Join us Thursday, August 20 at p.m. EST for a virtual event—Casting Shadows: the prison in our daily lives

Editor's note:  All pieces featured in Abolition Week are made possible in conjunction with Exchange for Change, a writing course and letter exchange program for those incarcerated in Florida's prison system. 

Excerpt from: I HAVE A RIGHT TO RANT

Eduardo Martinez

Listen: Scalawag arts & soul editor Alysia Harris' reading of this piece.

There's a hot magnifying glass targeting our backs from the second we're born / a firing pin of sin / a real big bang theory / psychological physics ya' hear me / uninsured medical therapy consists of a nickel bag reefer sack being bought on a sunray low income check cashing day / they say they downgraded slaves in school history books so they wouldn't look like us / and it was rough coming up / but I'd still be king in a slum village with my scuffed skateboard shoe shopping at Payless kicks / I rocked them like a pair of J's before Jordan ever dunked from the free throw line / that was a lil' time after the Challenger blew up / and I was too young to do-rag my mind around the identity of truth / but when the twin towers dropped like Jenga blocks / I was locked up / but young enough now to understand truth doesn't answer to proof / cause the struggle looks different from an adolescent's angle / like the significance of mom working 2 jobs / pops gone / but we still made ends meet like a cul-de-sac / I navigated playgrounds and circumvented corners on a B.M.X bike with a basketball / I worked on my jumper / like I knew freedom would fade away from me once I got past varsity / but puddles never kept me off the court / if I slipped I'd walk the bike back home / then run suicide drills in my mind as I'd practice acceptance in a neighborhood that wasn't neighborly / but I still had a kid in me learning how to color diamonds with charcoal / reverse shading became a technique for my shadow when it had me against the ropes / safe to say the first half of my life was precipitation in the making of a forecast of fabricated expectations / and another big bang ensued / but powers not for the clumsy / so don't trip it'll makes triggers happy / and if your name ever falls on a prison roster / you'll start talking Sudoku / cause we're all just numbers in boxes / some broken to the point where they're not able to punch their way out a wet paper bag / despite all that I grew up fast not tall / but kept my words stored in a Nintendo cartridge / game overs are common at the bottom / when the only watch you've ever owned was a time bomb / a traffic ticket can be a noose to a poor person / a concurrent sentence is enjambment in a courtroom / so the revolution will be televised / on Netflix / as we all powwow smoking bible pages / but only out of the New Testament cause when the high's gone/ we all just want to be forgiven / you're either a guard or an inmate / man or animal / only a matter of which costume you choose