Antoine, 42

Antoine, 42

Meet Antoine…

The first book he gave me was Stolen Legacy. It spoke to the history of Blacks. It energized me. It propelled my eagerness to want to know who I am, who is God, what is my purpose, and how to achieve it.

A guy came to my cell and placed a newspaper between my bars. Neither of us has ever spoken a word to each other. For some reason, I didn’t question it. For the very first time, the articles spoke to me. I felt like I found something that was missing.

He brought another and another until I read all the ones he had. I couldn’t get enough. The pages were God’s love, wisdom, understanding, character, business, health, a buffet of knowledge that had never been presented to me in that way. It was like I was hearing the truth. I was never brought up in a religious or spiritual environment. I don’t think I had ever picked up a Bible, my only notion of God was from my grandmother. The first book he gave me was Stolen Legacy. It spoke to the history of Blacks. It energized me. It propelled my eagerness to want to know who I am, who is God, what is my purpose, and how to achieve it. After every book, the falsehoods and ignorance that engulfed my circumference shed from my being. I saw my existence in a whole different light.

There was a value to who I am, to what I think, the things I say, and consciousness to my behavior. With this new insight, I  began to change both mentally and physically. I spoke about this life to my mother, my son, and my family.

Furthermore, this produced joy no matter my present situation. Not only did my life change, but their lives changed. The shackles of imprisonment were spiritually broken, the physical things that prison has a way of destroying, like bonds with our loved ones, slowly disappeared. After reading so much, I no longer could contain all my knowledge. So one morning I woke up and something said ‘write’. I felt powerful. My creativity flowed effortlessly. Poetry is a daily activity and I have published three books of poetry. Every day I see promise and look to advance my learning in any way possible, simply because my brother now, Azim, passed me a newspaper.

Michael, 39

Michael, 39

Meet Michael…

I need someone I know to go with me, so I don’t feel all alone again. Someone I can hang out with and stay out of trouble with. 

Incarcerated: 14 years
Housed: Illinois Department of Corrections, Juliet

I was moved into a cell with Joshua. First thing he says, “If you’re going to be in my cell, then you’re going to be on probation.” He then asked me to shop for him because there is a $100.00 limit at the commissary. He would give me $20.00 if I did. I shopped for him and he told me that I owed him. I asked him what I owed him and he said he’d let me know. Out of the blue, he started asking me personal & sexual questions. I immediately asked the correctional officer on shift if I could get a cell change because my celly was asking me sexual & personal questions. When I got back to my cell, and our door was locked, he said I was not going anywhere and started beating the shit out of me. When the officer passed, I gave him a note, asking for a cell change. Nothing happened. I got my ass beat that night, my celly raped me, again and again and again. I wrote to the warden,  letting her know that my celly had forced me to have sex with him. It took them two days to remove me. I was taken to the health care unit, questioned and took a rape kit. The following day I was taken to a one man cell and was finally able to use the phone. I called my mom and told her what happened. I filed a grievance. I was interviewed again, but this time I was shown a letter from my ex-celly saying it was consensual. They believed him and covered it up. I ended up with six months in solitary confinement and transferred to where I am now. My new celly and I get along great. He is helping me fight my lawsuit and I am waiting for the judge to make his final ruling on my case! Since being here, I’ve gone to school and played lots of handball, I have a mean serve. I’ve met a lot of good players and made friends with all of them. Then I met Todd, who also plays handball, we talk & walk the yard together. Todd introduced me to “Humans of San Quentin.” I consider Todd to be more than just a good friend, he’s my brother from another mother. Someone I can talk to about anything! Recently, I went from a blue ID to a white ID which means I can go from a maximum security prison to a medium. For 14 years I’ve been in a maximum security prison. I put in for a transfer to be closer to my family, so I can get more visits. I’m also helping my brother, Todd to get moved to the same prison since he’s now eligible. I need someone I know to go with me, so I don’t feel all alone again. Someone I can hang out with and stay out of trouble with. 

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