I’d like to bring you up to date with the writing of my book, Inside the Forbidden Outside, because I sure have been writing it for a long time. It should be 500 pages by now!
I have read ads that say ” Write a book from start to finish in 30 days!” Really? I guess you could if you had a vivid imagination creating stories, edited it yourself and did no rewriting. But I am not creating this story out of thin air and the writing has taken time because the story is important and I really knew nothing about being a writer, except for blog posts.
My first draft, and those chapters can be read going back I the archives to 2016, was like a book of blog posts. The chapters didn’t connect as a story. So I went back to the drawing board and started over while talking a couple writing courses.
Writing the music for the chapters, poetry, and music videos is also very time consuming so it all goes forward at a slower pace. The music was written because of the letters I read from him. They were often sad and melancholy. The music is the emotion just like music sets the stage for movies to create an emotion.
I wanted to tell you what I’m doing now to bring authenticity to what T am doing. The first two years he was inside we didn’t write. I only heard what was happening through my daughter. That is why I sent the first card. He told me about his life until that point. I had to take actual events and create story around it. In the narrative I reached the point where we are writing. After reading his letters I felt I had to write his story. Not because it was happening to him, but because it is a common story shared by many. America still isn’t listening and many believe the propaganda they read in the news saying black people are bent to be criminals and they need to locked up. They don’t belong in restaurants, coffee shops, on the street, the mall or in any store among “us”, the white people. Call the cops. Have them arrested. They don’t deserve to breathe “our” air. Go away. Shame on any American who believes that. Unfortunately, the number of people like this outnumber the people who are actually human and don’t feel entitled because of the color of our skin.
I recently unpacked two boxes that hold hundreds of letters Jamie wrote me began sorting them by the prison and then putting them in date order. Most of my letters to him are online at a website called Jpay. But many early letters we’re handwritten so I have no record of those. As time went on I almost always used Jpay because many handwriting can get illegible when I write fast.
I have just spent 28 hours over two days reading every letter he wrote, and mine in between and pieced the narrative together. The story that emerged with the dialogue already written made me cry. The pain of coping in such an inhumane existence with the authority of the prisons dishing out, with pleasure, anything they wanted to ensure the prisoners know their lives are meaningless. Their only value is to enough various corporations who use them for profit, much the way plantations did for 400 years. Free labor on top of everything. Of course they want the prisons to be full. Jamie did not deserve what they have done to him, and continue to do, but of course, he is black so it doesn’t matter.
Countless times over the years they have denied Jamie his seizure medication for epilepsy. They also often deny him being able to see a doctor, unless he is bleeding from falling and cutting himself when he has a seizure. So often the medical unit would lie to me about what condition he is in.
Think about this – Allred prison has approximately 3500 inmates. Let’s say half of them take one pill of a prescription each day. That is an extremely low estimate. Now, lets say that each of those inmates were skipped one day a month and not given one pill. That equals 1750 pills. What is the financial value to the medical corporation by holding back one pill each month? Since pills are often given in multiples twice a day and inmates often take more than one medicine, what is the real number? Jamie is often skipped for days at a time, not one pill on one day. So he has more epileptic seizures they rarely monitor. And yet people get sarcastic online quipping about the wonderful free medical care inmates get which is better than what they get. Propaganda can be very powerful in forming your indignant opinions for you. Anyone want to sign up for prison healthcare?
But he is a fighter, pulling himself out of depression when he hits rock bottom over and over again. The last time, in March when he was denied – again – being let out of adseg, he was told he wasn’t ready. Ready in what way? They didn’t manage to break him yet? Over three years, this time, and they said he wasn’t ready. He went into depression again, but fought back with a vengeance. “I will not let them break me!”
I have now everything I need to finish writing, with notes from every letter. This is the story of man who was intentionally fed to the system, while they have done everything they could to render him unable to survive.
He entered the system a Christian because it was all he knew. He then tried becoming a Muslim, a tight-knit community inside that teaches peace and discipline. No, it isn’t the picture our media and government portrays that to be Muslim means you are a terrorist. He reached the point where he said. “Religion has done nothing to help me in here. No amount of praying to God or having faith that things will get better has helped anything get better.” He thought his faith should have some effect, and it didn’t.
It was then, when he was of options that I began teaching him the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. It put the responsibility of his life and understanding it squarely where it belonged. In his own hands and mind. This is where he got the strength to say, “They will not break me.” He wasn’t asking anything outside himself to fix his problems. He took responsibility.
This is a story of a man who is making his way through this system and growing as an individual instead of feeling he is a victim. I hope you continue to read about the progress of writing this and listen to the music I’ve recorded to be his soundtrack. Subscribe to ITFO News to not miss anything.
Last, I am having T- shirts made with the silhouette at the top of the post and his signature beneath. I need to raise money to help him. I have been using legal measures to fight some of what they are doing and those things are being put in place right now. Legal documents cost money. Attorney consultations cost money. Enforcing those documents cost even more. But every bit of medical care they deny him puts more money in their pocket.
I’m hoping that people who know his story will want to help if they can. This is my first time of asking for help and I am the only one who supports him. In the next few weeks when the t-shirts come in I will write again. Thanks for reading. I couldn’t do this without you and the encouragement you’ve given me.
SonniQuick Main music website – subscribe to separate mailing list
Watch and Whirl – my other blog – diverse in subject matter
Sonni Quick Piano Improv – my YouTube channel