Incarceration Nation

Product of My Environment

By Comrade Pitt

In my hometown of Richmond, Virginia, employment opportunities are very scarce and difficult to procure. God forbid if one was labeled a convicted felon. Throughout urban communities, there is widespread awareness that due to lack of economic options, drug dealing or resorting to crime is not only an irresistible temptation in order to survive but inevitable in many cases. The environment dictates the response. It is no wonder that the prisons are overflowing with a large Black and Brown population from impoverished communities.

Though drug-dealing was a means to an end, what I failed to comprehend was that we were all victims entrapped in a cycle of victimizing other victims. To fathom my assertion, it is critical to realize that the United States is divided into classes; upper class (bourgeoisie), middle class (petty bourgeoisie and unionized workers,) and lower class (unorganized workers and lumpen proletariat.) In this article I’ll focus on the latter, which is sometimes referred to as the “underclass.” This class or strata lacks political and economic power and is estranged from mainstream society. Being denied proper means of making a living, the lumpen are forced to resort to illegitimate ones, such as robbery, drug-dealing, prostitution, running cons and so on.

This “declassed” strata depend on criminality for survival. They subsist on income derived from preying upon other poor people and catering to the vices of people promoted by a decadent society. Ultimately, they are pawns because the “illegitimate capitalists” rake off the profits from the “rackets” and “launder” the money for the big bourgeoisie who are the real beneficiaries of crime. It’s all part of how capitalism works to keep the poor making the rich ever richer.

The lumpenproletariat are “scape goats” of bourgeois culture and victims of social injustice because we did not create and cannot control the desperate conditions that drive us to do what we do. The capitalist system creates the conditions that afflict the Black and Brown communities. We just get the blame. Furthermore, this explains why the prison populations are overwhelmingly Black and Brown people from the oppressed communities. Black and Brown communities conspicuously lack decent schools, affordable housing, decent healthcare, job training programs and overall community investment that could uplift the people. Instead, our communities are inflicted with militarized police occupation, leading to harassment, brutalization, deadly encounters, and gratuitous arrests that feed people into the prison-industrial complex.

Desperation and necessity forced me to make decisions within my environment necessary for my survival. Make no mistake, I certainly do hold myself accountable for my choices. Isn’t facing up to our mistakes part of what makes us human beings? But, when it comes to the decisions I was forced to make because of socioeconomic conditions, I had no part in making, I live with no regret except that I was not then part of a movement to eradicate those conditions. I emphatically believe that every human being deserves to have what they need in order to survive at all cost and am committed to making that a reality.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!

All Power to the People!

Panther Love!

Write to Comrade Pitt:

Peter Kamau Mukuria #11971165

Red Onion State Prison

PO Box 1900

Pound, VA 24279