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Under Lock & Key

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[Control Units] [California]
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False Validations Part of Prison Control Strategy

I am currently in an Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) for nothing. I guess you can call it mistaken identity or racial profiling. A group of about eight prisoners (Blacks) got into a fist fight. The pigs rounded up 21 of us and placed us in ASU for participation in a riot. The people who were actually involved fessed up to it like men in order to get the rest of us cut loose who had nothing to do with the incident. But the pigs didn't want to hear the truth. They placed us in ASU and two days later sent three pigs to interview us one at a time and again the parties involved tried to accept the blame and the pigs told them they were lying. Since no one wanted to tell them what the issue was that started the fight, they decided to issue us all a CDC-115 Rule Violation Report, which is punishable by a 90 day time add and up to six months in the SHU.

These pigs had all 21 of us sitting on the hard asphalt handcuffed for nine hours. After which they put us in ASU and didn't give us a blanket to sleep under. We were handcuffed for so long without being allowed to drink water, one guy actually passed out and hit his head on the concrete. The pigs and the medical staff did nothing. Two of the brothers went on a hunger strike in protest. One guy lasted eight days. The other guy went for 19 days before they came and took him to the medical facility.

Incidents like this are prerequisites to gang validation. By participating in group disturbances you are being labeled by the administration as an "associate" of a particular group/gang. Three CDC-115 Rule Violation Reports for participation in a riot is grounds for an indeterminate SHU placement. This alone makes you a potential candidate for gang validation. Another way they get you is by the group you congregate with. In this territorial, tribal environment of the prison yard a person has no choice but to hang around the people they know and are comfortable around. You don't have to be a gang member but the pigs are going to label you an "associate" and as such if those people from that group get into something and get locked down, the "associate" gets lockdown too. The same goes for your cellmate.

Here in CDCR you can't choose your cell mate. You have to go where they put you or get a 115 and go to ASU. Now if they house you with a gang member then you get the label of being an "associate" of that gang. Then you have to go through a whole gauntlet of stuff to get that label removed. After they tie you in with a certain amount of "misconduct" with a group they label you as being a "member" of then you'll end up spending the duration of your prison sentence in the SHU unless you "Debrief." And once you debrief you're headed to an SNY. A lot of guys get labeled just based on where you live.

To avoid this process a lot of guys are opting to go to a SNY straight off the fish bus, only to find the same stuff going on on the SNY. Once you go SNY, for whatever reason, you can never go back to GP. All the stuff going on at High Desert is nothing but a divide and conquer strategy. Some of those guys are going to break rank and tell pigs whatever they want to hear, even if it's a lie, to get out of that situation. You see these pigs are playing chess and they're aggressively attacking the pawns in order to get the king. And if they have to lock us all up until all they have is whole prisons full of snitches, then that's what they're going to do.

We as prisoners in this imperialist u.s. prison system need to stop pointing fingers. There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism. If the criticism is not aimed at uplifting the person or people being criticized then it does no good. Stop calling out names and singling out groups. Instead reach one teach one. Don't be a commentator, be an inspirator and a motivator. The revolution will not happen overnight. We're up against a powerful enemy. It took Blacks four hundred years to break the chains of slavery only to become slaves to capitalism. Now we have to figure out a way to break these chains. It's going to take a group effort. You push me, I'll pull you. Push, Pull, Strive! And together we'll rise!

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[Civil Liberties] [Political Repression] [Legal] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [Arizona State Prison Complex Central Unit] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 18]
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ADC Claims No Obligation to Honor U.$. Constitution

Due Process

As our readers already know, MIM(Prisons) runs political study groups with our comrades behind bars. And as some of you know, and have experienced, the state generally finds our non-violent, non-law breaking, communist study in poor taste. In October 2009, a study group assignment for the pamphlet "What is MIM?," which included other participants' responses to the previous assignment, was mailed to a participant held in Arizona. This study group assignment was censored because allegedly it "may be obscene or a threat to security" generally, and "promotes racism and/or religious oppression" specifically. Yes, this is coming from the state that is fighting the federal government in court to be allowed to use the color of one's skin as probable cause for investigating immigration law violations.

Our comrade imprisoned in Arizona appealed this decision, and MIM(Prisons) wrote to the prison administration to request an explanation as to how this study group assignment could "promote racism and/or religious oppression" without even mentioning races, nationalities, or religions:

"It is truly fascinating that your mailroom staff could find the promotion of racism and/or religious oppression in this document. Nowhere in the letter are the following words even mentioned: religious, religion, christian, muslim, baptist, KKK, white, mexican, latino, asian or arab. The word "black" is written once in the context of a reference to the Black Panther Party's education programs. How can you even talk about religion or race enough to speak against it if you don't use any of the above mentioned words?" - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant

No attempt has ever been made by Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) administration to address this point. ADC General Counsel Karyn Klausner offered her opinion: "I have reviewed the materials sent by MIM Distributors and find the decision to exclude the publication due to content 'promoting racism and/or religious oppression,' was appropriate." She gave no explanation of how she came to the conclusion that it was an "appropriate" violation of Constitutionally protected rights. In a later letter Ms. Klausner clarified that with this statement she didn't mean she was "upholding" the censorship in her official capacity as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of ADC, just that she agreed with it on a persynal level.

Instead of explaining how the study group mailing in any way promotes racism and/or religious oppression, ADC administrators then began to rely on their policy of violating MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech and association to censor this study group assignment:

"There is nothing in case law that gives rise to a publisher's right to appeal a decision to exclude its material on an administrative appeal level. . . You are not entitled to a forum within the prison system." - ADC Director, Charles Ryan

Director Ryan clearly had not investigated the matter on the prisoner's end either. He claimed that our imprisoned comrade had not appealed the decision to censor, yet s/he had, on multiple levels, and submitted requests for the results of these appeals.

"You claim that MIM Distributors has no rights to appeal the censorship of their mail. While we are not lawyers, and may have put too much weight on the Procunier case, we still uphold that we have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights according to federal law. As employees of the state you may not deny anyone their rights to free speech and association arbitrarily and without due process. In fact, if you read Thornburgh v. Abbot, 490 U.S. 401, which you referred [COLLEAGUE] to, you will see that its procedural protection was provided because the publisher was notified of the censorship and given the right to independent review. A number of U.S. Court of Appeals decisions have upheld the right of the publisher in such instances (Montcalm Publ'g Corp. v. Beck, 80 F.3d 105, 106 (4th Cir.), Trudeau v. Wyrick, 713 F.2d 1360, 1366 (8th Cir.1983), Martin v. Kelley, 803 F.2d 236, 243-44 (6th Cir.1986) )." - MIM Distributors, Legal Assistant

And ADC's response?

"You assert that 'MIM Distributors' First Amendment right to free speech' is not being respected. The Arizona Department of Corrections is obligated to respect, within the confines of legitimate penological interests, an inmate's constitutional rights. It does not follow that ADC is likewise obliged to do the same for an independent distributor such as MIM." - General Counsel, Karyn Klausner

It is apparent that the ADC believes themselves to be exempt from the legal straitjacket of the United $tates Constitution, which they don't see as having an application in the 10th Circuit. This isn't surprising coming from an institution whose administrators believe that one can promote racial and/or religious repression without ever talking about race or religion!

Amerikans like to pretend they hold no political prisoners, yet political repression is an integral part of the U.$. injustice system at every step. In our struggle for a world without oppression, MIM(Prisons) works to build public opinion for national liberation struggles amongst prisoners through our newsletter Under Lock & Key, our free books for prisoners program, and our study groups. Within prisons, there are two primary ways in which the state enacts political repression: through physical torture techniques such as solitary confinement, forced drugging, beatings, starvation and murder; and through the control of the spread of ideas, which also includes solitary confinement as well as the censorship of mail, and outlawing oppressed nation organizations.

In pre-fascist Amerika, we are still promised certain rights under United $tates laws. While we recognize that U.$. law will never lead us to communism (a world without oppression), we still need to fight for more room to organize and educate for revolution. Fighting against the censorship of revolutionary literature is vital to maintaining the connection between the inside and out, which may make the difference between being turned on to communism or not for many people. For those already turned on, we need to fight against censorship so that we can continue to build our revolutionary understanding.

Like a MIM Distributors Legal Assistant mentioned above, we are not lawyers. We do what we can to protect our Constitutional rights from the outside with the resources we have, and we rely on prisoners to fight to maintain their rights from the inside. If there is a lawyer who wants to get involved with this specific incident in Arizona, or with anti-censorship work in general, get in touch!

You can browse incidents of censorship here.

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[Campaigns] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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Z-Unit Response from Division of Adult Institutions

Z-unit 12/10/2010

Determining who to write to regarding a specific issue is a tactical question. One day it may be most important to write to the Director of Corrections, the other it may be the Office of the Inspector General. We make tactical decisions based on our conditions at the time. In this circumstance, participants in the campaign to end the Z-Unit Zoo were bringing this issue to many government bodies, including the Director of Corrections and the Inspector General.

In this response from the office of the Division of Adult Institutions, A. Redding advises the participant to exhaust the appeals process. Clearly in the petition, it says that many grievances have been filed and none have been answered. This response is a good example of how inhumane conditions and abuse can hide behind the bureaucracy of the state under capitalism.

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[Organizing] [Gib Lewis Unit] [Texas]
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Organizing Against the Real Enemy

This concrete hell is a way to attack our foundations as righteous men. In Texas we have to stay clean shaven, shirts tucked in, everyone wears white, we have to keep our hair cuts low, these are all ways to strip us of our identity. It's a form of psychological warfare, just like the idea of commissary, TV, radios, minimum custody, medium custody, trusties, all that ain't nothing but a carrot dangling on a stick... these are tactics and tools they use to add on to their strategy of total control.

You have brothers who will let a pig slap them, before they try to do anything they rather tell on the pig. They make us dependent on the pigs for everything we need to sustain us in here, this place is a constant reminder that war is already being waged on us and it's time to resist. A lot of brothers will kill each other but refuse to kill a pig when the pigs oppress them every day. Texas is one of the places where prisoners take the side of the pigs, if you hurt a pig, a prisoner will want to hurt you before they do.

These peers get mad because they can't do certain things because some comrades are on demonstration with the pigs, the pigs will make everyone's time "harder" by not letting them pass stuff, these dudes will actually cheep for the pigs when you fight them.

The psychological warfare over here at the Gib Lewis Unit is out of control. The pigs beat people at least 3 times a week. They starve us, they taunt us, they refuse us recreation and yet these cats still refuse to see them as enemies. I try to educate them along with another comrade who is in touch with y'all also. We get on the tier and we preach this revolutionary life. This is what we are supposed to do, hopefully more brothers will open their eyes.

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[Legal] [Censorship] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 18]
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Next Steps for an Effective Grievance Campaign

I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) summary from October 2010. First off, I have to say that this is a good format, with various people sharing ideas and expertise. This format will definitely push the legal struggle forward.

Concerning the grievance petition initiated in California, while i'd initially thought the campaign was a good idea, i have to say that i had my doubts concerning the effectiveness of it. Its entire success hinges on mass participation and not just on 10 or 15 individuals getting involved. Even then i think its effectiveness is a longshot unless of course you're already involved in a legal battle within the judicial system, as presentation of responses entered into evidence as exhibits would help to prove to the court that the handling of grievances by prison officials has some serious faults, which we know they do.

Instead, I like the comrade from California's idea of suing CDCR and attacking its entire appeals process. We can ask that a truly independent institution take over the entire appeals process, or be created if need be. I think this is very much a winnable battle were it to enter the judicial arena. Copies of the grievance petition from prisoners who've already completed the campaign and have received responses should be forwarded to the PLC for forwarding to whomever should decide to initiate and fight the legal battle.

I also have here a copy of a §1983 "Findings and Recommendations Recommending Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be Denied" which was filed by CDCR officials in California against a prisoner in which the pigs tried to have the plaintiff's §1983 dismissed due to supposed failure to exhaust claims. The motion was dismissed and the court found in favor of the prisoner plaintiff. While I do not know of the outcome of the case, i believe this motion is worth a look. As soon as i'm able to obtain copies i will forward them to the PLC for review and dispersal.

For now, however, here is relevant case law pertaining to the exhaustion requirement:


Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 918-19 (2007)
McKinney v. Carey, 311 F.3d 1198, 1199-1201 (9th Circuit. 2002)
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741, 121 S. Ct 1819 (2001)
Porter v. Nussle, 435 U.S. 516, 532, 122 S. Ct 983 (2002)
Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1119 (9th Cir. 2003)
Ritza v. Int'l Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union, 837 F.2d 365, 368 (9th Cir. 1998) (per currium)
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 126 S. Ct. 2378, 2383 (2006)

The following case law was cited to the plaintiff's favor:

Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir. 2008)
Aquilar-Avellaveda v. Terrell, 478 F.3d 1223, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007)
Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006)
Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804, 809 (7th Cir. 2006)
Boyd v. Corrections Corp. of America, 380 F.3d 989, 986 (6th Cir. 2004)
Abney v. McGinnis, 380 F.3d 663, 667 (2d 2004)
Jernigan v. Stuchell, 304 F.3 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2002)
Foulk v. Charrier, 262 F.3d 687, 698 (8th Cir. 2001)
Powe v. Ennis, 177 F.3d 393, 394 (5th Cir. 1999)
Underwood v. Wilson, 151 F.3d 292, 295 (5th Cir. 1998)
Mitchell v. Horn, 318 F.3d 523, 529 (3d Cir. 2003)
Brown v. Croak, 312 F.3d 109, 113 (3d Cir. 2002)
Miller v. Norris, 247 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001)

These next citations are concerning requirements for the establishment of law libraries in prisons. I got these out of The Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook 4th edition 2003:

Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977)
Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996)
Benjamin v. Fraser, 264 F.3d 175 (2d Cir. 2001)
Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 242 (3d Cir. 1999)
Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517 (9th Cir. 1991)
Corgain v. Miler, 708 F.2d 1241 (7th Cir. 1983)
Cruz v. Hauck, 627 F.2d 710 (5th Cir. 1980)
Shango v. Jurich, 965 F.2d 289 (7th Cir. 1992)
Lindquist v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 776 F.2d 851 (9th Cir. 1985)
Cepulonis v. Fair, 732 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1984)
Marange v. Fontenof, 879 F. Supp. 679 (E.D. Tex 1995)


MIM(Prisons) responds: In assessing the effectiveness of our campaigns we have a twofold approach. One goal is to win small battles that increase, or maintain space for, the free exchange of political ideas and the freedom of affiliation. Our second goal is to train the oppressed in mass action and power struggles.

The lawsuit idea suggested here might be more effective in meeting our first goal in relation to establishing a legal process for prisoners to have their complaints addressed under the current injustice system. But, ultimately, a real prison movement needs to mobilize large numbers of prisoners into participating in struggling for humane treatment and the freedom to fight for a better world. Without struggle there are no so-called "rights."

While the petition campaign has still been limited in the numbers reached, we are working to better streamline our support for USW campaigns, including the grievance petitions in states where these campaigns are active. We need more than a couple articles in ULK to launch a successful campaign. We need more regular USW cadre who are willing to take these agitational points to the masses on a regular basis. Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) today to get copies of the petition, or to contribute to building a legal case around this battle.

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[Campaigns] [Legal] [Arizona]
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No Experience Necessary

I received the Prisoners' Legal Clinic letter dated 4 October 2010. I am very glad to see that we're making excellent progress in bringing our ideas together to develop an energetic foundation. MIM(Prisons) has been faithful in their constant commitment to battling oppression. Therefore, I'd like to continue to contribute to this movement and participate in its progressive legal work.

I am obligated to challenge the inhumane conditions of confinement. I wouldn't go so far as indicating that I enjoy doing the litigation part, because it is very confusing. But I have a strong desire to change things for all of us who are oppressed.

I have been in solitary confinement for eight years, and because of the economic crisis around the world, Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has been susceptible to providing sub-standard conditions. Thus I am currently litigating three §1983 federal civil rights complaints. I am hoping to bring my complaints to the courts in an effort to change policy and procedure, but I'm afraid that significant change comes from the legislators, who of course engineers these illegal laws that keep us further oppressed. I understand the real solution is socialism, and the only way to obtain it is in pieces.

I am currently setting the paper trail (framework) to the censorship repression I am experiencing at this time. The policy seems to be used as a safeguard to hinder the process of my studies. Furthermore, it's denying me my Constitutional right to freedom of speech (First Amendment). So I am hoping to be part of these grievance petitions and censorship campaigns.

I am in the process of distributing the grievance petitions to the proper officials out here in Arizona. I have the copies ready to be sent out, but like a comrade in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic said,

"I cannot see how the DOJ would be willing to assist us when it's likely their office is instructing, or giving guidance to, the institutions' appeals coordinators to screen out legitimate grievances at all cost, in an effort to frustrate our access to the courts."

I agree with this comrade. I basically think our grievance petitions go unheard anywhere we address them. But I think if we are going to get any consideration outside the court, it'll be through Senators or legislators. If you can suggest some things that would be a blessing to me, I have no experience or knowledge. But I'm extremely motivated and I must try. Because once I can't try any more, at least I can say "I tried." So sign me up.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Many people are afraid to start making change because they don't know where to start, or they are intimidated because they have no experience. This comrade's attitude toward learning something new is one that we would all do well to adopt.

We agree with h assessment that there are levels to change, with overthrowing capitalism being the only way to eliminate the source of these abuses. Even if new laws are put in place that make it harder for prison administrators and employees to obstruct the grievance process, their effect will be limited without independent power from organizing the oppressed. One reason we support reform of the grievance process is because it makes more space for this valuable organizing work.

If you would like to get involved in the campaign for the proper handling of grievances, write to MIM(Prisons) or follow the campaign page link below.

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[Censorship] [ULK Issue 18]
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Fighting Injustice is Uphill Battle

Your article on gang validation in ULK 17 was on point. I'm in a California state prison and every word that he spoke on was true, you have to watch what you say, who you with, what you read and receive and basically what you have in your cell.

Pictures, articles or drawings of George, Jonathan, a guerilla, gang banging and even some Muslim literature is not allowed. It's a shame that there is a long list of books that you cannot have because they say that it promotes unwanted activity, when in reality they just want to limit your understanding of the injustices that have been going on for decades in the system.

They have taken everything from us and are still taking everything from us; things that the ones before us shed blood, lost their lives, and are still locked up in the SHU fighting for. Every day it's something and by design you can't win fighting by their rules.

I just wanted to give big respect to y'all for this newsletter telling the real.


MIM(Prisons) responds: While the rules are set up to keep people in their place, we have strategic confidence in our ability to win. This is based in the fact that most people in the world suffer under the oppression of imperialism and have an interest in overthrowing it. By connecting the struggles of prisoners in the U.$. with the Third World workers, peasants and lumpen we will be on the right side of history.

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[Culture] [Gender]
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Hip Hop, Gender and Pseudo Feminism

Most people are familiar with the patriarchy and exploitation of females in hip hop culture, especially in the music industry. From the days of 2 Live Crew to Snoop Dogg's appearance at the awards show with women who had dog collars and leashes around their necks to Nelly's "Tip Drill" video showing him swiping a credit card between a woman's butt cheeks, and don't forget his marketing of the energy drink "Pimp Juice."

All the above is abhorrent and should be criticized but no one really talks about the pseudo-feminists in the music industry. For example, Debra Antey, the CEO of Mizey Ent. and former CEO of So Icey Ent. and manager of Nicki Minaj, the latest hot female rapperstar and piece of porn for me to jerk off on.

A brotha also studying MT2/3 sent me an article from the Dec/Jan 2010 magazine XXL. We think this article points out the contradictions and bullshit these pseudo-feminists espouse. Antey was asked in this article "How to take Nicki Minaj to new heights?" Antey's answer: "with Nicki you have to know the role that you're about to step into. You're about to open the door for a lot of women, and you can't open it through the sexual stuff. She had to make a more conscious effort about what she was saying, and it's starting from the babies... I'm about empowering women, and Nicki is a product of that."

Anyone who's listened to Nicki's lyrics or seen any photos (promotional) of Nicki can only conclude that she's just the latest in a long line of females being objectified to make money. What's so empowering about Nicki calling herself a "5 star bitch," dressing sexually provocative and talking about men paying her for sex (taking her shopping). How is that empowering women?

"Pornography has no value if it shows women doing empowering, important, and meaningful things. Its value is tied to portraying a bitch ready to be raped." (MT2/3, pg 127)

In street terminology, Antey is a pimp. She enriches herself through the exploitation, pornographic objectification of young black female entertainers, Nicki in this instance. It's all game.

Antey was asked a second question: "On being a 'powerful' woman in a male-dominated business." Her answer: "in the beginning, it was hard. I'd go to the table with a group of men, and nobody was hearing me. But I got a big mouth, so eventually you are gonna hear me, and I'm gonna stand my ground. I'm a strong woman. In the beginning, it was a little nerve-racking, but now it's a beautiful thing." Of course, it's a beautiful thing to Antey. She's getting paid big dollars. She's a pimp and she was able to convince the male-dominated industry that she was not a "threat to the men creating, marketing and profiting from the exploitation and economic coercion of the women who participate in making [pornography]."(MT2/3, pg 128) She assured them that their interest was her interest and that she was male also.

The point is that the pseudo-feminists have been highly successful in deflecting criticism away from themselves. MIM is the only organization that I've seen take them to task and expose them.

Jean Grae rapped in the song "knock": "I rhyme sick but niggas is quick to turn their backs on spitters with clits /.../ they still want chicks with tits and ass out / my respect is worth more than your advance cash out." The Debra Anteys (pseudo-feminists) of the music industry turn their backs also. "They are working to gain themselves more power to join in the oppression, and to profit off the labor and deaths of the poor and nationally oppressed peoples of the world." (MT2/3, pg51)

MIM(Prisons), we have much, much more to say on this and other topics mentioned in MT2/3. Especially, the "all sex is rape" and there's "no good sex" under capitalism.

Thanks for pointing out the socially constructed gender theory. It's right on point.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 19]
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Tears of Blood


My heart cries the tears of blood
As it feels for my ancestors' pain and anguish
Our culture and territory was compromised
By plague-infested, greed-inspired pigs
Oppressed by racism and a foreign religion
Our ancestors watched as our culture was burned
But the culture could never be burned from our blood
So while my heart cries tears of blood
It beats pride and honor inherited from my ancestors

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Knowledge is Power


I find it necessary to breath,
or collapse, as my strength fades away.
I find it necessary to read,
or collapse, as my intelligence fades away.
By hiding the books the master controls the ignorant men,
How can we be "equal" or "greater"? If we don't even
know what those words mean
Who makes the money?
Those who know how to count.
Who makes the music?
Those who know how to play.
A map is worthless, unless you know the way...

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