by Mpingo Uhuru
I have thought long and hard about writing this entry. A part of me feels constrained because the topic is extremely sensitive, yet I also feel compelled to address it due to the very same sensitivity. The subject I choose to write on is racism.
There can remain no doubt that America, the cradle of democracy, still wails in anguish from the cancerous blight of racism. It is undeniable that such moronic ideologies of hating someone because of race, religion, gender and gender identification is cultivated in this day and age. And not just here in this country, but many places around the world.
As shameful as it is that we as an entire species, human beings, remain mired in such thinking, it is also a testament to the strength and power of such narrow-minded beliefs. I have never seen such anger and hatred more prevalent as I have while incarcerated. In more ways than not, prison is a place of segregation and racism, and radical issues are life’s norm here. When these gates slam closed behind you, you enter into a completely different world, a world of violence, disregard and disrespect. All that you ever knew is turned upside down.
The majority of the inmate population segregate themselves by race and rarely, aside from when violence against others is involved, mix with other races on a purely social basis. Riots, fights and altercations occur as often as the sun shines each day. Most inmates thrive off the negative energy and intentionally stoke the racial fires through instigation.
Yet, as horrendous as this is, there is something more deplorable that I am truly focusing this entry on. I wish to shine light on the infliction of self-hatred and self-induced racism that I see so many of my race shackling themselves with. It is heartbreaking to see and hear so many of my brothers and sisters trivialize themselves out of ignorance, lack of love, honor, self-worth and self-respect. I am speaking on the use of the word nigga that has become so commonplace.
Now allow me to pause here and state that in the past and in my earlier writings, especially in my urban novels, I have used the term. My excuse to myself to justify its usage was that I was attempting to keep my work as authentic as possible to the way many speak. In truth, there is no justification of its usage and my feeble attempts at trying to do so withered under the light of such realism.
Now I know that the use of the term has been and will continue to be heatedly debated, and most who choose to use the term will continue to do so. It is my belief that each of us must have our own personal epiphany that triggers an internal conviction. We each have to experience our own truth shaking.
With this poem, I share with you my convictions and I hope it will give insight to the impact the word has. Please allow it to be food for thought and hopefully it will help spark a change. I also ask that you please share this with someone else. Enjoy.
Republished from “Perspectives from the Cell Block: An Anthology of Prisoner Writings” – edited by Joan Parkin in collaboration with incarcerated people from Mule Creek State Prison.