Incarceration Nation

Born In The USA

By Kevin Cooper

Being born in America for a certain group of people, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Especially when one can end up in jail, or prison, or the graveyard, simply for being who you are, as you were born.

Just sitting in your car reading a book and minding your own business while being Black can get you dead. Or walking down the street while being Black can get you detained, arrested or murdered, just because you are Black.

Defending your constitutional rights against the racist police and classist power system can get you killed if you do so while being Black.

Even if you walk away from the police with your hands raised high in the air while Black, you can still get killed. Or if you lay down on the street with your hands held high in the air while Black, you can still get shot by the police.

Listening to loud music while Black; knocking on the wrong person’s front door for help while Black; fitting the description of a crime suspect who has a wide nose while Black, and especially playing with a toy gun while Black—even if you’re a child—can get you six feet under here in America. 

All of these things, and more can be stated over and over and over again because they are the truths that Black people have to live with, and have died because of, in this country.

Most citizens in America take their everyday lives, and events that take place within their lives, for granted. But, for Black people in America, we cannot afford to take anything we do or say for granted, because if we do, it may be the very last thing that we ever do or say in America.

To me—a Black man living the American nightmare in America—these things are a Goddamn shame.

Whether we are executed by the hands of the police on the street, or executed by the hands of these volunteer executioners behind prison walls; or gunned down by the George Zimmermans of this country, we Black people have been marked for death just by being born in the USA, and that’s a Goddamn crime against our humanity!

While many people are, and rightly so, living and enjoying the American dream, others—many others—are, in fact, experiencing the American nightmare, just because of the color of their skin.

Kevin Cooper is an innocent man on San Quentin’s Death Row in California. He continues to struggle for exoneration and to abolish the death penalty in the whole U.S.

Write to Kevin Cooper at:

Kevin Cooper C-65304, 4 EB 82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974