‘We are creators of our own history’

May 14

Dear —-,

Your letters were very inspiring and well worded. I see completely eye to eye with you that we are creators of our own history. I’ve been talking to MANY inmates lately about IOA. One of my statements I almost always tell them is that “Whatever we change in here is going to be changed forever, for every single inmate.” That would make the struggle for every other inmate that comes here after them a little less harder. I believe when I tell them this it gives some a feeling of power and control when they basically currently have none over their lives. Since this appeals to them, our numbers are growing by the day. You’re right about the barrier. So many believe there is NOTHING that they can do to make change. They don’t realize they could become a part of history. Or maybe just an inspiration for others to take charge. Either way, they can positively affect others’ lives through their goal and actions.

Right now, the problem I’m facing is what our group is going to fight to change. We have to start small. We have to be prepared to lockback and not back down. When I show others your April 9 letter about being willing to protest for us, for some I see a shimmer of hope in their eyes. I believe we relate that to the fact that others really are out there for us, showing we for us, that we believe we might even have a sliver of a chance.

Today has probably been my happiest day in jail. I FINALLY got A Clash of Kings from Prison Books Collective. That’s not what makes me so happy. Just 3 days prior to receiving this book my pod put a mass grievance (which I copied and sent to {a lawyer} on mail and books. No response BUT I got a book. This shows me our grievance took notice and the mail room had to make do. Our first victory! Glory to God for giving me this opportunity to tell the pod. One inmate even overheard me speaking of IOA/grievance and now he’s interested. I try not to get hopes up but things are looking well. I wonder if this is truly why God has me in here for 9 months without court, 12 months time locked up. I truly believe that. I’m collecting letters/pushing others to write. I’m going to send them in mass so the mail can’t be ‘all lost.’ I’ll tell you how many we send, so we can know you get them all. Right now my biggest bother in here is a man we call Z—. He is being denied medical care because he is ‘illegal.’ WHAT? Disgusting. This place is full of vultures. That man is a human being. The blatant ignorance of that is what infuriates me most. Words are stronger than any sword and pray I can develop the most appropriate ones to be able to identify to one of the D.O. to help this man. I’m very happy of the Resource List Prison Books sent. More inmates need these. Along with feedbacks. The easier things are for them to do, the more likely they are to attempt it. Ex: Calling health care resources on lack of health care. Right now I’m trying ot develop what we can make a stand for…

People are willing now, but I want them to get return letters first and gain confidence from their communication to you all. Once they see how real things are they’ll be ready…Though everyone in the pod won’t cooperate, once they start seeing the change, they’ll seize the moment. Once inmates start seeing we can fight the fear being humble, then the D.O.’s will start losing ‘power.’ LOL…Mr. S showed me a song an inmate wrote called inmates’ anthem. What I’ve asked is to make copies of it….If they lock us all back we sing it in unity. Showing that they can’t still our tongues. And yet we still unify even in lockback. It’s a long stretch, but there is not much that’s impossible. And that’s definitely achievable. If you don’t get this for a couple days after the written date it’s because I’m sending it late. I’m also including a list of song lyrics if you could get me some and some ideas of what IOA can do while we’re rallying. I truly can’t express my gratitude to IOA and Prison Books. It does my heart well to know others don’t just see us as animals. None of us deserve the terrible treatment we get. And some of us are even innocent (including me!), but aren’t we all in here? Thank you so much for all your hard work. It really does make my life so much easier in here. Truly I am grateful of you all.

With love and fellowship,

S. Y.

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