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By Travis Bray,
Sept. 15, 2006

My name is Travis Bray. I've got the inspiration to become the CEO of an
independent record company one day. I would be the first artist on the
label. I'd also like to write books and movies, and I'd like to speak in
schools and juvenile centers, in order to help some youngstas dodge the
pitfalls of the hood.

I'm living in a prison within a prison, having done almost ten years of
incarceration. One can easily adapt to and consume the prison loser
mentality. This concrete place commits daily assaults on the mind. That's where
the other prison haunts, as well. I'm a prisoner of my visions and goals.
I became bigger than the concrete prison the moment I discovered knowledge
of self. With knowledge of self I discovered my gifts. Some people live
and die without ever discovering their talents. I believe everyone has
talent, it just needs to be cultivated. True education is supposed to bring
out your strengths and talents. I'm doing double time. I sit here in
disharmony for not being able to express my gifts to the world. Over the
years, prison will make every attempt to empty out your aspiration. Some
days I feel like a leader, some days I am weak. But I refuse to claim the
name of a fool any longer.

The concrete prison has captured and destroyed countless minds. It tries
with everyone who enters. I miss my music. I'm supposed to be making
history. I thought long and hard about my purpose. In a few years, this
concrete prison lifestyle will end, but I will still have another prison to
deal with, from which I must release myself. I must achieve the goals I set
for myself.

I look around with my third eye. I only see a handful of real people,
people with whom I feel the connection. We don't talk with our mouths, we
talk with our actions. I forgive those who have counted me out. After all,
our lives have been on the line since birth, as young black men growing up
in the hood. I can get out, and work a job for the rest of my life. The
problem would be that I'd still be a prisoner. I was put here to make a
difference, even with all my shortcomings. My mistakes, I don't hide behind
them. Certain things happen to us that keep our egos in check. We've got
rags to riches stories, the prince who grows from concrete, slave turned
king. It's time for another story to be written. I have the right to
believe in myself, just like so many so-called friends and family have a
right not to believe in me now.

Children we should teach, and love them forever. Some adults are unworthy
of friendship. Fantasy is for story books. Fake character is to be avoided
and real people are to be cherished as truly unique and rare.

Another thought for another direction - giving back is the most important
lesson I've learned in prison. The lack of caring adults in the hood, to
help the youth, is sad. I often think about Tookie, the co-founder of the
Crips, who was murdered by the state of California. The terminator gave the
order. He was a brother who redeemed himself in prison and transformed his
gang criminal mentality into that of a true leader and hero. I understand
the puppet media that condemned him. The media is designed to mislead the
people. The part that got to me was when the broken-down inmates around
here talked about how he should admit to the crimes. From day one the
brother claimed his innocence, even if it was going to cost him is life.
How many people will actually sacrifice their lives for what they believe
in? Let's all morn and then celebrate a true hero. Tookie wrote children's
books without the proper resources to do it. He was locked away in a cell
twenty-three hours a day. I've got first-hand experience with living in a
cell lockdown twenty-something hours a day. Seeing a fallen hero hurts,
being betrayed by a hero hurts a hundred times more. When one becomes aware
one is able to think independently, without the influence of daily
falsehoods. My heart and soul tells me that the creator will give us what
we ask for. We have to be patient and smart enough to accept and appreciate
the blessing. The blessing might come through something or someone, when we
least expect it.

Travis Bray, #501567-6c203
Southeast Correctional Center
300 E. Pedro Simmons Drive
Charleston, MO 63837

[Travis Bray would like to hear from you. You may contact him directly by
writing to the address listed above. The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners:


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