Category Archives: The Beat Without

To The Beat! 

by Vernon Smith 

Greetings and peace and blessings upon each of every one of you that listen to this beat of ours… I want to share with you all some of my own “calls for help”– the first two relate to each other and a little bit more of what I’m going through now within my own journey. And the third one will be a shout-out and a cry-out for help from all of you, as you will see…

Alright now on my last prison term, which I ended up doing in ASP/Avenal from 2008-2012 I landed on the B-yard there, also known as the two yard. So anyways me being a Sephardic Messianic Jew, after saying what’s up to a few of my old friends, homies, and associates, I started searching for and seeking out any brothers of likeminded, beliefs based on the Torah roots teachings and come to find out we had a pretty nice strong minded congregation there- but not much at all in the way of any type of real programs or worship/service time in the chapel nor study books or Besorahs- bibles. Let alone DVD teachings or CDs within the two yard chapel there. So we all started to gather out on the yard on Shabbat/Saturday mornings between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

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Safe Communities

by Phillip Kelly

In my opinion, a safe community consists of positive, happy, genuine people, plenty of resources; i.e., money for after school programs, new supplies every quarter like books, pencils, paper, whatever is needed or used mostly by the kids, clean streets and public spaces, no graf ti, homeless people, prostitution, and drug users.

I would say a place like Beverly Hills is very safe; mainly from the many white superstars that live there with plenty of money; a vigilant police force and other members of that community who care and take pride in how the community functions and the ‘rich’ that live there.

My old neighborhood is the exact opposite of what I just described above. Gang plagued, drug infested, crime riddled, bad people with bad intentions in general! The schools are like gang playgrounds and hang out. Families are broken; both parents are not in the home, the home itself is very dysfunctional, and the people have nothing positive to look for.

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No One Said Life was Fair

by Gigg’s
No one said life was fair.
I don’t agree with life’s experiences some people and I have shared…
Who knew she wouldn’t believe me when I told her he rubbed on me.
Streaks from the streams of my eyes,
and she tellin’ me, “there ain’t no reason for them fears…”
Later on, taking life in my own hands and it’s for his life he came to fear…
Who knew he’d step up and start beating me
when dude walked away and left his seeds.
I would cringe for no reason, not knowing him
and him would be the reasons I’d feel uncomfortable around
and the other one taking me up outta my dysfunctional foundation.
Stuck with some strangers now thinking I’m racist.
They didn’t want me. I could see it in their faces…
But I learned to handle my own.
Through years of fears, enduring pain and finally fighting back.
The crazy part about it is the shame, guilt, and blame is what keeps me regressing.
It’s what keeps me on the streets. It’s what kept me on my knees.
Praying to God just this one time.
“I promise this and I won’t do that, if you just help me.”
I’m sure we’ve been there. Done that.
Some more than others, when your back’s against the wall.
Makes it quick to come back…
Because it’s been that and then some of these dark secrets I continue to hold onto…
Just playing for keeps…
‘Cause it’s the hate that keeps me going. It’s the pain that pumps and keeps flowing.
It’s the revenge I think that’s mine.
The lack of forgiveness dwells within me, keeps me strangled for life.
But it’s my life that shhh won’t leave.
It’s what had me stuck on the pipe. It’s what had my lips to that drank,
my fist to the mugs and my finger on the triggers
keeping record of faceless figures.
Thinking I was hurting my mom.
Thinking I was hurting my dad.
Thinking I was hurting all those that hurt me and left me for dead.
With their broken down loyalty, them words don’t mean a thang.
All the while destroying myself. My body. My spirit.
My life and my soul.
Who said this life will be fair!?
I had to look up, forced to believe someone outside of me cared!
Through desperate and some quite miserable times I realized who always was there…
Someone told me it’s easy to say: “what happens for a reason…”
But it’s freewill that we’re given,
Pick your poison. It’s all in due season…
I never chose to be harmed, exposed and beat down as a child.
But as I grew it was my decision to act like I’m crazy, of senseless mind.
I hate that we go through some things underserved.
Paying others karma. Life lets them know they got served.
But know that he’ll make a way for me and you once we find the purpose to use it all for some good.
His love is not something of the unheard, it’s greater than me. You and you!

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The World Around Me In Color

by Keith Erickson

Not long ago I remember a day sitting in my California prison cell doing what I’d done so many countless other times through the electric fence and razored wire staring out my window. My freedom, something I hadn’t had in nearly thirty years, was left standing there in the forest just outside the Prison’s perimeter. I couldn’t reach out to clutch it in my bare hands if even my life depended on it – I was, and continue to be, serving the rest of my life in this man-built hell. They say that it’s a center for men and women to be rehabilitated. A place of correcting our wrongs with rights, before we leave behind a legacy that is just meaningless and forgotten. They say, many of us get so lost that we fall into the cracks of this con nement. Only to no longer nd our way back out. For me, I’m one of the fortunate ones – I found my way back to the surface.

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Gun Violence

by Downer

Guns played a detrimental part in my life because for a long time, that was my only understanding on how to deal with my issues and problems that I encounter on the streets. Guns were always perpetuated, as “that’s how you handle business”. This ideology ultimately led me to commit murder in gang violence because I wanted to be respected, accepted, and powerful. That ‘genius’ way of thinking cost me seventeen years and counting, of my life at the age of fteen.

My response to the popular pro-gun expression of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a sinister way to keep the focus off the guns.

There are a number of ways to kill someone without using guns so when a person is shot with a gun, that bullet(s) is the main reason why that person(s) is dying or hurting.

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My Life Story

by Darrell McGreggor 

My name is Darrell McGreggor. I am forty-eight years old and I am an ex-gang member. When I was fourteen years old, I moved into my father’s home and I became troublesome— most of which was internal. I was headstrong and did whatever I wanted to do.

I started hanging with the wrong crowd of people. I became mischievous and looking for love in the wrong places.

At age sixteen, I joined a gang for acceptance and to be known. I wanted people to fear me. At the same time, I wanted my former peers to respect me. I was attracted to the gang lifestyle because in school the girls gave them lots of attention. They fought for one another and showed each other respect.

The gang gave me a platform and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for their camaraderie and love. I wanted to be just like them, if not better. I began to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol because I wanted to fit in and feel like them and I liked it!

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The Seasons of Change

by Giggs

I remember telling myself I would never come back, I kept my word for the next seven years. It didn’t take too long for the fog to lift up out of my head, wanting back all I had and realizing how much I should’ve been grateful for a bit late…

I stressed for the longest how much I just wanted to get back to how and where I was, not materialistically or tangibly. Just me, the person I had become, learning to love, to live. To embrace life as it comes. But the more it is the more I learn about the seasons of change! There’s a time and a place for everything, I needed this experience to get back and humble me… I can’t get back to the way I was, or at least it’s not the time to at this time and place. Being still and silent, teaching me to begin a new chapter, something needs to change!

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Reality Hurts

by Phong Dang

BANG, BANG, BANG!!!  With no regard for human life I recklessly shot four times into a group of my rivals and Phung Thanh Nguyen is lying bloody on the floor. I wake up startled as the reality of what I have done hit me! I open my eyes and I’m back in my tiny cell sweating from the nightmare that I had caused.  Serving twenty-three years into my incarceration I try to gain insight into why I became this monster. And I start to reflect…

I was born on January 24, 1975, in Saigon, the capitol of Vietnam.  However, as circumstances would have it, I was born in the midst of a communist war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In the year of 1979, my parents had no choice but to pack up their belongings, whatever essentials they were able to carry on their backs, while also carrying my baby brother (2 years old) and I (4 years old) in their arms.  We had to leave and escape from our home which was the place of our birth.  It was everything we knew and we had to start anew.  We were hoping to find a better future and opportunities for ourselves. We had to get out of Vietnam!

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One Vote…Priceless!

by Eddie “Edito” DeWeaver

Witnessing my father experience negative contact with law enforcement helped to form the false belief system of a fourteen- year-old, “that nothing I could do would change the world.” At that time, I had no idea how far I was away from the truth. Now sitting in this prison cell, I can say that I did change the world…for the bad. Fortunately, my story continues to get better, as I began to rst take responsibility for my past, and also, to believe in my power to impact the future…for the good.

When it comes to voting, if you believe that what you do today will change the future, then you must vote with purpose. However, if you don’t believe that your vote will impact your world, then I challenge you to follow the money! When you investigate and nd out how much money is spent in elections you will be forced to recognize that your vote really does count, for all of this money spent in elections is to get your vote. Never believe the lie that one vote, your vote, does not count. It is your civic duty not to allow people who are not concerned about your wellbeing to decide your future. Your vote will change the world.

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It’s All About Attitude

by Dortell Williams

Some time ago, I got a call to the dentist’s of ce. I wasn’t expecting a call; I had no problems or complaints. But when staff calls, you know you gotta go check it out. So I went in there and there they were: the dentist and two assistants. Nothing unusual about that. The odd thing was that they were all smiling- and looking at me! Now you know that’s weird, at least on this side of the wall. To be polite, I smiled likewise.

The shorter nurse with glasses said I looked confused, but maintained her Mickey Mouse smile. So I responded, “Well, you all are really smiling in here, and coming from the darkness of the yard, it’s like something out of the Twilight Zone.” They laughed.

The taller one, with the model-face features says, in a happy tone of a game show host, “You’ll be 50-ttttttyyy pretty soon! That means we’ll see you eveeeeery yeaaar!” (Under 50, it’s every two years). I thought the whole presentation was really odd, but it was funny and I will never forget it. But they weren’t nished.

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