Letters to the Editors

Letters to the Editors

Dear Editors,

Dialectic—The existee or action of opposing social forces.

Hip-hop sprouted out of the murky muddy waters of capitalist oppression like a lotus in a swamp or a poppy growing from decaying leaves in the gutter.

It’s a dialectical occurrence within the most oppressive, discriminatory, divisive, exclusive, self-destructive culture ever known to man, called capitalism.

From the most acutely oppressed and silenced communities there sprouted the most uplifting, inclusive, unifying, empowering culture ever known to man called Hip Hop.

HipHop is a language of the heart, which is why it’s so widely appreciated, loved, and excepted around the world—because it speaks, from soul-to-soul with the intention to uplift and empower oppressed people.

Don’t let capitalism dilute the message. Although HipHop is one of the only few ways to be the creator of one’s own destiny and has been corrupted in the name of profit and even weaponized against members of the culture itself, HipHop is not for sale and will not sell out. The nature of HipHop is one of rising up, out of, and against oppression, and for that reason has become the language of revolution.

—Johnny Gould, February 12, 2020

(Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)

Dear Editors,

A video recently emerged surrounding the death of Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 17-year-old migrant who died in the custody of the border patrol detention center, May 20, 2019. The facts of his death are that he was diagnosed with the flu. His body temperature reached an astounding 104 degrees. On this video footage, the first thing to note are the conditions in which he was confined, locked in a cell, forced to sleep on a concrete bunk with no mattress, and only one ridiculous blanket. Minutes prior to his death Vasquez can be observed pacing back-and-forth in his cell while his cellmate was asleep. At one point he proceeded to walk to the toilet area where he collapsed. Hours later his cellmate awoke to find him unconscious and slumped by the toilet. He immediately notified the staff. It is reported that the video was highly edited in an attempt to conceal the staff response or lack thereof.

Other than a minor—who was escaping poverty, violence and corrupt conditions created by U.S. imperialism—being held captive at this facility under oppressive and inhumane conditions, the border patrol essentially captured and sentenced him to death. The medical staff was fully cognizant of the fact that he had a flu, something that has taken many lives just this season. Rather than hold him at the medical unit or a hospital, they discarded him in a cell utterly apathetic to his medical need and left him to either survive or die, unfortunately the latter happened.

This story reminded me of an article published in Socialist Viewpoint, (November/December 2019 Volume 19 Number 6) titled “Our trip to El Paso and Casa Del Refugiado” by Carole Seligman. In this article she described her October 2019 trip, what she observed and learned, especially about the conditions and treatment of migrants coming from these infamous detention centers, (into humane shelters like the Casa del Refugiado.) The government detention centers deprive the detainees of decent food, keep the temperature very cold, do not provide for health care needs, do not provide showers, soap, toothpaste, etc. Given the barbaric and deplorable conditions and lacking even the most basic essentials, Vasquez’s death came as no surprise.

I commend any group or and/or individual who takes the initiative to learn about these human warehouses out of genuine concern for other human beings and learning firsthand what they can do to help. We as a whole should not become so desensitized to the point that we turn a blind eye to these existing fascist conditions. Such blatant disregard of human lives isn’t nearly isolated to these detention centers. One has to look no further than to the nearest jail or prison were negligence and apathy run indiscriminately.

The story of Vasquez’s death reminded me of the suicide of a prisoner from Colorado confined in Virginia as the result of interstate transfer who was diagnosed with mental illness yet was housed in solitary confinement conditions well known to exacerbate mental illness, and his calls for help were ignored. When I observed his lifeless body being carted out of his cell I did not only see him, I saw me, my friends and countless other human beings warehoused in these dark places, though in Vasquez‘s case he did not commit suicide. The similarity between these two is predicated upon the sheer and blatant negligence, deliberate indifference and disregard of their lives by those whose duty it was to care for them.

In this country unless you are an indigenous person we are all from somewhere else. Therefore, imagine if Vasquez or countless other migrants warehoused at these border patrol detention centers were your family or friends, you would feel a sense of obligation and be compelled to be their voice. Turning a blind eye to the inhumanity migrants and prisoners are subjected to sets a dangerous precedent and only further encourages the perpetration of such wanton disregard of human lives. Xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism exist largely due to silence. Your silence whether you intend it or not, is your consent. Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor who stated that “silence encourages the torment not the tormented.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed similar idea when he stated, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” History will surely one day judge us. The question is which side will you be on?

All power to the people.

Panther love,

—Comrade Pit

Minister of Education, New African Black Panther Party/United Panther Movement

Write to:

Peter Mukuria #1197165

Red Onion State Prison

P.O. Box 1900

Pound, VA 24279