Article by Christopher Young
INTERVIEW WITH REG
I met Reginald Blanton in February 2007, we clicked like we knew each other our whole life. Reg is the person I credit for my enlightenment and growth. I love him dearly like he was my blood brother. Recently Reg has received an execution date for October 27th, Reg has maintained his innocence, punched numerous holes in the district attorneys accusations, and did what society said he could'nt do, rehabilitate himself. Although I don't think he ever needed to.
During his appeals, Reginalds attorneys fumbled the ball and failed to raise numerous claims in one stage, which barred him from raising those same claims in future stages. (see his myspace page for for details www.myspace.com/freereggieb
Here is just a small insight into a Magnificient Mind, please help save my brother.
FOR THOSE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF YOU, INTRODUCE YOURSELF
What I think is important for people to realise is, first I AMnot a death row prisoner. I am not any of the hideous images that floods the minds of people when they hear Death Row prisoner; that floods their minds with bogeymen and all of the worst things the imagination conjures up out of the darkness; and darkness is exactly what it isignorance. I AMnot TDC 999395. On the other hand, Im much more than a Black man wrongfully convicted. Much more than my Mamas baby; much more; much more than a husband; much more than my brothers keeper.
I am my community. I AM a reflection of everything good within the soul of that community. I am love and sacrifice; passion and discipline. Sometimes I realize Im one with the universe, sometimeswhen Im not spending too much time ruminating over the State of Texas trying to dismember me from the rest of my self; the rest; the community.
BREAKDOWN A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU, BEING THAT YOU ARE LOCKED UP IN A CELL 22 HOURS A DAY
Hmm, Im probably waking from some intense dream I had since it seems like the intensity of my predicament, has stimulated a part of me that is now speaking to me through my dreams, while reflecting on the images I can remember to search out its meaning; reflecting on the type of energy Im feeling as a result of the dream, deciding if I should sort of sit in that energy or channell it into the universe as a sort of spiritual jujitsu, if I feel the energy is negative; channelling it into manifesting MY truth, not what the state of Texas thinks is truth. Im talking about Justice, freedom, these principles that is suppose to make our Nation so great.
After this is done, maybe while washing up or pacing my cage with some coffee, I try to fightno, not necessarily fight, but cultivate a certain type of Atmosphere from inside me out around me, filling the air I breathe, coating the walls and floors with something, I dont know, maybe light; yes, as if Im surrounding myself with a light barrier to protect me from all of the bogeymen that now haunt my mind, heart and spirit; bogeymen that were created out of the imaginations of the people who either created this system called the Death Penalty or those that allow it to persist out of ignorance.
Once Ive cultivated this atmosphere, then I sit down, maybe with the Kings of Leon or Chris Cornell palying on my radio, and I do what Im doing nowtry to be heard and understood. TO BE bruh, to be reconnected with the rest of me.
I KNOW YOUR GOOD AT SIMPLFYING COMPLEX SITUATIONS, SO TELL US WHAT BEING ISOLATED IN A CELL CAN DO TO A HUMAN BEING OVER TIME.
(laughing) Ive been accused of complicating simple things. Infact I think Im the most complicated person I know, with an extremely complicated life. But I think Ive partially answered this a minute ago. I could easily reference the essay I wrote on sensory deprivation, (recognizing psychological warfare, highlighting all the symptoms psychologist have found to result from such a said state of confinement, but I cultivate that atmosphere I was talking about to partially fight or protect myself those bogeyman-like symptoms that Ive not only experienced but Ive found, through asking other death row prisoners for their opinion on the essay, that may others suffer the corresponding symptoms as well.
But theres more to the symptoms. Theres something beyond measurement that I experience. A feeling, a sort of thing that tries to take control over my peace, over my emotions. I mean, Im thrown in this concrete tomb to remind me that the state intends for me to DIE here; to die when I know I deserve to live. This is the most humiliating thing Ive ever experienced. No matter where I turn, Im entombed. Im entombed because I cant be self reliant. I must depend on others for everything. Oh, and how devasting the blow when these others show you you cant depend on them, cant depend on them to feed you, shower you, recreate you. That you cant always depend on them to respond to your letters or see the necessity in persuing an objective I need persued.
(looking around) All this entombs bruh. It strives to entomb you in helplessness and hopelessness. Im entombed by the people and their stereo-types, their bogeymen. If I speak with anger and intelligence, then Im a militant. If I speak of innocence then Im merely a groveling, spineless murderer condemned to death and only trying to save my hide. Im entombed by those that remain stand-offish to me.
Then my own lawyer entombed me, by ignoring my legal concerns, not filing my innocence claims to the court as to perserve them for further appeals, and because of this, the Federal court entombed me by procedurally barring these claims my lawyer refused to file, while blaming me for my attorneys wrongdoing. So everywhere you look you see, ironically, exactly what they try to label us as: The worst of the worst.
But these bricks that they have been using to build this tomb, their tomb, Ive taken and began stacking them brick by brick, making myself something. Ive made me something and I will keep using these bricks to help me reach the pinnacle of my being. Yet everybody doesnt transform adversity into stepping stones. Many turn them into tombstones.
GIVE US YOUR VIEWS ON THE DEATH PENALTY
I think the Death Penalty represents our lower self, the worst in us, not the worst of the worst in society, but the worst in us as a whole. Its reflective of our refusal, as a nation, to change; to change our philosophical and ideological approach to all those things that creates the atmosphere that stimulates the worst in us. One of the most absurd facts Ive found is how the masses are under the illusion that death row prisoners are so violent that they cant be imprisoned around other prisoners and must be put to death. All murders are a sin against humanity. However the absurdity is that they say that a person who kills somebody and robs them of case is more violent than a serial killer. By law, the former can receive a death sentence, whereas the serial killer can only receive multiple life-sentences.
There are various sound reasons that call for abolition, but prosecutors and even politicians would allow the people to remain ignorant to protect their profession. Or else they would cease with propagating worst of the worst rhetoric.
How about the millions of tax payers dollars that the state squanders in paying for killing a human being, when they could cut cost in half, saving a million dollars per prisoner by imprisoning them with life sentences. Then those millions of dollars that are saved can be used for better rehabilitation and victims advocacy programs.
The Death Penalty is a vicious cycle of death eating at the moral fabric of society, devouring lives unnecessarily.
DO YOU THINK ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY CAN BE A DETERANT TO CRIME? IF SO HOW.
Interesting (raised eyebrow) Kind of a leading question, huh bruh? You know studies have found that the crime rate was higher in states with the death penalty than those without it. But this has been known since the Furman vs Georgia ruling that brought the death penalty to its knees in 1972. In fact it was one of the things Justice Thurgood Marshall pointed out. The death penalty is an experiment in retribution and deterrance that has gone awry. And it appears that this philosophy of death is merely creating more death. Logic goes: killing a body doesnt kill a body of thought. We need another approach to heal ourselves.
YOU HAVE BEEN ON DEATH ROW CLOSE TO 10 YEARS NOW, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO STAY FOCUSED?
Using the methods I previously spoke of to get my day started to focus on my goal of freedom. I live by a philosophy of freedom, I strive to free myself of all my misconceptions to open myself to myself to clear those clouds out so the light inside me can flow forth. And so with that light I flow. You see, that which you think you become. An what you become you also leave in your wake. If you consume your thoughts with a philosophy of retaliation and death, you become that. You leave that behind; If you consume your thoughts with a philosophy of love and freedom, you also become that, and creat that love and freedom. Your philosophy of life determines your experience. For me, pain and struggle are questions with their own answers. Dont get me wrong the dark sometimes brings me to my knees. I lose focus and feel helpless and hopeless. But the light, the love, the life in me pushes me forward, even if Im crawling; it all pushes me forward, striving to manifest itself around me. I have given myself to something, I cant turn away from. The truth in me wont let me, Yet this is only part of the picture. Because my Queen, Sandie, in my eyes personifies these ideals. So in my mind, an image of her arms open to me is my freedom, my light, my life, my love, my focus.
TELL US THE IMPORTANCE OF PRISONERS BUILDING PEN-PAL FRIENDSHIPS WITH PEOPLE IN THE FREEWORLD.
I sort of have an antagonistic perspective of the pen-pal system. Nobody in my life, thats fighting for my life, came to me through any pen-pal system. Albeit I met my wife through a friend who met her through the pen-pal system. But I will say, if it wasnt for the people inmy life; I would be voiceless. My fate would probably be sealed and in the hands of the state of Texas.
RECENTLY YOU HAVE RECEIVED AN EXECUTION DATE, HOW HAS THIS IMPACTED YOU, MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.
Oh my god. Its just too much to say on this. Its like trying to describe what love is. All I can say is if the universe can be understook in a raindrop, then what I felt when I found about their date, can be understood in the piece I wrote that day (Death Salivates) which can be found in the blog section on my myspace page.
HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP YOU
Well, first I think its important for everybody to understand that Im in Texas, a state notorious for playing by their own rules, going back to when they were the last state to officially end chattel slavery. Even now, Governor Rick Perry doesnt want to accept any of the funds from President Obamas stimulus package, nevermind the ridiculous unemployment rate in our state. He even supported Texas seceding from the United States of America, to become something of a nation unto itself. However this is just context.
In may of 2002 Napolean Beasley was facing execution here in Texas. This brother was a juvenile at the time he commiitted his crime which he repeatedly showed remorse for, from trial, all the way to his execution. He knew what he did was wrong and blamed his ignorance for it. He wasnt a criminal, though he committed a crime murdering the father of a judge I believe. So the pro-death penalty proponents couldnt use the argument that he didnt show remorse to manipulate the people into thinking him a monster deserving of death, though this wasnt his reason for showing remorse.
Napoleon had massive support in various countries with members of parliament reaching out to Gov.Perry asking him to give the juvenile a life sentence. None of this support meant anything to Gov.Perry. He told Napoleon supporters that they had no say-so in Texas matters, which sadly to say, is true. But he did say that it would be a different story if that up-swelling of support came from Texans, who are invested in his political career.
Im not saying that it is futile for Non-Texans to participate in petitions. What I am saying is we have to deal with Texas in a way that they understand. We need to continue to build support everywhere, to gain exposure, everywhere, even sign petitions, write clemency letters. But we need to use our support outside Texas to educate support inside of Texas. The way we do this is through connections. We all know somebody that knows somebody. I have spoken before about circles of influence, which everyone has. People have to build support within that circle of family, friends, and family and friends of those friends etc. Those pockets of support must appeal to those whose political careers they are invested in, or those organizations that have an obligation to them. We then have to use the weight of the politicians or organizations word or their connections to appeal to various political figures within this state. We have to use our support to generate support and exposure here in Texas.
People should read my interview with Dee Martin, as well as my pieces, The Care Package contradicting justice and the statement for August 17th Rally then join my yahoo support group, through my myspace page. www.myspace.com/freereggieb “”Please note Reginalds Myspace has just been deleted)
BRUH, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR THIS, I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD?
Well, I want to thankyou for opening yourself to me and finding me a worthy teacher. I thankyou for being to strive to realize your highest potential despite your deplorable circumstances.
I think we need to start questioning things more; start questioning our system more; start questioning ourselves more. We should strive to break any barriers that keep us from realizing our highest potential, barriers that keep us from reaching over and embracing another.
And we must remember oppressive systems, any system whether a political system, legal system or system of thought that is oppressive in the since of hindering our advancement, only the people can change these things.
I love you bruh; and I shine everything I am on yall. And in the words of W.E.B Dubois:
There is in the world no such force as the force of a man determined to rise.
The Human soul cannot be permanently chained.