I am Izell Robinson, Minnesota inmate number 210006, an innocent man confined within the quadrilaterals of systemic injustice, fighting to be heard and affect positive change.
Now I’d like to dedicate this broadcast in honor of Father’s Day and say Happy Father’s Day to all fathers confined and free. I am doing a special broadcast here about how children of incarcerated parents are affected, feel, cope, and experience life with a parent confined.
And in order to deliver this important insight, I will be conducting a candid conversation of questions and answers with my own daughter who, at 20 years old, is a nursing student and supportive advocate on my behalf, so without any further ado, here is my daughter.
Izell: Introduce yourself to the listeners and tell us how it was for you growing up with your dad incarcerated for most of your juvenile years.
T: Hello, my name is T Robinson. I would say it was hard, but it wasn’t hard, like I just feel like you need your real dad, and no matter if you have your mom or you have anybody else in your corner or anybody else to take care of you, I feel like a father matters. And, uh, um, and a biological one at that.
Because growing up, I was raised with another father. I have a stepfather. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not no bad person. He always did his job, but it wasn’t nothing like my real dad, like I missed the time, um, seeing that we were supposed to do together, and I missed the time that we spent together. And it really affected me as a little girl, and it still affects me today as a woman. So I know how I feel when I want to do things with my dad. And I see everybody else doing things with their dad. So, I mean-
Izell: What you’re saying there, I want to ask what struggles did you face and do you currently face those same struggles?
T: Yeah, we, we got a lot of similar- similarities about like what happened. Like, like in our childhood we were both in the system, uh, I’ve been in and out of trouble, and I basically did have a rough life. But, um, I guess I needed that extra push that- from my father that my mother didn’t give me.
Izell: So how do- how do you view me as your father or who would you define me as, and have I been positive or negative impact in your life?
T: You’re a merely smart, intelligent, um, you always learn new things. You’re very insightful. You always been supportive of me whether locked up or not. And I always feel the love. I don’t feel like no wrong towards you or anything. It’s all love. Like, I don’t have nothing bad to say about you. You’re not a bad person that people trying to make you out to be.
I know you, so- and you’re a voice for your people and being incarcerated, you speak out for yourself. You’re very different. And, you know, um, you battle certain things, but you always stay positive about it. You always, when you put your mind to something you always tend to do it. So I feel like that’s a real plus and I respect that about you.
Izell: I appreciate you saying that about me. How do you view the system and police and what type of reform do you believe is needed to ensure children aren’t deprived as a result of parents incarcerated- being incarcerated?
T: Um, I feel like racism and prejudice is really bad and these are two of the main themes that’s really hitting the nation right now. I feel like it’s- it’s very out of pocket and it’s raised in me. I feel like I had a couple of run-ins with the law. I know how dirty they are. They need- I feel like they should be exposed. I feel like they shouldn’t be here. I feel like we don’t need them.
Izell: What can be done to help children, you know, not being deprived of their parents as a result of them being- the parents being incarcerated?
T: Um, I don’t know. Maybe they could help-
Izell: You think programs should be set up where kids can be able to have more content?
T: Yeah, I feel like people- they should come together for the people, you know, kids and parents that are incarcerated and do more for them like funding, scholarships, things like that, different programs or, you know, helping people get better. I don’t know.
Izell: So, do you feel a sense of grief and loss from not having me around at certain milestone moments like graduations and birthdays and-
T: Absolutely. I cry. All the time I cry.
Izell: Yeah, it’s hard for me to not be in that, those special moments there for you. Cause I really wanted and had every intention on being there, so I need you to understand that and know that.
Do you feel the limitations of prison caused a disconnect or stop me from being a father to you?
T: I feel like sometimes we did get disconnected because of the prisons and because of my momma, but it don’t change- it never changed the way I feel about, you know, the love will always be there no matter where you are or where I’m at.
Izell: So what vision do you see for me when I’m released and what things are you hoping to be able to share with me? And if you could give me a Father’s Day gift, what would it be?
T: Um, when you get released, um, I know you going to do well, I know you’re gonna do different, and I know you’re going to want to see our kids and stuff like that. I just hope that you do like you plan to do and, you know, and live your life, you know? And, uh, if I could give you something for Father’s Day, I don’t know. I think I gave you a chain with my face.
Izell: That’s always good. So this is for the listeners that may be listening that don’t know me enough to believe in or rally support around me. What would you say to them?
T: I just convinced them, like, you know, I’m your daughter and I know more than anybody, one thing I do know for sure, you’re a very honest man. You’re a very respectable man and a very smart man. And, um, with that being said, like, I just feel like I could get people more on your side if they looking at it the wrong way whether it’s your color or whatever you were charged with, anything, I feel like I could change that.
Izell: Okay, well, I definitely want to thank you for doing this broadcast and providing thought-provoking context on this topic. I love and appreciate you. I hope you know that. And as the child of an incarcerated parent, um, I want you to know you proven to be resilient yourself and finding success in your life pursuits. I’m proud that you’re doing your nursing program in college. So, you know, you should know that, um, I definitely appreciate hearing that, that you do your best to stay in contact with your siblings. Um, so yeah, I love you and appreciate you doing this.
Um, to the listeners. I pray that you took something of value from these words that you can utilize to join others and I in the 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 change we are long overdue.
Once again, I can be emailed through the Jpay app or website: insert “Minnesota” for state and 210006 for ID number. Or you can regular mail me at Izell W. Robinson number 210006, 7600-525th Street, Rush City, Minnesota 55069. All positively supportive contact is welcome and appreciated.
Thank you for listening, and thanks to Prison Radio for this much need to platform to linking prisoners with their community in a healthy way to foster needed dialogue.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.