By Watani Stiner Contributing Writer For nearly three years, since March of 2013, I have enjoyed contributing to the San Quentin News with my OG’s Perspective column, glad to let my son Larry Jr. pinch-hit occasionally. But with this column my time in the lineup comes to an end. When I paroled from San Quentin a year ago I promised editor in chief Arnulfo Garcia that I would continue for a year. That year has ended. Arnulfo likes to encourage the newspaper staff to “move forward.” That’s what I’m going to do, with a focus on my family that … [Read more...] about Watani Bids Farewell to SQ News
By Watani Stiner Contributing Writer My eldest son turns 50 today (October 25th) and I wrote this in his honor. He celebrated by having a big gathering of family and friends which I would have loved to attend. However, as I am still on parole, I was denied permission to travel to Los Angeles for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Some of you may not know that once you get out of prison, you’re not as “free” as you might think. Parole can last from one year to the rest of your life, and it means you continue to be beholden to the state … [Read more...] about Son, Here’s the Toast I Could Not Give You…
By Larry Stiner Jr. Happy 50th Birthday: But How Far Have We Really Come? On October 25th of this year, I joined Club 50 as my born day arrived and a large group of family members and friends launched into a soulful rendition of the happy birthday song. It would be the 50th time in my life that this song would be sung in my honor. My father would miss 46 of those times not by choice but rather due to circumstances. You see, prison and exile had kept him away from those he loved as he paid a heavy price for confronting a racist, … [Read more...] about …Thanks, Dad, But How Far Have We Come?
By Watani Stiner Contributing Writer Though it seems a lot longer, it’s only been nine months since I was released from San Quentin State Prison. Just a few months since I gathered my belongings, said my good-byes and walked eagerly but patiently to be processed from one world into another. I took my final breath of imprisoned air and allowed my ears to surrender the sounds of jangling keys and clanging doors. Twenty-six years of captivity and another 20 spent as an escaped fugitive in exile. I pondered my new reality on the other side of … [Read more...] about After the Conversation, What’s Next?
By Larry Stiner Jr. Through the grapevine, I heard the question: How many different schools are they going to put her in? This was being asked in response to my wife and I enrolling our daughter, Khyra, into yet another new school. It would be the fourth school she would attend in her nearly 12 years of life. On the surface, we understood why our actions might have been questioned. We knew the importance of stability and consistency in a child’s academic world and we were keenly aware of the negative impact frequently changing schools could … [Read more...] about Education – The Greatest Gift
By Watani Stiner Contributing Writer I was somewhat surprised that my children born in South America don’t seem to share my passion for fighting for racial justice in the United States, that they don’t even see its injustice the way I do. Because of this, it throws into question my assumptions about how they thought about me when we were apart. I wonder what my children were thinking about me when they were in foster care…so young and knowing so little of my story and what had happened to me. Why was I in prison? What was their narrative … [Read more...] about Raising Our Children in the Struggle
By Watani Stiner Contributing Writer “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. As I reflect on my past, which was once my present, I find that it is this soul force for justice that proves to be the most effective and sustainable in the fight against racism. I was an active participant in the Black Power movement of the 1960s. Similar to today, it was a period when America was … [Read more...] about Soul Force: The Moral Struggle for Justice!
By Watani Stiner SQ News Columnist By the time this article goes to print in April, I will have been out of prison for 90 days. If you’ll notice, I did not say that I have been “free” for 90 days. Freedom is perhaps one of the most difficult subjects one could write about. It is a subtle concept, a concept that requires context to ground it or it becomes entirely ambiguous and elusive. Freedom is not an object or thing. Freedom is essentially a relationship. There are relationships that reflect the demeaning and oppressive environments they … [Read more...] about Freedom Is a Relationship, Not a Thing
By Watani Stiner Thanks to a positive decision in Sacramento, this is my final article while incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. Subsequent articles will be from me on parole. Because of the length of this article and the limited space available, the second part will appear in the February edition (Black History Month). My son, Larry Jr., will contribute an article for the March column. “[Racism] is something that is deeply rooted in our society; it’s deeply rooted in our history.” –Barack Obama In light of the righteous outrage … [Read more...] about Remembering Dr. King, Ferguson and Moving Forward
By Watani Stiner “The language of marriage is often the language of ownership, rather than the language of partnership. We use the word ‘respect’ to mean something a woman shows a man, but not often something a man shows a woman.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author and feminist. There exists inside every young boy a compassion that must be cultivated and nurtured into adulthood. How is that compassion translated? What societal responsibilities do we have to the younger generations? Moreover, what personal responsibility do we … [Read more...] about Raising Compassionate Young Boys to Adulthood