Today was the first time we were allowed in the chowhall. We grabbed our trays and headed for a seat. The moment he realized I was following him, he turned, looked me square in the eye and said, “Hey man, white and blacks don’t sit with each other, I’ll see you back at the cell house.”
Baffled and offended, I didn’t know what to say. I started sweating, getting warm as I processed what he just said to me. “What!” was the only thing I could bring myself to say to him. He walked off leaving me to stand there lost. Shuffling what to do next I sat down by myself realizing this what it means to be black in prison.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan