2007 20TH JANUARY - 24TH JANUARY
JANUARY 20TH -HUNGER STRIKE REPORT
The nurse came this morning to take all the Hunger Strikers, -- yes still going-- urine, weight and blood pressure. As always there is the drama behind the scale being imbalanced. Several times I had to balance it myself.
Anyway she took my blood pressure, which was an alarming 150 over 80, heart pounding at 136. She said, “This is what’s going to happen. Your blood is rushing through each channel boom, boom, boom and if you’re not drinking enough water, your blood will thicken and it won’t go through one of those channels like that – you gon’ have a stroke!”
I said, “Well, it sounds like they need to be watching me to make sure I don’t die in this cage.” “No,” she said “You did that to yourself.”
Later that night after having chest pains all day, my heart suddenly began to race. I took deep breaths (pranayama yoga) to control it but I couldn’t. I started to get light-headed. I immediately made my way to the door and hollered to the picket officer who jumped on the speaker. I told him I needed to speak to him. Then I sat on my bunk.
Officer Alexander was working and was the one that answered. He quickly came to my cage to see what was wrong. He’s aware of our hunger strike and is concerned. He has seen what hunger strikes can do.
He told me to lie down and asked me what was wrong. I told him about the lightheadedness and chest pains. By then my body was trembling. I raised up my shaking hand to demonstrate something was going wrong. I believed that my blood pressure was around 160-something over something. Last time my blood pressure shot that high I had a similar experience.
Officer Alexander had a call made and shortly a wheelchair arrived. They were taking me to medical. When I got there, the male nurse sort of ignored me for a while before he even looked at me.
“What you do, you fell?”
“Nah, I sat on my bunk.”
“Well what’s wrong then?” he asked as if I was bothering him. I told him about the lightheadedness, heart racing, and chest pains. He then asked if I was one of the hunger strikers and I told him I was. He laughed, then said “You need to eat – I can’t do nothing for you.” I told him he didn’t want to do anything for me, “What you want me to listen to your heart?” As I told him to not worry about it if he didn’t want to do it, I was looking at Officer Alexander who shook his head as if to say go through with it. And I did. Then we left. This nurse didn’t even check my blood pressure. But it made sense to me. First they know I took blood pressure medication and had announced I would discontinue medication consumption while on hunger strike. And then this nurse.
Though I smiled as I was rolled back to my pod I thought, “These nurses are going to let one of us die.” I know this hunger strike is serious. We are jeopardizing what life we may have left. And though I’m not afraid to die, I hunger strike for life. I want LIFE, and not only for me but for the countless other nameless faces we represent; nameless faces also being neglected by medical staff and violated by ranking correctional officers abusing their authority within the confines of these walls of Death. The very reason why they are “walls of death,” they’re walls of neglect, societal neglect. And once we were banished from society, we were banished from civilization. Thus this barbaric treatment, and our civil disobedience. We are civil beings, deserving civil treatment. No matter what label is placed upon us to trick people’s minds into believing we’re something less, low enough to be treated the way we are, our humanity cannot, no, never be stripped from us. Never!
Love and solidarity
From the trenches
Reginald “Omari Huduma” Blanton
JANUARY 24TH -HUNGER STRIKE REPORT
Before I began this hunger strike, I thought about it long and hard. I had fasted for two weeks in the past, I’ve also passed up a few meals to show silent solidarity during days we hunger strike on brothers’ murder (“execution”) dates, but never engaged in a prolonged hunger strike.
During that previous 2-week fast, I had a hard time concentrating on anything other than prayer/meditation. So during the few weeks leading up to January 1st, one part of me resisted because I knew I needed my mind to function if we were to make the most of my involvement. But I pushed through this inner resistance, this reluctance because it was a type of fear that had no foundation. It was based on something that had yet to occur. I took the opportunity to DRIVE over that part of myself that resisted struggle, a form of struggle it wasn’t familiar with, which is what the average mind tends to do, resist things it either doesn’t understand or is not familiar with. But who sees the twists and turns of life ahead of time? Who’s willing to go through those twists and turns?
I AM, and have been, thus why GOD blesses me with growth. I have come to a point in my life where I accept trial and tribulations, at times even throwing myself into those purifying flames because I know they will only reveal the depths of my existence unto mySELF.
As January 1st rolled up, my body began to go into a meditative state. I could feel it. There was no appetite, nor fear. And when January 1st honked its horn for me to climb in, I jumped in as I often do myself when I introspect. I jumped in as if I was stepping onto another mysterious battlefield GOD had laid before me—which is how I tend to look at life. By stepping into an unknown I had already won one battle…one within myself; one that only opened me up a little further to be used by GOD, to be used by Love, to be used by Humanity, to be used by the SPIRIT of Revolution.
By our (from inner comrades to outer comrades) involvement in this whole movement, this seva, this Highest service, we are restitching the fabric of creation, making something new or revealing something old, depending how you want to look at it. Furthermore, back during the time of my 2-week fast, I remember one comrade telling me, “man, you’re already on level and don’t get fed enough as it is, and you’re going to do this (fast)?”
I told him, “BEING in this position on level without access to extra food makes my fast that much more of a sacrifice.” In other words, it made the fire I threw myself in as the sacrifice burn that much hotter, that much brighter, catching the eye of God while increasing my purification as the smoke of my sacrifice rose thick of an incense fragrance pleasing to GOD. And so it goes for our Hunger Strike.
Let me clarify something about sacrifice. It’s a word that tends to have negative connotations among the most dedicated. When one says she sacrificed for a cause, her sacrifice is interpreted as if she suffered loss for a greater cause. But the dedicated feel you can’t suffer a loss for the greater cause just as mother doesn’t suffer a loss when she decides to not work to stay home with her ill child. The potential of losing her child, the greater cause, cancels out the smaller. It’s semantics to me.
When I say “sacrifice” I mean the extent to which one gives self or something to the cause of the community-self. Anyhow, the more one sacrifices self to a cause, dedicating self to that cause, the more one’s personal energy is harnessed and directed towards the strengthening of that cause and towards the momentum of that cause. This is prayer/meditation in action.
The WORD says where there are two or more gathered together in prayer, gathered together in solidarity with ONE purpose, GOD is in the midst of them, Power is in the midst of them. “Power” to manifest that which they had come together on. Because now you don’t have just one person channeling their energy towards a cause but several, thousands, millions. All channeling their energy, their spirit towards change, towards the greater cause, the upliftment/liberation of all oppressed peoples. In fact, it’s not even so much a “channeling” because when you sacrifice you open yourself to Spirit, which finds an outlet to work through you. Therefore giving yourSELF to a greater causes giving yourSELF to the will of GOD.
Before I started this Hunger Strike, I was concerned about not having control over a starving mind, but by stepping into this unknown, I have transcended to a point where up until this 24th day I’ve been able to analyze all sorts of literature, from Bonhoeffer to Karl Marx. Just as the Word says resist the devil and he’ll flee, resist your hindrances and you’ll transcend.
After the medical episode on the night of the 20th, I wanted to cease my Hunger Strike. And despite the way my body felt as it devoured itself, I couldn’t fix myself to leave behind my starving comrades, these beautiful spirits that I knew needed me as much as I needed them. They had already come around and asked comrade Woods if he wanted to be placed on an I.V. How could I stop when my comrade was dying? More than that, how could I stop when so many people are dying by the devouring Death Penalty; a hunger strike in itself to the degree that it starves Humanity. No! I couldn’t leave these soldiers behind in the field. I told myself I have to “keep on keeping on.” I thought, “Just one more day,” “Just one more day” inching myself through starvation to 164 pounds, though I am 6’2.
Time and time again comrades have told me that I’m needed too much for the cause to sacrifice my life through this form of resistance, this Hunger Strike. But I kept on. However, now, at day 24 I will step from this realm of warfare and into yet another-one DRIVE has been fighting in for over a year now. And though tears came to my eyes when some of my comrades basically begged me to save myself as I shriveled to skin and bones (literally), I don’t hurt to say I’m ceasing my hunger strike. I don’t hurt because it’s been beautiful and powerful. I know it brought about change.
I want to say I love y’all and Asante Sana (thank you very much) for your loving solidarity. We fed and feed off it. It’s not over. Keep the momentum and solidarity for Dickson, Woods, and Turner who are still Hunger Striking (those are the ones I am certain of) The Spirit continues to move. It continues to strive for a change that will allow it to shine. The Spirit continues DRIVE!
Love and solidarity
From the trenches
Reginald “Omari Huduma” Blanton