Prison Radio
Burnell Kelly

Prison Radio, how y’all doing out there today? This is Burnell, coming to you once again, aka Abdul The Black Sheep. I’ve been incarcerated for 36 years. Oftentimes, people will look at somebody behind the wall, or that’s incarcerated, as lacking a certain level of humanity and define us as, as criminals, and take away that human element that we have by looking at us just as criminals. Although there’s, y’know mean, crimes have been committed, and some of the most atrocious crimes have been committed, there’s still the human element there within individuals that are behind these walls. I always, always had believed, and come to believe and accept, the fact that to be a human means I have, means, to be human, to see myself as a human being, I have to look beyond my criminal nature, my criminal past, meaning that I have violated the rights of others. I have taken things from people. I have looked at people without impunity for what they have, and what they own, and things like that. So when I started to see myself as a human being, I started to understand the value in everybody have a right to what they possess. Everybody have a right to coexist. Everybody have a right to be treated with compassion. Everybody have a right to be treated with kindness. Everybody have a right to be given a level of consideration. So when I started understanding these things, then I started understanding what my human quality was, and my human potential was. So again, behind these walls, there’s a lack of transparency when it comes to that. If I’m not, if I’m not, or other individuals like myself do not have the opportunities that Prison Radio and other means and other available platforms provide for us to be able to say our truths or say, or give an idea what our truths may be, you out there will not understand what my level of understanding of what humanity is to me, or what it can mean to us. In order for me to get back into society, and to show society that I have a value, and that I have come to learn what my value is for society. Again, I am a contributing member with a certain value that I bring to the table as a human participant. Then, I should be able to say so without impunity, or I should be able to say so without filters. I should say be able to say so without individuals looking over my shoulder saying, “Hey, you can’t say this. Hey, you can’t say that.”

Oftentimes, in prison, freedom of speech sometimes means that I’m the troublemaker or I’m the inciter, or I’m the one who’s pointing out the wrongs that the gatekeepers are doing, and why the gatekeepers are in violation of my rights as a human, and why they in violation of my rights for freedom of speech. So, I believe that it’s important for platforms again, it’s important for platforms like this, that provides us the opportunity to ruminate over what we want to say, or to ruminate over, to give thought to how we want to go about saying that and how we want to articulate those things to society, so society, y’know mean, you may not respond, but the fact that you’re out there and you are listening, or there’s a potential for the opportunity for someone to listen and say, “Hey, you know what, I liked what he said, and I like how that came out”. Or, “I may not like what he said”, but the fact that you gave thought. And so with that, probably that, y’know mean, in order to understand true humanity behind these walls, that has to have a certain level of transparency that comes from behind these walls, where individuals truly have freedom of speech to be able to say, “Hey, this what makes me human. This is what makes me regretful, remorseful for my behavior, for my actions,” and things like that.

So again, I thank Prison Radio for giving me this opportunity. I thank Prison Radio for being there, y’know mean, to be that venue or that platform that allows those like myself behind these walls, 36 years in or five days in, or just an hour in, to be able to say, “Hey, even though I committed a crime, even though I violated the rights of others, and I’m regretful of that, I’m remorseful of that, but still, in all, I’m a human being, and I want to be treated as such, and this is why.” So with that, I’ll leave as I came. Y’know mean I’m Abdul The Black Sheep, Burnell Kelley, coming to you once again. And again, thank you.

These commentaries are recorded by in Prison Radio.