True Safety is Peace

Abdur-Raheem Ballard


This year for Night Out for Safety and Liberation, we asked people who are currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in California to share their thoughts about what safety means. Read the below post by Abdur-Raheem Ballard:

Safety is based on the notion that the “Condition of [a thing] is being [free] from undergoing or causing hurt, injury or loss.” Although the idea of something being free from these damaging effects seems unrealistic in today’s times, I’m sure some of us can remember a time when ‘safety’ was an everyday experience -- a joyous moment that filled every waking hour. For some, this may have been in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s.

So, what has changed since then? In thinking about this question, we can start by examining a culture that somehow swept through most of our urban cities here in America -- a culture that made it okay to hurt our sisters, injure our brothers, and care less about the destruction that we would reign down on our communities. Unfortunately, this drastic shift in our thinking over the years has continued to aide and abet the very nature of what ‘safety’ is not.

On the contrary, if I had to imagine what the future holds for the safety in our communities and abroad, it would entail the following: Safety is reshaping the flawed concept about ourselves that many have adopted. For if we cannot look in the mirror and see ourselves in the highest esteem, how can we possibly see our neighbors in a positive light? Safety is realizing that we all have a choice in deciding and making our own destiny. We have the power to unite, to stand up for what is right, and the ability to voice our opinions and be heard. Safety is knowing that we all need each other: black, brown, yellow, and white. As a collective we are more likely to succeed than we are divided. Our needs are the same, as well as our pains when we are deprived of the very things that ensure our stability.

Safety is believing in our future generations, and never giving up hope. It is knowing that our children are being educated, that they are receiving a fair opportunity to excel as other students are. This includes holding the right people responsible when these opportunities for educational safety are not being met.

Safety is about mending and bridging gaps between one another -- gaps that are often used to justify senseless crimes, assaults, and other acts of brutality. When the distance between these gaps have been shortened, we lessen the distance that it takes for us to start loving each other again.

Safety is about re-establishing trust. And as hard as this is to do at times, it’s imperative that we do so to relinquish the ball and chain that continue to bind us to hatred and rancor. The same hatred that has turned caring people into those who care less.

Safety is being able to come home to a house that is affordable. Not one in which the rent is raised every other month in a systemic plan for gentrification. If “Home is truly where the heart is,” every effort should be made by the elected members in our community to stop breaking our hearts, leaving us tossed out on the streets with nowhere to go.

A wise man once said that “The future of a nation depends upon its health.” And just as this is true for a nation, the future of our communities depend on an affordable healthcare plan--one which will ensure the safety of our well-being and the well-being of future generations.

I started this discussion by saying that “The idea of safety may seem foreign to many of  us today.” With the wake of recent shootings and terror plots many might agree. However, I truly believe that each day that we wake up we are given an opportunity to take back the safety that we once knew and cherished. We can redefine the culture that has swept safety up off its feet and thrown it about. I am positive that we can attain this because safety is not some figment of our imagination; it lives, breathes, and conquest insecurity whenever it rears up its ugly head. True safety is peace, and if we look deep within ourselves we’ll find it.