A year ago, third-year law student, Delaram Kamalpour had a vision. To connect what she and others were doing in the legal space, with those who were working in the creative space. Her vision, was the impetus for the April 12th-14th, 2019, art fair-workshop, at University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA’s, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. CALL, Connecting Art and Law for Liberation, attracted some highly visible and long time activist. Of note, were actor and activist, Danny Glover; Los Angeles Poet Laureate 2014-2016, and activist, Luis J. Rodriguez; Hip-Hop artist of Public Enemy, Prophets of Rage, and activist, Chuck D; author, activists, and former prisoner, Donna Hylton; and prisoner-artist, and Prisoner Transformative Justice Coordinator, Donald “C-Note” Hooker.
We followed up the event by interviewing the featured prisoner-poet, Eric W. Davis, aka, San’i A. Mateen, on the website, Call To Action UCLA.
DRPA: San’i, how are you doing?
San’i: Oh, I’m fine, I’m doing fine.
DRPA: Now we wanted to interview you about the poem, Little Brother, as it did not go on noticed, it was the first piece of literary art featured on Call To Action UCLA website. Everything else is visual art. Tell us how did the organizers get your work?
San’i: Well, one of the guys, C-Note, he told me about it. I’ve been messing with him for a long time. We are part of a community strategy think tank that meets every Saturday in the prison. He tells us all the time about these events and encourages us to participate. I’m a poet, and have completed a poetry book and a fiction book. Recently, I was able to get one of them copy written. But all this is above my paygrade as to what to do next. Especially coming from prison.
DRPA: So you heard this from C-Note?
San’i: Yes, but we never act on this stuff. I know he’s gotten his name out there over the wall, and has always been telling me these are the first steps to getting my books noticed, as I become known to the people on the other side of the wall as a writer.
DRPA: We find this work interesting, as on the one hand, there’s a chastisement of little brother, on the other, there’s a chastisement of members of your generation. Wait, let’s first publish Little Brother, so that the readers will know what we are talking about.
How Can Younger Brothers Ever Give
The Love They Were Not Taught To Live
In Which I’m Almost Positive
That Most May Never Know
For Many Begin To Tear Apart
Their Relationships Right From The Start
And Love There Never Grows
Because They Never Cleansed Their Hearts
Still We Do Not Look At Us
Because We Envy, Hurt And Cuss
Each Other While We Make A Fuss
About The Plight We’re In
Which Shouldn’t Sound At All Strange
For Most Of Us Refuse To Change
Because Each Day We Still Arrange
To Do These Things Again
So Yeah, Don’t Sit There Lookin Shocked
For We Are Those Who Still Do Block
Our Ears And Hearts We Won’t Unlock
To Truly Understand
And Our Condition Remains The Same
For When Will Big Brothers Ever Name
Themselves The Only Ones To Blame
For The Problems In All Hoods
For One Of Brothers Greatest Fear
Is Letting Go Our Mournin Tears
That We’ve Collected Through The Years
And Still We Do Not Cry
Yet We Cause Our Women To
By What We Say And Things We Do
But When Will It Dawn On You
That We Also Need To Cry
For Crying Does Away With Pride
Helps Change The Way You Are Inside
So That Your Soul May Be Your Guide
As It Should Always Be
But If You Think I’m Too Sensitive
I’ll Go Ahead And Let You Live
Your Life, Which Life Will Always Give
These Problems That We See
DRPA: Now you touch on, “How can younger brothers ever give, the love they were not taught to live,” and go on to write, “For many begin to tear apart, their relationships right from the start, and love there never grows, because they never cleansed their hearts.
San’i: Yes, I think what happened to Nipsey.
DRPA: You mean Nipsey Hussle?
San’i: Yes. His death was the catalyst to cleanse the hearts of our young men and women. So when I wrote this, that event had not occurred.
DRPA: Yeah, you’re right. Because later in your work, you go on a tirade about crying.
San’i: That’s the whole point. God gave us tears. We all put up with so much BS. But where is the outlet to grieve? Where is the outlet to release the daily stressors, which become cumulative stress, one has within one’s body? It’s going to come out, period. Whether day of the reckoning be internally, like disease, heart attack or stroke. Or externally, like a Columbine, or some other act of violence. Tears are man’s peaceful means to release those stressors. Water, which tears are, symbolizes cleansing; because you can’t cleanse something without water. DRPA: And it’s very critical of us men, not willing to cry.
San’i: Yeah, not willing to release peacefully. That’s how messed up we are in the head. Instead of taking advantage of this peaceful means, granted to us from on High, we only settle for the violet means, and whether it be internally, or externally, violence is meant to kill us.
DRPA: Truly. Well alright San’i, Thank you for giving us this interview. And good luck with your book. Now that people have been exposed to the power of your writing, you should begin to see some traction.
San’i: Thank you.