I am Izell Robinson, Minnesota, inmate number 210006, an innocent man confined within the quadrilaterals of systemic injustice, fighting to be hurt and affect positive change. Yet to accomplish success, I need you, the listeners, to hear me. So I’m only asking if I could be heard and count on you to act, because as an empathetic prisoner, I’m revoked, stricken with current events of social injustice, that resistantly flow within and electrify my conscious to action.
If I can be heard, you would know my shade isn’t a weapon but an equal representation of you that you refuse to see in me. If I could be heard, you would know that I am tired of the perpetual cycle of systemic racism in America that continues to divide us into thinking other Americans as different than or even other people as aliens which has led to the condoning of ethnic prejudice and economic disadvantages within our society.
If I could be heard, you would know and see my humanity through my belief that your life matters to me just as my life matters to me, just as every person lives matters to me regardless of race, identity preference, social standing, and religious or political beliefs. Yet there’s still a need for me as a black man to stress that black lives matter too.
If I could be heard, you would know that although I may shout f*** the police in moments of emotional anguish, I’m not against all police. I realize that policing is needed in societies at times for people to experience a certain expectation of protection, order, and justice. However, I am against those corrupt and unempathetic officers who destroyed our moral fabric of society by ignoring the cries of “I can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
If I could be heard, you would know that I hold a belief that the criminal justice system in America is one of the biggest abusers of justice. It’s no secret that it needs reform if it’s to uphold the integrity of the courts and overall judicial process—which, as is, has denied justice and created racial disparities in confinement and commoditizing a new form of legalized slavery.
If I could be heard, you would know that I am confined, and I’ve learned confinement is a form of silencing as rights to vote, find adequate housing, find employment, maintain due process rights, keep mental health intact, or just trying to exist in the society you’ve been eliminated from, is all negatively affected by confinement. I wear forced labels of inmate, felon, prisoner, criminal sex offender, even rapist, yet I am human. And my poor life choices that make up a small fraction of a moment in my life doesn’t define or describe who I am. I strip myself of these forced labels to reveal that I am a black man made of humanity, integrity, and decent morals who wants my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to continue to be a faded mantra.
Because through action, we would know that you hear us when we peacefully cry and respectfully speak. Therefore I’m politely asking only if I can be heard. Can you hear me now?
I pray you took something of value from my words and that you can utilize to join others and I to fight for police and criminal justice reform. I believe the courage of many to take a stand will make a difference, so you and I must be brave in our pursuit to be heard and demand the change we are long overdue.
Once again, thank you for listening and thanks to Prison Radio for this much-needed platform of linking prisoners with their communities in a healthy way to foster needed dialogue and support.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.