to the editor, from lockdown

exclusive feature
Elizer Darris
{Stillwater, MN}
The Liberator Magazine


Dear Mr. Kasoro,

I write you today with an article proposal for the Minneapolis Liberator. Word came through a mutual contact, that the subject matter I write and converse about would fit into the Liberator's format.

The article I propose to write deals with the unholy marriage between Corporate American and popular American culture. More specifically, I am requesting to write about the facet of Hip Hop I spent most of my twenty years on earth listening to... gangsta' rap.

The manufactured culture created by greedy rappers, label producers, and soulless corporate executives have created an environment in which violence is not only accepted but expected. We have a culture where womanizing, hyper sexuality, overt materialism and reckless offspring propagation is not condemned but in some ways condoned.

My generation have been so far removed from our true Heritage that we are almost empty shells. This glorified 'gangsta' culture is actually the manifestation of the lack of culture. Many African American youth are struggling around issues of manhood and womanhood. These definitions are rooted in identity. Identities are derived from culture. If there is not a strong family culture, youth will find their identity in popular culture. I see my people fading and forgetting (or never learning) the lessons our ancestors went to hell and back to learn and teach us. I hope you'll allow me to write an article that will hopefully assist in liberating the minds of my peers. I look forward to your reply.

-Elizer Darris (Stillwater Correctional Facility)
{The Liberator Magazine 3.4 #8, 2004}

Dear Mr. Kasoro,

I received your July 20, 2004 response and am grateful for the opportunity you're willing to give me to express myself inside the Liberator.

I find it very hard to believe that you are only a few years older than I am. I could only blink when Jazz told me. I had 'guestimated' to Jazz that you had to be between 28 and 35. You are making the types of revolutionary moves that brothers our age were making back in the '60s.

I am working on an article tentatively titled 'The Reality of Reality.' In the article I attempt to construct a clear view of what is meant by the term ' keep it real.' I example the positive and negative effects of the mentality that drives us towards conformity with the status quo. I will complete this article within a week and send it in for your review.

Also, I am curious as to how open you would be in allowing me to place and expose in the Liberator regarding the Minnesota Legislators' decision to cut higher education in the correctional facilities across Minnesota. The state legislators' actions are particularly bogus in light of the fact that higher education is the only proven rehabilitative tool in fighting recidivism. Brother Na'im Akbar broke down a theory as to why the state and federal government would feel the need to outlaw the pursuit of knowledge in prisons. I want to expound upon this theory. The article is tentatively titled 'Obstruction of Knowledge.' Upon completion of this article I will send it to you for your review.

-Elizer Darris (Stillwater Correctional Facility)
{The Liberator Magazine 4.1 #9, 2005}

Dear Brian/Editor,

I was isolated by the prison administration and during the course of that isolation I lost your contact information. I've now resurfaced -- albeit in a new prison. I am somewhat glad to be out of Oak Park Heights.

The brothers in this joint are serious. We could really get a lot of work done for the prison and State community in here. One of my main associates, brother Ja'far, says he was involved in a poetry group here in which you frequently spoke and gave advice to. We have formed a group. The Sons of Maat In which we study ancient Egyptian history, current law, politics, cultural reconstruction, feminism and the meanings and definitions of Manhood coupled with the love and respect of womanhood. We have also formed a debate group that basically follows the college rules and format, to make the debater think deeper about a topic, we've decided to make what side of the debate a debater gets random. So far we have held two debates one was 'reparations for African American slavery: needed or not' the other was 'America the beautiful or America the beast.' The topic we decided to for next month is 'Gangster rap: causes violence or reflects it.' Because I am so young a lot of the younger brothers come to the debates out of curiosity of what I'm doing there.

Our cipher is slowly growing in size, and we are focused. Please send me the latest Liberator. I do have several other topics that I wish to build with you on; however, I will keep this one uncharacteristically short.

Sta up. Your Brother In the Struggle,

-Elizer Darris
{The Liberator Magazine 4.3 #11, 2005}

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