Thursday, August 31, 2006

August Reflection

The month of August came and went with UPS and downs. The same can be said for every month of the year. What's memorable in this month was the opportunity I was given to make a decision that would affect my future. It was like a fork in the road. The choice I made would lead me to a day to reflect on whether I had chosen the right path. As you know, I chose the road less traveled.

So I'm wondering on this last day of August, where will I be and what will I be doing next August? You'll have to stay tuned for the answer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Beginnings

In Buddhism, every breath is considered a new beginning. Every breath we take reminds us how much potential each one of us possesses.

Every new beginning can be exciting, adventurous, and scary at the same time. However, when we have an opportunity to start a new chapter in life, we must embrace it. We're moving forward whether we want to or not. We dictate our destinies through our actions.

So hold your breath and feel its power, then let go and embrace a new beginning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

These days, taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood streets can cost you your life. Driveby shootings, hit and runs, drunk driving, and crazy drivers have taken lives across the country.

Recently, my friend's relatives were walking near their home on a nice day, Bam! A 16 year old hit them with his car and killed on and seriously injured the other. How senseless of a death can that be?! What's going through that 16 year old's mind as he was driving? How many lives were effected? Where do we find those answers?

Please be mindful when you're on the road - walking or driving. It can mean life or death.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Two Years of Blogging

I realize that I've been writing for my blog every day for two years. The blog gives me an opportunity to become a part of the free world though I'm physically separated from it. I am able to exchange ideas, feelings, knowledge and widen my network of friends.

None of this would be possible if it weren't for the dedication of my friend to type up all the entries and maintain the blog for me. She is my fiber-optic cable that links me to cyberspace and to the world. I'm blessed to have her as a friend.

Though I cannot view my blog or respond to all of your directly, I appreciate those who have logged into my blog and shared their comments. I value everyone's sharings.

One day soon, I will be able to converse with you directly. Please stay tuned...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Quote of the Week (86)

"Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you plan it is free will."

- Jawaharial Nehru

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Condoms for Inmates

According to the Associated Press, there is a bill in the governor's office that will allow public health agencies and non-profits to provide condoms to inmates in California state prisons in hope to control the spread of HIV and STDs.

I have no problem with that. However, I believe that the bill should add an amendment to have needle exchanges for drug addicts and tattoo artists. After all, the percentage of inmates shooting drugs and doing tattoos are much higher than homosexual activities. The needle exchange program will definitely help control the spread of HIV.

Then again, the bill is a Catch-22 because state law forbids inmates from engaging in homosexual activities and doing drugs and tattoos.

I applaud the legislators effort to address the HIV and STD issue in prisons. However, I believe a better and safer solution is to pass a bill to provide and enforce education for inmates in all prisons. I guarantee the benefits will supercede the issue of HIV.

Friday, August 25, 2006

IAKL Conference

Mr. Peter Kang, an attorney from Sidley Austin LLP, invited me to participate in the International Association of Korean Lawyers Conference that took place in Seattle. I was able to participate through a teleconference.

Mr. Kang represented me pro bono in a civil rights lawsuit a couple of years ago when I needed a lawyer desperately. He was able to take on the challenges and worked diligently on my case. We won the settlement. I was grateful that he volunteered his time to help me.

There are many people in society as well as those who are locked up in institutions who cannot afford legal representation to defend their rights as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. They could use pro bono representation. I want to implore all of you who are in the legal profession to volunteer your service to helping someone defend his or her rights. Not only is your volunteer service keeping the law honest and fair, it's good for your soul.

It was an honor for me to be a part of the IAKL Conference. I wish I had more time to share my thoughts. I appreciate those who took time to get to know me through my blog. Thank you for caring.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not Good Enough

For the first time I was able to watch the Chinese national basketball team play in the World Championship on TV. Of course, I was rooting for China to win when it played against Slovenia. It won with a three pointer at the buzzer. For a moment, it looked as exciting as an NBA game.

I'm not knowledgeable in the game of basketball, but I could see that the team was not using Yao Ming to its advantage. Yao should've been getting the ball every time down the post. That way, he could shoot his jumpers or draw the double team. Also, there was lack of defensive rebound and poor defense.

The way the team is now, there is no way China can medal in the 2008 Olympics. But there is hope - get busy training.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Little Knot

"Hey Eddy. Can you show up your knot please?" the young guy pleaded with me. "Just one time. Come on."

The six other guys were wondering what the guy was referring to.

I made the guy ask me one more time before I rolled up my sleve and exposed my right bicep. Everyone was shocked at the size of my muscle. They laughed. One younger guy was visibly shaken. He said he got scared when he took a first glance.

Hey, they asked for it.

I'm proud of my biceps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just Needed to Talk

The Chinese guy I just met in the GED class stuck a pencil in the middle of a red apple to demonstrate how it would stand straight if put in water. Then he went on to talk about the ancient Chinese characters. Next, he spoke about Buddhism. He couldn't stay on one topic more than a minute.

After listening to him for twenty minutes, I concluded that the guy had some mental issues. I could understand how he could be stressed out since immigration agents showed up at his home to arrest him for overstaying his visa.

I hope he will find his way in this gulag.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Guangzhou Boy

The new Chinese kitchen worker shook my hand with a huge grin on his face after I told him that I was from Guangzhou. He lived in the same city I was born. He said it was rare to see another countryman from Guangzhou. Though he'd been in the U.S. for 16 years, he still felt the joy of meeting another hometown boy.

I'll hear about the changes in my home city since he's been back a few times. That will be the extent of my traveling.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Quote of the Week (85)

"I have no protection at home, or resting-place aboard...I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my birth. I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were."

- Frederick Douglass

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Peer Pressure Hurts

According to the Chinese Sing Tao newspaper, 15 Chinese youth attacked a Caucasian couple in San Francisco Portsmouth Square. That's the third racial incident in the past 3 months involving Asian youth in Chinatown. People are wondering why these acts of violence happen.

Aside from lack of racial sensitivity, I believe peer pressure played a huge part in racial violence. Whenever a group of teenagers gather together, they get brave and do stupid things. It's often a false sense of being cool and searching for acceptance that motivates irresponsible actions.

The question is, how can we prevent further racial violence from happening? Those youth will need guidance and counseling to learn how to take responsibility for their actions. Where can they get help? Who's going to provide the necessary programs that they need? The community needs to come up with solutions.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Applying Skills

I spent two hours helping a fellow detainee prepare for his upcoming hearing. He felt more confident in expressing himself now that he has a better idea of the court proceedings.

Unless someone had training or experience dealing with court proceedings, she or he will be at a disadvantage. Simple things like listening to the questions, pausing to think before answering the questions, asking to repeat the questions, say I don't know or recall when unsure of the facts, taking deep breaths to relax and always telling the truth can make the different in winning or losing a case.

I'm grateful that I'd learned some skills from dealing with the legal system and am able to help others.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jane's Running Again

There are two openings in the the San Francisco School Board and twenty people have signed up to run for the positions. My friend Jane Kim is one of them.

The last time Jane ran for the school board, I was still in Solano State Prison. I remember posting her campaign flyers on the bulletin boards inside my building and the office I worked. Though none of the prisoners could vote, they did ask questions about who Jane was.

Jane ran an awesome campaign, but the Big Money folks got the best of her. She didn't win, but she's not a quitter.

I'm excited that Jane is running for the school board again. The school board and the community are in desperate need to have Jane as a member. The amount of money a person has should never be a reason for her or him to get elected.

Jane runs a grassroots campaign. Jane works with youth, their parents, and the community daily. Jane is dedicated to helping the community. Most importantly, Jane will never sell you out.

If I were in the free world, I would be in the community knocking down doors to campaign for Jane. Since I'm still locked up, I need all of you to help me campaign for her.

If you want your kids or your loved ones to have a better education, Jane will fight for them.

If you want someone who will represent and speak the truth, Jane is the woman to do it.

For more information on Jane, please log onto

Run Jane run.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just So You Know

Just so you know my appeal process has started. The Board of Immigration Appeals will review the judge's decision and give a verdict. The length of the appeal normally takes about 6 months. During that time, I'll have to stay in custody.

Unless, of course, if the court decides to give me bond. Then I can bail out and fight my case on the streets. That's another battle we have to fight.

If I lose of the appeal, I'll go to the 9th Circuit Court as my final chance for relief. That will take about 3 to 6 months.

That means I'll be inside for a minute. I'll do my best to utilize my time productively.

As always, your support is my strength. I love you!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Making Up for Lost Time

In our lives, it's natural for us to think about going back in time and reliving certain moments or change certain things. There's nothing wrong with that.

As someone who has spent 20-plus years behind bars, I have lost my prime years. I have lost count of all the things and moments I wish I could experience. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time to do things over. But then, I wouldn't be who I am today. I'm not sure I like that.

The reality is that I don't know who or what I would have become had I not been in prison. That's something I will never find out. But the person I am today, I am proud to be alive.

There is not make up for lost time. The time is now. We have to make the best of it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Better Tomorrow

"Turning to the facts of this case, the record does not reveal evidence of any national security or foreign policy matters implicated in Respondent's application. In addition, the court finds that Respondent's removal would not result in exceptional or extremely unusual hardship to Respondent's immediate relatives with legal status or to the Respondent."

"ORDERED that Respondent be removed to China."

it's final
the immigration judge denied my petitions
to stay in the USA
by exercising his executive decision

national security
extremely unusual hardship
i fail the judged's highest standard

after all
forcing me to live in isolation
chilling my skills
shattering my dreams
separating my family
ruining my life
are nothing unusual or extreme

on top of that
i am a threat
i am a threat
to the security of this nation's
profits and interests
because my presence in society
will somehow reduce
chasms and skepticisms
prevent crimes and racial profiling
stop the cycle of violence
educate and empower
the youth generation
save lives
promote peace and harmony in the community
yes, i am a threat

I am such a threat
the judge conventiently neglected
to mention his decision
that the supervisors of San Francisco
and the youth commission
unanimously passed resolutions
welcoming my presence in this country
that over a hundred letters from the community
voiced a collective demand

free free eddy

after 16 months of
community rallying
witnesses testifying
legal jousting
we lost

we did our best
we organized
we campaigned
we laughed
we cried
we hoped
we waited
but we lost

how did i feel?

i felt your pain and disappointment
i felt your prayers and synergy
i felt your love and compassion

i felt the teflon shield
that concealed my maelstrom of emotions
despicably comfortable
i felt like moving on

what am i going to do?

we lost
the battle
but we have not lost the war

it is no secret or illusion
that it would take a miracle
for us to win
my place in this society
but the miracle i seek
does not come from the sky
it is up to you and i
to continue the battle cry
so with all of you by my side
i have decided to fight
for my rights
and the rights of the voiceless

there is not surrendering to defeat
it is just another opportunity
to honor our struggle

we must fight against injustice
whenever it rears its ugly head
we cannot afford to stay complacent
in this era of immigration apartheid
today they come for the latinos
tomorrow they will come for you
devide and conquer
the oldest trick in the book
no more sweeping snow
from your front door
what does not affect you now
will affect you sooner or later
we must wake up from our apathy
it is time
to take direct action
to educate
to raise awareness
to learn
about issues that affect people in our community

education/health care/housing
peace and freedom
for every citizen on this earth
are what we want

a matyr
i am not
suffering and confinement
i do not enjoy
to live a purposeful life
in my finite journey on this earth
is what i seek
people power
is what i believe

can you see
this is not all about me
it is about we
the people
who are all strangers
from different seas
who have planted our roots
on this part of the earth

your unwavering support/encouragement/solidarity
continue to solidify
my resolve to fight
for a better tomorrow

let us get together
and let love fly
let our strength unite
and our feet in march stride

let's ride

-Eddy Zheng
August 14, 2006

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Quote of the Week (84)

"Yesterday was focused on killing civilians in South Lebanon, Baalbek, and the southern suburb of Beirut. Israel continuously bombed homes and buildings. One set of bombings killed over 20 people when Israel targeted a twelve-story building in Tyre (Sour) and leveled its top four stories. Another near Jibsheet targeted people's homes. Reports of bombs with ugly gas smells were confirmed by the Lebanese army as using phosphorous and other types of bombs outlawed internationally...Last night it bombed through airplanes (my brother and I saw the bombs falling from our balcony) the cardboard plant east of Sidon (Saida) in a town called Kfar Jara, we could see the glow of the fire most of the night."

- Monday, July 17th, 10:30am - Day 5
an eyewitness in South Lebanon

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Another Year Closer

My friend and brother Stephen informed me that the Board of Prison Terms denied him one year at his recent parole hearing. He's happy about the outcome.

He attributed this one-year denial instead of a multiple-year denial to the quality and quantity of support letters he had received from the community.

For many life prisoners who have been imprisoned for 25 years or more, it's difficult to maintain or receive support from the community. They have to somehow reach out to places or to people who will give them a chance to survive in the free world.

A little support goes a long way for someone who is fighting for his life.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Media Appreciation

I received a copy of the Chinese newspaper World Journal today. The reporter wrote a special feature on my case and the journey I've traveled to fight for my freedom. The article humbles me. I value my opportunity to express my feelings.

Every since I left prison and started my immigration case, the media has been covering my story. The Chinese media especially has followed every development of my case. It's their job to keep the communied informed. I have no problem with that.

However, each time the media writes something about me, my victims are involved. That's why I always request that the media not use my victims' names. Each time their names are mentioned, I feel the victims are being victimized again. I'm sure they want to forget what happened.

So far, the Chinese mdeia has been very considerate in not mentioning my victims' names. I'm grateful for their sensitivity and mindfulness.

I want to thank all the media for caring about my case.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Addicted to Jail

I know I've talked about people coming back and forth to prison and jail many times. However, it's still shocking to me to see someone give up their freedom time and again.

When I saw this young man who had been back to the jail for the third time in the last six months, all I could do was shake my head.

He's a drug addict. That means he's addicted to jail because drugs and jail are synonymous.

When an addict does not admit that his life is uncontrollable, he will be losing his freedom continuously.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cashing It In

When the California Department of Correction settled the civil rights lawsuit with me, one of the conditions of settlement was paying me $500. I was hoping that I could be able to make it out this year to cash my check. I guess not.

However, the check has a one-year expiration date so I must cash it or lose it. Now there's no way I'm going to let that happen.

When I held that check in my hand today, I felt a sense of triumph. I promise that I'll use the money for a good cause. After all, the lawsuit was not just about the money.

It was all about justice and civil rights.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Peace in the Middle East


As the Middle East conflicts among nations continue to escalate with people dying and living in fear daily, the possibility of a world war is not a far-fetched concept. Only, this time a nuclear war could break out.

The commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the atomic bombing of HJiroshima should remind everyone that people is the only solution.

Monday, August 07, 2006

He said... He said...

There's a confrontation between two guys. (Potential Violence)

- One guy asked me to listen to his story. I did.
- He said it's the other guy's fault.
- I told him that I'll go talk to the other guy and get his side of the story.
- He got upset that I didn't believe his story.
- I explained to him I have to listen to both sides of the story before I can help resolve the conflict.

- I went to the other guy and listened to his story.
- It's a different story as I had expected.
- I offered to bring the two guys together and talk.

- The first guy decided he'd go talk to the other guy alone.
- The second didn't feel comfortable and asked me to be present.
- I told him I trust his judgement to resolve the conflict.
- Conflict resolved.

Always listen to two sides of the story before making a judgement.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Quote of the Week (83)

No man is so foolish as to desire war more than peace: for in peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.

- Herodotus

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Matter of Trust

In relationships with other human beings we all confide in someone at different stages of our lives about some truth about ourselves. However, what we'll share with people can end up hurting us. Then we feel pain and blame others for violating our trust.

For me I have no problem sharing my truth and feelings with people of my choosing. I've understood many moons ago that whatever I decided to share I was ready to let it go. It's up to others to decide what they want to do with what I share with them. They could use it against me or for me.

It's a matter of trust in myself and others.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Language Improvement Needed

My Chinese sucks. When the Chinese Television KTSF Channel 26 interviewed me yesterday, I was asked to answer the questions in Cantonese then repeat it in Mandarin. Somehow I wasn't able to express my thoughts logically and freely. The sentences came out of my mouth choppy. My accents were not proper - like a new immigrant learning how to speak English. Yet inside my head everything sounded perfect. I realized that I was nervous with a camera sticking in my face. I also needed some time to warm up to speaking Chinese. My English has overpowered my Chinese. That's the reality of being indoctrinated and Americanized. It's all bad.

I need to learn how to speak Chinese properly so I can improve my bilingual skills. Because if I don't use it, it will fade away.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Patience is...

Patience is being woken up at 3:30 in the morning, getting handcuffed and waist-chained, being herded onto a bus, heading toward the uncertainties of the immigration court, sitting in a holding tank with 25 stressed out immigration detainees who are waiting for the judges to decide their fate, eating 2 peanut butter sandwiches, 1 half-ounce bag of potato chips, & an apple for breakfast, a baloney sandwich, 6 sliced carrot sticks, 4 pretzels, & a bottled water for lunch, smelling the urine and feces as detainees walk over sleeping bodies to use the toilet, watching detainees hang their heads with deportation papers in their hands, envying the ones who receive bail, taking in the beauty of San Francisco's sunrise and sunset through wired and dusty windows, realizing freedom is so close yet a miracle away, allowing ICE agents to cop a feel before being chained up again for transportation, waiting 2 hours with handcuffs, waist-chain, and shackles digging into the flesh before getting on a bus, riding with the heater turned up high for nearly 2 hours in the summer heat before the driver notices his mistake only after hearing loud bangs and cries for air, being confined to hard plastic chairs for 3 hours while the yelling of foreign languages supersede the roaring engine and tires tearing up the road, letting the jail deputy violate my body with his hands, receiving what was given for breakfast as dinner, then finally with butt sore, body dehydrated, and physically and mentally drained, at 10:35pm concrete and steel await my constitution - yet still believing that there is a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another True Story

"Can I do life in prison without committing a crime?" the Ethiopian young man inquired.

"No, but are you kidding me?" I couldn't believe the guy. "You'd rather do life in prison than go back to your country?"

"Yes. I'll be dead when I go to Ethiopia. I left there when I was three. I don't know the language, culture, and don't know anyone. At least in prison I know how to survive. I'm scared to go to Ethiopia." He's being dead serious.

The Ethiopian guy lost his Convention Against Torture application and was ordered deported. He sees no hope for a future.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


"Ching Chong Yong blah blah blah..."

When I heard the mocking sounds behind me, I had to make sure my hearing wasn't playing tricks with me.

"Did anyone say something?"

I turned around and asked the twelve County Jail inmates.

"No," someone mumbled under his breath.

"I didn't think so." I couldn't let the comment slide.

"Oh, we have a character here," a white dude with a shaved head and tattoed neck responded.

"What character is that?!" My heart rate elevated.

"No, it's nothing. I was just talking about a song we sing," the dude tried to clean it up.

"Are you guys doing time?" I was fed up with the little verbal games.

The guys nodded their heads.

"Well, I'm doing time also. I don't disrespect anyone, so I don't want anyone disrespecting me. That's it." I made eye contact with everyone in the room.

There was silence.

Sometimes I have to flash on people with racist behaviors to make a point.