I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I’m standing in line waiting for lunch about 10:30 am and a black inmate standing next to me said “I hate all white people.” He hadn’t intended for me to hear it as he didn’t know I was there.  We made eye contact and he tried to backtrack, saying he meant “some white people”.  I laughed, I joked that no he didn’t, he hated us all.  With the ice broken, he explained to me what was going on, without me asking for an explanation.  It seems Lt. Brodie had told someone something different that what he told someone else, concerning some issue and had basically blown him off when he complained.  Having had some experience with Brodie and the others on first and second shift I sympathized.  My new friend commented that he’d guarantee he’d go to the hole the day before he got out in 4 months because he would let them know what he thought of them.  I shared my theory, as I’ve shared with all of you.  The guards and Brodie see us as less than human, like animals in a cage, and if they didn’t meet the needs or wants of the caged animal, so what?  Besides, at the end of the day, what could we do about it really?  There’s no immediate redress of grievances available to us.  I’m not sure its the guards fault entirely.  Day in and day out they do what they’ve been trained to do – keep the inmates down.   The only caution I throw in is that its the same attitude that allowed an entire nation to approve of and/or look the other way while ten million people were murdered.  When you dehumanize people, conscience is rendered useless.  But the point to my friend is that it wasn’t so much racism at play as he thought but rather extreme apathy on the guards part – to tell whoever whatever they want to hear just to get them to go away.  It really isn’t personal on their part.  Their apathy is applied on an equal opportunity basis regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation.  Furthermore, I encouraged him to be careful in what he says or does in his remaining time.  Don’t sabotage yourself.  Privately, I thought the fact you are so focused on getting revenge on those that disrespect you 4 months from your release is worrisome.  There are so many other things to be thinking about.  Finally, I told him, no matter what you do, you won’t change anything in what the guards or Brodie do or think.  It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn here.  What i have been working on is to learn to be content regardless of the circumstances.  Often you have read where I’m upset when I’m not happy with what is happening.  Even leading up to my arrest, when everything was falling apart around me.  If I’ve learned that lesson, I’m not in prison.  I can be content regardless of my circumstances as long as I have made changes to the things I can control.  My friend told me he doesn’t think that way, that he can’t not just let it go.  I get it.  But I don’t want to live that way and make those same mistakes.

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