05-22-2018  2:44 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Police: 1 killed, 1 injured in Oregon shooting

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have made an arrest in a shooting that left one person dead and another wounded in a rural community west of Corvallis.Benton County Undersheriff Greg Ridler says deputies responded Monday night to a shooting in progress at a home on Tum Tum Road in...

Police identify driver in Oregon crash that killed 4

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have identified the wrong-way driver in a fiery, quadruple fatal crash in southwestern Oregon.Oregon State Police say a car driven by 65-year-old Gayle Ward of Vancouver, Washington, was southbound on Interstate 5 when it suddenly turned around and began...

Police identify driver in Oregon crash that killed 4

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have identified the wrong-way driver in a fiery, quadruple fatal crash in southwestern Oregon.Oregon State Police say a car driven by 65-year-old Gayle Ward of Vancouver, Washington, was southbound on Interstate 5 when it suddenly turned around and began...

Agencies warn of cougars after fatal attack on cyclist

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Local and federal agencies are warning residents in western Washington and central Oregon to be on the lookout for cougars.The Sunriver Police Department and the Bureau of Land Management both issued warnings Saturday after sightings of the animal were reported in Sunriver...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Clinton backing Abrams for Georgia governor

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the gubernatorial primary in Georgia (all times local):5:40 p.m.Hillary Clinton is urging Democrats in Georgia to make sure to vote in support of Stacey Abrams for governor.Clinton recorded a 60-second endorsement used by the Abrams campaign in direct phone calls...

Palestinians ask ICC to investigate alleged crimes by Israel

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Accusing Israel of systematic crimes, including apartheid in the occupied territories, Palestinians on Tuesday urged the International Criminal Court to open an investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against Israeli leaders.Israel immediately...

Man charged with shooting at black teen waives hearing

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A white suburban Detroit homeowner accused of shooting at a black teenager who came to his door to ask for directions will stand trial.Jeffrey Zeigler was bound over Tuesday to circuit court after waiving his preliminary examination on assault with intent to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — R. Kelly sexually abused and demeaned a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment and infected her with herpes, according to a lawsuit that furthers a string of misconduct accusations against the platinum-selling singer.Faith Rodgers said in the suit filed Monday...

A farewell to the road for Paul Simon

NEW YORK (AP) — Farewell tours don't always mean farewell, but are a ripe time for appreciation and appraisal. Paul Simon's concerts and a new biography offer the opportunity for both.Simon's "Homeward Bound" tour began last week in Vancouver and takes him across North America, to Europe and...

Nielsen's top programs for May 14-20

Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for May 14-20. Listings include the week's ranking and viewership.1. "NCIS," CBS, 12.71 million.2. "Roseanne," ABC, 10.74 million.3. "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 9.44 million.4. NBA Conference Finals: Golden State at Houston, Game 1, TNT, 8.9...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Judge sides with parents, boots adult son from New York home

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — In a real-life case of "Failure to Launch," an upstate New York judge Tuesday ordered...

Trump won't say if he has confidence in Rosenstein

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declined to say Tuesday whether he has confidence in Deputy...

The princes, the president and the fortune seekers

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a year spent carefully cultivating two princes from the Arabian Peninsula, Elliott...

Tear gas, broken windows disrupt Paris labor march

PARIS (AP) — Clashes between police and groups of masked youths erupted Tuesday on the sidelines of a labor...

The Latest: Italy PM pick had 'no official status' at NYU

MILAN (AP) — The Latest on the law professor picked to be Italy's next premier (all times local):9:45...

The princes, the president and the fortune seekers

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a year spent carefully cultivating two princes from the Arabian Peninsula, Elliott...

Michael Cabral New America Media

Michael Cabral has served ten years on a 15-Life sentence for murder, beginning when he was still a juvenile. His first two and a half years were spent in the Pelican Bay SHU. He spent time in Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, and is currently at Corcoran State Prison. His writing has appeared often in The Beat Within, NAM's weekly publication of writing and art by juvenile detainees, and NAM has published previous commentaries from him.

How can I make anyone understand what it's like to cling desperately to the hope of someday being heard because that's the only hope left? That's one reason why the hunger strike going on across California's prisons matters. It might just keep that hope alive for prisoners locked down in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing and Administrative Segregation Units (known as the SHU).

At the age of eighteen years, four months, and six days, I was cast into the SHU where I stayed for two and half years, alone, without a window, a television, or a radio. (Mail, when it came, was delayed for months at a time.)

My only real distractions were the terrifying and gut-wrenching sounds and smells of grown men reaching their breaking points: crying, screaming, banging; blood and feces being smeared on walls and bodies; Correctional Officers (C/Os) yelling, shooting pepper spray… and puking.

I found a small measure of comfort in books and in treasured conversations through the ventilation system, with older men whose faces I'd never see (conversing with anyone face-to-face was so rare as to be nonexistent). There was also the sound of my door being padlocked shut whenever there was a tsunami warning, meaning that if a tsunami did wash over us, the inmates' only hope is that death comes quickly. Maybe that sound was the most dehumanizing of all, because to realize you matter so little to other human beings is not a feeling one gets used to, or ever forgets.

There were seven inmate suicides during my time in the SHU. None of them surprised me. As an eighteen-year-old with my entire life ahead of me, I understood why people wanted to die.

To combat the temptation to follow my neighbors into the afterlife, I exercised with extreme vigor, I wrote, I studied family photos, as well as images I found in old magazines, imagining myself in the places and situations depicted. These offered at least the illusion of escape from the bare cement walls that always seemed to be closing in on me. Such relief came at a cost -- a progressive separation from my real life. I could get so lost in my fantasies (about home, barbecues, beaches, about committing violent crimes, about sex, building my dream house, about any number of things) that the slightest interruption -- the sound of the food port being unlocked at dinnertime -- could hurl me into fits of anger, depression, anxiety attacks. Living in the SHU was literally driving me mad.

On the bright side, there is a bakery in Pelican Bay. We'd often get fresh baked cookies in our lunches. They were delicious. Sometimes, though, C/Os [correction officers] would remove them from some of the lunches for their own enjoyment. They were that good, good enough to make someone squash an inmate's only sense of relief, perhaps his only source of joy, with a dirty boot before passing in the tray. "You really have to try one…"

I spent two and a half years in the SHU, ostensibly as punishment for a fistfight with another inmate (I was charged with battery with no serious injury). I believe the real reason was that I had defied the Administration by refusing to participate in prison gang politics and to inform on other inmates who were active gang members. You could say I was lucky to get out in that short a time. More than 75 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been held in isolation for more than twenty years, and more than five times that number have been there for more than a decade.

Ironically, when I was placed in the SHU they told me it was for my own protection, and to give the prison time to evaluate my housing needs. If that "evaluation" had taken any longer, I would have lost my mind.

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