Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Today medical marijuana is legal in California. Thank God because the harsh laws against marijuana have destroyed so many families. 

There are many broken families because colored fathers, mothers, and brothers got three strikes for possession of just $5 worth of marijuana. This has had a major impact on the communities we have grown up in, adding to the mental stress of being Black in a world that looks down on your color. 

I’m talented, but they will never know because I’m too scared to show how I can help our world. 

I could lose my life if a police officer saw me passing out flyers from my backpack at a community awareness group meeting. My dignity is tarnished when I’m pulled over by a racist cop in front of my community as if I did something wrong, with my hands on my head and my feet spread apart in the streets as if I were an animal. 

They called me names to defame my character because I’m Black and a known-gang member. 

Every time I would see a police car I thought to myself, “That’s just another legalized execution squad car.” 

Being Black trying to survive in the underworld, I was forced to live like a revolutionary. Black Lives Matter, but to who? And why? 

Every Black life has to correct the past and contribute to the present and how we want to vision for the future to come alive. We must fight for correction, not oppression, depressive causes or ideas that destroy our morale. 

I too am trying to change my life, but it feels like there is no hope when you’re a Black felon. Before I caught my last case, I was trying to do better by obtaining my electrician certification from a trade school. But I didn’t have much income, and I was on my own with one daughter to support, fighting the world’s demons as well as my own. 

I knew how to hustle the street life, so I rolled the dice. Blood, blood money, sweat, hard hustle, tears, and scars made me callous inside. 

I have come to understand through the movement against injustice that “All Lives Matter.” Whatever your perspective on life or your philosophical beliefs, we all matter. 

When I was charged with second degree murder, convicted, and sentenced to 36 years to life, a lot changed. Family and homies I hung out with every day heard the judge say “life,” and I was instantly turned into a memory. 

My love for them was deeper than theirs for me. It didn’t make me bitter or angry because I know the struggle continues. I still have love for them because it’s about learning life’s lessons. 

Life is a battle, and you have to choose a cause and fight with all your might. I have to take responsibility for my actions and change my outlook on becoming a leader for my family. 

That means first having love for our family and putting them first if we are going to battle for unity. It starts with deep dialogue about the rhetoric our country America is following. 

My 12-year old asked me about society and how it works. She’s smart and starting to see the world from a perspective without her father. I’ve been away since she was 3 years old, and I worry about how the world will try to mold her mind to accept and not advocate for justice. 

She wrote to me and told me she has to know self-defense and be clever in the world. I see she’s starting to understand how the world works. Without her dad around, she has to learn to fight for survival. It’s embedded in our bloodline to be warriors. 

I smile when I see African-American progress. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice and many others died by the law’s injustice. Say their names. Rest in peace, we are fighting and we will win. 

Tamir Rice hit me hard. I was that kid, who played with toy guns in my neighborhood growing up. The difference from Tamir Rice and me was that I used to play-shoot with the kids on my block as if we were gangsters. 

I am glad that justice was done in the case against the cop who assassinated George Floyd, but still, we are a long way from liberty for which it stands. Equality under the law is our first battle towards understanding Black lives matter. 

I want to be on the front line leading the charge for change, for strong families and love for our Black color. Black is beauty, Black is power, Black is love, Black is soul, Black is the color we wear for battle, Black is the beginning of dreams and visions. Black people are on a rise, Black doesn’t hide, a Black diamond shines in the rough.

 
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.

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Corey L. Green

Corey L. Green is a writer incarcerated in Imperial, California.