More on: Asian American Studies
Jun 13, 2011
How time flies!? Nine years ago today I was locked up in San Quentin State Prison’s solitary confinement, also known as The Hole. Yes, June 13, 2002 started my life in the hole for exactly eleven months. It all started when my friends Rico, Mike, Stephen and I signed a proposal requesting classes on Asian American history and literature, ethnic studies, a student body, a faculty body and that our rights be honored in the San Quentin college program. It’s a long story.
Few people understand what is like for a prisoner to be locked up in solitary confinement, which it’s a prison within a prison. The psychological effects that long term isolation has on prisoners are often detrimental. However, I was able to get out of the hole and remain sane. I kept a journal of my time in the hole. I will share it with the world in hope to shed some light on the conditions of solitary confinement and how I had survived that ordeal. I will use the initials of people I identified for confidentiality purposes. Let’s see how folks feel about my time travel back to the past.
“Evening. I don’t know what time it is right now, but it really does not matter. I’m in the hole. There is no difference if I know what time it is. I have nowhere to go. I’ll be in this cell for a while. I’m by myself.
My companions are noises from people yelling, talking and the echoes of my voice when I hum a few bars. I’m feeling extremely peaceful. There is no feelings of anxiety, regrets and hopelessness. I’m bathing in peace. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, but I’m grateful. I’m in the hole. My reaction and feeling about being in here is totally different from my first time in the hole.
It was on October 26, 2000 that I was in the same situation. I had everything going for me then. This time I don’t seem to have much. The extreme of having so much to having nothing was too much of a shock for me last time. This time I’m mentally prepared. That made a huge difference. Also, I have faith that I will win when this is all over.
I was at work this morning when Officer R came picked me up. He informed me that I’m going to get locked up. I said goodbye to all the library workers. S cried as he hugged me. He’s a very emotional person. He has a lot of good qualities. I was allowed to pack my things up. When I got to the cell, it was searched by a squad Officer D. He took some books, photographs, writings, letters and misc paperwork. It took me some time to pack up my stuff, mostly books. I much have a hundred books. I ended up with 8 boxes 1 bag and the TV. L helped me carry them to the storage room. He told me that he loves me and that we will win. I believe him. It’s sad to leave him by himself. He’ll have to stay strong and fight for us. I didn’t take a lot of food, only some can goods and rice. I felt calm and peaceful when I was packing.
After I signed my lockup order, C/O R to infirmary and to C section “the hole.” I yelled to Rico while in the cage to let him know I’m here. I stood in the cage for almost three hours. Boy, do I have patient!? I was able to talk to Mike for a bit. he was going to the law library. After I was escorted to my cell, I took time to clean the cell with a piece of rag. Someone left a bible, half of a Stuff magazine and a book in the locker. At least I have something to read if I want to.
My neighbor “Little” gave me three envelops and 3 pieces of paper. I appreciate his help. I wrote a letter to Mom and N. It’s a short letter just to ask them not to worry. I also wrote to K and sent him the copy of 114, (the code for lock up order.) I also sent a 602 as a citizen’s complaint again Lt. N. I hope to hear from the court soon. Dinner was hot doges and beans. I was hungry so I ate them. B sent me a couple of stamped envelops and paper. It was nice of him to do that. Mike gave me some stamps shampoo and toothpaste.
During mail pick up, I received 6 pieces of rerouted mail. They were all inspected and read twice. My mail are flagged. I was happy to receive those letters. I got letter from J, A, M, K and O. I got a fan mail response from the SF Weekly story. K was very vocal about the injustice done by the governor. I want to write her back. A shared a lot with me. He talked to Yuri about me. I’ll read J’s letter before I go to sleep. I wrote her a short letter, but didn’t make it out. I’m still feeling good right now. I hope all is well with Rico, Mike and L.
We will win.”
Oct 14, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Presented at Professor Russell Jeung’s “Asian Americans and Public Policy” class, on deportation issues, to approximately 60 students.
May 11, 2010
Presented at Professor Roger Chung’s “Asian-American Communities” class, on the Prison Industrial Complex and the work of Asian Prisoners’ Support Committee (APSC), to approximately 60 students.
Dec 10, 2009
Spoke with Professor Roger Chung’s Asian American class of approximately 30 students
Dec 08, 2009
Spoke with Dr. Darby Price’s Asian American class, “Asian American History from 1945 to the Present”, of approximately 20 students
Oct 19, 2009
San Francisco, CA
Spoke about deportation and the experience of API prisoners, at Professor Russell Jeung’s classes “Chinese American Personality”, “Social Class and Low Income Chinese Americans” and “Asian American Public Policy”, to a total of approximately 150 students
Apr 01, 2009
San Francisco, CA
Spoke at Professor Russell Jeung’s “Chinese American Personality” and “Asian American Communities: Development and Change” classes, of approximately 150 students
Mar 04, 2009
University of California, Davis
Spoke about the connections between personal life, the Prison Industrial Complex and the overall system of oppression, to Professor Sunaina Maira’s “Politics and Social Movements: Asian American Activism and Social Movement” class, of approximately 40 students.
Mar 28, 2003
APAs fight for their rights behind bars
by Ji Hyun Lim, AsianWeek
Education frees the mind, builds character — and some argue — may reduce recidivism. For Eddy Zheng, the San Quentin College program has been rehabilitative. Seventeen years ago, Zheng was sent to prison for armed robbery, sentenced for seven years to life. During his years in prison, he has been able to read, write, learn English, and receive both his GED and his associates degree. With his education, he hopes to educate at-risk kids about the consequences of crime when he is released from prison.
Zheng has taken all the courses offered to him, but he and his fellow inmates are still thirsty to learn more about their roots as Asian Pacific Americans. On March 11, Zheng, Viet Mike Ngo, Roy Remeidio and Stephen Liebb proposed to the academic committee that the education program include courses that reflect their cultural history and identity. The four men signed a petition as a formal request. However, they were faced with an unanticipated reaction.
( read full article online here )