 1990s. The rate now is estimated
at around 760 per 110,000. Among adult men between the ages of 18
to 34 it is estimated at 1,160 per 100,000. 45% are of Alkebulanian
is no coincidence that the majority of the people incarcerated in
Amerika's gulags are poor people and people of color. Without question,
the conditions of the Black, Brown and Red community(s) in Amerika
are designed and rooted in the legacy of racism, kapital exploitation,
and apartheid/Jim Crow politics. We too, are to blame for the current
dismal state of our communities. The physical poverty of the community,
for instance, is the
result of irresponsibility and complacency. We have been programmed
to believe that there is nothing wrong with being impoverished,
and have come to accept it. The unemployment in the community is
a result of us not coming together to build/create jobs and support
each other in business. The genocide/fratricide in the community
is the result of fear, self-hatred, lack of respect, lack of unity,
lack of self-knowledge, and a lack of
concern for the welfare of others. The vast majority of our problems
as a community could be solved by us. Our inactivity has aided the
overall assault that's been lodged against us by the government.
We need to come together, to work on ways to curb the pernicious
behaviors that result from the structures of poverty, racism, kapitalism,
must be emphasized that the youth emulate what they see us do, and
also what they witness in the community. If we act responsibly,
so will they. If we demonstrate responsibility and positive conduct
and instill such values in them, they will act accordingly. If we
don't teach them how to be responsible and respectful, they will
turn to the streets for guidance. And, if the streets are saturated
in negativity and criminal conduct, their attitude and behavior
will reflect such. I base everything stated herein on
personal experience, for instance:
parents were a part of the Black consciousness movement in the 60s
and 70s and tried to influence me and my two brothers with those
experiences. They encouraged us to read, to be righteous, and to
take pride in our Alkebulanian heritage, but they didn't lead by
example. Well, Mama did, but not Pops. Pops had his problems with
drugs and alcohol and was abusive to Mama, and that's what I picked
and Mama split when I was nine years old, and although he stayed
in touch, without his presence and discipline the household became
fragile, and we (my eldest brother and I) wandered. To top it off,
Mama became preoccupied with three jobs and thus had no time for
us. We fell into the politics of street life and became the antithesis
of everything our parents wanted us to be. Mama and Pops tried to
reach out to us, years down the line, but it was too late. Had our
parents and the parents of those we ran with in the streets been
involved in our lives on a consistent basis, led by example, and
helped shape the community in a positive sense, most of us probably
would have become productive members of society.
been in prison since 1993, and before that in and out of group homes
and juvenile detentions. All of the brothers (and a few sisters)
who I came up with are either dead, in prison, or strung out on
drugs and alcohol. The community failed us, and it failed itself.
I'm not suggesting that an individual is not responsible for his
or her own actions. For I'm the first to point a finger at myself.
I'm only highlighting the fact that such actions are shaped by one's
upbringing and, like the Afrikan proverb says, "It takes a
village to raise a child"- translation: the child belongs to
the community and therefore the community is responsible for the
child. If the child succeeds, the community succeeds, and likewise
when it fails.
in the youth/community and building educational institutions and
programs designed to edify the youth and community as a whole will
not obliterate every problem that we as a community face, but it
will definitely improve our condition and curtail many dilemmas
that result from the lack of structure and opportunity.
are some ideas for community development:
1. Form a coalition with concerned members of the community. This
coalition should be based on resolving issues in the community,
such as crime, poverty, and unemployment.
2. Form a committee that specifically deals with the economic, political,
educational, and social reconstruction of the community.
3. Become acquainted with every member of the community, if possible.
4. Form a committee that deals with beautifying the community. If
you don't have funds to purchase needed supplies, petition your
local politicians and ask for access to the sanitation building
in your city, for brooms, rakes, and other utilities. This committee
should involve the youth, to teach them the value of responsibility.
5. Form an economics committee, that will teach the community about
business, and how to properly manage money. A savings account for
each household should be established. This committee should teach
the importance of spending money wisely and investing in beneficial
6. Write letters of complaint to local legislators and ask them
why your tax dollars aren't being spent on programs in prisons that
actually help in the rehabilitation of prisoners. Programs such
as accredited college courses, vocational training, business school,
and similar programs that would help the returning prisoner contribute
to society. This is an issue that should concern all, considering
that most of you have relatives in prison, and most of the people
being released from prison will be returning to your communities.
You the people must not remain silent on this issue. Become vocal
and demand that your money (taxes) be spent to rehabilitate, and
not just to punish.
7. Create Peewee football, baseball and basketball leagues for the
community youth. This will give you something constructive to do,
and will teach them the importance of sportsmanship, unity and teamwork.
8. Form a book reading club not only for the youth, but for adults
9. Create a conflict resolution committee. The purpose of this committee
will be for peace treaties between brothers and sisters who are
at odds with each other. A lot of social groups, labeled by some
as "gangs," could actually become true fighters for, and
protectors of, the community. The agenda of these groups are rooted
in community activism. But due to the lack of guidance, they have
lost track of such teachings. Most of the conflicts that take place
in the community are reconcilable, but usually blow out of proportion
because no one ever steps in to mediate.
10. Form a community patrol task force. This task force will consist
solely of people from the community, who are concerned with keeping
it safe and watching out for each other. It's time we stand up and
control the things we can.
write these words, not only to persuade, but to encourage you to
get involved with the affairs of the community and embrace all of
the community youth, as if they were your own children. We can't
save the world, but we can save our communities, and this is no
one's responsibility other than own. On that note, I will conclude,
and pray that Allah (God) will bless us all with direction and guide
us to greater promise, greater than this world can offer. Peace!!!
in Continued Struggle,
Tebogo Zulu Damali
(AKA Raynell D. Morgan)
Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
P.O. Box 9900
Boscobel, WI 53805
Tebogo Zulu Damali is housed in Wisconsin's sole supermax, the Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility. He describes himself as a self-educated
man who has been learning Swahili and dreams of receiving a college
degree if ever released. He is helping his wife-to-be plan the founding
of a nonprofit organization for underprivileged children in Washington,
D.C. Kamau recently completed a book entitled, Prison Letters, and
is working on a second, called Poetic Revolution. He is looking
for progressive publisher
for these two works. If interested (or if you'd simply like to write),
please contact Kamau by writing to him at the address listed above.
Below are links to his previously published
may contact Kamau T. Z. Damali directly by writing to him at the
address listed above. The following link offers tips for writing
to prisoners: http://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm