(2) “X” — “Democrats and Republicans are Supposed to be Different”
A long time Christian, X believes that despite how often American politicians espouse religious rhetoric in their political messaging, this country has “taken God out of everything,” and “got out from under His protection and knowledge.”
“X” has been incarcerated in Holman prison for around three decades.
Asked why America’s Democratic and Republican politicians invoke God so often in their political messaging if the country has taken God out of everything, X disagrees with the premise. “They don’t” invoke God, he says.
“God is love, and if you hear two people that are divided talking about each other, hating on each other, that’s not God,” X explains.
He adds: “My biggest thing, bro: I believe in Jesus. I have a relationship with Jesus. I don’t let other people that don’t have a relationship with Jesus stop me from having a relationship with Jesus, and obeying Jesus.”
For example, X works an unpaid job in Holman that is often “physically,” “mentally,” and “spiritually … exhausting.”
“When I work the hall,” he explains, “I am around people that don’t believe in Jesus, don’t have a relationship with Jesus. I don’t stop living for Him because I work the hall, because I’m around them. I continue to speak my faith.”
X feels that America’s politicians, in both parties, ought to apply the sort of faith to their own work that he applies to working the hall.
“If you’re a believer — I don’t care where you are at — you are supposed to live up to what you believe in,” X explains.
“That is the problem I have with a lot of political leaders that [are] supposedly Christian: They’re not [Christian],” because “for some votes, and for some money, it became exploiting. That’s troubling to me.”
X elaborates on American politicians’ exploitation of God and faith.
“It’s the same thing about Republicans and Democrats. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, bro … You’re going to speak your faith. You see? You’re not going to hide your faith, go into a corner and hide.”
X explains how “Democrats and Republicans — they’re trying to play two sides of the fence. They want to be a Christian when it’s convenient. You see? That’s the problem: You can’t be a Christian when it’s convenient.” If you’re going to be a Christian, “You have to be a Christian at all times.”
For example, X elaborates, “Tom Brady can’t be a quarterback when he’s winning the Superbowl. He’s got to be a quarterback when he’s losing the Superbowl, too.”
In other words, “Don’t be sometiming,” says X about Democrats and Republican politicians misusing religion, “because when you are sometiming, you are putting a black eye on God.”
X generally distrusts the invocation of God and faith by American politicians, he reiterates, because “When people say to me, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ,’ or ‘I have faith,’ and then you go out there and do something crazy — I’m not saying all of us [are] going to be perfect, because I am not — but when you go out there and do something, systematically, that you know is wrong, you put a black eye on God like that. And then the people that don’t know God be like, ‘I don’t wanna be around that person. I don’t want to commit to that person’s God if he goin’ do like that, act like that.’”
X says that “Democrats and Republicans are supposed to be different.”
Asked how each Party could best be different, “People like me and you … don’t agree on everything,” X responds. But the difference is, he says, that “we will communicate, and we’ll try to open up each other’s eyes to different things. See? Politicians doesn’t do that, because they don’t know how to communicate.”
The two parties are “trying to get their agenda out, instead of listening to someone else’s agenda, and looking at it in a different light.”
X adds: “Nobody can grow on their own knowledge, on their own wisdom, on their own spirits. Nobody. If they do, they’re goin’ die.”
According to X, “Republicans and Democrats have to understand that they both have different agendas, but that main agenda should be: the people, to better the people … to better this country, not to tear it down, not divide it.”
Asked if he sees the country being torn down already, X replies, “Absolutely. Look. Ay — come on, man. Look. How can you tell me … listen, bro: how can you sit up here, choke someone out — to death — and not get fired? There’s no consequence to it.”
Additionally, “How can you shoot someone,” asks X, “17 times, who don’t have a gun, and it ain’t no consequences? … How can you do that? You can’t agree with that. That stuff have nothing to do with God.”
He goes on, “You know what I tell my brothers?… I say, ‘Let me tell you something: If I see you doing something wrong, I’m gonna correct you. If you see me doing something wrong, you correct me, period.”
He notes: “Nobody done supposed to get shot 17, 18 times, and they ain’t got no gun. That’s crazy, man. I don’t care what color they is — that is crazy — and nobody done supposed to get choked out, choked to death. That don’t supposed to happen, man. That do not supposed to happen.”
But “It is happening,” X says, “because of the evil that’s getting stirred up in between the division. When anything’s this divided, Matthew, you best believe: evil is gonna be there.”
X believes “the only way” for American politicians to learn “to have understanding” is “to get in the word of God, and let God renew your mind toward understanding other people — period, pinpoint — because you are going to meet all different types of people in life.”
X continues, when “they put these officers out here on the street, they’re already telling them, ‘Hey, this is a bad person,’ ‘Don’t trust this person,’ ‘He’ll do this,’ ‘This group’ll do that.’ [Police officers] have bad ideas put in their head.’”
X explains that “some [officers] are already scared” before they become police officers. “Some of them are already prejudiced. Some of them became police officers because they got bullied, but ain’t ever deal with that problem.”
X asks: “When you go and put them out in the world, with a gun, in authority, then what did you think was going to happen? What did you really think was going to happen?”
Asked if there are aspects of American society that those who have been in its prisons understand, which those who have not lived in American prison do not understand, X takes a long pause before answering.
“The only thing I can say, bro, is the injustice. I’m not just talking about the innocent people being in prison. I’m talkin’ people who get a ridiculous sentence, 40, 50, 70 years, life without [parole], life sentences,” he responds.
Once a person “is in the system,” X notes, “It’s very, very hard to get out. Everybody keeps thinking it’s easy to get out of here. Matthew, once they got you in here, it’s hard to get out. It takes almost 20, 30 years to get out.”
He pauses, then adds: “That’s a lot of time, bro. That’s a lot of time, straight up,” and “that’s what society don’t know.”
Furthermore, “Sometimes officers plant evidence…sometimes the prosecutor do prosecutor misconduct, pay witnesses to lie.”
(Many sources refer to being imprisoned as a result of lack of resources and/or fair trial as getting “railroaded.”)
X says there’s “a lot of stuff that society don’t know about, because — see — this is what they’re saying out there: ‘The police is good, and if you got arrested, you had to be doing something.’ That’s the mindset people got out there.”
But “that’s a lie,” says X. “That’s not true, not true at all, period.”
X notes that “they got [a] law — I think they call it a ‘three strike law’ — where, if you get three felonies, you get life without parole. So, that’s messed up. Then, in Louisiana, if you got a life sentence, then you can’t ever get out of prison” (See here, and here).
X says “there’s all types of this little stuff that people don’t even know nothing about, man.”
He adds that many Americans also “don’t even know nothing about the mental illness stuff in prison, don’t know nothin’ about that. They don’t know about the segregation part of the prison.”
X “ain’t talking about Black and White” segregation, he clarifies. “I’m just talking about ‘segregated’ [from all people], period” (Holman’s solitary confinement).
“I know somebody who stayed 10 years straight in segregation,” says X. “What do you think that did to him?”
X pauses, then reflects on another aspect of American life with which prisoners are more familiar than other Americans: lack of intimacy.
“Think about this right here,” he begins. “During the coronavirus, everybody couldn’t be around each other, have to be socially distant, right? And look how people act. Now think about that right there in a prison.”
X notes that even though, on the one hand, safe social distancing is impossible in any Alabama prison, which the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed in an email for comment on a different article, and on the other hand, prisoners feel “no human touch” in their lives, “none of that.” It is impossible to socially distance, but they are not allowed to touch.
X has been hearing that people in the free world are already eager to see their friends and families, and “that’s just after [social distancing] for a couple months,” he points out. “Think about doing that for years, where you don’t touch nobody.”
He adds: “Come on, man. Human touch is powerful, man. People [outside of prison] don’t know that human touch is powerful.”
He says “being alone” is “dangerous, because you’re just going to think of your ideas, and your situation.”
Here, the interview shifts back to the country’s ongoing political struggles against racism and police brutality.
“I don’t like the breaking into stores,” says X, but “I love the protests.”
X recently heard it rumored that a shoe store was looted amid demonstrations. He carefully notes he is not excusing or condoning the rioting and violence by police, stipulating, “I don’t agree with all that either” — but he reminds protestors and other movement participants: “Do not lose your focus. You are out there for one cause.”
Asked if he’d like to comment on anything else before the end of the interview, X pauses and reflects.
“I’ll say this right here,” X begins. “I think a lot of people need to understand — I’m not gonna even talk about prison. I’m just gonna talk about being a human, period: We need to start seeing with our heart. Know what I mean by that?”
He explains: “When you see someone that you can change, that you can help, that you can mentor, that you can change their facial feature — because a lot of times we walk past people, and we got what they need, but we’re so busy looking with our natural eyes that we don’t start looking with our heart. When you look with your heart, you can be able to help someone, even in their worstest circumstances.” X is “able to do what I do in here, able to live the life I have, able to go on in peace, because of people who have looked at me with their heart, not their eyes,” he says.