To Central Juvenile Hall,

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.

In Laav

Summer is in full swing in L.A., and it gives the day a longer, lazier feeling. Or at least, that’s what yours truly has been able to enjoy. I’m truly privileged to still be out and about as a free bird, but like everything else, my freedom has its time too, and I can now see a nest and some nesting time not far off in the distance.

It’s been a pleasure to roam around in my return to The City, however. On the one hand, L.A. is as heartbreaking as ever, marred by a sense of disconnection between all the different drivers bubbled up in their cars, and a hunger for community between so many of the lovely but lonely Spanish homes spread throughout the landscape.

On the other hand, although L.A.’s communities might be separated from another, it doesn’t mean they’re not vibrating brilliantly behind closed doors and fences! I’ve had the fortune to reconnect with a few of these communities since getting back, and they’re as reinvigorated by the summer heat as I am.

As the days continue, then, once again it’s the most fascinating thing in the world to find the stories in between the separation, which never fail to bridge the gaps between The City with their hidden but precious connections to one another. A friend put it best the other day, when he told me that stories give him company. I realized that hey, that’s what J.T.’s all about, and I totally just stole the line from him just now!

With Laav,