I caught Herman’s House one afternoon on World Channel [a local channel where I am so I’d check my local listings before paying to watch it.] I almost took a pass because the opening scene broke my heart; I was in a pretty decent mood and just didn’t feel like stirring any glum emotions. Plus I remember hearing about Herman’s story a couple years back and it had tugged my heartstrings then. But as a human with a soul, the film captivated me. There is just no way you cannot feel for this brother and his unjust situation.
Without giving it away completely-in short-Herman’s House is a documentary following the story of a Herman Wallace, a former Black Panther and one of the Angola Three, who’d remained in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary [aka Angola] for most of his life-more than 40 years. There is little [or no] evidence to prove his guilt of being involved with the killing a prison guard, yet he lived in solitary with just one hour a day outside of his six by nine foot cell. Artist Jackie Sumell is enraged by his story which provokes her to create #76759: Featuring The House That Herman Built, a true-to-size replica of Herman Wallace’s cell.
Being very aware, I’m almost always in a calm enragement as well-enraged for Herman and all of my brothers and sisters caged in solitary confinement, wrongfully imprisoned, beaten, poisoned and murdered. To be treated like a rabid animal for your entire existence because of a crime you committed is not rehabilitation. Most likely the opposite, in fact. Solitary is a disgusting abuse of power that should be obliterated. While pedophiliacs and Wall Street sharks are protected, have their wrongdoings disregarded or given a slap on the wrist, innocent souls [innocent meaning they’re paying the ultimate price-the crime (if any) doesn’t match the punishment] sit in solitary confinement and it is one of the many systemic methods killing our people.
We need to keep talking about it. It’s frustrating but it’s necessary. It’s heartbreaking but it’s real. Reality for so many of us. Too many of us. Knowing the facts about how amerikkka was designed to see us fail is extremely disheartening. I often read and watch and think there is nothing that I can do. But, If nothing more, it’s imperative to stay informed and spread knowledge and not let these stories be ignored or swept under the rug.
I love that Herman remained so positive and hopeful. Without the love and support of his sister and Jackie, I know with an unsparingly honest outlook, he could have easily broken down. Let me know if you saw the film and what you took from it.
[photo cred: nytimes]