Freedom Ain’t Free

By Uhuru B. Rowe
October 6, 2016

Who said Freedom is free?

Freedom ain’t never been free for us.

Freedom requires constant struggle.

Constant sacrifice.

And constant death for those trying to gain it, those trying to keep it, and those trying to take it away.

Our People, Black People, have a glorious and magnificent history of struggling, demanding, sacrificing, and dying for Freedom.

Harriet Tubman took us Underground to Freedom.

Rosa Parks sat down for Freedom.

Ida B. Wells wrote about Freedom.

Assata Shakur escaped to Freedom.

Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey and other enslaved rebels fought and died for Freedom.

Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamed about Freedom.

El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (AKA Malcolm X) was trying to create a unified and Free Black nation.

Kwame Toure (AKA Stokely Carmichael) pumped his Black Power fist in the air and demanded Freedom.

The Deacons for Defense, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and the Black Liberation Army picked up the gun to defend Black life. And Black Freedom.

John Brown felt fundamentally unfree while the shackles of white supremacy and chattel slavery kept Black freedom in bondage.

White racists bombed a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 because they believed we were too prosperous. And too Free.

Ferguson and Baltimore went up in flames as a result of racist police trying to kill our Freedom.

Lovelle Mixon, Chris Dorner, Micah Johnson, and Gavin Long felt they had no other alternative but to let Freedom ring!

Incarcerated freedom fighters across the country are risking their lives and their Freedom to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex.

So, after you’re done reading this poem, ponder for a moment, the following questions:

What price have you paid, what sacrifices have you made, and what struggles have you engaged in for your freedom, our freedom, and for the freedom of opposed people all over the world?

Or are you just a freeloader who enjoys living off of the Freedoms won by past freedom fighters?

Uhuru B. Rowe #1131545
Sussex 2 State Prison
24427 Musselwhite Drive
Waverly, VA 23891-2222


Pain and Death

By Uhuru Rowe
June 3rd, 2016

I have known Pain all of my life, althought I’ve only vaguely known Death.  They are relatives of sorts and both have found it necessary to hold me hostage in a world that I have neither the strength nor the resolve to break free of.

Many times when I thought it was Death knocking on my door, it turned out to be Pain instead.

Pain and I have become very much acquainted since my birth.  It was Pain who flew into a jeolous tirade and injured my friends Hope and Joy when all they were trying to do was show me a good time.

Pain was there when I was robbed of my childhood innocence; when I was bullied in school; when I experienced my first heartbreak; when I was labeled the black sheep of my family; when I was rejected and looked down upon by this cruel, racist Amerikan society solely because of the color of my skin.

Sometimes Pain offered me some drugs and alcohol, and even a gun to cope with life.  But as of late, he’s only offered me misery and suffereing.

Unlike everyone else who’ve abondoned me during times of distress, Pain has  remained consistently loyal and attentive.

When I was sentenced to die in prison; when my father and brother died within a year of each other; when I was placed on solitary confinement, it was Pain who sought me out and wrapped in his arms and squeesed me until I felt numb and paralyzed.

But death is not like his cousin Pain.  Whereas Pain relishes in and thrives on my suffering and agony, Death wants to put me out of my misery.

Death is scary but he offers me an easy way out: a noose, a razor blade, or a deadly concoction of pills; but I am not ready to accept these things from Death even though he daily flaunts them before me in an alluring and enticing fashion.

Death was there when I tried to commit suicide in my early teenage years.  Death was there when I was nearly murdered in an attempted robbery.  He was there when I cought this case – taking the lives of my two victims when I wished it was me he’d taken instead.  And I think I heard him whisper in my ear when I went on a hunger stirke.

While Pain is loud, abrasive and chaotic, Death is smooth, quiet and calculating.  I can never hear him coming.

Death has gotten accustomed to sneaking up and setting next to me while I’m being entertained by Pain, hoping that I’ll turn and acknowledge him.

Perhaps, one day, when Pain gets to be too much, solitary becomes unbearable, and Hope and Joy are nowhere to be found, I’ll turn and introduce myself to Death and consider what he has to offer.

Dying to live

With the recent rash of unjustified killings of Afrikan men, women and children at the hands of racist, trigger-happy cops, we continue to march, protest and demonstrate while screaming “No justice, No Peace!”; “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”; “I Can’t Breathe!”; “Black Lives Matter!”; and now “16 Shots!” in regards to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot a total of sixteen times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014- many of the bullets piercing his body after he fell to the ground.
The lynching of Afrikans in America is not a new phenomenon. As the wise King Solomon once famously lamented, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The soil upon which this country was founded is saturated with the blood of Indigenous Natives (so-called Indians) and our enslaved Afrikan ancestors. Yes, it is true; Afrikans in America have been dying for over 400 years!
We died during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
We died during plantation slavery.
We died during slave rebellions.
We died during Reconstruction.
We died during the Black Codes.
We died during Jim Crow.
We died because of Willie Lynch.
We died in church bombings.
We died from ku klux klan terror.
We died from legal lynchings.
We died from the Fugitive Slave Act.
We died during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
We died from COINTELPRO.
We died from eugenics and forced sterilizations.
We died from the rape of our minds, bodies and culture.
And we continue to die!
We die from divide-and-conquer.
We die from systemic racism.
We die from system oppression.
We die from monoply capitalism.
We die from fascism.
We die from colonialism.
We die from imperialism.
We die from liberalism.
We die from neo-conservatism.
We die from genocide.
We die from patriarchy.
We die from gerrymandering.
We die from redistricting.
We die from racial profiling.
We die from the criminalization of our communities.
We die from disenfranchisement.
We die from poverty.
We die from joblessness.
We die from gentrification.
We die from landlessness.
We die from homelessness.
We die from powerlessness.
We die from medical neglect.
We die from preventable diseases.
We die from food insecurity.
We die from undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses.
We die from hopelessness.
We die from suicides.
We die from miseducation.
We die from low self-esteem.
We die from ignorance.
We die from the lack of a vision.
We die from disunity.
We die from rugged-individualism.
We die from hyper-consumerism.
We die from serving in the military to defend a racist government that does not value and respect us.
We die from mandatory minimums.
We die from Three Strikes.
We die from the abolition of parole.
We die from the war on drugs.
We die from zero-tolerance.
We died from red tape.
We die from redlining.
We die from self-contempt.
We die from black-on-black violence.
We die from police brutality.
Our children die while playing with toy guns.
We die with our hands up.
We die while walking home with a bag of skittles.
We die because we’re wearing a hoodie.
We die because the music in our car is too loud.
We die because we’re standing on the street selling cigarettes to make money to feed our family.
We die during traffic stops.
We die in our jail cells under suspicious circumstances.
Everywhere we go we die.
Everywhere we are we’re dying.
We’ve been dying so often for so long we have nightmares about dying.
We fantasize about dying.
We talk about dying.
We rap about dying.
We sing about dying.
We expect to suffer the unfortunate fate of a premature death while trying to survive in a decadent American society.
Afrikans (Blacks) in America are just DYING TO LIVE!

Revolutionary Love

The Black woman…Her Love is Revolutionary.

It’ll move mountains to get to its destination.

It permeated the most distant parts of the planet before man existed.

During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, it was the Revolutionary Love of the Black woman that gave the Black man the courage, strength, fortification and Power to rise up and confront our captors. Continue reading “Revolutionary Love”


Why do I feel alone, abandoned, forgotten and disconnected from my people as I sit in my prison cell?

As I look out of my cell door, why do I see ten black prisoners for every individual white prisoner?

Why are Virginia prisoners forced to serve 85 percent of our de facto life sentences with no hope of release? Continue reading “WHY”

I know why the Caged Bird Sings

Written in memory of the late, great, poet and activist, Maya Angelou

I know why the caged bird sings.

It sings because it is trapped in a life of hell, inside a tiny cage, unable to move but a few spaces in one direction or the other.

It sings because it is alone, trapped with indifference… held captive in a unnatural habitat against its will.

It sings out of pure desperation, hoping that someone or something will hear its cries for help and will come and liberate it from its unjust, inhuman enslavement.

It sings while patiently waiting for its captors to slipup, make a mistake and leave the cage door ajar…

Then it will flee, fly speedily away, only briefly looking back to behold the misery and torture of isolation and captivity it was fortunate to leave behind.

It will fly to where its ancestors dwelled in peace and security, and dance in the fields where its distant cousins socialized freely while collectively foraging for food.

It will warn them of the genocide, terror and horror that awaits them if they suffer the unfortunate fate of being captured for4 entertainment, consumption or capitalist profit.

So, do not be mistake…

The caged bird is singing songs, not of joy and contentment, but of RAGE and REVOLUTION!