PRISON to POWER Series: The Released Brother...

Every day brothers are released back into our community from prison. Most, but not all, boast about the time they did. These brothers cling to the prison experience like a gold medal or a championship[ ring. They send a misleading message to the youth that prison is cool, forgetting the burden on your emotional and mental state of mind. My brothers, be honest and explain the mental and emotional anguish incarcerated men go through. Expound on how your court appointed lawyer was working with the District Attorney to put you away. So, you had a paid lawyer, huh? Newsflash! He took your money and still sent you away. The Judge took your freedom and slept good that night. It’s a job to him and the more you keep appearing in front of him, the longer he stays on the bench.

Please, elaborate on how being separated from your wife and kids hurts your heart. Or how you felt lees of a man when your children’s birthdays come up and the state money you receive every two weeks will not buy a card because you owe a surcharge (fee owed to the court system), Yet, you come back to the community and broadcast how you were “the man up North”. “Save it, my Brother!” That’s not what your son or daughter want to hear, You, I, and 60 others know the truth and how it when no one answers the phone when your calling home.  We know how it feels when no one shows up on your visit day after you get all dressed up in your state greens, Polo shirt, and the newest Foamposites; lying on your bunk all dressed up, jumping every time the phone rings.

When you do go on the visit, explaining the degrading ballerina show you have to give AFTER the visit. I guess you want me to keep that quiet, but I’m keeping it real.

Mass incarceration is a trap that disables and places our youth at a disadvantage. We need more Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, and Judges. Educating and properly guiding them will give our children a better chance to become pillars in our community, while strengthening it.

At the end of the day, this is a reminder to the young AND the old that imprisonment is serious and not a game. It takes good men away from our community, breaks up families, and leaves our children Fatherless. My brothers, please get it together and unite so we can stop these senseless murders in our community. Keep our Elders safe, our women happy, and our children successful. It will take all of us to break those invisible that hold many of us back.

From the Fathers who are locked up, to the single Mothers of our young male; let’s look through those veils our children carry and realize that this is NOT the story that we want to tell.

Yours Truly,


P.S.This is written from my personal experience. I was once a “Released Brother” We need to get it together my brothers and rise from Prison to Power

I too am america: a song of race and language

On February 3rd, 2017  at the Community Folk Art Center, millennials gathered to celebrate Black History Month with ART and Culture. I, Too, Am America: A Song of Race and Language features the works of Jamaal Barber, Ann :Sole-Sister" Johnson, Kleaver Cruz, and Spencer Shultz. In Ralph Ellison's speech, "What Children are Like" he discusses sub-culturein African American communitties and how it is reflected through language. (SITE: CFAC Invite)


PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Dominguez

Education or bust!

Image: Michaela (Mica) Lara Gonzalez

Image: Michaela (Mica) Lara Gonzalez

Written by: Eileen T. Jevis 

University College Student shares her secret to Success!

When Micaela (Mica) Lara-Gonzalez finished high school, she knew she had to pause and decide what she truly wanted to do next. Her passion was to help others, and her goal when starting college was to learn skills and gain knowledge to make that happen. She enrolled in Onondaga Community College and graduated with an associate degree in Human Services. Her success led her to continue her education at University College (UC) of Syracuse University. “I applied to University College because I needed to be able to work and go to school at the same time,” said Mica. She suggests that students weigh the pros and cons of the school/program they are considering so that they have a strong sense of involvement and commitment. Mica juggles two jobs, attends classes, completes assignments, and is in the process of starting a new business. She shared some tips on how she handles it all.

Time management:  For any student juggling myriad responsibilities, time management skills are essential. Making a list of things to do, tackling time-consuming projects in stages, setting deadlines, and learning to say “no” are helpful tools that Mica practices each day. “When you have many things going on, you really have to take a moment and say, ‘what things are working for me, and what things are not?’” she said. Mica makes a point to have clear-cut school and work boundaries. “I schedule specific times when I do my homework and really make a point to keep work stuff at work and personal stuff at home.”

Tap into your support system:  The academic advisors at University College are also certified life coaches. Mica’s advisor, Emileen Butler, has been instrumental in Mica’s success. “There have been times when I’ve had some negative experiences and she was there to make sure the issues were addressed. She is truly invested in the well-being of her students and approaches us in a warm and supportive way,” said Mica. In addition to Butler, Mica has a strong support system at home. Her partner, mother, sister, and grandparents are there to tell her how proud they are of her hard work and aspirations. “There wasn’t really an option to not go to college,” said Mica. “I have big dreams for myself and my future.”

            Mica said that she’s had many struggles and challenges, but she advises others to start small, work their way up, and take one step at a time. “Falling down is part of the learning process,” she said. “But when you’ve accomplished something – whether passing a math test or getting through a difficult week – celebrate each milestone.”