Getting from crawling to flying

A biweekly column in which various contributors from both sides of prison walls explore common ground for effecting change.

It’s been mathematically proven that the shortest distance between two points is a straight path. This fact is part of the fundamental belief and driving force behind all the efforts of the BRIDGE. Our aim is for all of us who are locked in and locked out of the American Dream to have a tool to fight back with.

This is so whether you are locked into a prison cell or locked into an ideology that says all people in prison are less than you and their mistakes are less worthy of forgiveness than yours. It is so if you feel locked out of the type of resources that will give you access to the American Dream.

We all acknowledge that the status quo of where we are is not where we can stay and sustain the self-interests of our people. The BRIDGE is a vessel that is meant to transport us from one space of existence to another one.

I, Kevin Reese, began doing this work inside of prison with only pens and pads and the love and respect of my incarcerated brethren. For a while we had to crawl. So crawling is what we did, but we did it because we knew there was a better day that we were striving to see.

After a while, we learned to walk. We walked as far as we could walk until along the path we met Vina Kay and Voices for Racial Justice. They came alongside us and gave us the support and courage to run, and we ran as long and as hard as we could.

Along this path, we’ve made major strides in our effort to end mass incarceration, and while we have not yet changed the entire system, we have been able to change lives. Just ask the dozens of my incarcerated brethren who have contributed to this column over the years about what this work means to all of us.

To all the readers and beautiful people who support the BRIDGE partnership, I would love to introduce you all to our BRIDGE organizer Alisha Volante. Sister Alisha comes to us well accomplished in her own right, but when we sent out the beacon for someone to come work side by side with us in this very important fight, sister Alisha claimed that beacon of light.

After her arrival, she fittingly revealed to me, in one of our initial conversations, a truth that helped me soar. This truth is that her last name, Volante, comes from the Latin word Volar, which means “To Fly.” At that moment I knew she was the right person for the job, because we began this work by having to crawl, walk, then run, and now it is only fitting that sister Alisha will help us fly.

After all, if the shortest distance between my prison cell and my home is a straight path, I’m sure I speak for myself and all my incarcerated brethren when I say we are down to crawl, walk, or run to get there. But thanks to Alisha Volante, we will do much more. We will fly.

 

Kevin Reese is a participant in Voices for Racial Justice’s “Bridging the Gap” partnership. Reader responses are welcome to info@voicesforracialjustice.org. To learn more about the organization’s work, visit www.voicesforracialjustice.org.