I was talking to a family member and during the course of our dialogue they said, “You been behind bars almost 30 years, but you remain strong, how do you do that?”. Now before I go deep I must give you readers some of my background and then I’ll touch on the question. Firstly I was a young, arrogant, dummy with no direction and because I valued violence and valued the street and all things felonious. I chose prison thinking that since so many people I knew had been there, then I would be okay, boy was I wrong.

The evolution of that abstract strength my family member metaphysically defined came about as a result of trauma. When I entered prison I was too mad to be scared and my mantra was, “Test me, you will fail!”

The second day I’m at an infamous prison in Virginia called, “The Wall”, as I’m about to enter chow hall and as I entered a guy bumps into me and grabs my ass, then he runs into the chow hall and he’s looking at me daring me to do anything. It’s surreal because he’s standing with about five other cats and everything is moving in slow motion. I get my tray and as I walk past the predator I see the smirk on his face and he says, “What’s up?” Everything is still moving in slow motion and on my tray is two pieces of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese , green beans, mashed potatoes, and a piece of cake. When the predator says, “What’s up?” I walked past him and as I get past him I spin around and hit him in the face with the tray, but I actually catch one of the pieces of fried chicken as I break the tray on the predator’s face. I put the chicken in one hand and took a bite, then I kick the predator (who was now on the ground) several times. Back then I was about 150 pounds and the predator was about 6’2 and maybe 230 pounds. While the predator is on the ground I started to stomp him and in between my butt-kicking introduction, I’m eating chicken. The fight ended when a group of older convicts say, “Young blood, you prove your point, he had enough, it’s over!”

I stop stomping the predator and went back and get another tray and sit down and eat my food. While I was eating several cats came and explain that the predator is what convicts call, “A booty bandit” (a prisoner who preys on new and weak prisoners for sexual favors).

Now, from that incident came growth because I decided that I valued myself enough to fight anyone and at no time could I or would I compromise my principles. Because to do so makes me less than a man, and Momma didn’t raise no fool. I remain strong by knowing that everything has levels – The beauty of a thing is known by its opposite.