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As a lifer, I am disappointed Derek Chauvin didn’t get an “L” on his sentence. When I murdered a man, I was sentenced 26 years to life. That life-top, as we call it, can be particularly demoralizing. I’ve now done more time on denials from the parole board than on my sentence.

I am in a psychiatric facility: California Men’s Colony East, D Quad. There seems to be an unspoken agreement here to not discuss divisive social and political issues. We’re more focused on overcoming our psychological concerns.

Still, I couldn’t agree more on our need for police and criminal justice reform. Our country’s over-reliance on incarceration has done much more damage than good. But I desire smart form. 

As a former White supremacist, I have a different understanding of racism than most. In my experience, racism and nationalism are by no means exclusive to the White race. I’ve been beat up by Black, White and Mexican cops.

Until we stop devouring ourselves, we will never achieve our full potential as individuals or as a nation. We will continue to lay waste to our own communities and neighborhoods. As Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

The same goes for our social and political polarization. We’re tearing ourselves apart. As long as we insist on asserting our supposed moral superiority over each other, we will continue to fracture.

Our country is in the process of repeating past failures and mistakes from the opposite perspective. As always, we are lurching to correct and overcorrect the past. 

Correcting racism with more racism is no remedy. It’s simply pouring gas on a fire. 

I wasn’t born a racist. I was taught to be one. Since then, I have chosen to reject the learned behavior of a White supremacist. I choose each moment to reject my own racism.

I know hate and racism intimately. I wasn’t born a racist. I was taught to be one.  Most of my life, they were the traits that defined me and my character. Since then, I have chosen to reject the learned behavior of a White supremacist. I choose each moment to reject my own racism.

I suffer unbearable guilt and shame for many things that I have done, exacerbated by my Catholic guilt. My shoulders are neither big nor strong enough to shoulder anyone else’s guilt.

But I am all for justice — criminal, social, moral, financial, truth, justice and the American way — even though the media tells me that makes me a moral reprobate, undeserving of any consideration from society.

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.

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Joey LeBlanc

Joey LeBlanc is a writer who is incarcarated in California.