I remember when the community supported us

By Lovell Oates
Contributing Writer


Conclusion of a series

Last week: If the bridge is not built to reconnect these [incarcerated] brothers…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.


MSR EditorialI remember when Joe and Tyrone were outcast in the community and brothers and sisters would check their behavior. In fact, their families wouldn’t allow it. I talk about Joe and Tyrone in terms of being incarcerated, yet we all know the community is full of these types of brothers that have never been to jail, which makes it worse for the simple fact that the brother in jail at least has a chance to evaluate his situation.

Joe and Tyrone, in the free world, don’t even know that they are clowns and fools because it’s normal to everyone around them. Therefore, when the circus leaves town, the clowns only have one of two choices: get in their little clown car and follow the big top, or take off them big shoes, that red nose and act like the men Allah (God) intended them to be.

In similar fashion, if a fool is clearly shown why he is a fool by his actions and deeds, he, too has only two options: stop his foolish ways or truly stand alone without a community in his foolishness. It is apparent no one wants these types of men around them, let alone in their community, which means the community needs to start reaching in and helping these scared, hurt, broken, insecure and inadequate brothers that feel abandoned. To make them understand they need to start working on themselves right now, mentally, emotionally and psychologically so they may become assets and pillars of the community.

At this point some of you are thinking that’s cool, Joe and Tyrone can do what they want because I don’t live in Minneapolis or St. Paul. If you are reading this paper, you come to one of the areas to get your hair done or cut, get something to eat, buy clothes (if you don’t may God have mercy on your sense of style) see family members or to kick it at the club. Also, one other thing I know for sure, if you don’t live in any of the areas mentioned above, you are not making any decisions effecting that community, if you live in Minnesota these are your communities historically, like it or not.

As I was writing this I came across the newspaper article and I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention. We as a whole have to up our game as a community. First, it is the funeral of the five Lewis kids that the Star Tribune stated that more than 200 people attended. Come on people, this was five children. I know it hurts to see them dead, but we have to let the kids and the world know our kids lives are worthy and we love them.

Also, I heard brother Milford Johnson of KMOJ talking about he lived in a building full of elders that out-lived everyone they know and didn’t have kids or anyone to check on them, nor help them do simple things like shopping for food or just to make sure they are doing fine on a day-to-day bases. These are the two most vulnerable segments of our community, one we sent off with no real demonstration of love, and the other, after they have used up their usefulness to us, we leave them to fend for themselves, and we wonder why the community is in the shape that it’s in?

Plus, I would be derelict in my duty of attempting to uplift the community if I did not mention the women of Shakopee [correctional facility], and their need to be reconnected with their community. Just like have Joe and Tyrone, I am almost positive they have a Joanna and Tyesha that feel scared, hurt, broken, insecure and inadequate also.

I want to send love, peace and blessing to all the original women and queens of the earth, the Asiatic (Black) women of Shakopee. Sisters hold your heads up. They didn’t make you, so they can’t break you. As flowers your petals may be bruised and wilted and with the proper healing you are as beautiful as the day Allah allowed you to blossom.

Bottom line is that the community is doing great work with its development, yet it can’t be denied that key segments are being neglected and without all of the factors being placed together properly the foundation will never be strong in the community. I know it seems overwhelming from first glance, but I believe these things can be done with a little hard work.

Two thoughts took four, four thoughts took eight, eight thoughts took sixteen but it only takes one. I know because a young brother came with an idea to try and help brothers like Joe and Tyrone within our unit (village). Now we are in the process of trying to make the group institution (community) wide and if the group isn’t open to the whole institution, it won’t be for lack of effort. No, I promise you that will not be the reason.


Lovell Oates is an inmate of Lino Lakes Correctional Facility.