Life at Sussex 2 State Prison – Revisited

May 29th, 2018

NOTE: JPay, the app/program that is basically prisoner email that you have to pay for, indeed, pay more for then it costs to mail a letter, and the Virginia DOC censored the following.  But here it is in its entirety.


Well, it finally happened!  The harsh and overly oppressive conditions we are subjected to at Sussex 2 State Prison (S2SP), which I described in a similar-titled post back in December of 2016, made the front page of a mainstream newspaper.  But it didn’t get there without sacrifice.  Dale Lee Pughsley; also known as Askeri Danso, upon arriving at this maximum security prison in march of this year, was appalled by the level of passivity among the prisoner-class in the face of inhumane prison conditions.  And so he did what any politically active prisoner would do when confronted with similar circumstances: he organized others to peacefully challenge those conditions by filing complaints with the prison’s grievance department.  As expected, retaliation was swift.  On April 24th, while on his way back to his cell from the prison’s law library, he was accosted and shackled by guards and immediately shipped across the street to Sussex 1 State Prison – a level 5 security prison – and placed in solitary confinement.  Because he is supported by several activist and human rights groups such as – the Coalition for Justice, the Defenders of Freedom, Justice and Equality – his ordeal made headlines in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 7th.  The front-page article, titled “Politically Active Va. Prisoner Moved Three Times Since ’16,” allowed Askari to expose conditions like poor water quality, substandard medical care, and overcrowding.  He was quoted as saying that S2SP “is the worst prison in the state.”  I agree!

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Subjected to 14 days in hell because of my political activity

By Uhuru B. Rowe
May 24, 2018
E-mail: JPay app

Below is a brief outline of the events which preceded, and resulted in, my placement on Administrative Segregation in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) here at Sussex 2 State Prison (S2SP).

On May 4, I drafted a position paper titled, “A Call To Action,” which described, in detail, the harsh and inhumane conditions incarcerated citizens are subjected to here at S2SP. The position paper called for our loved ones, various activist groups, state legislators, and even the media to hold rally in front of the headquarters of the Virginia Dept. of Corrections (VADOC) to draw attention to these conditions and to demand that they be remedied. LET ME BE CLEAR: This position paper was signed by no other prisoner besides me and was intended solely for the purpose of having our families and other concerned taxpaying citizens to peaceably assemble at the headquarters of the VADOC and demand that steps be taken to remedy the conditions described therein.

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March For Our Lives: A Message to Young Students of America from Behind Enemy Lines

By Uhuru B. Rowe
March 11, 2018

Weird. Angry. Cruel. Depressed. Troubled. Off. These are just some of the adjectives used by schoolmates to describe19-year-old Nikolas Cruz after he allegedly shot and killed 14 students and 3 employees on February 14 at his former Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida. My fellow schoolmates may very well have described me using those same words during my freshman year in high school in 1991.

I was bullied daily by a classmate who was a towering and aggressive figure. His verbal taunts were demeaning and dehumanizing and the physical abuse he inflicted on me reduced me to a state of rage and despair. I felt broken and alone and contemplated revenge.

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By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 6, 2018

Many people are under the mistaken impression that the hashtag #MeToo Movement was started by popular and privileged white women. But, in truth, it was started ten years ago by a working class Black woman named Tarana Burke — herself a sexual assault survivor. The #MeToo hashtag only recently went viral when well-known privileged white women started using it to share their experiences of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape at the hands of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and other sexist and misogynist men in political, media, and entertainment industry.

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Who Am I

By Uhuru B. Rowe
January 5, 2018

Who am I? Well, I think I have to go back to what I was so you can appreciate who I am. I was born and raised in the city of Richmond, Virginia. I was the typical Black youth from a working-class family which consisted of my mother and father and six other brothers and sisters. I was the youngest of the bunch; happy, playful, full of love and life. But I was living in a dysfunctional family atmosphere like most oppressed poor Black families trying to survive and thrive in racist America. And before long, my happiness would turn into sadness, and my sadness into rage.

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Psychological Warfare At Sussex 2 State Prison

By Uhuru B. Rowe
February 25, 2018

At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: “See, what these dudes don’t understand is that filing complaints and grievances is a form of snitching, too,” one young brother yells to another from behind his door in solitary. Initially, I construed this preposterous statement as simply the crazy talk of a brother whose delusions have begun to set in as a result of being locked down inside of a concrete box for 23 hours a day. But then, two months, I heard something similar: “Man, I’ve never told anything a day in my life,” a young brother blurted out when he was asked to join a group of prisoners in filing a grievance challenging the cancellation of out-of-cell recreation on the nightshift. I suddenly realized I was witnessing an emerging culture in the Virginia prison system where filing complaints and grievances to redress inhumane and unjust prison conditions is viewed as a form of snitching. How did it come to be this way?

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Sowing Seeds of Distrust Amongst The Prisoner-Class

How many of you have heard of COINTELPRO? COINTELPRO is short for Counter-intelligence Program which was an illegal and secret program created by former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. The origin of COINTELPRO goes all the way back to the 1950s when Hoover was working overtime to surveil and disrupt the activities of the Communist Party USA amidst the Red Scare. In the 60s, it was expanded to target organizations like the American Indian Movement, Young Lords Organization, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society and especially the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense which, by 1967, would become the main target of COINTELPRO.

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The New Draconian Prison Mail Regulation

By Uhuru B. Rowe
December 23, 2017

“WE WANT the Abolition of any VADOc policy, practice, or procedure which violates the human/constitutional rights of incarcerated people and endangers/hinders their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth and well being and rehabilitation efforts including, but not limited to: …(I) VADOc newly implemented draconian mail policy which went into effect on April 17, 2017…” — Demand #16(K) of the Free Virginia Movement

Imagine this: It is your birthday and your last year in college. And even though you’ve moved halfway across the country to attend college, your mother has unfailingly mailed you a birthday card and a picture every year since your freshman year. So you eagerly anticipate the arrival of the mailman. He finally arrives and hands you two pieces of paper. As you examine it, you come to the horrifying conclusion that the mailman just handed you black and white photocopies of the birthday card and picture your mother has mailed to you. You race behind the mailman. You finally catch up to him — your heart is raising and you’re barely out of breath. But you somehow manage to ask him, “What in the hell are these copies you have given me. Where’s my damn mail?” He turns around, with a coy grin on his face, and replies, “Oh yeah, the government implemented a new policy a few months ago to keep YOU people from mailing drugs to each other. So we’re only allowed to give you black and white photocopies of your mail now. The originals we have to destroy. Oh, by the way, tell your folks there’s a three page limit on letters now. So if they mail you a letter that’s over that limit, I’m obligated to return it.”

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Another Letter To A Comrade

By Uhuru B. Rowe
December 15, 2017

In regards to our exchange of views on revolutionary political theory, surprisingly, I am learning quite a few things from you. So, thank you for this continued political dialogue between us.

I am in agreement with most of the arguments in your last email, dated 11/29/17, except for the following three: that 1) “while 3rd and 2nd World workers stand to gain the most from a socialist revolution, 1st world workers would also gain”; that 2) 1st World workers “are still exploited at the point of production”; and that 3) “wages and living standards of first world workers have been and likely will continue to decline.”

First, I am of the opinion that 1st World workers will lose, not gain, from a global socialist revolution. We both agree that 1st World workers enjoy a high wage and high standard of living as a result of the super-exploitation of 3rd World workers. After a successful global socialist revolution, this super-exploitation will no longer exist, and so the high wage and high standard of living of 1st world workers will decline.

Furthermore, a global maximum wage will have to be established in order to achieve parity between 1st and 3rd World workers which will benefit the third world proletariat ONLY because the wage of the imperialist country labor aristocracy, in the absence of a super-exploited class in the third world, will have to be reduced in order to achieve such a parity. What I am talking about here is the redistribution of wealth from the 1st World labor aristocracy to the 3rd World proletariat because the 3rd world is where a majority of this wealth came from in the first place.

Second, you said that 1st World workers are still exploited at the point of production, but you failed to mention non-productive workers like cops, lawyers, doctors, judges, firefighters, insurance adjusters, real estate brokers, jail/prison guards, etc. Are these blue collar/white collar workers “productive” workers or are they just engaged in the apportionment and distribution of the products of actual productive workers labor?

A common mistake that we on the Left tend to make is lumping all Amerikan workers — productive, non-productive, white collar, blue collar, [middle class] and minimum wage poor workers — together into one class, when clearly the political economy of each are different from the other. NAFTA and other trade deals have made it possible for most of the industries and factories in Amerika to relocate to Mexico, South and Central America, and overseas to extract super-profits by exploiting cheap/slave labor. Thus, most workers in Amerika are non-productive and so are not exploited at the point of production. There is even some questions that the few workers who are productive may be paid more than the value of their labor and labor power and so being productive doesn’t necessarily define one’s level of exploitation.

The bottom line is that the majority of workers in imperialist countries are what Marx called unproductive workers and have different goals than workers in 3rd World countries. The main agenda of the vast majority of imperialist country workers is to gain higher wages — even if this means greater exploitation of their counterparts in the 3rd world — and not the overthrow of capitalism and the institution of socialism. I challenge you, Comrade, to go out and ask the average worker what it is they desire the most — higher wages under capitalism or socialism.

Lastly, you said that the wages and living standards of first world workers are declining. However, according to an article written by Christopher Rugaber in the Business section of the December 9, 2017 Richmond Times-Dispatch, the opposite is true. In this article, titled “Worldwide economy is aiding U.S. job market,” Rugaber says that “In November, U.S. employers added a substantial 228,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday. It was the 86th straight month of gains, the longest on record, and a sign of the job market’s enduring strength in the economy’s ninth year of expansion.”

This shows that declining non-productive jobs in Amerika is a common feel-good myth among the Left meant to rouse workers to action. So why hasn’t it worked?

Rugaber ends the article by saying that “Stronger economies overseas have helped boost profits at U.S. multinational corporations…U.S. companies in the S&P index derive about half their revenue from abroad.” “Stronger economies overseas” is coded language for “greater exploitation of 3rd World workers.” Once you read it in that context you will see that this, too, bolsters my argument that workers in Amerika enjoy a relatively high wage and high standard of living as a result of the super-exploitation of workers (and consumers) in the 3rd World.

To be sure, in the same business section, in another article titled “U.S. jobs report helps S&P 500 hit record high,” it says that “Paychecks…have not been getting much bigger, and hourly wages rose less last month than economists expected.” This, too, shows that wages are not declining, but are in fact rising, although at a slow pace. And when wages rise, living standards tends to rise with it because low wage workers spend more money.


A Letter To A Comrade

Part 1

A Letter To A Comrade
By Uhuru B. Rowe
November 14, 2017

[This comrade is a young socialist brother who leans towards Trotskyism and has high hopes that the predominantly privileged White working class in America, once organized, will wage a socialist revolution. Though I do not explicitly identify as Maoist, I do agree with their analysis of this same working class here in America and their inability (or unwillingness) — because of their material conditions — to wage an effective struggle for socialist/communist revolution. This is the subject of the current debate between them and I. The following two letters are intended to be viewed as part of a larger and intense, but respectful, debate between comrades on the Left (particularly among communists from different camps) on how best to organize and mobilize for socialist/communist revolution in imperialist countries. These letters have been slightly edited for length and grammatical errors].

Peace young brother,

I want to briefly comment on your vision of a future socialist society that you shared with me in your last e-mail. I always hesitate to debate…politics because it has a way of fracturing friendships and bonds between individuals who may have opposing views. But for some reason I feel comfortable having this conversation with you, mainly because your youthfulness [allows] you to be more open-minded and flexible than someone whose old age has caused them to become close-minded and dogmatic.

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