Sunday, January 30, 2005

Quote of the Week (5)

"Women who are fully aware of the present moment have to know how to shed every rose-colored fantasy. Our joy is a battle within a storm and not playing the harp under the moon or reciting poetry in front of a flower."

- Ding Ling
International Women's Day 1942

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Freedom of the Press

Recently, the FBI has been searching for four Chinese immigrants and two Iraqis for questioning. Based on information from an unidentified informant, four Chinese people entered the U.S. through the Mexican border and may be carrying nuclear oxide which can be made into dirty bombs. The FBI had pictures of the four Chinese printed on all the mainstream newspapers.

It doesn't matter that the FBI has no evidence of nay threat from those Chinese of it they are even in the U.S. The FBI is quick to plaster their pictures everywhere.

Now, the Chinese has become a target for being terrorists. You see, with the evidence of a passive and obedient majority of what Americans, they believe whatever the newspapers print. If the government says those Chinese could be terrorists, then it must be true.

So, for all you Chinese Americans or Asians who look all alike, beware. You could be the new target, the new terrorists.

No one minority group is safe from being a victim of the U.S. government's "free the world" War. After all, as the protagonist of the book Invisible Man says, "If you're not white, you're not right."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Stand Up For Your Rights

I want to send my respect to the Asian sister who works in Hot 97 radio station in LA for refusing to condone the airing of a racist song making fun of the victims of the tsunami. Thank you for speaking up against your coworkers and standing up for yourself and all Asians.

I also want to give a shout out to DJ Jin for spitting his words of battle cry against ignorance and representing.

As I tuned into KPFA's APEX Express and Harknock Radio and heard about the Hot 97 station's making a song calling the victims of the tsunami chinks and chinamen, my blood was boiling. How can anyone be so callous and ignorant to make fun of hundreds of thousands of perished people, especially from a couple of Africa Americans?! Haven't African Americans suffered from racism throughout their history? Why would anyone want to perpetuate racism when they are still victims of it? What is so funny about human beings dying? Where is the hate coming from? Why is the oppressed still hating on the oppressed? Where is the solidarity among minorities?

I truly hope that those two individuals and those who condoned their behavior learn from their ignorant actions because injustice anywhere will not be tolerated and ignorance is not an excuse to perpetuate racism.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Anger Management

After over a year of waiting, I finally got started in the self-help program Anger Management.

There is a limited number of self-help programs in the prison. Therefore, the waiting list for any program is superlong.

I attended my first session of the program this morning. There were 18 life prisoners participating in this 10-week program. The doctor who is facilitating the session is a woman in her early fifties.

We took turns introducing ourselves and shared what had motivated us to want to make changes. During the sharing, two guys got choked up when they were talking about their parents. They were visibly shaken up.

It was during the sharings that I thought about powerful it would be if members of the parole board could see these grown men bearing their souls to a group of strangers.

Everyone was eager to share their past and their perspectives on anger. That's a good sign of having a productive program. I look forward to learning from the group.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quotes by Bob Avakian

"What is democracy? Well, 'cracy' refers to a form of rule and 'demos' is the people. So it technically means rule by the People."

"A dictatorship is the rule of one class or another over society backed and enforced by political structures and institutions and ultimately armed force, a monopoly of armed force and of 'legitimate' armed force. That's what a dictatorship is."

"We have to get beyond the system where things are produced and distributed as commodities. We have to get to where we can implement the slogan of communism: 'From each according to their ability to each according to their needs.'"

"Bourgeis right refers to things like the right to an equal amount of pay for equal amount of work. You put in a certain amount of work, then you have the right to get paid back in a certain amount, and anyone who does the same job should get the same amount."

"Forging ahead on the corect road, the socialist road, is a very complex and wrenching process, and you can get pulled off it in a thousand ways. And only by consciously continuing to go back to the communist outlook and methodology and applying this in a consistent way - that's the only way you can stay on the socialist road."

For more on Bob's talk on "Dictatorshop and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism," check in at

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The 150th Day

It was supposed to be his last day in prison. The Israeli life prisoner was waiting for news from the governor's office. Today is the last day the governor had to approve or reject his release.

The governor rejected his release.

Abe has been in prison for 24 years for second degree murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life. He is not a U.S. citizen. He had planned to go back to Israel after his release.

The governor rejected his release.

I know a little bit of how he feels. It happened to me 5 yeasr ago. I feel for Abe. He has to start his fight for freedom from scratch.

I can assure you that it's not going to happen to me this time.

I shall be released.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I feel like listening to some spoken word poetry tonight so I pop in Taalam Acey's CD Morally Bankrupt Volume Final: Mood Demystify. His poetic lyrics and delivery put me in the mood that I need to be feeling.

Taalam is a spokenword artist who has performed internationally and produced several CDs. I brought 3 of his CDs in 2001 directly from him. His skill and thoughts did not disappoint me.

Camille, Taalam's sister, introduced his work to me. She's an intellectual sister who has exposed me to many new ideas. I'll always appreciate our connection.

She is somewhere on the east coast changing the world. I miss her spirit.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Quote of the Week (4)

"She waited almost four hours in the bitter cold to visit me. The warmth of her presence brought to my heart will last a lifetime. Whose heart are you going to warm with your presence?"

I recognized Helen Zia as soon as I saw her in the visiting room. She was surprised that I recognized her since we've only met in spirit. I saw her picture in Bamboo Girl about five years ago. Helen's face is unforgettable along with her '80s punk rock hairdo.

I thought I would be starstruck to meet her, but I wasn't. Just like when I met Yuri and Ishle, we kicked it like old friends. The hour and fifteen minutes we spent talking disappeared like seconds. When Helen told me that it was an honor for her to meet me, I knew that I was in the presence of greatness.

It's always humbling for me to meet Asian American OG role models like Yuri, Nellie, and Helen. They continue to give me guidance and inspiration through their actions.

So, Helen, it's an honor to meet you.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

It's All About the Money

It was good to have quiet time to think and relax. It was foggy and overcast again. I just stayed in bed and read ten days worth of Chinese newspapers. I came across many intereting news about the lives of people in China. The rapid and unstoppable economic reform has widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Slowly and surely, the so-called Communist country assimilates into capitalism of the 21st century. The rich minority controls the majority of wealth. There isn't much difference between China and the US. The truth is, they're both going down as the governments continue to destroy the earth and its inhabitants.

At what price do people have to suffer before they wake up and take control of their lives?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Thumbs Up

As I have been reading all the back-dated Chinese newspapers, I've been seeing some familiar faces. Today, I saw a picture of the Reverend Norman Fong from the Chinatown Community Development Center. I can't help but recognize his trademark thumbs-up seal of approval.

When Reverend Fong visited me in January of 2004, he gave me the same thumbs up when we took a picture. He has been helping me with my parole, so he wanted to make sure that I was who everyone said I was. At the end out our visit, he gave me his seal of approval. Since then, Rev. Fong has been doing his best to help me.

In the newspaper article, Reverend Fong was featured for his support to commemorate the fallen flight attendant Betty Ann Ong. She was on the first plane that creashed into the World Trade Center on 9-11-01. She was the one who made contact with the air controller to warn them about the hijackers. She sacrificed her life and the chance to talk to her loved ones to warn the government.

Through the support of Rev. Fong and other CHinese community leaders, an office will be dedicated to Betty Ann Ong.

Rev. Fong always puts the community's welfare first. I'm grateful to have his support.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Just Sweating

The days have been foggy and overcast. The gloomy weather has been effecting my mind. It makes me restless. THe bitter cold doesn't help either. I wonder whether the sun will come out tomorrow.

After work this afternoon, I decided that I needed to sweat. When I saw a few Asians gather on the basketball court with a ball, I started walking towards them. As usual, I was picked up to play.

The last time I played basketball was about ten months ago. I jammed by index finger and my Achilles' tendon was in pain. I had to stop playing so that I could heal my body.

After three games, I had a good sweat. I know my body will be sore tomorrow.

I had fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Man of the Year

A couple of Chinese guys from another yard subscribe to the Chinese newspaper World Journal and Sing Tao. They send me the newspapers after they're done.

I was scanning through the World Journal's Bay Area news section this morning and saw some pictures of Asian Americans. The section was highlighting APIs who had made a difference in the community. That's when I noticed that picture of Victor Hwang. I didn't know Victor's Chinese name, but I recognized his face from a picture I saw last year.

The newspaper praised Victor's service to help people and protect their rights.

Victor Hwang is the president of API Legal Outreach in San Francisco. I know who he is because he's one of my biggest supporters in securing my parole and settling my civil rights lawsuit again prison officials.

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Victor, but I have the good fortune of knowing how awesome he is. A person who goes out of his way to help a stranger is someone who is compassionate and awesome. I'm grateful to be one of Victor's many beneficiaries of his self-less and righteous spirit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Late Night Surprises

In anticipation of the state-sanctioned murder at San Quentin State Prison, I stayed up and listened to KPFA's live coverage.

To my surprise, Assemblyman Mark Leno was one of the speakers opposing the death penalty. Assemblyman Leno is also the chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He also supports my parole.

Some time during the broadcast, I dozed off. As if I were in a dream-like state, I heard a soothing and meditative voice through the airwaves. I was pleasantly surprised that it was my friend Diana Liun from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley.

I met Diana about 10 years ago during an Alternative Violence Workshop in San Quentin. We have been friends since then. She is a warrior of peace and practitioner of social engaged Buddhism. She is always helping others, speaking against injustice and spreading peace.

I'm always grateful to have her unconditional support.

Diana mentioned that Sister Helen Prejean will be speaking in Berkeley on January 23rd. Please go check it out.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Making Amends

The three youngsters who had caused the racial tension between the Asian and African American prisoners were released from solitary confinement. A couple of days ago, the administrators put them in separate buildings to break up the group.

For the past few days, they have been going around the building and exercise yard to talk to people. They apologized for their behavior to alleviate any leftover animosity from the incident. One of them must have talked to thirty people. They understood the importance of communication. If they had stopped to think before acting, things would've been different.

I hope that they had truly learned from their mistakes. For now, peace has been restored between the Asians and African Americans on the surface. No one knows how people truly. Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Quote of the Week (3)

"He who refuses to stand up because he wishes to live a little longer, because he's afraid his home will be bombed or because he's afraid he'll lose his job, because he's afraid he'll be shot, may go on living until he is 80, but the cessation of his breathing is merely the belated announcement of his earlier death of his spirit. Man dies when he reguses to stand up for what is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for what is true. So we are going to stand up right here and let the world know that we are determined to be free."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

One in a Million

During the visit I told my friend that I'm going to do extraordinary things after I get out of prison. She said that she hasn't thought about doing extraordinary things for a long time.

I'm sure during our lifetime we all have thought about doing extraordinary things and wanted to make a difference in the world - for the better. However, the materialistic world that we live in has jaded us. The promise of happiness through materialistic wealth overshadows our confidence in the possibility to become extraordinary.

I'm excited about my future. I know that I will do extraordinary things because it's not about me. It's about what I can do for other people. of the world. It is about believing in myself. It's about doing one small thing at a time.

Each one of you can do extraordinary things. You just have to find that feeling within yourself. There is only one of you in this world. That alone is extraordinary.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Documentary in the Making

The last time I talked to Anne, she was in the shower of a gym surrounded by naked women. I guess I called her at the opportune time.

I talked to Anne today, at home this time. She asked whether I wanted to hear myself in audio. I said all right. She played a couple minutes of my closing statement during my parole hearing. My voice sounded foreign to me. Maybe that's because I rarely get to ehar myself on tape. Now I know how I sound to people.

Anne is a documentary producer who has been taping my parole hearings for the past four years. She's making a documentary on the plight of life prisoners independently. She raises funds by herself to finish this project. She's shooting footage of four other lifers in different California prisons. It's a huge struggle to raise funds, but she hasn't given up. She has the support of two award-winning cameramen.

In the mean time, Anne told me she's making a short DVD of my previous hearings and sending it to the governor. That's her way of expressing support for me.

I'm grateful for her tenacity and determination to work on the documentary to educate the public on the plight of life prisoners in California's prison system.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Much-Needed Surprise

I was kicking it on my bed writing a letter to a friend. As usual, on Thursday nights I tune into KPFA's APEX Express Show. Some days I get a clear signal. Other days, there is a lot of static. I was having a good signal tonight.

So, I was writing and heard a familiar voice. Not Pratap Chatterjee's, the host, voice, but my guardian angel Anmol's voice. Anmol was calling in from New York to do the show. I was so exicted that I turned up the volume and called my bunky Marc and neighbors to listen to the show. Me, Marc, and two African Americans listened together. After Anmol spoke about my case and gave a brief update on Rico and Mike, Monica came on to talk about David Wong's case. Monica is always doing something to fight against injustice and help people.

What a surprise! Then again, Anmol's always into surprising me. One day, he could be in the New York, the next day, he could be visiting me. I have no complaints.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tough Love

I knew that my mom would be worried about me when I missed my Tuesday scheduled call. As soon as the institutional lockdown was over, I called home.

As expected, Mom was worried. What surprised me was my dad was worried also. He got on the phone and asked why I had missed the call. After I told them what happened that resulted in the lockdown, he got more worried. All this concern was due to the fact that they love me and want to see me home.

However, they were pestering me so much that I was getting frustrated. They were just on me ike I was a sixteen-year-old kid. I know that they love me more than anything and I want them to be concerned about me, but I don't need them to be overbearing. I'm already on tiptoes as it is. With their constant pressure without knowing prison survival, it's too overwhelming for me. I can't live in a fear 24/7. I can only live responsibly as I have been.

It is times like that that I realize that I need to have more patience. I have much more to learn about the unconditional love of a mother and father.

I love my parents!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

State of Emergency

It is confirmed that "a correctional officer in California Institution for Men in Chino was killed in the line of duty," according to the warden of CSP-Solano.

Aside from the California Department of Corrections' political propaganda of guards being attacked often, this is the first homicide that I can remember in my 19 years of incarceration.

Due to the seriousness of the incident, the CDC declared a 24-hour state of emergency pending investigation. It said that some suspects were detained and housed appropriately. The administration is still looking for others. The statewide lockdown is to prevent any possible ripple effects of violence.

The building lockdown is over today, but we now have to wait for the end of the state of emergency lockdown.

My thoughts go out to the family of the deceased prison guard.

Monday, January 10, 2005

8th & Webster

I remember when I was 13 years old, I used to roam the streets of Oakland Chinatown. As a new immigrant who didn't speak English or understand American culture, I automatically gravitated toward the familiarity of Chinatown. I found comfort in being surrounded by people & culture of my origin.

8th & Webster was a street I frequented often. One place that stuck out was a secret gambling place on the second floor of 8th & Webster. It usually opened at night, Pai Gow and Mahjiang were the games. The place was secret only to outsiders and squares. If you were a local or knew the right people, you knew the gambling spot where thousands of dollars were exchanged daily.

Somewhow I knew the right people at age 13. I was able to knock on the door, walk up a flight of stairs, and be allowed inside. I never gambled. I just hung around and watched. Sometimes I would be bored so I would sit down and read a kungfu novel. I often carried a kungfu novel with me at all times. The people who were gambling never wanted me near them. The word "book" in Cantonese sounds liike the word "lose." They didn't want me to jinx them. Chinese gamblers are very superstitious.

Reading an article on William Wong about his new book Oakland's Chinatown triggered my memory. To email the author, go to To read the article "Oakland, Native Son gives Life to Obscure Story of Chinatown" go to

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Quote of the Week (2)

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it's the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Lockdown Continues...

According to the administration, the justification for locking down the building was to find out what happened to a prisoner who was hurt four days ago. The prisoner claimed that he fell down the stairs and busted his head. The administration rejected his claim and engaged an investigation. However, after taking three prisoners to solitary confinement as a result of a note dropping snitch, the administration kept the building on lockdown status.

During the lockdown, there are no visits, phone calls, dayroom, or work. We are allowed to shower, go to chow, and pick up psych meds.

No one understands why we are kept on lockdown. Maybe we're being punished for not telling fast enough.

I enjoyed the lockdown. I was able to finish reading American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immmigration Prisons by Mark Dow. Now the conditions of INS prisons are worse than California Department of Corrections. I don't want to get started on that.

Friday, January 07, 2005

19 Going On 20

Today marks the 19th years of my incarceration. I don't know how I've survived through it all, but I did it.

How many 19 years does a person has in a lifetime? If someone were to tell me at age 16 that I'd have to spend 19 years in prison, I would probably have committed suicide. Yet, I have been able to grow up one day at a time in this Total Institution. I've been through some bad times and experienced some good times. I've lost and gained. It's all a part of ife.

After 19 years, all I can say is I am still breathing and appreciating life more than ever.

We all have to cherish life. One day, you would be sunbathing on the beach, the next day you could be swallowed by a tsunami.

My next 19 years are going to be a blast. How about yours?

Thursday, January 06, 2005


It's the third day of building lockdown. The search for the attackers stopped. Three guys were taken to solitary confinement.

The last couple of days the administration has been interviewing a select group of prisoners concerning the assault. Some prisoners refuse to go unless they're handcuffed and under escort. They don't want to look like they are voluntarily cooperating with the guards. It's a means of survival. Nobody wants to be identified as a snitch. Being a thief and snitch can get you smashed fast in prison.

However, Solano is nicknamed Tellano because there are plenty of snitches around. That's why you can't get away too long if you do wrong. The guards love it because they don't have to work too hard to find things out.

You see, there are creative ways to snitch. One way is to write a note & send it to the administrators through institutional mail anonymously. I know because I was a victim of a note dropper a few years ago. Some hater dropped a note on me and my friend Mike. We spent two months in solitary confinement.

That's why I stay under the radar.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Surprised Honor

It's the second day of building lockdown. Other buildings in the prison are on normal program. The administration is still looking for the person/s who hurt another prisoner. Until then, the building will remain on lockdown status.

I'm happy to get a day off from work to catch up on my reading. In the morning, I turned on the TV and caught the tailend of the memorial service for Congressman Robert T. Matsui. I was surprised that the TV station broadcast a portion of the memorial. It's the first time I saw an Asian American being honored that way.

I don't know Congressman Matsui (1941-2005), but may he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Nightmare

It's not often that I have nightmares, but I had one today. I couldn't remember the details of it, but it was scary. I dreamed that my friend Mike was being carried away on a gurney getting ready to be executed. I was holding onto his hand and walking alongside him. The prison guard ordered me to let go but I refused. Somehow, Mike got off the gurney and ran toward some high voltage wires. He electrocuted himself. The prison guard told me that I was getting a write-up. If found guilty, I would lose my parole date. I can't explain how bad I was feeling.

I don't know why I had that dream. Hopefully, it was from some issues that I didn't internalize and let go. I gotta keep myself in check.

Someone got hurt badly and went to the hospital this afternoon. After the guards searched everyone in the building for Mark, they couldn't find the attacker. The building is on lockdown for now. However, I don't think it's going to last long. Someone will snitch soon.

I want to wake up from this nightmare of incarceration.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Bump in the Road

I have a headache after talking to Anmol for an hour on the phone. We discussed my immigration issue. That has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. There is so much involved in dealing with immigration law that is frustrating & confusing. I don't want to think about it, but I have no choice. Luckily, I have awesome people helping me. As always, Anmol is solid as a rock. With him on my side, I can't lose.

Please forgive me for being incommunicado for awhile. I'll be back on track in a minute. Please be patient with me.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Quotation of the Week (#1)

"Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small. The most difficult things in the world must be done while they are still easy, the greatest things in the world must be done while they are still small. For this reason sages never do what is great, and this is why they can achieve greatness."

- Sun Tzu

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Strip Search Dialogue

"How are you doing?" The officer asked me as he headed toward the strip area.

"All right," I responded.

"Just all right? It's new year's day and you got a visit from someone. You should be happy." He searched through my clothes as I took them off.

"Yes, I'm grateful, but it could be better. At the same time, I can't complain." I stripped naked and went through the motion of being strip searched by that officer.

Why does the officer feel the need to strike up converation during the degrading humiliation of stripping a person naked & searching him?

I can never get used to that.