“Consistency, commonly thought of as a good thing, requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” - Bernard Berenson
The end of another year is upon us. Thanksgiving has come and gone and shortly the same will be said of 2013. It is crazy when I actually stop to think that this will be my third straight Christmas in captivity. What is even crazier though is when I talk to people that haven’t been in prison for the last few years and in that time have accomplished nothing. It is a real eye opener. So many people, so little follow through. There is so much in prison that is actually quite astonishing. How people can do so much with so little and how one can adapt to the situation and find ways to make things work with the tools that we have. For instance, in the California prison system, about 80% of the inmates, myself included, can speak in sign language. It is really kind of amazing to see. I can be in my cell across the building from a friend in his cell and we can have a full conversations. When I first got to prison there was a deaf fella in my building and we would sign, he was first termer like myself and he was totally blown away. He said for the first time in his life he felt like he could talk to everyone. If only people on the streets could sign, He would tell me every single day how great it was. It was really cool. Because in prison, so often you can only see your friends from different holding cells at a distance, through windows or across the yard. More times than not you won’t get the chance to get close enough to talk. So what to do? Learn to speak with your hands. The resilience of man is a wonderful magical thing. Another thing that is quite astonishing is the movement of information like the Ho Chi Minh trail in the Vietnam war when supplies were carried hundreds of miles by hundreds of different little paths with common destinations, it is amazing how something which appears to the outside as completely unorganized is actually anything but. How the whole ebb and flow is known and noted, What guards work in which buildings on what days. Which ones are assholes and which ones will look the other way. Which inmates work which jobs, and which guys from different buildings they work with. It is really pretty amazing and just goes to show the resourcefulness of the human spirit. The community aspect is also pretty astounding. For instance, I get the Wall Street Journal everyday. After I read it, I pass it on, where it is then read and again passed on and so forth. So that in the end, anyone that wants to read the paper has the chance to do so. And when I see something I wanna read, all I gotta say is can I get in line and it is that easy. With very limited resources, we work hard to take advantage of the few that we do have. And to do that, we all work together. Far more than anyone really ever gives us credit for. All too often the media paints prisoners and ex-convicts in an awful way and the truth is that is not always the case. But we have little or no voice so it is easy to pain us any way they want. If you get caught shoplifting, they turn it into a burglary, give you a strike and now on paper you are a “violent criminal.” You have one drink too many at the bar and tell someone you’re gonna fuck them up, they charge you with criminal threats and now you too are given a strike and considered a “violent criminal.” Or maybe your girlfriend or boyfriend in in your face screaming and you put your arm up to distance yourself. Now you get charged with assault with the means likely to cause great bodily injury. That means that literally you did not hit or strike them, but you could have. Seriously, charged for what you could have done, not what you did. And again, yes, you are given a strike and you are now just another “violent criminal.” These are the majority of the “violent criminals” that the media talks about. It is easy to write prisoners off as mindless beasts, but that is nothing more than propaganda. I could as easily say that because Osama Bin Laden is Saudi Arabian, all other Saudi Arabians are terrorists, yet nothing could be farther from the truth. The same goes for us behind those walls. The overwhelming majority of us are neither mindless nor violent. We’re just regular people that found ourselves in bad situations and some are nothing more than simple victims of circumstance. At the end of the day though, the result was all the same for us. So we have to do the most with what we have. With those words I come back to the present. I’m about to spend my third Christmas here, and although these last few years have not been ideal, neither have they been wasted. And I hope that as you look back over the last few years of your life you can say the same thing. Because you can always make more money, but you can never make more time, Take time to enjoy the simple things in life. Don’t worry about the bullshit, because that is all it is and always… KEEP ON RICH ROLLIN.
Your friend, Daniel Dart
Artist: KID CUDI
Song: RED EYE (feat.HAIM)