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Monday, September 15, 2014

Judicial Pantomime Separates Society from The Real

Upon entering your stage,
You gauge an impressionable audience awaiting a reason to become enraged.

Your performance must be legendary and ever so swift to reality
Your steps into the gallery are that of someone seeking justice without taint.

He pantomimes! He pantomimes!

Hand gestures, shoulder shrugs, the movements of one who cares
Selected to seek justice under the guise of impartiality,
Your misconduct is a traditional formality protected by judicial snares
Your hidden transgressions escapes your facial expressions,

While you hold the ear of the black gown and the almighty gavel.
You look into the faces of strangers,
Intimidating them with the threat of immoral dangers.

He pantomimes! He pantomimes!

You must convict on all counts!
I hear every word you say
You can’t allow him to go free,
He’ll just live to kill another day!

Looking into the eyes of your trusting audience,
Persuading them to support your warped brand of justice,
You desire this:

A curtain call at the conclusion of your performance
Your morals are dormant.
A defendant subjugated by your emptiness.
Your fee is the conviction of anyone like me

Guilty! Because you fit a specific stereotypical label.
Guilty! Just because you’re sitting at that defense table
Guilty! For entering our world thinking you could uphold your standard of principles

We sentence you to die,
Whether it is the truth or a lie.
 You then look into my eyes to reveal what you wish for no other to see,

The expression of your satiability to orchestrate death
Now comes the curtain call.
Take a bow for injustice

He pantomimes! He pantomimes!

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Stone to Build Upon


Journalism has no definitive format for how a story should be told.  At least, not the brand of journalism I know to be the most credible.  

A journalist should tell a story the way the information at hand impacts his/her life.  In today’s mainstream media, the journalists I feel a gravitational pull toward are: Soledad O’Brien, Barbara Laker, Helen Ubinas, Barry Saunders, and Wendy Ruderman. 

These particular writers breathe a story to the tune of their own heartbeats.  Acceptance is not a priority.  Their brands of journalism allow the readers to hear what they mean, formula that can breed positive change in any community.  Na mean?

Charles Sumner Stone, Jr. was at the top of the journalistic food chain when it came to the unorthodox style of reporting a story.  Better known as Chuck Stone, his pedigree includes the experience of being a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, special assistant to U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, cofounder and first president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Walter Spearman professor at the University of North Carolina.  He was also a columnist and senior editor at the Philadelphia Daily News from 1971 – 1991.

Seventy-three men and two women – all fugitives from justice – chose to surrender themselves to Chuck Stone in the Daily News newsroom.  All of them said they were afraid of being beaten by the cops and all were black.  

On October 2, 1983, two armed men held up the Girard Bank at Bala and City Avenues.  With a hostage in their grasp, and cops and FBI agents at the front door, the robbers’ one request was to get Chuck Stone. 

With him on the scene a potentially fatal outcome transcended into a peaceful resolution.  These lawbreakers didn’t think all their problems would vanish with the swipe of an ink pen, but they were well aware that a respected journalist capable of objectivity would detain authorities from responding in an overly aggressive manner, when the assailants clearly intended to surrender without confrontation.  All too often bullets become the final resolution.

In November of 1981, Chuck was called into Graterford State Prison when a convicted multiple – killer led four other inmates in a failed escape attempt that resulted in the inmates being trapped in the prison kitchen, while holding six hostages.  The legendary journalist again was requested; met with the prisoners; and received a list of their demands for better prison conditions.  

After two days of negotiating, the hostages were released without harm.  Which came as a shock when it was discovered the inmates were well armed with a double-barrel sawed-off shotgun, a single barrel shotgun, a .38 caliber pistol, and a .22 caliber pistol. 

The stories that Mr. Stone wrote pertaining to these noteworthy experiences exemplified his commitment to the people he viewed as victims of corruption and incompetence.  I wholeheartedly agree with Daily News columnist Elmer Smith, “He was a cause crusader because that’s what his people needed.”

Chuck Stone’s brand of journalism reinforces my passion to cultivate my own distinctive voice, and to be the “cause crusader” for my peoples living in the shadows of reproof.   A great monument can’t stand tall without a dependable stone, as it’s foundation.  Rest in peace Mr. Chuck Stone, 1924 – 2014.

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Monday, September 1, 2014

Voices from the Row: Reflection of a TurnKey - Is this you?


Living within the confines of a penitentiary setting, it is commonplace for the structure of this environment to bend human compassion – forming a drone validated by the cage in which it stands.  A recent conversation with my man Chino led to this upcoming expression of genuine reflection.

The profoundness of our ongoing discussions is a credit to our will to survive the psychological antics of confinement’s key holder, “The Turnkey.”  The cage is an assembly line for the production of drones, but becoming a drone is not exclusive to the inhabitants forced to live inside the cage. 

Some drones possess an illusion of authority because they are assigned to turn a key, which opens and closes the cage’s door.  This type of drone is programmed to despise and distrust the prisoner on sight.

Live and learn, blogosphere, as Chino holds up the mirror of truth.  The following reflection may be someone you know.

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann

Reflection of a TurnKey: Is this you?

Today I stepped into the chow hall and amongst the normal humdrum of mindless chatter and swirling flies, I picked up on a spirit of hate wadding in the air.  It’s source, Mr. Turnkey, no surprise there for it’s actually the norm.  

On this particular day, however the hatred was up a notch, so much so, that I felt compelled to ask the question, why do they (Mr. & Mrs. Turnkey) hate us (prisoners) so much?  I’d like to take up a few of your minutes to share my reflection on this matter.  In doing so I hope to bring about a deeper awareness and self-evaluation.

Why does Mr. Turnkey hate me so?  Surely it can’t be because of my digs: I reside in a bathroom that’s furnished with a bunk and shelves.  Virtually everything I own is on loan!  My gear is a joke; my ‘whip’ consists of an AM/FM radio.  Did I mention the plush manicured concrete and dirt that make up the grounds of my apartment complex?  It’s to die for! 

Well, perhaps it’s my person?  I’m no slouch, and Moms and Pops did their thing for sure.  But, Mr. Turnkey doesn’t even know me, I’m a stranger to most of them and familiarity in the ‘box’ is still formal: last names only, no personal info, exchanging ‘us’ and ‘y’all’ i.e. officers and prisoners.  Hold on, am I accused of murdering /robbing a member of their family?  No, I’ve checked.  So, what’s the reason you hate me so?

A friend of mine once said that what we’re dealing with there is the old, field and porch psychology, and I couldn’t agree more.  Based on the disposition of Mr. Turnkey it’s clear that I (the prisoner) have been made into the whipping boy for all of your insecurities, failings and life circumstances. 

Outside of these prison walls you’re a loser without a real life.  Why else would you hate it when a condemned man receives a little sympathy or kind words from a female co-worker of yours?  Why else would you oppress, suppress and pride yourself on having me do without and to suffer?  

Ask yourself Mr. Turnkey.  What’s interesting is that you and I know what it’d be if I wasn’t in your daddy’s box!  Your power is an illusion that begs the question of what would you be without brothers liked me? 

I’m reminded of the drunken diatribe of Mr. Al Pacino in the gangster classic ‘Scarface’ in which, as the character of Tony Montana, he explains to a crowd of astonished onlookers how the name on the bottom; the object at the end of the self-righteous pointing finger, is needed in order for them to give their lives worth.  He ends with the acknowledgement of “say goodnight to the bad guy…”

Mr. Turnkey, it’s not really me you hate, rather it’s yourself that’s got your face twisted.  I, along with other brothas of my ilk am the mirror you face when you come to work.  Instead of hating the mirror, how about you tackle the reality it’s reflecting of you.  Perhaps you then will acquire a life!  When you have a life, you’ve no time to hate on another’s.

Alive and Strong

Copyright © 2014 by Chino

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Movement Within A Puzzle

I am always inspired by the creativity of others; especially when it is done in a literary fashion.  When RODNEY TAYLOR dropped this bomb of a crafty engineered HIDDEN VOICES word complex, I was thrilled to exercise my FIRST AMENDMENT right – uplifting the significance of this particular form of artistry.

The names of the occupants partaking in our bi-weekly forums can be found within the puzzle – along with selective EDUCATION given and received by all parties involved.  It all begins with PETER KUHNS taking the first steps into the gloom of North Carolina’s basement, bearing a sense of optimism and professional INSIGHT geared toward neglected seeds in need of fertile soil.

The HUMANITY – seeking nurturers of this soil have gone above and beyond humanitarian service, by continuing to SOCIALIZE with a DEATH ROW community in dire need of a movement capable of changing the face of JUSTICE, as we know it. 

This movement is a consistent FFLOW of MORALS that contrast the popular perception of one deemed as worthy of the state’s DEATH PENALTY.  Ironically enough, our loyalty to the craft of LITERARY EXPRESSION is the evolution of this same popular perception of state sanctioned premeditated murder.  We call it, LETHAL INJECTION.

The immortal pages of this magazine is a road map, guiding its readers through a valley of P.O.E.T.S, which leads to the intersection of a PRISONER’S PLIGHT, then detouring through the conscious village of POPS.  PRISON confinement will not be a determent to this conglomerate of cause crusaders.  We are gradually proving that the face of the state’s PANTOMIME disjoints society from the real.

Our soil is cultivated by the likes of Mrs. LYNDEN HARRIS and her cultured team of humanitarians: LAMAR, JESSICA, CATHY, NANCY, and an INNOCENCE crusader named JENNIFER. 

Their compassion has showered the soil that houses the deeply embedded roots of WORD TO THE MASSES; the innovative DEATH ROW GAMBITI and the highly publicized BALL TIL WE FALL, which has also birthed the Mega Analysts and Technicians of Hoops (MATH), a legendary team of statisticians comprised of Paul Brown, William C. Gregory, Danny Frogg, Johnny Hyde, and yours truly, the MannofStat.

The once neglected seeds, MICHAEL BRAXTON, LYLE MAY, JAMES THOMAS, CERRON HOOKS, RODNEY TAYLOR and LEROY MANN, a.k.a., SAUL (Strong Anointed and Unique Laborer), can now stand tall as fruit bearers and providers of shade to those inflamed by injustice.  A forest of ROLE MODELS, indeed.

Always 100,

Copyright © 2014 by Leroy Elwood Mann