Prison Radio
Sergio Hyland

Mumia, this is a quick message from Uptown Serg, just to let you know that you have my thoughts and prayers as you battle against not only a system that has unjustly imprisoned you but also other health issues which your illegal incarceration has only exacerbated.

When I received news of your COVID-19 diagnosis, I was just as devastated as I was when I received news of Russell Maroon Shoatz’s diagnosis.

I worry about you every day, because I feel a different kind of connection with you. I could have never imagined that, one day, you’d be my elder, teacher, mentor, friend, brother, comrade, and so much more. When I was kicked out of SCI Hutchinson and sent directly to solitary confinement to SCI Greene, I was well aware of its reputation for brutality and violence against so-called rebellious prisoners.

It was 2004, and I was finding it difficult to adjust to the penitentiary. I didn’t quite knew who I was, but I knew that I wasn’t who my prison jacket said I was. And if I was that, I knew that I didn’t want to continue to be there, so I started educating myself, and I used you as motivation. I read your books, and I talked to those who knew you.

Then I landed on the same unit as you but was too prideful to introduce myself. I listened to your words. You helped show me that I was more than what society always told me I was. When I first heard your voice, I was struck by the power and confidence in your tone.

I knew then that I wanted to be a journalist, but mainstream media claimed that journalism is about impartiality. Over the years, I questioned that claim. If mainstream media was impartial and fair, how come they never report honestly about what takes place in our communities and on the inside of prison? You taught me to speak the truth and not be afraid of the consequences, and I’m forever grateful.

This isn’t a eulogy. [Laughs] Believe me, because you have plenty of years left. This is just a message from the younger generation that you helped to raise, reminding you of the strength that even you may have forgotten that exists within you. I love you like I love Maroon, and I’m proud to say. Get well soon, brother, get well.

This is Uptown Serg.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.