Inhabiting a Paradox

Prison, paradoxically, is a place of emotional rawness and emotional repudiation. Each day, we are rubbed raw by the reality of our condition: exiled, alienated, subjugated and unremembered. But we are dissuaded from expressing any emotion other than rage/anger. Our sadness, our fear, even our desire is manifested as anger. To exhibit anything else is to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is the last thing you want to display in prison. This paradox precludes our healing and growth. It prevents us from doing the transformative work, the prefigurative work, we need to create a just and safer world.

Healing and growing emotionally are critical to the work I’m doing behind the walls. Emotional honesty and “present-ness” are two qualities I strive to bring to my work and relationships. It is not easy. There are times I want to hide myself, put on the anger mask. And it’s so easy to be angry with all the shit that is happening in our world. But what’s harder is sitting with the feeling and really naming it. To call it fear. To label it depression. To christen it exhaustion. Dropping the mask, touching the wound and expressing my pain, frustration and fear connects me to this rawness. It takes me to a space where I can do the work needed to heal and grow. I could not do this work alone.

I have experienced tremendous growth and healing over the past year. Emotionally, I’m in a different space than I was a year ago. I have so much more work to do, but I feel emboldened and blessed because of the friends and supporters who have held, lifted, and pushed me to do the work, especially when I feel unbrave. I want to thank Casey Goonan, Sarah Ji Rhee, Dan Berger, Charlotte Pope, Khary Septh, Ian Alexander and Kay Whitlock for always being there and the love. I thank Adryan, Dean Spade, Mariame Kaba, Kleaver Cruz, Katie O’Donnell, Emily Abendroth, Suzy Martin, Casper, Kelly, Erica Meiners, Critical Resistance, Black & Pink, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.



Author: Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

> network of self-organized prison study groups at SCI-FAYETTE > consolidating networks of resistance across the PA DOC system