Happy birthday, Mumia Abu-Jamal! 66, today!
“Elie Wiesel says that the greatest evil in the world is not anger or hatred, but indifference. If that is true, then the opposite is also true: that the greatest love we can show our children is the attention we pay them, the time we take for them. Maybe we serve children the best simply by noticing them.”
“Conventional wisdom would have one believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of empires, but what history really shows is that today’s empire is tomorrow’s ashes; that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the human spirit.”
“Prison is a second-by-second assault on the soul, a day-to-day degradation of the self, an oppressive steel and brick umbrella that transforms seconds into hours and hours into days.”
“The media, itself an arm of mega-corporate power, feeds the fear industry, so that people are primed like pumps to support wars on rumor, innuendo, legends, and lies.”
“Politics is the art of making the people believe that they are in power, when in fact, they have none.”
“I spend my days preparing for life, not preparing for death…They haven’t stopped me from doing what I want every day. I believe in life, I believe in freedom, so my mind is not consumed with death. It’s with love, life and those things. In many ways, on many days, only my body is here, because I am thinking about what’s happening around the world.”
“Do you see law and order? There is nothing but disorder, and instead of law there is the illusion of security. It is an illusion because it is built on a long history of injustices: racism, criminality, and the genocide of millions. Many people say it is insane to resist the system, but actually, it is insane not to.”
“At the risk of quoting Mephistopheles, I repeat: Welcome to hell. A hell erected and maintained by human-governments, and blessed by black robed judges. A hell that allows you to see your loved ones, but not to touch them. A hell situated in America’s boondocks, hundreds of miles away from most families. A white, rural hell, where most of the captives are black and urban. It is an American way of death.”
“The role of television is the illusion of company, noise. I call it the fifth wall and the second window: the window of illusion.”
“The state would rather give me an uzi than a microphone.”
“Here and there in the barrios and the favelas, among those who have least, beat hearts of hope, fly sparks of Overcoming.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.