I remember when the community supported us

MSR Editorial








By Lovell Oates
Contributing Writer


Second in a series


Last week: I remember these things because the times were very different in these institutions when the community would stop by and check on us. Those memories were from around 12 years ago, that’s about how long it’s been since I have seen people from my community come in and give the pure unadulterated truth.


I know some people will read this and are like, ”Hell no! I helped Joe the first five times he got out of jail, then, he went next door and stole Mrs. Johnson’s TV.” We must understand these are no strange happenings. It is by design that Joe and other clowns like him are released on the community continuously.

Therefore, trust me, I get it. The community is frustrated with this type of brother coming home abusing the community, and so am I. Joe makes it hard on real brothers who get out of jail.

We are all psychoanalyzed from day one of school (institutions) we attend. This is what all the check marks are for on the report card, such as, “plays well with others.” These people know who we are and what we will do before we know it. Therefore, we must recognize that Joe is part of the plan to make us treat our incarcerated brothers indifferent, because they are all like Joe anyway.

Then there is John, who has been to jail one time and hasn’t been home since. John has knowledge of self, is aware of his strengths and weaknesses and works on them daily. He has goals set and is preparing himself to achieve them. And most importantly, he has a support system of family and friends to help him every step of the way.

Lastly, and the brother you want to see the least, is Tyrone, who has been locked-up 10 years or more and hasn’t even gotten his GED. Everything that has happened to him is everyone else’s fault. Tyrone is upset, mad and bitter, and doesn’t care about anything or anyone.

I am going to be very clear here; Tyrone will not be released to Edina, Minnetonka or Prior Lake. I promise you he will be released in one of three places (your community): the north side or south side of Minneapolis, or St. Paul.

It is evident all three types of brothers will and have been released back to the community, and the only question is which one would you like in your community. It is obvious everyone would love to have John released to their community, but what isn’t so clear is that if the community doesn’t reconnect with its dads, sons, nephews, uncles and cousins and make them realize as Tracey Williams-Dillard said in her speechs [while visiting in prison], the work starts while you are incarcerated.

If the bridge is not built to reconnect these brothers there will be a whole lot more Tyrones out there than anyone wants to deal with. And in the end, the work being done in the community will become more difficult because a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.


Lovell Oates is an inmate of Lino Lakes Correctional Facility.