Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Walking in the Dark.”

For years, it has been difficult for me to write or speak about myself. Other people’s stories seem to more interesting until now.

Several weeks ago, as I was walking along the main path leading from the chow hall, I noticed that I could no longer see a single face despite the river of men passing by. It was then that I recognized how bad my eyesight had become.

I said nothing to no one, not my lawyers, not my wife Wadiya. I didn’t tell my supporters nor even my personal physician, a New York internist, Dr. Joseph Harris.

For one thing, what could they do? For another, prisoners are extremely wary of telling other prisoners about their disabilities. One doesn’t want to seem weak among such men.

Every time I used an eyedrop with steroids, my vision turned milky, as if someone pulled a white shade down over both eyes. I realized to my horror that I was functionally blind, for I couldn’t read a paper or a book or even faces.

When I went to an eye doctor for tests, a guard who accompanied me said, “Damn Jamal, you’re blind as a bat.” He said this because the test showed I couldn’t see anything, letters or fingers.

That milkiness has since dissipated, as I’ve stopped using the drops, yet my vision has become so poor that I’ve used voices to recognize people as a blind man does. My vision remains more than poor.

From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.