[Ppnews] Blue Rage, Black Redemption and the Death Penalty by Kiilu Nyasha

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 28 08:44:27 EST 2005

This piece will appear in the 11/30 issue of the S.F. Bay View 

by Kiilu Nyasha

To poor people, prisoners, slaves, and the
disenfranchised everywhere -- through
faith and theories put into practice you
can bend the most oppressive circumstances
to your will, to make the impossible possible.
Stanley Tookie Williams

Born in New Orleans in 1953 to a teenage mother under "morbid 
conditions of poverty," Stanley Tookie Williams III, entered the 
Southern, segregated world of racist deprivation.  Abandoned early on 
by his father, Tookie was raised mostly by his mother whom he 
describes as "the true backbone of the family," whose "beauty 
attracted a lot of unwanted male attention."

"To protect my mother,"  Tookie noted, "I would have happily become a 
Ninja mercenary."

Although Tookie's mother tried to instill in him "the fundamentals of 
right and wrong," often through "Biblical beatings,"  their frequency 
only served to make him "more unruly, distant and indifferent to the 
predictable consequence of [his] actions."

Thus begins Stanley Tookie Williams' autobiography, published in 2004 
titled, "Blue Rage, Black Redemption:  A Memoir."

The story of Stanley Tookie Williams could be that of any number of 
youngbloods growing up in 'hoods expressing their "frustration with 
poverty, racism, police brutality, and other systematic injustices 
routinely visited upon residents of urban Black colonies, such as 
South Central Los Angeles."

In fact, Blue Rage is a must read for everyone interested in 
understanding this social malaise and the rage it engenders. 
Considering the soaring homicides and burgeoning prison populations 
filled largely by Blacks, it's imperative that real solutions to 
these urgent problems are found and implemented.

By 1959, Tookie's mother decided to take her mischievous, hyperactive 
son to Los Angeles, where she hoped to "achieve prosperity."

"We lived in a predominantly Black area of private homes, apartments, 
and duplexes....it had a deceptive look of prosperity.... .a west 
side colony of poverty behind a facade of manicured lawns and clean 
streets....The neighborhood was a shiny red apple rotting away at the core."

As the new six-year-old on the block, Tookie was "presented with a 
fight-or-flight option."  He chose to fight and so began his 
initiation into South Central's urban ghetto.

"Each time I stepped out into this society -- rife with poverty, 
filth, crime, drugs, illiteracy, and daily brutal miscarriages of 
justice -- I inhaled its moral pollutants and so absorbed a distorted 
sense of self-preservation....Lacking any real knowledge of African 
culture, there was a black hole in my existence....I had absorbed the 
common negative Black stereotypes that eventually made me despise my 
Blackness....Without the cultural knowledge I needed to shape my 
identity, I was unable to give my mother the respect she 
deserved.  Since I respected neither my mother nor myself, it was 
inevitable that I would grow up as I did, to disrespect other Black  people."

Following years of "dyseducation," school fights and expulsions, 
trips to "juvey," and moving, Williams writes: "I felt trapped.  My 
mother's attempts to rescue us from a disordered society caused us to 
jump out of one fire into a hotter one....an area alive with criminal 
potential.  Society's underbelly was there to salute me the moment I 
set foot outside our home."

'Like some of the urban schools I had attended, Juvey [juvenile 
detention center] was a warehouse for incorrigible youth where they 
would vegetate and sink into ignorance and confusion....preparation 
for a youth's inevitable step toward prison.

"At the facility, I learned absolutely zip, but it was very 
professional in teaching me to be more indifferent and embittered. 
Some of the dispassionate turnkeys were more diabolical than gang 
members; they appeared to suffer from mental disorders while taking 
out their frustrations on us... [Y]outh could be subjected to 
involuntary psychotropic drugging and testing, prolonged isolation, 
bodily harm, degradation, sodomy, and even death at the hands of a 
turnkey or another youthful offender.  Imagine me or any youth trying 
to explain to a parent about the facility's atrocities.  We'd be seen 
as liars, plain and simple."

"It would have broken my mother's heart to know the depth of anxiety 
I felt over an unpromising future.  But no matter how much I yearned 
for help or how intensely sentimental I felt toward her, my world was 
closed to my mother."

By the time Williams returned to the streets, he was 17 years old and 
it was 1971:    Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Movement were 
under siege;  at least 30 Panthers had been murdered, including BPP 
Field Marshall George Jackson assassinated at San Quentin, and "While 
Black economic programs experienced a full downswing, the gang factor 
and its circle of violence were experiencing a surge."

"The older gangs -- the notorious Slausons, Gladiators, and the 
Business Men -- had become ethnicity-conscious and were absorbed into 
the Black Panther Party or other active political groups....a few 
remaining older gangs were still hanging on....These gangs gave rise 
to newer, more predatory gangs...

"As I had moved from school to school, juvenile facility to another 
Juvey, 'hood to 'hood, I had established ties in each area with 
certain key youth who held influence over their circle of homeboys. 
Their homeboys became mine, and mine became theirs."  Thus, Tookie 
was in the perfect position to network his homies into crips.

Fred Hampton, Jr. describes so-called gangs more accurately as 
unpoliticized street tribes.

"Though the Black images we saw across the barricades were seen as 
the enemy; we had no notion that our true adversaries were the 
squalid living conditions, the vortex of powers confining us to those 
conditions, and our own unwitting perpetuation of those conditions. 
Like countless other Black gang members and criminals, we were 
unconscious accomplices in our own subjugation -- our own worst foes."

"I bought into the rhetoric about survival being based on the 
principles of  accumulated wealth, force and violence.  This was the 
American way!  Neither the Crips nor our rivals invented greed or 
violence, the basic capitalistic theme for man-eat-man.  No surprise 
that my foremost concern was self.  Although I would have defended 
any diehard Crip to the death, my own survival was paramount.  I bear 
witness to my own mindlessness."

As a former Panther, I recall the conversion of various gangs across 
the country from what we called "illegitimate capitalists" to 
revolutionaries, conscious, ready, and willing to serve the best 
interests of our people.  The Government  attacked them more 
viciously than they did the criminal gangs.

The death penalty:

It's crystal clear that the death penalty is not  the solution nor a 
deterrent to crime.  There's ample research and documented evidence 
to support this.  Moreover, studies have shown that the states that 
do NOT have the death penalty, have lower homicide rates, while 
states like California and Texas have very high murder counts.  Just 
this week (third week of November 2005), San Francisco reported its 
85th homicide of the year, while San Quentin's death row currently 
houses 647 human beings, a more than 40-person increase over 2004. 
Nationwide, the toll is over 3500 people on death rows.  The majority 
are Black or Brown, and virtually all are poor.   The exoneration of 
110 death-row prisoners since 1979 plus a moratorium on the death 
penalty in Illinois mandates this selectively cruel and unusual 
punishment be abolished once and for all.  Legal lynching is not the 
way to go, period.

I'm an equalitarian to the bone, so I'm troubled by the fact that 
even if we succeed in saving the life of Stanley Tookie Williams, 
there are two more prisoners lined up at San Quentin for execution 
within the next few months, and 644 more waiting to be killed here in 
the Bay Area, not to mention thousands across the nation including 
our beloved Mumia Abu-Jamal.

If a society's leadership opts for violence with traditional 
regularity in the form of opportunistic wars, condones a brutal 
system of  torture and massive incarceration --including the illegal 
jailing of individuals with no due process just by labeling them 
"enemy combatants" -- what kind of example does that set for the 
nation's young men and women to follow?  Especially those who have 
every reason to be angry -- or mad.

In a letter to me, Tookie wrote "Meanwhile I'm working on another 
book titled "Thoughts of Thunder" a manifesto for the mind. Primarily 
it's a compilation of essays  on the social/prison 
conditions:  violence; racialism; spirituality; capital punishment; 
attorney/client relationship; redemption; etc."

"Regarding myself, well, I manage to maintain a sound mind, body, 
spirit, and an undying faith!....practical optimism, critical 
thinking, prayers, and intransigent faith allow me to experience calm 
in this chaotic setting."

For more information on what you can do to save the life of this 
incredible brother, nominated numerous times for the Nobel Peace and 
Literature prizes, co-author with Barbara Becnel of lifesaving 
children books, "Life in Prison," and the subject memoir, as well as 
effective peace protocols, go to www.savetookie.org.

I leave you with the slogan of The LoveLife Foundation, "Love life; 
don't take life." </blockquote></x-html>

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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