Nov. 29, 2010

A poem, and a letter to Barack Obama

by Marteze Harris (author's profile)

Transcription

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MARTEZE HARRIS #161543
WAUPUN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
POST OFFICE BOX 351
WAUPUN, WISCONSIN 53963

This is a poem by the late, great Tupac Amaru Shakur. For those who don't know him, he was a rap artist that was killed in 1996. However, it is easy to see the public personification of this man and vilify him. Sometimes a person's greatest enemy is within themselves. Had Tupac lived he would have been a dynamic person.

This poem is titled:

SOMETIMES I CRY

Sometimes when I'm alone
I cry because I'm on my own
The tears I cry are bitter and warm
They flow with life but take no form
I cry because my heart is torn
And I find it difficult to carry on
If I had an ear to confide in
I would cry among my treasured friends
But who do you know that stops that long
To help another carry on
The world moves fast and it would rather pass you by
Than to stop and see what makes you cry
It's painful and sad and sometimes I cry
And no one cares about why.

I chose to share that poem with you because it is a personification of me and my life, and how I feel sometimes.

As I have said in my last blog, I will attempt to expound on the race issue that plagues us as a country...and world. I am by far no expert, this is merely from my perspective. Those that are brave enough to respond please do so, even if you are racist, prejudiced, a bigot - whatever. Everybody's opinion is welcome. The only way to heal this country is to open this wound up, clean it, put some antibiotic ointment on and bandage it up. We can no longer be scared to have this talk, it is long overdue.

Before I begin, two things to speak on: this is to Zeitlore, I received your comment and you said what am I most passionate about? This right here. I look forward to your next reply. Peace.

Next, I wrote President Obama a letter today and I have enclosed a copy of it for my blog. I would like to hear how to make the next one better and just your thoughts on this one. I had some stuff I wanted him to know. Whether he will even see this letter I have no clue. With all the mail he receives daily, my letter may seem not that important, however, it is written and I will send it off.

The Declaration of Independence states, in part...'That all men are created equal'. But in writing this important document the founding fathers asked are African slaves deserving of equal rights under this document. No! No, we...well my ancestors were considered property only. No more valuable than an animal.

Yet the first person to die in the Revolutionary War was of African descent. Every war that this country has fought since, African-Americans have fought and died in. However, African-Americans have not always received a thanks for their service to this country. Even as they fought in wars past, they were discriminated against by those they fought side by side with.

President Lincoln promised freed slaves 40 acres and a mule, where is it? This country has compensates the Japanese for WW2, the natives have casinos, other people of color done wrong by this country, have been compensated for that wrong...except African-Americans, descendants of African slaves. Where are our reparations?

We have been lynched, beaten, killed, our women raped and abused, sometimes as the men in their families had to watch. We live in impoverished communities, unequipped schools, until recently a lack of proper healthcare. We make up about 13% of the population in this country, yet we make up 50-60% of the prison population. Do African-Americans commit more crimes - the study says no - but we receive the most time. Someone that is white can commit the same crime, have a worse criminal background, yet will receive less time than someone of color. Where are our reparations? Reparations are due, right?

Until 2008, when President Obama was elected president for most African-Americans, all our faults fell to the white race right? Or am I passing the sin of the father on to the son? Is it fair? But hell, who wants to be fair, we just wanted someone to blame. For all of the times we were called nigger, and abused can we now call you honky-cracker and demand our reparations? Do two wrongs make it right or forget right, how about just even.

With all that we as African-Americans, from descendants of slaves have faced in this country, we are loyal to it. Even when it wasn't loyal to us and someone it still isn't. So what gives you the right to hate me? Hate me because I am different from you, because my skin is dark, but you spend millions a year to get a tan. So are you jealous of me? Do you covet what is mine? How can you see me, not even know me, yet hate me?

Do we as African/Americans have the right to want answers to these century old questions? If we don't hate you for these century old atrocities, then how can you not let it go, if we can?

When does the healing start? Yes great changes have been made. All you have to do to know if look to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but more needs to be done. You have political analyses saying there needs to be a discussion, the president, Christian, Muslim and Catholic scholars saying there needs to be a discussion. However, nobody will stand up.

What type of world do we want for our children? A world where you are defined by the color of your skin, your religion, ethnic group, etc or by the contents of your character.

I usually think really hard about what I'm going to write, but with these I am just freestyling, because it is hard talking about something so painful. It's like if you think about it you may just say forget it, why bother, but someone has to open that wound up so that it can heal properly.

I remember the first time I was called a nigger. It had a devastating effect on me. I was 17 years old, in prison. A guard called me a stupid nigger, I was hurt and very angry. I was in segregation at the time, if not I think I would have tried to hurt him. I grew up in the inner city in a predominantly African-American community and my mama never explained the race issue to me. I knew that people's skin colors were lighter or darker than others, but wasn't until prison that I would start to read history books and the true meaning of my dark skin.

I am not close with my family, my family now is Sandra and Peg (who I will tell you all about later), but my family is a mixture of several different nationalities. I never knew that my white cousin was different from me, she was just my cousin.

How can someone teach their kids to hate someone because of the color of their skin? I am so glad that my mama wasn't ignorant like that. Because that is all it is, ignorance.

People have to start looking past skin, religion and all that other stupid stuff by which they use to judge someone. Judge people by the person they are within.

And we as African-Americans should not want reparations, just equality. To be considered first class citizens and not minorities. There isn't anything we can't do now, when a mother tells her son he can be what ever he wants - even president - we know she isn't lying to him now. The sky is the limit. We as African-Americans have to believe in ourselves, love ourselves and respect ourselves.

President Obama has shattered that glass ceiling, now it is just up to us what we choose to do with this opportunity.

It would be so easy to hate someone for the color of their skin, but you limit yourself to a certain geographical area, when there is a whole world out there for you to explore.

God made us different, not to hate, but so that we would never get bored. No matter where you go there is something new to learn... from food, music, culture, religion and history. How can you be bored with the world as your oyster? That is why God made us different. This hatred is manmade and it does not sit well with God.

I told you all about Sandra in my last blog. She is like that mother figure I have missed since my mama passed but Peg is my dearest friend also. It is through her that I am able to write and share myself with you.

Peg is a prison activist. She fights hard on a daily basis for prisoners' rights, as well as to better the prison systems. She could use help in this cause, so anyone who would like to help log on to: www.friendsofprisoners.org.

When I thin of these two women I don't think about their skin, I just know that I love them both, for all that they do for me. They keep me focused and my relationship with each woman is totally different, but equally as beautiful.

Well, I don't know if I've made any sense in this blog, like I said I just wrote. If I had have thought about it I would not be sending it out. Again, all comments are welcome, no matter whether you agree or disagree with me.

Also, I do not usually use words like the ones I used in this blog, but I did not want to sugarcoat anything. If we are going to have the conversation then let's have it... no holds bar.

I enjoy blogging and for those few people that follow my blog, thank you. Thank you for hearing my voice and listening and allowing me to express myself. Behind these walls are voices are silenced so easily, but through my blog the world is mine! Smile.

Well, I've said enough for now and I hope that you can take something from what I said and I hope to hear from you, I am open-minded to all opinions. I do this to learn from you and to help better myself.

Respectfully,

Teze

* * *

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2010

MR. MARTEZE HARRIS #161543
WAUPUN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
POST OFFICE BOX 351
WAUPUN, WISCONSIN 53963

MR. BARACK OBAMA
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WASHINGTON, DC

Dear Mr. President:

I am a prisoner serving time for armed robbery, in which people died. I am not writing you for any favors and I know as a prisoner our voices are pretty much silenced. However, I choose not to satay[?] or be silent!

President Obama, I have followed you since you first announced that you were running for president. I have not always agreed with every decision you have made as president Sir. But I respect you. I watched November 02, 2008 when you won the election, and I am secure enough in my manhood to say that I cried like a baby when you won. Not just for you, but the country, for every American that voted for change and for African-Americans (present and past) who thought that this day would never come. But most importantly for my mama, who did not live long enough to see it. She would have been your biggest fan.

I have no idea if you will ever see this letter, with all the mail you receive daily. Maybe one day you will have the chance to read these words.

Mr. President, you have more people in this country who love you rather than hate you, or who want to see you fail, but you are not doing what you did to get elected. The people love you but you don't talk from the heart like you did on the campaign trail.

President Obama, speak to the people like you did when you gave the speech on race. That was a make or break situation and you handled it. You won over so many people and you made them love you, I know that if you made it over that that you would be president. I know that you are president now and the office of the president is totally different from running for president. But don't change who you are... JUST BE YOU!

The republicans will never compromise, they want to see you fail. They have gambled on holding up your agenda, no matter how decent the bill is. They want you to fail for a number of reasons, let them tell that you weren't born here. or you are not American enough... GO FIGURE.

You have to talk to the people and be honest and straight with them. When you gave the speech on race, you weren't being presidential, you were just being you. AND THE WORLD TOOK NOTICE.

Like when the repulicans criticized you for not having gone overseas much in your time in public office. No presidential candidate had ever done what you did. The republicans thought your trip would be a failure, but it was a success. Then the republicans cried foul for you going overseas when they basically dared you to.

We believe in you, but you have to communicate better. Stop leaving what you have to and need to say to the people to others. The people want to hear from you. You are the president and the greatest champion the democrats have... UTILIZE THAT! Do not bow down to the republicans, they tried to demonize you these passed elections and in a way they succeeded. Not because the people believe the republicans are better at running the country, but the people's champion has reached the twelfth round and it seems like you are taking a dive.

I know that is not the case. You went to Washington with the hopes and aspirations of a bipartisan government. That will never happen! Just like when you addressed the joint session of congress and rep. Wilson called you a liar. That is not respect and that is cool, but as president you can not bow down. You are the most powerful person on the planet, make THAT means something not just to your enemies abroad, but those right here in this country too.

When it's all said and done the people will follow you 'if you lead them and all you need to do is be you, be straight up with the people. In order to do that you have to seem less presidential and more Barack'.

Push your agenda on the 112th congress, make the party of NO, stay the party NO. Don't back down and make people understand your agenda. No one can do that better than you.

If as a prisoner I believe in you, then all those people who voted for you still believe. They just want... no need you to be you. Honest and concise. Villainize the republicans like they do you... JUST TELL THE TRUTH!

Most bullies will kick you when you're down, like cowards, and as sure as you can be the republicans are drawing back their feet to kick you. You have to be prepared to kick back and tough enough to withstand everything they throw your way.

I wish you much success Mr. President, for you and the country, and may GOD bless you and your family.

Respectfully,
[signed]
Marteze Harris

Favorite

Replies (1) Replies feed

LisaHeard Posted 6 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 6 years, 7 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author

Subscribe

Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Marteze Harris: RSS email me
Comments on “A poem, and a letter to Barack Obama”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS