To Lincoln Heights,

Tomorrow I’ll be returning to Central Juvenile Hall for the first time in nearly ten years for a special program with the InsideOUT Writers. I spent my sixteenth and my brother’s fifteenth birthday at Central, and also sat through the holiday season of 2006 and the New Year’s eve of 2007 there. Through the other eighty-six non-holidays that my body was detained inside of the facility’s walls, I met the wrath of the state, alongside a generation of other black and brown youth from Los Angeles in custody.

We weren’t alone, as our families lost just as much time in our separations from one another. But in the end, none of it was time lost; it was time learning. Tomorrow I return as a freedom fighter, there to stand before another generation as proof that light is in fact at the end of the tunnel when we choose to see it.

I’ll stand not only for my family, but also for the families of others caught in the grips of the system, as well as for the freedom fighters at I.O.W. who have helped guide yours truly to this point. Until we’re all free, we are all locked down. But we will be free. We are free, and we are not alone.

With so much love,

J.T.

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