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We All Have Diamonds that are Undiscovered
By Damone "Monebone" Johnson, Prisonersolidarity.org
May 19, 2007

Ever since I was a youngin' I've been in and out of the system. For a long time I felt like I was trapped in this life of crime "till I die." This was my mentality and I was dedicated to it whole-heartedly. At the age of 18 I was sent to prison for felonious assault and when I received my time I realized that the adult system (in contrast to the juvenile system) was not going to just slap me on the wrists.

My name is Damone Johnson. Everyone calls me "Monebone." I am an aspiring songwriter/rap artist. After I received my prison sentence I told myself that "something has to give" (someone told me a long time ago "if you continue to do what you you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten").

During my first couple of years in prison I 'wild out.' Fighting correctional officers was my M.O., till the day I die. That was my mindset. Everyday it was me versus the system. Me versus the c/o.s. Me versus everyone that was on the other side of the fence. If you had any affiliation with law enforcement we became enemies automatically. After three years of constantly fighting the system I eventually went into retirement.

A man in his right mind can withstand being maced, extracted from cells, buried in segregation and humiliated for only so long. By being ready to make a change, and through quite a bit of soul-searching, I witnessed a change come about from within. Instead of reacting to situations physically I began to pour my soul out on paper in the form of songs.

Every song I write captured my raw emotions (my anger, my pain, my hatred, was all displayed in verses and chorus). Once a song was completed I asked my peers to give me their opinions. Most of 'em liked it. Most of 'em encouraged me to keep writing. This was a new beginning for me. The more encouragement I got the better my songs became. Without even noticing my attitude was changing.

I was getting fewer tickets, having less run ins with the c/os, and I had started looking forward to my future. Writing raps gave me an opportunity for escape and for the most part all that clowning was over with. Eventually, I ended up writing a song called "Ridah" To all who've heard it they can vouch for it being an anthem. I'd started taking my talent seriously.

All my dudes used to say, "Mone, don't waste your gift." Now, here I was, stuck at the crossroads. My choices were either to be a thug on the streets or a rapper in the industry. To me, the second option seemed more rewarding, so I chose to rap. As much as living the street life was still in my heart, I was not willing to go back and forth, in and out of the system. I knew that if I wanted to make it in the industry I had to do my homework. Within a couple of months I had a few albums written, and a plan.

I now have a way out. In the very near future I'll be getting released, and if I remain focused on my goals I will not fall victim to recidivism. The reason I'm posting this article is because I want to inspire someone to follow their passion. These prisons are full of brothers with massive potential. Don't give up on yourself. Whether you have one year or one hundred years, you can still remain a factor in this game of life.

I encourage you the same way that I was encouraged. Everyone is not a songwriter, but everyone does have a gift to share with the world. As a prisoner, myself, I had to learn a few lessons before I was ready to change. Humbleness goes a long way, as does respect. If you are truly ready to experience happiness within, it will begin with soul searching (respect and humbleness are key ingredients to happiness).

Soon I'll be leaving prison, but before my departure I want to sweep the old Monebone under the rug. I am now a grown man. I am a rap star. Society needs people with my substance. The radio needs a quality voice, and I am it. I've prepared myself to make an impact on the world. It won't be long before you hear my record spinning on your local station, so keep your ear to the speaker. Oh, yeah, remember that we all have diamonds undiscovered. We just have to look for them.

Damone Johnson #426753
The Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

About the author:

Damone "Monebone" Johnson is a prisoner at the Ohio State Penitentiary. He's a 23-year-old and from Cincinnati, Ohio, who has aspirations of going into the music industry. Mr. Johnson has been in prison for six years and has consistently been trying to better himself. If you wish to correspond with Damone, he would welcome your mail at the above address. If you are involved in a community group that helps ex-prisoners to avoid recidivism, or if you are affiliated with a radio station, recording studio, or in any way with the music industry, Mr. Johnson would be extremely honored to hear from you.

The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners: http://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm

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