Revolution #263, March 25, 2012

Letter from Prisoner from California, March 5, 2012

"Setbacks, whether small or huge, don’t eliminate the need or the possibility for revolution."

Dear PRLF,

I hope this letter finds all your staff in good health and full of revolutionary enthusiasm.

I received a renewal request form and Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, last week so I wanted to write to thank you and all those generous donors who give to the PRLF. It is impossible to overstate the importance of your work or how much I appreciate the subsidized subscription to Revolution newspaper and all the literature you've sent me since I first started writing, without the least bit of exaggeration, I can honestly say that the liberating revolutionary ideas that you've introduced me to have changed my life. I know that your work will continue to change the lives of others like me.

I was first arrested on trumped up drug possession charges when I was just thirteen years old, but I had a sense, vague as it was of the inherent racism and unjustness of this system even before then. In my neighborhood I saw the police harass and assault not just gang bangers and drug dealers but everybody from street vendors to my five-year-old brother, whom a pig grabbed by the throat for throwing rocks at the neighbors kids. I hated the way things were around me, but I felt helpless to change them. I've been arrested several times since that first arrest, and I've actually done what I've been accused of most, though not all, of those times, including the charge that I'm currently doing time for. I've been in and out of the juvenile system, the county jail, and this my third term in state prison.

I started reading in prison and some of the radical literature I read led me to question the way I'd been living my life. I tried distributing political pamphlets, magazines, and books to prisoners around me even while I myself was unsure whether or not change was actually possible. I developed a healthy hatred for this system and what it does to people, but I still felt helpless to change it. As good as the exposure of society's ills were, nothing I read seemed to offer any real solutions. Some of the answers put forth were so unrealistic that I wondered why the author even bothered pointing out these problems in the first place. Fortunately a fellow prisoner from a different cell block sent me PRLF's address, I wrote to ask for a subsidized subscription to Revolution newspaper and this led to a more substantial transformation of my outlook and consequently of the person I was. As luck would have it, soon after I got my first issue of the newspaper another prisoner who had been a reader of Revolution for some time moved into the cell next to mine. He shared some of the books and pamphlets that he had received from the PRLF and I read all I could about Bob Avakian and RCP's ideology. I read every single page of every issue of Revolution the moment it came to my cell. I discussed what I was learning with my neighbor and pulled others into our conversations. The more progressive-minded prisoners became more interested in communism once they learned about the RCP, the Party's formulation of an actual strategy for carrying out that revolution. I felt reinvigorated and experienced an optimism that I hadn't felt ever before we began to form a study group around some basic communist concepts and articles that appeared in Revolution newspaper. Unfortunately, prison lockdowns kept us from getting together, and cell moves, transfers, and people getting thrown in the hole broke up our little group before it was able to take form. This, however, hasn't left me discouraged. Disappointments no longer lead me to act out in unthinking, self-destructive ways. A setback doesn't affect me the way it did before I got into BA. Though there's much that I still need to understand, I understand enough to know that perseverance is both worthwhile and necessary in a struggle filled with innumerable twists and turns. Setbacks, whether small or huge, don't eliminate the need or the possibility for revolution. If there's one thing I've learned from BA, it's that no matter how great the challenges there's nothing greater my life can be about than contributing whatever I can to the revolutionary transformation of society about the world. I want to give my sincerest and most heart-felt thanks to the PRLF staff and all their donors for helping people like me come to that conclusion.

Thank you all for the work that you do. I hope to hear from you again soon.

P.S. I'm enclosing 20 stamps to help pay for a small part of your mailing costs. Wish I could do more.


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