He said: “Hey, brother, those days are over

March 29, 2014
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canada goose coats My first lesson in racial discrimination happened at the maximum security prison at Calipatria, Calif. An older Mexican dude with the signature handlebar mustache told me in a Hollywood whisper, “Hey, homie, we don’t associate with llantas (tires) around here. The animales (animals) have their own rules. We follow ours. Don’t talk to them too much because someone might feel canada goose jacket outlet sale disrespected, and you’re going to get dealt with.” canada goose coats

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buy canada goose jacket I was 18 years old and scared. With multiple life sentences to serve, I knew I would have to adjust to my life behind bars. I kept to the designated areas. I spoke Spanish most of the time, and I interacted only with people who looked like me. buy canada goose jacket

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buy canada goose jacket cheap On the yard, I stood guard at concrete benches next to toilets that reeked of urine, out canada goose outlet store uk of “an obligation” to hold what we had designated as our ground. I would sit around a light pole in our area that cast the only shade on the yard because it canada goose outlet niagara falls was prime real estate, at least by prison standards. The racist language of the older canada goose outlet uk sale Mexicans canada goose outlet website legit who had fought in the prison’s gang and race wars became canada goose parka uk my own. I repeated the stories they told me. After a while, I grew angry and resentful myself. I lost a part of myself because I started believing the rhetoric. buy canada goose jacket cheap

Canada Goose Outlet I thought every California prison was segregated. But when I transferred to San Quentin State Prison in November 2016, after 15 years inside, I was appalled to see groups of black, white and Mexican inmates mingling together. The interracial baseball, basketball and soccer league horrified me. Either I was canada goose outlet michigan narrow minded or these dudes were tripping. Canada Goose Outlet

canada goose coats on sale At first, I avoided crowds. I walked alone around the yard because I did not know who to canada goose victoria parka outlet trust. I felt out of place whenever I saw people of different races just standing around together joking and laughing. I was uncomfortable with everyone else’s comfort. My old world had been simpler to navigate. Its boundaries had been clear, and I knew how to behave and communicate within them. canada goose coats on sale

canada goose clearance sale Then I began trying to conform to this new norm, at least outwardly. I ran in the San Quentin marathon alongside men of other races. Training was the perfect activity: It let me go along with a group while still telling myself, and others, I was participating alone. canada goose discount uk When I was running, I could not be accused of depending on anyone else. canada goose clearance sale

Canada Goose Parka Internally, I still struggled. My prejudices were tangled up in my sense of personal comfort, safety, complacency and custom. One evening when I got back from the canada goose outlet paypal yard, a black neighbor in my cellblock offered me a burrito. I was hungry, but I automatically declined. He noticed I had hesitated, looking both ways on our tier to see whether there were any other Mexicans around. He said: “Hey, brother, those days are over. This place is different. The people change you.” Canada Goose Parka

My prejudice had been exposed. I felt bare. I felt ashamed I had been unable to see past this man’s skin color, unable to see his kindness and generosity because I had slid too far down the slippery slope of compromise. I wanted people to see me for more than the crime I had committed, and yet I was unable to see beyond skin tone.

canadian goose jacket I started venturing out of my comfort zone because I wanted to change. I would stop people on the yard to talk about their day. I started befriending guys of different races who were fellow members of a self help group men who were also working to heal their family relationships and make amends for their crimes. Our pasts were similar, full of pain, regret and remorse. canadian goose jacket

canada goose deals As part of these efforts, I joined the San Quentin News, our prison newspaper. The teacher of the weekly journalism class said reporting makes a difference because it informs people about the world and the options out there. For a long time, I did not know there was any reality other than the one I knew. I wanted to help share how the world is much bigger and brighter than what we sometimes see. canada goose deals

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Canada Goose online Although canada goose outlet toronto location there are people in San Quentin stuck in a mentality of “us against them,” I have a wide circle of friends of other races, men I confide in and consider my brothers. These friendships have awakened dormant feelings of compassion, sadness and longing. I have come to understand why it was hard for me to see I could live like this and there was an alternative way to think. I see canada goose outlet online uk pop culture and even news on television the few windows I have into the outside world constantly reinforce racial stereotypes. I see the inequity that fuels racial tensions elsewhere in America. I see how people on the outside are also shaped by their environments. Their behaviors become their beliefs, and vice versa. Despite my fears for canada goose sale uk my self preservation, I confronted my biases and worked to change my perspective. Maybe society can do the same Canada Goose online.

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