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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Special: Letters From The Outside, Almost One Year Into The Pandemic

 March 2, 2021 at 10:27 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Adam Chan and Edmond Richardson met while they were incarcerated at San Quentin state prison. About two years ago, they've been best friends ever since Adamou was released last fall. And they've kept in touch by writing letters to each other. Here's more on the deep connection these men share in an excerpt of the K a L w public media podcast. Uncuffed. I got a letter from my man Edmond CSP, San Quentin, San Quentin, California, nine four nine six four. Yeah, that's familiar. I remember, um, address in my envelopes like that. Yeah, this is exciting. I don't get a lot of letters from the inside and let's go ahead and open this up. Uh, Damo. I hope this letter finds you surrounding Speaker 2: 00:52 By your loved ones, deeper appreciation for your freedom. How you doing? It's been like for you, man. When I got the news that you would be going home, a flood of emotion, but it was, Hey me, I was excited, anxious and said a bit of sweetness at the moment, realizing that the man who, so I fell in love with over the last couple of years, go no longer be near me, take on the weight of the world alone. But with you, everything was bearable. I am truly happy in your home where you belong. And for myself, I'm doing good. I mean, every day that I wake up as a blessing, you know, I have no complaints. Okay. That's a lie. It's been nine months and some change. And I still can't stand this modified program. And 23 hour lock down and add insult to injury after recovering from COVID-19. Speaker 2: 01:42 I want you to call a, a, you know, separate from the after effects of the virus. Around three months ago, I started to have hard-copy Jason's pressure on my lungs and my short-term memory was gone. Now he has the one, one thing that I hate the most is that I can't sleep. I think it's totally unrelated to COVID. It's more of a condition and circumstance thing. Anyway, the doctor diagnosed me with mild depression, prescribed me three milligrams of melatonin to refer me to mental health. I still can't sleep. I know you suggested I see a therapist a long time ago. And honestly, I said, if I can get the price, you never, you never think something like this can happen until it does. It's been a minute since I heard his voice on. When we talk over the phone, it's awkward, awkward because my body and my sense is, especially for you, but you're not there. Speaker 2: 02:41 I prefer Nate maintenance someone's presence. When I speak to them, I miss the sound of your last, I missed how you would get mad at me for stepping on your suit, because I was always randomly trying to hug you. I miss seeing you in the morning. I remember you made some sushi and said too much was sobbing and I'm thinking, and almost died. Let me be clear. Spicy is not the same as lighter fluid being lit in your nostrils. I have memories like this one that are kind of set a reminder of how much I value our relationship and more than anything else, how much I miss you. Speaker 1: 03:12 I love you your best friend Edmond. All right. So I'm going to respond to Edmond. It's his birthday. Um, it's been a difficult process for me because I know how much a birthday means. And I know that it's a celebration that should be shared with, uh, family and loved ones. You know, I hope that, uh, admin was able to celebrate in the right way. And so I wanted to express that in this letter, I hope you're doing as well as possible, despite the circumstances, it's your birthday today. And I'm thinking about you intensely wondering how you're feeling, what you're eating, who you're with. And if you're laughing a deep, joyful laugh that comes from deep down in a place untouched by the prison, maybe I'm an idealist, but it feels like a radical act to celebrate your birthday in prison, to reclaim that part of yourself that is beyond any conception of a cage made for a human being. My hope is that today your joy doesn't feel contained by the walls that surround you or the judgements of those who don't know you because they've been taught not to see you, but I know that's a tall task I was there. And I know that the most difficult thing to overcome is this realization that the prison has gotten inside of us, that it has built walls between parts of ourselves imprisoned our most precious gifts and obstructed the vision of our true purpose. Speaker 1: 04:54 It is something that I struggle with out here in the quote unquote free world, where I see shadows of the prison everywhere in this new Bay area that I've entered the Bay area. And I'm sure this is true of our urban spaces across the U S is a place where every home, every business has a black lives matter sign, but I don't see many black people in the Bay area anymore. And the ones that I do are either dirty unhoused with visible mental health issues, or they're the respectable black folk that don't appear angry or play their music too loud. Maybe they're wearing a Salesforce sweatshirt. I think I just wanted to make the point that the relationship that we built our friendship has been key to disrupting all of this. It is where I'm able to be my truest self, where I learned the practice of accountability and Karen relationships, where through our creative projects, I could see a future where we were successful creative partners, where together, we played a part in creating a vibrant arts and academic community on the inside. But most importantly, our relationship allowed me to see beyond the walls that blocked our view of the ocean and horizon to see myself outside. Speaker 1: 06:07 I love you, brother. You don't even know. Thank you for sharing all of your precious stories with me, even though, even though I know you only gained the power of storytelling through suffering, I'm happy that you're finding ways to care for yourself in spite of such dire circumstances. And in the absence of much direct support, know that you are always here with me and I am always there and I will do everything in my power to see your home sooner than you think. Happy born day Edmond. I love you. Uh, Damo PSI ordered the book you asked for. And another, I thought you might like you're turning out to be quite the bookworm Speaker 3: 06:59 That was Adam Chan and Edmond Richardson who met while they were incarcerated at San Quentin state prison. They were speaking as part of the K a L w public media podcast, uncuffed Adam, who Chan helped produce that up.

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It's been almost a year since friends and family have been able to visit their loved ones in prison, due to the pandemic. Letters to the inside are always a lifeline. This year, more than ever.
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