Open Letter from Assata Shakur to the Pope


The following letter is written by Assata Shakur, a recent addition to the FBI’s Most Wanted list. On May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Olugbala Shakur (fsn) Joanne Deborah Chesimard, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with murder of a police officer. Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.

Your Holiness,

I hope this letter finds you in good health, in good disposition, and enveloped in the spirit of goodness. I must confess that it had never occurred to me before to write to you, and I find myself overwhelmed and moved to have this opportunity.

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The Bigger Picture

I’m feeling some sort of way lately. The passing of my grandfather and the failing health of the beloved Nelson Mandela have dampened my spirit a bit. Not to mention what’s going on in this awful country…

Recently, we’ve been inundated with reminders of just how fucked up American society really is, like the Paula Deen controversy, the Zimmerman trial and the SCOTUS ruling on the VRA, just to name a few. And while there is so many instances that point to never-ending racism, classism, immigration problems, a failing education system and privacy issues, many of us, no matter the color, remain in deep denial and go about our daily lives as if this doesn’t or will not at some point affect us.

Perhaps that is what rubs me sore the most. The apathy of it all. A “what can we do about it” mentality. The “I’ve got other things to worry about” mindset.

Sure, Paula has been the sacrificial lamb for her supremacist beliefs (you do know she’s not the only one with these beliefs, right??). But if we use her to confront the ingrained ignorance of racism instead of Whites defending her and Blacks attacking her, we’d make so much more headway socially, collectively weeding out the ignorant and reprogramming their thinking.

Which brings me to Georgie-boy. If he only took the time to educate himself (or to be educated) on racial profiling instead of assuming that every Black boy is a criminal, he wouldn’t be trial for murdering one. Spilled milk…

The Justices of the Supreme Court has made it easier for non-white votes to not count, although this country is quickly being made up of many people of color. There should be some serious outrage over this, but I guess there aren’t enough angry White women to make a fuss so…

There is a point, in which we have to start thinking ahead, like really far ahead in our decision-making. Are we going to continue to allow old supremacist mindsets and old slavery-rooted attitudes lead the plans we place for future generations? Or will we recognize that times are changing, accept that all of our ancestors came here on boats (whether voluntarily or forcefully) and plant the mental seeds necessary to promote real, innovative growth?

Think of it this way: we can get mad at all of the “shiny” distractions such as the Paula Deens of the world or the criminalizing Black boys for how they wear their pants and, like many of us do, we can even continue to ignore the issues altogether. But we gain nothing, NOTHING, from it. Until we gather some unity that crosses the color lines, and really fight for equality for ALL, we will continue to ride this hamster wheel we call America.

I’ll end this with a quote I just love and that rings so true: “We are drowning in information, while we starve for knowledge.”

Wake up.