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Dear Young Convict,

Keep your head up and stand tall. Toughen up and stay strong. Prison life is harsh, and so you will need your strength to survive and overcome the many challenges you will face. Once you leave your county jail for a prison cell, you will run into all kinds of obstacles that will divert you toward the wrong path. You will meet counterfeits: people who use lies as their chief weapons of manipulation to destroy you — to tempt you into doing things you may not enjoy or be accustomed to. No matter what, stay solid, be disciplined, and remember who you are and what you are. You are somebody.

Your lifestyle and actions while away from home will reveal how well you have internalized and embraced your values. Stick to these values and morals. Never join a group or clique to feel safe or fit in. Even when you feel alone, you are never alone. You have me, myself, and I, for you are your own best friend.

Please stay unattached to others, and stay fully attached to yourself. In the end you are the only person who cares about you and will be faithful to you. Always have faith in yourself, and continue to believe in yourself. Having faith in yourself will allow you to shine bright, like a diamond.

My young convict, remember faith is not believing in nonsense: faith is learning to not embrace unreasonable and unacceptable things. Faith is not dumb — it’s smart, focused thinking, earned and learned. It’s being hungry for education and understanding.

Healthy faith lacks ignorance. It is not naive to the counterfeits who wish to keep you in the dark and mislead you. It is perfect and strengthening, and it will help you overcome all the obstacles you will face as a young convict.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Summer Breeze is the pen name of a Black trans writer incarcerated in Missouri.