In The Flickering of the Light

Listen to Hybachi LeMar’s “In The Flickering of the Light”, recorded from Jacksonville Correctional Center

Hi everyone: thanks for listening and for your support.

I wrote something I thought may have been thrown away following my transfer this week from Stateville to Jacksonville Correctional Center. it was written while secluded in four days in the flickering light. When I went through my property again, I found it: a simple reportback, but one I hope fills you with inspiration. I hope this finds you well, remaining strong as you develop very meaningful ways in this journey through life.

In The Flickering of the Light

Within 48 hours of being sentenced to a year, I was exported by bus to the RX unit at Stateville Correctional Center NRC December 5 2023.

Upon reception I was offered Depakote a mood alterer, instead of Tylenol or Excedrin for migraines, which I was prompted to sign my name on the paper documenting that I refused.

There are three floors called galleries stretching down one side of the gallery. Each gallery comprising somewhere between 13 to 15 cells apiece. I’m on gallery 2, cell 211. We been physically confined in each of the encasements of concrete and metal 24 hours 7 days a week, with the exception of a 15 minute shower on Monday and Friday.

With no clock on the unit or a window to look out of, knowing whether it’s day or night can be determined by the meal we receive. The wheels from the tray cart slowly squeaking their way down the gallery lets us know it’s chow time. From what I hear, breakfast: usually consists of oatmeal, comes to the unit around 2:30AM.

Shouts requesting for cell lights to be turned back on echo the unit when they’re turned off without warning, like a conditioned reflex, two or three times a day.

The hollowness of the cells raises appreciation for clarity, due to the acoustics of the concrete corridor’s narrow design. Every word is spoken carefully by the syllable: each sentence concise. Many times we simply give up repeating them due to exhaustion. And I sigh, ironically in relief, that no one else is placed in the cell I’m in with the broken light.

The florescent bulb clicks on and off: bzzz click, click, click; bzzz, light flash; bzzz, click click click; bzzz: light flash recurs in the staccato of echos that hangs suspended in the series of flashes for approximately 22 hours straight. The first time the two hour pause came unannounced, I clenched my teeth: it’s been a bit of a difference from anything I’ve experienced before.

To say I was grateful to the compas at Midwest Books to Prisoners for sending me two packages of mental relief would be a great understatement. I received them from the chuck-hole, the food slot, my third or fourth day here, and they’ve assisted invaluably in the furtherment of my revolutionary education. I’m not ashamed to say that when I read “I love you Lemar” at the bottom of the priceless order form receipt, I held it close to my heart before closing my eyes, taking a deep inhale from the center of the cell, opening them when and only when all the air from my lungs were slowly released.

Without second thought, I thumb my way to the last chapter of Orisanmi Burton’s “Tip of the Spear”, after reviewing the table of contents, and begin underlining passages until I pass out, the priceless order form receipt serving as my bookmark: glasses still on, toilet paper carefully fingerplugged in both of my ears.

After an undetermined amount of rest, my first in quite some time, I rose from the flickering cot, had a brief conversation that resonated clearly through the corridor, one voice called to another: “I ain’t gonna lie folk, this place got my brain!” It was replied with a “it got mine too, man!”, my voice number two. I immediately walk to the desk, reviewed all that I’ve read after a few days, resolved in the blink of the light to share the moment of reflection with you.

I’m glad Orisanmi dedicated decades producing this vital work, an ideological weapon in the hands of the reader whose eyes been opened, and an eye-opener for those who may be wandering aimlessly in the dark.

The point of “The Tip of the Spear” is that prisons are war; that Attica was more than a prison revolt. It’s an intergenerational impulse, a frame of mind to free ourselves from the vices of coercive domination in each of our lives. It’s contents include ‘Sharpening the Spear: Strategies and Tactics of Revolutionary Action’, ‘Black Solidarity Under Seige’; and the chapter I went immediately to on page 183, ‘The War on Black Revolutionary Minds: Failed experiments in Scientific Subjugation’.

Between the flickering of the light, I underlined sections partly with a certain reader’s appreciation, and partly to reflect on how conditions in this country are protracted, and by no means coincidental. It involves a war directed against what’s acknowledged as a new type of prisoner: one who disowns his country and preaches revolution, one doctor had diagnosed.

In the flash that held longer than the one preceding it, I underscored the section on MK-ULTRA, the most commonly known term for experiments concerning the research and development of chemical, biological and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.

When the light clicked on again, it glared with the illuminating reminder that MK-ULTRA was concretely embedded within the counter-insurgent carceral regime. It became generalized.

One of its projects, RX, the proscription and control program, was targeting Masia Mugmuk, a political prisoner, implemented it’s multi-year master plan between 1972 and 73. It describes it’s connections to the military industrial complex and to the CIA, which had been conducting what one of it’s directors termed “brain warfare” in prisons, hospitals and beyond. It adds also by noting it “failed attempts to divest Mugmuk of his “cognitive autonomy and the inviolability of his spirit”.

The PRISACTS, which immediately followed, is just one in the line of protracted repression of this assault on Black revolutionary minds left in it’s wake. It’s advances are far-reaching: it’s being scientifically deployed against captives as well as free populations throughout the world.

While I began at the ending, there’s an impact that can be felt from it’s opening pages. Of situation awareness, of transfer: not just of body, but of the transmission of knowledge, of how the resistance repression breeds opens the doors to the germ of liberating ideals, incubating mordantly in the minds of it’s hosts. The Tip points out how George Jackson transformed while in prison, how Martin Sostre won the right for captives to exchange letters with people who weren’t immediate blood relations, as well as other important rights that were previously denied by the state.

It’s due largely to the victories in Sostre v. Rockefeller that this message is reaching you right now, and my revolutionary awakening via the South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross zine distro spearheaded by Anthony Rayson and Compa Mike. Leon, writer for the people, who was also transformed from the inside, grasped that the revolution has to be within the body of the person, that revolution is a process of arranging one’s values, advancing Fanon’s theory that anti-colonial struggle leads to the death of the colonized being and the opening of new humanist horizons.

I opened this book first due to how immediately it resonated me as I await transfer. The vibration I feel in the veins of the trunk of my physical body, buzzing with the pulsating motor revving before releasing itself, failed to subdue me me. The ringing left lingering in the ears in the silence that comes unannounced. I’ve disciplined myself to detach from by focusing solely on consistent study and the memorization of materials sent.

With two eyes closed and third eye open, I begin: Earth, third planet from the sun, it’s dimensions consist of an equatorial diameter of 7926 miles side to side, and a polar diameter of 7900 miles up and down, a circumference of 2487 miles. I’m located approximately 25,000 light years from the center of the galaxy (World Almanac 2021). Like Franz Fanon, Balagoon suggests that “the primary barrier to the liberation of the colonized was within their own minds” (Orisanmi Burton).

When the clicking and flashing returns, just as suddenly as it leaves, I calmly use the palms of my hands as earmuffs, to quiet the ache of my eardrums, easing all heaving breathing, by continuous commitment to relevant truths to memory and my retainment of knowledge.

My sudden smile when the blinking continues brings relief. It reminds me of the circumstances’ inability to rob me of my sense of humor. When I look in the direction my hands are in and think,”Now eye see me, now eye don’t” – eye, as in e-y-e. An idea flashes briefly across my mind: I’m empowered, and the realization that how I perceive myself as a person, as a figment of my imagination, as a reflection of my self-image, I remain in control, irrespective of living arrangements, knowing that we’re in such conditions to which I’ve mutated into the anarchist I’ve been methodically manufactured into becoming.

To revolutionaries throughout the world: be empowered, knowing as I remain strong in conditions as these, so can you, amidst any situation you may be going through at the moment. What doesn’t destroy us, whose light bulb has been turned on, can only strengthen the nature of our resistance. To observe what lies beyond, what may otherwise be viewed as a barrier in our lives, is to liberate ourselves from it’s limits.

I send my recommendations and greetings: a buzz-melted being, radioactively radicalized, anticipating release from between the flickering of the light.