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Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Eye In Con: Seeing the Moves Within a Legacy

“Educate yourself to the fullest to become more aware of your creativity.  Where you find your passion is where you find your love.”
Eugene Brown, Chess Master


The above quote came to be during a rap session between Mr. Eugene Brown and your MannofStat (8/28/14).  His words were a direct response to my asking him for advice on how to further this incredible journey we know as W2TM.  Sitting and speaking with someone who has been where I have been, and does not mind sharing the formula to get to where he is – breeds a fluent conversation that is now chronicled as a historical event.  Na mean?

“Hope without inspiration is the mother of stupidity, and the vultures await your exhaustion.”  These are the words of an ex-con tailoring the death row chess club to the body of humanity – allowing all involved to wear this experience as the blueprint to seeing a legacy fulfilled – making him an icon, A man that served time with the legendary Reuben “Hurricane” Carter during the 60’s Civil Rights Era.  “The Hurricane” story has been influential in my personal quest for freedom.  The hard truths pouring from Mr. Brown’s life experiences overwhelm me with inspiration whenever we share the same space.  Word is bond!

As I have said before, Mr. Brown is currently writing his autobiography, “Ex-con To Icon” (Chess Master Making Moves with Leroy - ).  The expression to follow is a combination of hard truths, molded into a poetic expression that permits the reader to see the moves with his legacy.

“Don’t Ask Me How I Got There” reveals the life of an icon.  Your move Mr. Brown.

Be Easy,

Copyright © Leroy Elwood Mann

Don’t Ask Me How I Got There
 Eugene Brown: A poetic expression of his reflective life!

You chose a heck of a place to want to be a star, warming your hands around a fire barrel with other cold hearted, like-minded men, women, children, dogs, cats, PhD’s, MD’s, HIV’s, murderers, robbers, dope fiends and thieves.

All the way from Don Perion on to the night train only to transfer to Richards Wild Irish Rose while tripin on a bottle of ripple.  Oh yeah, you talking about a devastating trip!  Where many are chosen, but very few return.

Don’t even ask me how I spent decades in those crack houses, oils joints, homeless shelters and other dismal crypts.

My mother said it would be days like this if I continued down that dead end street, but she never told me about those lonely nights that I would spend in the back seat of my car-dor minimum, lonely, broke, busted and disgusted and can’t be trusted.

Don’t even ask me how I got there because it is where darkness lives without light, where negativity is accepted for positivity, where ugliness is miss-placed for beauty, where young brothers are being turned over and over and over until finally turned out and

Suicide seems like the only way out!  Oh what a terrible existence – That Prison Industrial Complex.

You want to know how I got there.  Do you really want to know?
Well I’ll answer that for you.
My thinking got me there.  Ask me what was I thinking when I made those decisions.
Ask me about my role models and mentors
Ask me was I thinking b4 serving those long prison sentences.
Ask me did I have any choices while being programmed in subhuman conditions.

Ask me finally how the flame of hope was finally one-day fan into a new way of life.  Ask me how my thinking got me there.  Ask me how I came to accept full responsibility for every move I made.

In a still small voice I heard something say you are the King of your thoughts “Be still and make your next move your best move and always think B4U/move, this is your mission if you choose to accept.”

Copyright © Eugene Brown

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eye Opener


Look at me.  What do you see?  Am I the ugliness within the calamity that surrounds me, or the bitter pill a stranger swallows at the mere mention of my name?  I can’t make people like me.  I don’t have the Divine authority to tell them what they should believe – concerning my walk through this realm.  I only ask that you look at life through my eyes.  Scope the scene of life from the horizon of death.

Working for American Airlines made meeting celebrities an every day habit.  After a while, unless someone announces Halle Berry’s presence on the concourse, or Muhammad Ali is performing magic tricks at the baggage claim, it was just another day of coordinating the luggage of complete strangers – in route to business trips and family vacations. 

I often wondered how they viewed the Mann handling their baggage.  Seeing some of these complete strangers’ faces within the small windows of the plane encouraged me to view the same surroundings through their eyes.  This exercise may seem weird at first, but I can assure you that you will learn something new about yourself.  Here’s an example of how this works:

The death row housing unit hosts tour groups regularly.  Seeing these tour groups from a distance makes it difficult for me to interpret the tour guide’s (C.O.) instructions on viewing my presence.  This is when I go into American Airlines mode. 

Stepping into the existence of the tourist, I can hear the corrections officer explaining the unit 3 habitats.  His horrific accounts of crimes and convictions come off as precautionary tales to the ill informed.  But in reality, it is no more than a self-serving need of injecting zest into an uneventful 12-hour shift.

As the tourist, I begin to look around this “pristine” $20 million facility – only to wonder why these “monsters” have it so good.  Through my own eyes, I see this same tourist as the potential for change.  I see family life.  I can clearly see the strides for a better way of living, and everything that makes this existence worth appreciating.

The tourist within me begins to ask questions like: When was the last execution?  Why do they move about so freely?  How often do they attack staff members?  Looking through the eyes of the tourist I can see my guide beginning to sweat, and stutter over his words.  None of his answers support the grisly biographies of moments past.  I would then be inclined to question why I was instructed not to make eye contact with these monstrosities underserving of humane interactions.

Then the inevitable happens; California vegetable soup, Dial deodorant, Colgate toothpaste, and Lever – 2000 soap; all items that might be on my own grocery-shopping list.  This is me making this simple canteen purchase.  I see myself greeting staff members without the slightest hint of a grudge.  I’m in awe of the fact we are so much alike. 

That is when I realize I’ve broken the cardinal rule; I am making direct eye contact with myself.  I see a person dealing with a gruesome circumstance, and I just can’t turn away.  I don’t know what to say to the “monster” that no longer exists.  Instead, I ask myself, “What does he think of me?”

My tour group walks past this person draped in a red jumpsuit, as he gathers his purchased belongings.  Looking in my direction, he greets the entire group, “Good morning, People.” Not only I, but also the entire group responded accordingly, “Good morning.”

Obviously the tour guide did not prep us for humanity in such an environment, yet all of us felt a human vibe at that very moment – orchestrated by someone deemed as a “monster.”

Look at me now.  See yourself within my humanity.  It’s a birthright to anyone touring this existence.

Much Love,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monotony Evolved: future truths live on


The current structure of prison directs the incarcerated individual to a path of failure, upon entering a free society.  Recidivism is a ramification of years of successive dependence on what is believed to be a rehabilitative structure.  

This composition of penitence entails the deprivation of any sensible degree of independence.  Even the privilege of work release leaves a deep, dark bruise on the pretty face of independence.

Chow call!

Clothes house!

Outside rec!

A spoonful’s worth of choices can easily evolve into an overflowing cup of dependency.  Skipping chow; washing your own clothes; and staying indoors to break the monotony of dependency is the least gesture of resistance that harnesses liberation in a most immense fashion.

Wrapping my mind around ideas to improve the anatomy of the penitentiary is difficult for me.  The logical solution?

Release me!

Let me go! 

No harm, no foul!

Can anyone hear the sound of the hidden voice tucked within the most concealed corner of North Carolina’s basement? … I guess not.

Therefore, a feasible conclusion is: guilty or not, anyone serving time is a work in progress.  Including yours truly. 

For many years, this basement’s scenery has been a detestable sight.  In recent months, the scenery has evolved into a setting of progression.  A setting in which diverse backgrounds – under the same garment of destiny – make a positive difference that will be remembered as epic, well past the year of 2034.

Case and point:
The bi-weekly forums with the Hidden Voices Committee have become celebratory injections of humanity within a secured setting.  This formation consummates the authenticity of bonds between a Buddhist philosopher; a Muslim spiritual leader; a suburban intellect; an urban visual artist; a cat that writes science fiction straight outta Brooklyn; and a statistician beginning to understand his purpose as a journalist. 

All works in progress, no doubt, but together we debunk the stereotypical malarkey infused by an unbalanced scale of justice that weighs heavy on killing truths long before they are discovered.

Team FFLOW is the evolution of undeniable humanity.  If our bi-weekly setting can produce something of this magnitude, then I think the department of corrections should rightfully facilitate this high degree of evolution it encapsulates.

Our truths; Our lives; Our humanity! FFLOW is the standard of the future.

Keepin’ it 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nothing 2nd Class About You

Rochelle in the UAE

A while ago, I read an article about Tina Sloane Green in the Daily News.  I immediately zeroed in on the fact that she is a Philadelphia High School for Girls alumna (Girls High )

How could I not think of Chelle, right?  But listen; there is a much greater element within her story that I find phenomenally in sync with my home girl. 

This expression came to me when I read a letter from Rochelle concerning the second-class treatment of women in Dubai.  I can only imagine how challenging this may have been for a woman of her ilk, but she has to understand her purpose is much bigger than that degree of a cultural experience.  Na mean?

A professor of culture and sport, Tina Sloane Green understands the plight of the black female etching her way toward success: “Who would have ever thought this little black girl from Elmwood would be able to achieve so much?” Most recently, professor Green received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Sports Congress for her work with Black Women in Sports Foundation and at Temple.

The legend of the diligent Sista defying all odds (Goody Shop to the Golden City) – only to make a positive difference in her community – goes far beyond being chronicle – worthy.  Every time my heart beats I feel Chelle’s occupational strides, but I always remind her that a stellar career does not begin to define the magnitude of her worth.  Ya heard?

When I think of Rochelle, I see someone who increases the morale whenever she steps into the room.  A phenomenal presence, a Phenomenal Woman who understands her purpose is a destination navigated by her undying will to help others recognize their true worth.  

Your timing is always perfect, and when your decisions are unpopular with those closest to you, the results of your decisions will vindicate your position.  You are a first class breed of woman, Rochelle.  A Phenomenal Woman, indeed.

The birth of a Lady is the celebration of a queen.  A queen who stood within the sands of a city whose beauty is acclaimed as gold.  Leaving more than footprints, her legacy registers a permanent mark, which adamantly states she does not need a man to grant her permission to be a person of significance.  

She is a queen who has stood in the sands of foreign lands, unleashing a righteous display of independence when it has been outlawed as contraband.  Yes! that queen is you Rochelle.

October 29th, the day a Lady is born.  All hail the Queen!

My gesture may be considered as extreme, but I am a Mann of my words, therefore I say exactly what I mean.  You own the love of your family and friends and your smile has been the gentlest touch.

The humble beginning of a Northern Liberties’ candy store is the reason the Sweetest person has achieved so much.

Happy Born Day Rochelle!!

Much Love,

NP 4 Life
Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann