Together we read many many issues of The Beat Within, a weekly zine of juvenile inmate writings from throughout California. The writings are generated in creative writing workshops or privately before being edited, published, and distributed back into the institutions where the writing originated. Omar is an assistant editor with The Beat. Through a long process of picking our favorites and trimming them down to most essential images we ‘wrote’ the following collage. Performed by most of the cast, standing in a circle around the radio mic. Dawon, still invisible in the box/cell.
They treat you like an animal, like you’re a real criminal, when, really, you’re just a kid who made a bad mistake. (But they don’t look at it like that.)
Life outside of here is going on no matter what. People are doing the same things while I’m up in here.
Man, it seems like I lose everybody I love. I lost my uncle Paco and my favorite cousin Burger. Damn, they gone. I miss them so much.
Now I know I have nowhere to run but a dead end. It hurts me to know that I’m going to waste many years of my life, and I keep hurting my loved ones.
La ·ltima vez que recibi un abrazo fue cuando me venÌa para aqui. Fue un abrazo muy triste que recibi de mi mama y fue ahi cuando llore.
To live with the eyes closed is very easy because you think everything is easy, but when you open them, you realize things are much harder.
Just yesterday I received a picture of him in his coffin, and I just felt this emptiness in my stomach.
I have a window. The window is white plastic with five bars. I can’t even see the outside. The only things that belong to me are my glasses, letters, and pictures.
They forgot how to cry. My soul had died in this jail. Breathing slowly, staring at the wall. Not knowing why.
Another thing I just can’t let go of is my hate and my anger. I’m feeling I hate these people. They setting me up for failure. They out to get me.
Maintain a solid composure. Stand tall! Much love and respect... I’m gone... poof... ghost.
Love, yeah. I would truly love to have this so-called love. I hear it’s a good thing to have in your life.
I never really had real love or real happiness. I had the respect. I had the money.
Why do I keep doing the same negative things over and over and expect a different reaction.
Street life has an addictive quality all its own. Drugs are everywhere and other kids become like brothers and sisters.
I have made many mistakes, but the one I am most disappointed is my latest one, which ended me up in Juvenile Hall where I sit here now writing this: prostitution. This is not my first time. A lot of people look at me funny. They act like I don’t know it’s wrong, like I want to do it.
Faster than I can remember, he grabbed me. Salty tears ran down my face. Make-up smeared, heart pounding, I tried to push, but he pushed back. Then it went black. (Waking up hot and sweaty I crawled out of the car. Zipping up my pants, I sat and cried. He took my power away. Little does he know...)
(A lot of discussion about this entry. How to avoid image of woman as victim but still present rape? Meghan & I tried cutting it various ways. I’m printing the whole piece for historical memory.)
I need help. I’m afraid to ask.
My mama lost me to these streets. I told her don’t cry. I told her if she understood real she should understand why.
I am here alone, thinking ‘bout you. I wonder where you are and is it really true that the more emotion I put in the more I am losing you?
I’m always in the dark. I sit back and watch the world. No one around me. Unable to think, unable to talk. Things happen and I just bottle it in, unable to feel until I explode with no warning or caution.
When my visit was over I went to give my pops a huge kiss. I did, but he didn’t want to let go. He just started to break down. Then my mom came to hold both of us. I just started crying.
Nobody ever read to me when I was little. I really don’t want to write my own story because I hate reading.
I was misled. The first time I was locked up I was 12 and to be honest, I was scared. I did not know what to expect. As time progressed, I became used to this place; and in return, I became part of this place.