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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Photo by  Clay Banks  on  Unsplash

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

It’s 3:15 a.m. and I sit in this cold, damp, dingy administrative segregation (AD SEG) cell here at San Quentin State Prison reminiscing on my past. I’m in AD SEG because of a lack of bed space due to the COVID-19 outbreak and I’m still stuck here waiting for San Quentin to start transferring inmates again. 

For the time being though, an AD SEG single cell has its benefits, providing me with peace and tranquility even if it’s while the rest of the inmates are in a deep sleep. 

I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephan Clark, Tyrone TJ Smith, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the other Blacks that were killed because of the color of their skin or their position of leadership in the Black upward movement. What we see happening right now is not going to change or go away any time soon, at least not in our lifetime, no matter who sits in the Oval Office. The only way that change will occur is through educating yourself or turning something you’re passionate about and enjoy into a marketable business. 

There are two types of choices in life: The ones we make and the ones that are made for us. It’s really up to us which one works better. I’ve made many bad choices and I can’t be upset at anyone but myself for the many mistakes I’ve made throughout my life. 

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but raised in Tucson. At that time, it seemed that Arizona must be one of the most racist states in the nation. I will not harbor hate for all of the suppression my family had to endure, and all of the racism that came to our front door, and the many let downs I encountered at a very young age. I blamed it on an ignorance that, from ancestry, rooted deeply in people a need to keep Blacks enslaved. They were taught to be this way for the sole purpose of control and submission. That’s all they knew. 

Young hood-raised Blacks don’t help the Black unity movement at all by killing off one another daily. All it does is decrease the numbers of the young Black soldiers in the urban neighborhoods across America. Then, if there is ever real civil unrest in this country, the Black communities won’t stand a fighting chance. All of our hood soldiers will already be dead from their own actions, and the opposition has all of their guns. 

So the only people left to fight the battle will be a bunch of women, baby-kids and ex-felons who can no longer own any kind of firearm legally. The best thing to help our cause is education and a passion for something much greater than oppression. 

Hate is like a cancer: It can kill you fast or slow, cook you until you’re real tender and nothing is left but skin and bone with the meat falling off at the slightest touch. I refuse to die full of hate and so far no one has been wise enough to escape the power of the graveyard except Jesus Christ.

As my last thought for now, remember this: Today is the day to be happy, because tomorrow isn’t here yet and when it does arrive, the power of the grave may have already called your name.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Vernon Jackson is a writer incarcerated in California.