Corcoran prisoner about changing public attitudes on prisoners & torture

Exerpted Letter from Zaharibu Dorrough (Corcoran)

Dec. 8, 2011

I honestly believe that there will not be a better time to challenge the legality of warehousing people in isolation than now.

As a result of the hunger strike and the efforts—the magnificent efforts—of people like you, the public is now aware of how their tax dollars are being wasted. …That has to be the context in which it is framed to the larger public. How their tax dollars are being wasted is the one thing that every citizen out there has in common with one another. Regardless of how they might feel about humanity of citizens in prison/isolation. Strategically that has to be the starting point for progressives to build around.

Historically, injustice has had a tremendous headstart….we are always playing catch-up, we must work that much harder to not let citizens forget. To constantly strengthen our relationships with one another.

Forging coalitions with like-minded progressives. Putting faces to the stories of torture and abuse.

There are human beings dying –being driven to suicide—as a result of the isolation that they are being subjected to. That people are being housed under such conditions would be shameful under any circumstance. That it happens in what is referred to as the world’s greatest democracy…is appalling. Conditions that are responsible for literally driving people crazy and to suicide is what isolation is intended to accomplish.

…there is still a lot of work to be done in the nation educating itself in a way that will allow us to develop the kind of strategies and tactics that will make it possible to effectively and permanently deal with the abuses and disrespecting of humanity that is an all too common part of this nation’s history. Hate and indifference (and it goes by many names: racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, religious bigotry, classism) are the tools that are used by those in positions of authority to maintain power….

Hate and indifference is so entrenched in our cultural psyche that we actually believe that, personally and institutionally, [we can still be] fair and just. We believe this because we have never been taught or encouraged to consider that our growth and development, individually, collectively, and institutionally, has occurred within the same racist, sexist, homophobic, classist… hateful and indifferent circumstance n which we have lived. It is who and what many of us are.

… we are taught that the beauty of the free market economy is that everyone is given equal access to the market to compete for jobs and economic prosperity. But…we compete against one another for the smallest portion of the economic pie. Hate and indifference is responsible for the fierce and extreme competition…

Torture is a form of violence that has always been used by totalitarian governments to subordinate the larger society to its will.

…In order for this to succeed, it is necessary for th larger society to be convinced that their interest and the interest of those who are in positions of power are one and the same.

Hate and indifference has robbed us of our ability to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves. We see slave, homeless, whore, faggot, red or blue, inmate, prisoner…alien! These are a few of the objects that we designate for one another. Our silence sends a clear message of our acceptance of this.

The protests (of which the hunger strike is a part) that are taking place throughout the country and world is a demonstration that many of us are determined to not only hold onto our own humanity, but to reclaim it collectively.

We are on a course in which hate and indifference will not define who we are. …There is a renewed sense of hope. And after more than 23 years in isolation, hope is what has kept me amongst the living.

There are things that have to do with simple human honor. To resist and not surrender!


Michael (Zaharibu) Dorrough

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