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Valerie Griffith HSP 455 2/20/12 Wrongfully Sentenced to Death To my family: I hope that you guys understand that

my love for you has never seized to exist. I have spent every day in this penitentiary thinking of you, Marcela, my wife. I have dreamed about the experiences that my wife and daughter, Perla, have had to endure without me. I have missed the most important events in your lives and it hurts to live with the heartache. I dont blame you, Marcela, for moving on with your life. I wait all day and all night for the evidence that will release me from my ultimate death, but at this point I could no longer be the husband and father that Ive always been and wanted to be. I only have a few days left and this will be the last letter I will send until the injections consume my consciousness. My only goal in life was to see that you guys made it out of the projects and were living comfortably. I know that the new men in your lives have been able to sweep you away to the good life. I can be strong in my last few days knowing that the most important people to me are living better than what I could provide for them. Its still all really hard for me to grasp. I am a lower class African American. I live in the projects so I carry a gun on me at all times. I just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and because I have a gun I killed the gang bangers, who just so happen to be white. I was sent to prison and sent to death without hard evidence.

I believe that all men deserve the right to an education, and that is one thing about prison that I am grateful for. I have spent all my years here reading and studying history and the ways of life. One thing is apparent; African Americans still live with the racial discrimination that has long since existed since Africans were brought to America to be the white mans slave. I feel like my ancestors did. I didnt deserve to be taken from my home, given a life of punishment and the feelings of being inferior to the white man. I have thought about running away to be with you, but the consequences outweigh the little bit of time I would get. Unfortunately, our people are destined for oppression because of our race. Race is a funny word. In America, race has been the most detrimental aspect to many cultures and societies. What is race? Is race the color of my skin? I am just as capable of doing anything that a white person can do. I am black and Im proud of the strength that my people have had since being torn from their homeland and brought here to serve those of white color. Segregation has set the African American people up for failure. The white people state that our country is postracial, but the racism is still apparent and at an all-time high. In my mind, I believe that if the kids that were murdered on the streets of the projects, had not been white, I wouldnt be on death row. Hell, I might not even be in prison. They needed someone to blame and chose me. I find it ironic that 49% if inmates on death row are African American. Is this a coincidence? I am one of 50 black men who have been thought to be innocent and put on death row. Out of all the white men on death row, do you think any of them were innocent? Do you think that they were given the death penalty because they killed an African American? Theres so many systems at play here it is hard to ignore the facts. Racism is not a thing of the past.

I wanted to show you guys what I have learned about racism and segregation, not so that you will live in strife towards the white man, but to see the divide that can sometimes be hard to notice. I want my family, as African- Americans, to be proud of the color of their skin and to help their fellow man. Dont be quick to judge people, everyone deserves a chance. My life has been a bitter sweet experience and it is now coming to an abrupt end. I am happy that my family has gotten themselves out of the projects, but there are those who will never be so fortunate. Racism is the death of me and 49 others who were innocent. Im bringing this information to your attention so you can help in the fight for racial equality. Please dont forget the great times we shared. I am proud of you guys and love you with everything that I have left. Im sorry. Love always, Jerald Brown

References A Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn, Chapter 2, Pg. 30 The Matrix Reader, Abby Ferber, Chapter 1, Pg. 9 http://rwor.org/a/144/BNQ-en.html http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~marto/adpp/swanson.htm http://ezproxy.library.wwu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&d b=a9h&AN=53696543&site=ehost-live