I was honored to interview so many amazing people with powerful stories and testimonies. Stories of heartache, loss, but also stories of triumph and turning the most tragic, life-changing events into positive action for themselves and others. That is a theme that you will continually see in this issue. We also got the chance to talk about music, hip hop in particular, how the game has changed and how important it is to bridge the gap between the old school hip hop artists and the younger artists of today.
One could say that it’s in our DNA as African Americans to overcome, but we don’t want just to overcome. We want to take action and help those who are affected by the corrupt billion-dollar prison system that unfairly targets our black and brown people. Nor do we want to stay in the position of having to overcome. For once, we’d like to just be. Be great. Be amazing. Be free to walk, drive, fly, vacation, barbecue, or sell bottled water as black and brown people. With no apologies. Without prejudice or corruption. In a perfect world, right?
I was happy to be to able to talk to Mr. Eddie Conway, one of the original Black Panthers. In his interview, he gives us a personal history lesson about himself, what the Black Panther Party was really about (not the lies put out by the government and media for so many years) and the changes he was able to make within the prison system for prisoners. Hearing Mr. Conway’s story reinforced the importance of knowing our history, knowing what our elders went through so that we could have the freedoms we have today, including basic human rights in prison. Mr. Conway, in my eyes, is the definition of revolutionary and woke.
Bridging the gap between the older and younger generations and making sure we do all we can to better our communities going forward is the message of this issue. Also, if you have a family member that is incarcerated, check on them regularly. If you can’t visit them, write them. Allow them to call you every once in a while. They need that support for their mental and physical wellbeing. Mental health is another issue we touch on in depth in the Akeem Browder (older brother of Kalief Browder) interview. The effects of solitary confinement, let alone long-term solitary confinement is so damaging to a person mentally. This type of gross injustice needs to stop, and it’s what Akeem and others are fighting to change.
Though we have so many things working against us, the current president, unfair laws that enable a corrupt prison system, dirty, trigger happy cops, and an all-out attack on black and brown people as a whole, we also have our youth to look after, to mentor, to teach and guide to a better way of life. We have hope through them. To those behind the G-wall, WE LOVE YOU. Don’t give up. We’re fighting for you.