Now, I can say with pride who I am.
Who would’ve known that at 14 years old, I would be viewed as an adult in the adult courts?
Who would’ve known that I would be misled into taking a 40-to-life plea deal?
Who would’ve known that at 16, I would step foot onto a maximum security prison? A boy thrown into a pit of monsters, fighting for my life and for my innocence. At 16, my innocence and my will to live was taken. I fought hard not to be like the men that surrounded me day and night.
All that changed when I came to SQ and with the love of my family. SQ was once known as one of the most dangerous prisons in the states. This has not been the case for well over 15-years.
Today it’s a prison where incarcerated men that truly desire change want to be. Since being here, I have become a journalist by joining the Society of Professional Journalism, trained by incarcerated men who have written 100’s of articles on every topic.
I have been a video editor. I have become a roofer. I attend yoga, creative writing glasses and I go to college and church.
I was on the softball and soccer team and attended self-help classes. I play my saxophone on the yard.
I have met superstars like Kim Kardashinan and Common. I have met Black Lives Matter activists, police chiefs, mayors, musicians, athletes, professional coaches and many others who encourage me to stay educated and focus on building myself up to be a man of integrity and faith.
Before I entered San Quentin, if you asked me, who is Terry? I would have looked at you as if you were blind.
But now I can say with pride who I am.
I am a black man.
I am a son, a brother, a friend.
I am an athlete, a musician, and a journalist.
I am a man that has many workable skills.
I am a God fearing man.
I am honest, and I have compassion for others.
I am in touch with my emotions.
I can say with my head held high, that I am a feminist. I love my mother, my sisters and all women, to ever threaten them would be to threaten God’s greatest gift bestowed upon this earth. I know who I am now. Though I am still incarcerated, the battle that started at 14, is still present. Today it’s not looked at as a battle, but a journey. Please read Terry’s poem below:
As I sit in my dog kennel of a cell
I reflect on my life
Shaking my head in disgust
As I cover my face
To know that
I’ve been down since the age of 14
A crime that I committed
For a misunderstanding
Uneducated, ignorant, simple minded,
And plain immature
A whole lot of understanding
Was the cause of my dealings
Living in a land
Where they still hate each other
For the color of my skin,
For my sex,
For my beliefs,
And for my political standings.
For I am a man
Do I have a chance?
I want a chance
But to keep it real,
I have no chance.
For if the land that I live in
Is imprisoned with it’s hate
Then I don’t even stand a chance
Because we won’t even
Give each other