Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

The demands and voices of protest are raised across America, voices of men and women, of children even, voices of rage, voices of hope, and voices of deep, mass discontent.

These voices, as anguished as they are insistent, are voices of a generation that has been largely silent in the public square. Only through their poets and rappers have their voices been heard, but even then, commercial interests intruded, changing righteous rage into clever rhymes.

Art not imitating life, but sending it down a street it had not intended.

Now, an awful truth emerges, out of the sweet mouths of the youth: “We Can’t Breathe!” they shout.

Why not?

Because, in the richest country on earth, poverty pitches pennies on the street corner, hoping, against hope, to hit.

Because a simple education is beyond the ability of the neo-liberal state to provide.

Because today’s school is tomorrow’s prison, and a place where hatred and humiliation lives, not knowledge; under the ridiculous rubric of No Child Left Behind.

Because, for too many children, childhood is but an illusion, as it was for Tamir Rice, a 12-year old boy, doing what boys have been doing for over a century: playing with a toy guy, becomes a death sentence.

Because every hand and every face is turned against them, as futures are as bleak as lunar landscapes.

“We Can’t Breathe!” they howl.

But we can’t hear them.

The neo-liberal state is too busy, choking them to death.