In this piece, performed in The Strength of Our Convictions: The Auburn Redemption, Demetrius “Meat” Molina explores the complex issues surrounding mass incarceration. “Meat’s” piece is intercut with Tyreek “Ty” Williams’s rap piece, Conspiracy Theory, which excavates some of the same themes found in “Blame”. The final interwoven piece was accompanied by “Bam’s” beat boxing. “Ty” was transferred to another facility just before the performance, so his piece was performed by Sheldon “Superb” Johnson in the presentation on May 24, 2018.
For quite some time I sat in a prison cell feeling sorry for myself. Everyday asking God what I did to deserve this. A question not about my crime, because I know what laws have been broken. I just feel like I was never given a choice to live my life any other way.
As I stand in front of this building-project-
Excuse me, I mean project building-
I can’t escape the feeling that I’m a
Test subject-object of some cruel conspiracy.
“And please God don’t take my words out of context or think I’m making excuses for my actions. Lord knows how truly sorry I am for all the hurt and pain I’ve caused. As you know, I pray for my victim and his family every night, but still I can’t help feeling like I’m also a victim in this.”
I know it’s hard to hear me over the
Cries of ghetto children, and the blaring
Sirens remind us of the murder and drug dealing.
Misunderstood youths flock to juvenile detentions
Disguised as schools of higher learning.
But no one pays attention to the souls
As a child, I remember mom taking me and my sister on long car rides to go see our dad. He lived in a huge brick building that was surrounded by a tall metal fence. The fence had shiny barbed wire all along the top. Once we got inside the building, we had to wait for the man sitting behind the glass to open the metal doors. Then we put all our belongings in a locker and waited for dad to come out. He always took a long time, but I didn’t mind because mom bought us food out the vending machines. I enjoyed going to see him because I got to wear my good clothes and we always took family pictures. But my favorite part of all was the “play area.” The play area had crayons, coloring books, reading books, and a whole box full of toys. I always had fun in the play area and always looked forward to going back to “dad’s house.”
All due respect to the majority that
Recognizes the minority struggle.
And much thanks to overseers- I mean, officers,
For protecting the urban community.
The same ones who told me that they couldn’t wait until
I turned sixteen, so they could send me to
Rikers Island, smiling, violent and
Racial-profiling because of my skin.
Michelle Alexander calls this the “Era of the New Jim Crow,” and describes mass incarceration as “modern day slavery.” It wasn’t until after I read her book, which coincidentally was published the same year I was convicted, that I actually thought about all my family and friends who have been impacted by America’s Mass Incarceration. Arthur, Derrick, Rico, Johnnie, Manny, Momo, Main, Jus, Kerv, Mondo, EK, Harp, Pri, Lou, Naji, Niko, Choppie, Gerald, Keegan, Cherpie, Broc, Biggs, JB, TJ, Poop, Philly, Lish, Colleen, Tamara, Madeline, Sierra was born in prison, Krissy, and many more. I’ve always assumed prison was normal, something that happens to everyone’s family.
Imprisoning Nations ‘Cause America Rather Create Economic Revenue Against True Equality. Prison was not something I ever planned for, but soon after my conviction I was able to see how this has always been part of the plan for me. Even before birth incarceration affected my life, and since then, it has always been just beyond, waiting to once again victimize.
I was raised by a teenaged single mother. Pregnant at just 15, mom was forced to drop out of school. To complicate things a little more, dad was arrested and sent to state prison before I was born. Groveland Correctional Facility is where my Pops held me in his arms for the very first time. I was only 8 months. My father’s incarceration has consisted of bid after bid, and has spanned my entire life. The highlight of his career came in 2009 when we shared a jail cell during one of his many parole violations.
And thinking about it makes me sick,
Or yet just rather thirsty.
So I drink till blurry visions appear
When lookin’ up from a gurney.
That started from a journey to the nearest liquor store,
Around the corner from another liquor store,
Across the street from the marijuana spot,
So say no to drugs I’m thinking not
The message I see clearly.
I’ve never been considered very religious, but lately, I find myself looking to God more and more for answers. “Dear Lord, why do you let bad things happen to good people? Mr. Maurice Davis (God Bless His Soul) was a good man. He was a pastor, a husband, and mostimportantly a father. Why would you allow a stray bullet to claim an innocent man’s life this way? Sometimes, I try to justify his death by saying, “at least he felt no pain and he died in his sleep,” or at least it wasn’t his wife because she was 7 months pregnant at the time.” But that only makes me dwell on their unborn son never getting the chance to know his father. And then I realize optimism does not exist in something this tragic.
I often flashback to the early morning hours of August 1st, 2008, the night 3 families were destroyed. I constantly replay the day’s events back in my mind, reliving the hours, minutes, and seconds that led up to the fateful exchange. Internally, I struggle trying to find things I could have done differently that night. I search for possible scenarios, “what if this” or “what if that.” I imagine happy endings, endings without funeral homes and courtrooms. But no matter how much I wish to rewrite history, nothing will ever change the way it’s already written, which ends with Mr. Davis in a closed casket, and me and Romondo in a closed cage.
Because I’m constantly confronted
By the marijuana-man, selling me the dream
Of the disenfranchised and the damned.
He offers me a combination, but I just can’t
Concentrate, because they camp-concentrate,
It’s like I just can’t contemplate exactly
What it is I want to be.
People who know my story blame the system. They blame it on the unequal opportunities of the underprivileged. They argue that poor housing and poor education, combined with employment discrimination, forces people like myself to sell drugs and carry weapons. Yet others say things like “he had a choice to do what he did because he knows right from wrong.” But more often than not, he never learned the difference between right and wrong because his concept of what is right has always been wrong. What the hell does that mean? It means society has been conditioning his mind to think a certain way since birth. It means the state of his community has desensitized him to crime and violence, while his social economic status has placed him at a disadvantage. A poor child with poor choices. But still one must survive. And if Darwin’s Theory his correct, and naturally we adapt to our environment, then what choice did I truly have?
So you see, I never had A.D.D. or some
Other learning disability; you just
Distorted my learning abilities with your
Plantations- I mean your Correctional Facilities.
But who really believes in conspiracy theories, oh
Certainly not me; maybe it’s just the way
Things are or how they’re supposed to be.