Prison Radio
Dontie Mitchell

“Fight Power With Power.”

I’ve been watching the BET series Finding Justice, and it brought up a recurrent theme in my mind about the lack of true Black power. How is it that Black people are still contending with things like being disproportionately incarcerated, being shot and murdered by white police officers and vigilantes, having our vote suppressed, or having our children criminalized in school?

I’m from Albany, New York and recently white police officers there were caught on video brutalizing Black men on March 16th, 2019 over a noise complaint. One officer kicked the door in of the residence and dragged out one occupant. Then the situation escalated with officers kicking and beating him. Then one officer just started going after another guy. Punching him, throwing him to the ground, and busting his head open with a Baton.

Black people are still under assault in this country on several fronts. I’ve been arguing this for years. I can use my own situation as an example. My good friend, Paul [inaudible] wrote a letter to the Greenville Pioneer Newspaper that appeared in that paper on February 15th, 2019. He pointed out how 42-year-old Gary Pitt, who has a criminal history dating back more than 20 years, was sentenced to only 13 years in prison for armed robbery of a bank. But I am serving a maximum of 50 years in prison for robberies I committed at 17 years old, with no criminal record prior to then. My life of crime spanned only 10 months in my young life. The difference between Gary and I is that I’m Black and he is white.

But I wonder why, in 2019, it seems that Black people still suffer from so much racial discrimination. I believe it has much to do with our lack of true Black power. Black protest has been at the forefront of the struggle for social justice in this country since slavery, yet it seems we haven’t been effective at doing nothing more than making surface changes, aside from ending slavery and Jim Crow. But not necessarily ending the legacy of white supremacy, which seems to only disguise itself. Yet it rears its ugly head in areas such as mass incarceration, police brutality, Stand Your Ground laws, voter suppression, the school to prison pipeline, and immigration.

The world is changing, and Black people need to adjust. The problem with racial discrimination has never just been a moral black-or-white issue. It’s fundamentally an issue of power. And power in this country is rooted in economics. Think about it. What runs this country: money or morality? Donald Trump isn’t the president because he was the moral choice, not even the popular choice. He represents powerful money interests of mostly rich white people who play on the ignorance and fears of middle America.

Black protest needs to be backed by economic strength to counter this. This is one of the main reasons I create UFD to focus on the economic empowerment of Black and disadvantaged people, regardless of race or color. We can do all the protesting and marching we want against social and racial injustice, but power respects power. Power yields to power. And wealth in America is power. Those without wealth are usually the ones who get abused and mistreated. Those with wealth are those who usually get away with doing wrong. So, it is my belief, the way to freedom, justice, and equality in America, is through the economic empowerment of the poor and people of color.

This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me on Facebook @freeDontieMitchell. Thank you for listening, and God bless.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.