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More on: Ethnic Studies

Be the Change Within

Oct 03, 2011
» Reflections

It’s been a pleasure to be a guest lecturer at Arizona State University. I’m grateful for the invitation from professor Jeff Ow, Wendy Cheng and Kathy Nakagawa from the Asian Pacific American Studies to allow me to kickoff the second annual National Ethnic Studies week in ASU. I was able to share with approximately 300 students from all diverse backgrounds. I was encouraged by some of their presence.

I’m also grateful for the presence of my host, tour guide, photographer, bodyguard and chauffeur Bryan Smith and his lovely wife Alison for their generosity and hospitality. It’s great to have good friends in difference places.

10-3-2002

When it comes to visiting in the Ad Seg, the person(s) come to visit is/are always a surprise. I never know who’s coming to see me until I see the person. I was called for a visit at eleven o’clock. It’s Thursday. Most of my friends work on weekdays so I had no idea who’s coming to see me. I was glad none the less. I didn’t have to wait long to find out who came up. S surprised me. I didn’t recognized her from a distant. She was much calmer than the S I remember. It’s been three years since the last time we talked or saw each other. We had a great visit. We talked about many topics: personal, politic, education, prison, etc. I felt we’re old friends. Somehow, we were able to visit for two hours and twenty minutes. The Officer must’ve forgotten about us. I loved it. I wrote S and sent her my poem, the proposal letter to politicians and guideline to write support letters. I appreciate her friendship. I asked her to visit Mike. She’s doing well.

I received the wedding invitation from K. I hope she’ll be happy. I got two letters from J. she’s a good and detailed story teller. She shared pretty much everything with me. Her partner is jealous of me because we write to each other often and in great volume. I wrote her back and sent her the 9th circuit decision. She’ll be back in April.

I wrote B a brief letter to thank her and V for their support. I wrote PLO W and told him I will go forward with the hearing. I also asked him to confirm his role as my attorney. I know he don’t like my decision, but I have to call the shots this time. I still don’t trust him completely. I’ll fire him if necessary.

I pray that things will work out for Rico and Mike tomorrow. Rico received a response from Barbara Lee. She forwarded the letter to Senator Prerata. Hopefully he’ll look into the situation with us.

May our families and friends are well.

Sep 25, 2011
» Reflections

Things are starting to move along. I was called to my 115 hearing at ten till ten this morning. Lt. M was the hearing officer. He wasn’t prepared and seemed like he’s set to find me guilty. I stayed until ten til eleven and I was called to my attorney visit. Lt. M postponed the hearing due to the legal visit. I thought he was saved by the bell to make a decision. I turned in all my defense statements and supporting documents. Hopefully he’ll be impartial and find me not guilty.

I visited with PLO’s (Prison Law Office) KW from 11 to 12:35. We discussed about my situation in Ad Seg. I gave him a brief update on my status. Then we talked about the writ. He suggested that filling the writ might  not be the best idea. It’ll take a long time dealing with appeals by the board even if I win in the court. If I get a date from BPT, I would get out sooner. However, I pointed out to him that if I don’t get a date the process will take just as long, 8 months to a year and a half. He agreed. He also suggested that either I filed a write pro per and ask him to be appointed or wait til the end of October when he’s free and file the writ. I said I’ll get back to him. he apologized for his lack of communication. He said if I wanted someone to represent me, that would be fine. I just might do that if that’s the case. he seemed like he had changed his demeanor with me. I expressed my dissatisfaction with him. He assured me that he’s on board with me. He wants to help me all the way. I’ll hold him to that. I still have to get my feedback from the lawyer first. I wrote KW to say thank you.

I received a letter from Yuri. She loved my poem and wanted to put it in her memoir. I said hell yeah! She met S and wanted to start a San Quentin 3 committee to help me and the guys. It’s a great idea. Yuri’s for it and will help publicize our plight and Ethnic Studies. She’s interested in the fight for Ethnic Studies. I wrote her back and gave her some details. She said that I should get my writings published so colleges can use it to teach Asian Americans about prison. I agreed, but I don’t know how to do that yet. I was pumped by her letter as usual. I shared it with Mike. He liked it. I’m sure he’s excited.

I wrote to K and told her what happened today. I have been busy all day. I got my canteen, only junk food. I gave Blue Eyes 10 stamps for drawing the praying hand to Rico. He’s happy I was so generous.

I called Mom again, but no one was home so I left a brief message. She’s probably in Oakland while Sis is on vacation.

I did some fishing. I got my two appeals back. I have to send them to the lawyer to process. It’s a lot of work. He told me he filed my write already. That was quick. I appreciate it.

I saw a few guys on the way back from visit. Hopefully I’ll be back on the line soon so I can work on going home. God willing. I pray that all is well with family and friends.

 

Autobiography @ 33

Mar 07, 2011
» Poetry

I am 33 years old and breathin’

it’s a good year to die

to myself

I never felt such extreme peace

despite being mired in constant ear-deafening screams

from the caged occupants – triple CMS1, PCs2, gang validated,
drop-outs, parole violators, lifers,
drug casualties, three strikers,
human beings

in San Quentin’s 150 year old solitary confinement

I don’t want to start things over

 

@ 33

I am very proud of being who I am

I wrote a letter to a stranger who said
“You deserve to lose at least your youth,
not returning to society until well into middle age…”

after reading an article about me in San Francisco Weekly

I told him
“A hundred years from now when we no longer exist on this earth of humankind the seriousness of my crime will not be changed or lessened. I can never pay my debt to the victims because I cannot turn back the hands of time…I will not judge you.”

whenever I think about my crime I feel ashamed

I’ve lost my youth and more

I’ve learned that the more I suffer the stronger I become

I am blessed with great friends

I talk better than I write
because the police can’t hear my conversation

the prison officials labeled me a trouble maker

I dared to challenge the administration
for its civil rights violation

I fought for Ethnic Studies in the prison college program

I’ve been a slave for 16 years under the 13th Amendment

I know separation and disappointment intimately

I memorized the United Front Points of Unity

I love my family and friends

my shero Yuri Kochiyama and a young sister named Monica

who is pretty wanted to come visit me

somehow I have more female friends than male friends

I never made love to a woman

sometimes I feel like 16

but my body disagrees

some people called me a square

because I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs

I am a procrastinator but I get things done

I’ve never been back to my motherland

I started to learn Spanish

escribió una poema en español

at times I can be very selfish and vice versa

I’ve never been to a prom, concert, opera, sporting event

or my parents’ house

I don’t remember the last time I cried

I’ve sweat with the Native Americans, attended mass with the

Catholics, went to service with the Protestants, sat and chanted

with the Buddhists

my mind is my church

I am spoiled

in 2001 a young lady I love stopped loving me

it felt worse than losing my freedom

I was denied parole for the ninth time

I assured Mom that I will be home one day

after she pleaded me to answer her question truthfully
“Are you ever going to get out of prison?”

the Prison Industrial Complex and its masters attempted to control my mind

it didn’t work

they didn’t know I’ve been introduced to Che, Yuri Kochiyama, Paulo Freire, Howard Zinn, Frederick Douglass, Assata Shakur, bell hooks, Maurice Cornforth, Malcolm X, Gandhi, George Jackson, Mumia, Buddha,

and many others…

I had about a hundred books in my cell

I was internalizing my politics

In 2000 I organized the first poetry slam in San Quentin

I earned my associate of art degree

something that I never thought possible

I’ve self-published a zine

I was the poster boy for San Quentin

some time in the ‘90s my grandparents died

without knowing that I was in prison

 

@ 30

I kissed Dad on the cheek and told him that I love him
for the first time

I’ve written my first poem

I called myself a poet to motivate me to write

because I knew poets would set us free

in 1998 I was granted parole
then it was taken away

the governor’s political career superseded my life

some time in the 90s
I participated in most of the self-help programs

in 1996 I really learned how to read and write

I read my first history book “A People’s History
of the United States”

my social conscious mind was awakened

in 1992 I passed my GED in Solano Prison

I learned how to take care of my body from ’89 to ‘93

in 1987 I turned 18 and went to the Pen from youth authority

the youngest prisoner in San Quentin’s
Maximum Security Prison

I was lucky people thought I knew kung fu

 

@ 16

I violated an innocent family of four and scarred them for life

money superseded human suffering

I was charged as an adult and sentenced to life
with a possibility

no hablo ingles

I wish I could start things over

I was completely lost

 

@ 12

I left Communist China to Capitalist America

no hablo ingles

I was spoiled

in 1976 I went to demonstrations against the Gang of Four

life was a blur from 1 to 6

on 5/29/69

I inhaled my first breath.

 


1 Correctional Clinical Case Management System Mental health condition of prisoners
2 Protective Custody of Prisoners

UC Berkeley, Guest Speaker

Nov 04, 2010
» Engagements

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Presented at Dr. Siri Brown’s Ethnic Studies class on “Other: an Asian Pacific Islander Prisoners’ Anthology” and prison life, to approximately 150 students.

San Francisco State University, Guest Speaker

Oct 14, 2010
» Engagements

San Francisco, CA
Presented at Professor Russell Jeung’s “Asian Americans and Public Policy” class, on deportation issues, to approximately 60 students.

Macalester College, Guest Speaker

Feb 25, 2010
» Engagements

St. Paul, MN
Presented at Professor Pablo Dosh’s Comparative Social Movements class, to approximately 15 students.

UC Berkeley, Guest Speaker

Nov 03, 2009
» Engagements

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Presented at Dr. Siri Brown’s Ethnic Studies class of approximately 75 students

AYPAL’s Ethnic Studies Retreat, Speaker

Feb 28, 2009
» Engagements

Oakland, CA
Led a workshop for approximately 35 Asian and Pacific Islander youth.

AYPAL

Asian and Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership
AYPAL is a community organizing project dedicated to building the grassroots leadership and power of low-income Asian Pacific Islander youth in Oakland. Our mission is to transform school and neighborhood inequities so that all youth can be healthy, safe and thriving members of their communities.

the Jail Generation

Apr 18, 2004
» Articles

Prisons have become the primary institutional interface for more and more youth, informing everything from pop culture to worldview and life expectations.

by Dan Hoyle, AlterNet

excerpt:

If so many young people are growing up in prison, what exactly are they being taught?

“In prison, you learn to talk less, listen more, and observe — and you learn patience,” says Eddy Zheng from a pay phone in Solano State Prison in Vacaville, CA. In 1982, when he was 12 years old, Zheng came to America from Canton, China, with his family. His parents worked full time — “my Dad worked at McDonalds; all he memorized was how to say ‘mayonaise, lettuce, tomatoes.'” Zheng didn’t adjust well. In 1986 he was convicted of kidnapping with intent to commit robbery, and was charged as an adult at the age of 16. “I grew up in prison,” admits Zheng. Still learning English when he was admitted, Zheng took ESL classes and got his GED, and then went on to receive an Associate Degree of Arts through extension classes at San Quentin State Prison (he has since been relocated to Solano State). He plans on starting a youth guidance center for new immigrants when he is released. Zheng realizes his story is unusual and praises the “huge support from family and friends beyond the community of incarceration” that have helped him make the most of his time in prison.

( read full article online here )

Asian American Studies Denied to San Quentin Inmates

Mar 28, 2003
» Articles

APAs fight for their rights behind bars

by Ji Hyun Lim, AsianWeek

excerpt:

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 )