I haven’t seen my mother in 5 years. She lives almost 6 hours away from the prison I’m held captive in. Since COVID, the PA DOC has offered video calls for family and friends of prisoners. Outside folks can video call directly from their phone or laptop. But my mom refuses to set up a video visit. Her reasoning: she just can’t stand to see me in these conditions; it hurts too much. I get it, so I don’t push her too much. I’ve been incarcerated for almost 7 and a half years. On top of that, over the past 12 years, I’ve only been in the free world for 18 months. Prison has worn my family down. About a year ago my dad set up a video call. He carried me around his apartment, showing me his redecorated room and the latest art on his walls. Since then he moved to South Africa and the DOC website to schedule video visits won’t allow him access from overseas. (I can’t call him or receive messages either). No one else in my family has made any attempt to see me since I left the county jail 5 years ago.
But this is not a sob story. There is a happy ending. And that is because of you, my comrades, who go out of your way to make me feel loved. You take time out of your lives to see me. Through a screen we talk abolition, socialism, anarchism, and revolution. We’ve organized resistance and organized your relationship issues. We talk about our dreams, our fears, love and hope. You laugh; I laugh. You cry; I pretend not to. For 45 minutes you transport me from Prison into your world. And as mighty as the pen may be, I don’t think I will ever be able to convey how much those visits mean to me.
Prison is a dehumanizing environment. You can easily lose yourself in here. Video visits have reinvigorated my humanity. They have intoxicated me with the love of the people. I wish all of my incarcerated comrades could experience the joy of a revolutionary video visit. If your inside comrade has never asked about a video visit, that’s probably because most of us inside don’t want to impose on our outside comrades. So I will ask on behalf of them. If you have a comrade in prison, ask them if they would like to do a video call. Use that call to resist the isolation and dehumanization the PIC. Build community together and organize resistance. I have a beautiful group of comrades who make sure I feel loved. If you can, show our other incarcerated comrades some love. I believe it will take a spark of love to ignite the revolution.