A letter to my people

By Stanley Huff, Prisoner of the Drug War

Not long ago, my friend Glenn Early approached me in the prison yard with that 'this man has something on his mind' look. He wanted to know why more African-Americans at F.C.I. Oxford, and other prisons, aren't involved or interested in November Coalition. Glenn was concerned that African-Americans might be under the impression The November Coalition was for whites only. Fear not, Glen!

My own impression is that 90% of all prisoners at Oxford and other prisons are apathetic. Blacks have given up on the American Justice System. The end of their sentence is the only relief they can see in sight, but for more and more of us, that end is a lifetime away.

We see a 64-year-old African-American doing 17 years for possessing (4) four grams of so-called crack cocaine, and we also see 19-to-20-year-olds doing 15 years, 20 years, even life sentences for cocaine convictions. We see a 44-year-old African-American doing 22 years for possessing 1-1/2 grams of crack cocaine, another 21-year-old doing 18 years for possessing 3.2 grams of so-called crack cocaine.

My people now know that the continuing injustice perpetrated against us is led by the United States Government. This unending line of prisoners will continue indefinitely, or until someone exposes this genocidal plot against my people to millions of diverse Americans of all colors and nationalities.

My people in federal prisons have seen the courts deny petitions year after year. The denials aren't race-based; whites and blacks alike can find no relief in the courts. Lately, there has been a run of denials which read: your petition is being denied because of the (AEDPA) Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. We aren't terrorists, and we haven't been given death sentences. However, when you factor in decades-long sentences with the age of many drug war prisoners, these sentences do become death by imprisonment. My people feel they are in a no-win situation.

On the news a few months ago, a court clerk of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin received probation for possession of a single gram of crack cocaine. Yes, this court clerk was white, and so is the American criminal justice system for the most part. To get more blacks involved, maybe November Coalition should submit writings to certain black-owned periodicals in the United States, those publications reaching a large black-readership.

This Coalition effort could begin a close working relationship with different ethic groups (namely the N.A.A.C.P.), and the guys here would probably become more involved. November Coalition members could write to Vibe and The Source magazines. Most young blacks are reading these two publications. Sure, November Coalition has a website, but how many blacks have home computers with Internet access? Not many, I can assure you. We will have to reach our communities other ways.

The majority of African-Americans in prison have never heard of Colville, Washington. If November Coalition was based in say, Chicago, then more support would show from the blacks. If Nora Callahan or more of our outside regional leaders and volunteers were African-American, then maybe more of my people would be involved. Maybe my people in Federal prisons are waiting for our black Nora.

I'm not waiting. Nora Callahan is white, Irish/English-American, lives and works in Colville, Washington, and she has my support. Family members should call the office at (509) 684-1550 and ask our staff for a box of The Razor Wire to give to neighbors and associates ­ additional copies are available for just this purpose. I will continue to enlighten those of my people here in Sandstone to November Coalition's fight against the war on drugs, and we will do our part to spread the word in our communities.

The Source Magazine
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