I hate to say some of the things I’m about to say about prison guards, but I’ve experienced this firsthand. Some of these prisons in Virginia are built in extremely rural areas, small towns where almost everyone is white. Country folk where everybody shops at the same Walmart—if they even have a damn Walmart. No clubs, no malls, and everyone went to one high school. 

There aren’t a lot of black people, period, which means if you break down this taboo type infrastructure, these white folks haven’t seen many black people, at least not like in the city: cursing, laughing, hanging out, pants hanging off their asses, listening to rap music and being rude, disrespectful and disruptive toward whites. Blacks running around constantly saying the word “NIGGA” out loud.  

These same white people, male and also female, are given jobs in these high-security prisons with no correctional experience and many are barely out of high school. They’re given so much authority and power that it’s dangerous.

No one understands and sees what we see in these prisons. We face pure uncut racism everyday we wake up. We deal with these correctional officers every day, many of us trying to respect them, knowing deep down in our hearts that they don’t like blacks. They haven’t even been around a lot of black people before. There are little subtle things they do. And with others, you’ll have some that are flat out, in-your-face racist. But the state allows these individuals to work here amongst us.

Then when shit happens—a correctional officer beats an inmate, or it leaks out that the officers are abusing prisoners, or an inmate assaults an officer, the general public stereotypes things they read about it. But no one knows the pain that we as inmates suffer everyday. 

So don’t blame black people for being angry when we (plain as day) see a white officer beating a black person or abusing them or breaking the law. It infuriates all people of color. 

I feel bad for my great-great-grandfathers and great-great-grandmothers who suffered and experienced racism at its highest peak, along with its history. At times, they say history repeats itself, and racism still exists in its current form today. What it is…is that, it’s just a part of life. Sometimes we just have to accept all the bullshit that comes with it. We are who we are, and we were raised the way we were raised and a specific upbringing produces a specific fruit. 

It’s true that I’m paying my debt to society for my crime, but I shouldn’t be subjected to racism while doing so. 

God bless u all and try to be a better human for 2021. I try every day.

Antwaun Johnson is serving 30 years for 1st degree murder in Virginia.

Antwaun Johnson #1171427

Nottoway Correctional Center

2892 Schutt Road

PO Box 488

Burkeville, VA 23922