Posts Tagged ‘teaching our youth’

I just read an article yesterday that really blew me away. One of the things that I always hear, as most people, is how the various generations in this country are very different. I never understood this and why it is so important for people to hold strongly to those concepts that they identify the most with, within their generations. As apposed to seeking out the things that work and have been successful within all of these generations to make a better society. Well, yesterday I had one of those “aha” moments. One of those moments that spoke to my spirit and soul.

There is an article in The Sun magazine (July 2013) written by Katti Gray called, The Run-One Sentence, that spoke of the story of Eddie Ellis and his journey through a 25 year sentence and what he did with that time and how he lives now. I have never read anything about the prison experience and felt that I shared so much with the writer.

One of the things that really stuck out to me was the generational differences yet at the same time the similarities. It is almost like feeling stuck in a time capsule while doing this time, and to hear the story of an 86 year old man that did 25 years and went home shortly after I came to prison, i felt that it was me speaking in this article. The same frustrations, fears, apprehensions, concerns, zeal, motivation, insight, and desire to make things right were all the thing that we shared and had in common, similarities, yet we are generations apart.

So it leads me to believe that it is the experience that we have that provokes the way that we live out our values. It doesn’t matter what generation you come from it is the experiences that you have that define the way that you see the world and those in it. When I think about the state of low income neighborhoods and the conditions of these neighborhoods and its members it makes me think about how no matter the age or the era if the experience doesn’t change the people will not change. There are guys in my old neighborhood that are doing the same thing that they were doing 20 years ago when I cam to prison. The state of the people and the conditions are the same.

When I read of how Eddie felt when he had to check the young guy about the phone I understood what he meant and felt. I have had that happen to me before and it is always a battle between looking and being. In here it is not about being but looking the part. It is a fine line to walk.

When I am asked what makes me sad about this system I have to say that the lack of people that understand this system and what it takes to change to be a better person. There are so many lost souls behind these walls. Because we have been taught to shy away from those of other generations the youth are missing out on a lot. The answer to the experience lies with those that came before us. They are the ones that have experienced it and have the wisdom to deal with it.

One of the most important points that he made was the point about education being one of the main determining factors of reducing recidivism. I think that this is something that needs to be looked at and given consideration. One would be surprised by the outcry within the prison systems for programs that will make one productive upon ones return to society. For instance I was talking to a guy today who was sent back to prison from the halfway house. He was declared to have had escaped at a time he was at a government subsidized program taking an apprentice course test. So he was sent back to prison as a result of being late returning to the halfway house.

There are so many factors that weigh in on whether guys stay out once they are out. There are a lot things that are not working that need to be readdressed in order for guys to succeed. One of those things is education. There has to be an emphasis on education and an incentive for guys that succeed in that area. Not punishment.

I am at that place that Eddie was prior to his release and I could not be more thankful to read his story and find that I am not alone in what I see and have gone through. It is as if those of my generation can not understand me. I mean not may of them can say that they have 20 years of doing time under their belt. Not that it is something to be proud of but who can relate expect those that have done it.

I think that this is one of the most up-close and personal accounts that the civilian can get as it concerns the penal system and the dynamics that lead to mass incarceration and the social issues that cater to the perpetuation of recidivism. Also the challenges that men and women go through in order to obtain the things that they need to make them successful, education and realistic programs. I give this article two thumbs up and encourage all of my followers to find it, read it and build discussions around it. I am definitely interested to hear the opinions and questions of others.



Today I was asked a question by a younger inmate about patience and tolerance. After talking to him I felt compelled to write something about that and what it means to me. The conversation that I had with this young guy was one that I needed as I have been thinking a lot about the things that I am doing here in terms of programs. At times it is as if some of these guys don’t get it and I understand that, yet it is still sad to witness it.

The other day an old friend of mine, who is a violator and left me to go home a few years ago, came back into the system. The last time that I saw him he was fighting for his life. He had gotten stabbed over a pair of shoes. I would walk and talk to him about the choices and decisions that he was making and he would feign interest. I used to tell him that the things that he was getting into didn’t lead any where and that the guys that he was befriending were no good. Well it took him to almost lose his life to get the point yet that wasn’t enough to stop him from going out and getting back involved in the streets. Therefore he is back here.

When I first saw him we talked for a few before he told me of the after effects of that day, the day that he was stabbed. While he was being cuffed to be taken to medical…(pause here) he was stabbed and bleeding yet he was cuffed behind his back and made to walk to the medical building wth!!…he started to get short winded. What he didn’t know was that his lung was punctured. When he got to medical he was vomiting blood and they had to start cutting him on the spot to put a tube in him to drain the blood. By the time that he got to the hospital he was unconscious and when he woke up he was without one lung.

What does this have to do with the conversation that I had today? A lot. Lately I have been asking myself what does all of this stuff mean. I mean here is guy that lost a lung and almost his life. A guy that knew right from wrong and had the right people in his ear to help guide him yet that wasn’t enough. Last week a bus of inmates arrived here. There were 26 on this bus and out of the 26 guys there were 16 violators. Over half of them are repeat offenders. That is a sad thing when one thinks about it. So when this young kid came to me and asks me, “Talib, teach me something right now,” the only thing that I could come up with is patience.

What i explained to him was that patience is obtained through hardship, trials and tribulations. When we can learn to not look at the “challenges” of life but to look for the lessons that come through the hardships, trials and tribulations, we will truly understand what it means to be patient. Patience doesn’t come without a price yet it is one of the most rewarding things to have acquired in this journey called life. Patience is the thing that is between a good and a bad decision, the thing that sits on top of the prisons walls. When one becomes impatient to the trials of life outside these walls it becomes easy to make choices that lead back to the penitentiary. This is what i explained to this young guy tonight. The importance of patience. Through that conversation it was if I was talking to myself as i needed to hear the same thing. Whether one gets it or not is not the main issue as I still must be patient in what I do, helping others.

Had it not been for this conversation today I may not have heard what I need to hear to move ahead in life. That it is going to be important for me to be patient and tolerant as I face the challenges of a new world come this summer. A world that I left a teenager and am coming back to as a man. I am going to have to be patient with myself and ask those around me to be patient with me. I am going to have to be tolerant of others as I ask them to be tolerant of me. This is part of what it takes to survive out there in society, especially after 20 years of incarceration. So the lesson today for me is to find patience even in what seems to be the most hopeless and difficult situations in life. That it a jewel!