Stay Focused, Stay Free Poetically #2


“Injustice is the opposite of justice,
refer to Webster’s dictionary,
the idea to strategically correct this,
have you ever needed more clarity?,
fight for our right,
this is bigger than you,
but make sure it’s right,
because nothing beats the truth,
inequality is the opposite of equality,
review your reference,
understanding, community leadership, and inspiring qualities,
not negative nor violent responses,
justice and equality starts with us,
overcoming stereotype expectations,
omitting the use of you know what,
and seeking for higher education,
striving to be great,
teaching hate to love,
working as one for humanity’s sake,
is justice for all.”

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tip #20

“Is Inequality Systemic Racism?”

“Why don’t we have laptops?” was what I curiously asked my science teacher at John F. Kennedy high school in Richmond, Virginia. “Well … I have no idea,” my teacher said as her head movement matched her disappointment. It was an open-ended question in which she didn’t have an answer for. One of the greatest fears a teacher faces is not being able to help his/her student. Similar to my cousin’s experience, who is a former RPS teacher, this is one of the many frustrations I’ve witnessed first hand.

Given the thought, weighing heavy on one’s mind, leads to a different subject that raises the question of government leadership. However, as complicated as it sounds I have a two-word theory: systemic racism. For example, the capital of Virginia education’s budget is handsomely lower than its neighboring counties. Richmond Public Schools — whose minorities account for 48.7 percent of its population (U.S. Census Bureau) — have less funds than both Henrico County Public Schools and Chesterfield County Public Schools, where white students occupy more than 60% classroom seats.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Poetically #1

The Vanity Slave vs. The Man of God

We all know the man suffering on a plantation, congested with toxic plants and poisonous snakes,
chained by golden ropes embedded with diamonds,
clothed with brands named after his false idol,
entrapped in a maze with no knowledge to escape,
and though he’s sheltered and equipped with food and water, he chases a fantasy of riches,
not to obtain independence but the mansion that sits before his closed eyes.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tip #19

Gun Safety Locks

Last year in Newport News, Virginia, a African-American 6-year-old student at Richneck Elementary School shot his teacher. In a matter of days, the incident became a national headliner. School officials were warned about the little boy having a gun on the premise, but the child was clean when they searched him. However, the child made it into his classroom with a firearm and shot his teacher. Fortunately, the substitute teacher only suffered a non-life threatening injury and survived.

A 1st grade student shot his teacher!!! What is the world coming to?! Why didn’t they find the gun on the child when they searched him?! I don’t want to believe that the child knew they were coming search him and hid it. I simply can’t fathom a 6-year-old being that conscious and deceptive.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tip #18

Let Go and Give It to God

When I founded my brand “Stay Focused, Stay Free” in 2020, I didn’t have any ideas as to what I wanted my logo to look like. For the first few weeks, I brainstormed on a daily basis, working my little, big brain until I couldn’t remember my thoughts. However, I was unsuccessful and had no clue where to begin so I soaked up different suggestions from a few of my creative friends. But unfortunately even with extra help, I was still unable to get any ideas that were fittingly solid. I found myself stuck on a dead end road.

The only thing I had learned from the first few weeks was how hard and time-consuming it was going to be. In the next months, I thought of some ideas in between short periods of time, but nothing seemed to fit my slogan. But suddenly one day came and I chose not to ignore my gut feelings. My intuition was telling me to let go, give it to God, and allow time to play its role. Uncharacteristic of me in these kind of situations, I trusted and listened to my gut.

The Uncut Truth, Vol. 10


While U.S prisons have become lucrative investments for businessmen, it seems as though the philosophy of rehabilitation has adopted dehumanization. From misrepresentation in the Courts and mistreatment by prison staff to society’s classic perception of criminals, the current/former inmate receives a great deal of dehumanization.

Since I have been incarcerated, I’ve been a target of dehumanization by correctional officers, counselors, and administration staff. Most of them have labeled and treated me as a subject rather than a human being. “I can’t help you with your gun prevention children’s book,” is what a staff member said to me years ago. Isn’t helping an inmate with his book project supportive?! It is in my world. But unfortunately I still have zero support from DOC. If it wasn’t for God helping me to be a better man, I will probably be going home worse than how I came in.

Pardon My Book!

A few days ago, I was sitting on the edge of my top bunk, swinging my legs and reading a book that I borrowed from the pod’s library tote. “What’s poppin’ bruh?” Lil Boii interrupted me.

Remembering when I was his age, I understood the young man’s impulsive behavior. “What’s going on, lil bruh?” I said as I placed my book mark on the page I was reading. When I closed the book and shifted my focus to Lil Boii, he wandered his head with a mischievous smirk, as if he was disturbing me to satisfy his boredom. “Whatchu bout to do, big bruh?” Lil Boii asked. I smiled and shook my head. “I know he saw me reading” I thought without losing my patience. “Read!” I said.

The Uncut Truth, Vol. 9

What Beth Saw in Me

When I was an adolescent, I was curious about Elvis Presley. I know a lot of things about Elvis – from his songs to his electrifying performances.

Beth, who was the wife of my stepfather’s longest client, was an Elvis super fanatic. If you went to Beth’s house, you would think that she worshipped Elvis Presley. She had lots of Elvis Presley merchandise, portrait clocks, records, etc. She even had a photo of her aside Elvis in Las Vegas. I don’t know how her husband, Earl, put up with her obsession, but she was a very lovable human being. Beth treated me as if I was her grandson. On top of showering me with gifts, hugs & kisses, and money, she would always tell me how special Elvis was, and that I was special, too.

The Uncut Truth, Vol. 8

Prison Mentality

Written by: Peter Shelton
Edited by: Latif Torres-Robinson

This is prison life through my eyes. First, let me introduce myself and give you a quick summary of who I am. My name is Peter Obryan Shelton. I was born on February 25, 1982, and I’m the oldest of 8 siblings – 3 brothers and 4 beautiful sisters. My father’s name is Peter, too; however, I am not a Junior because we don’t share last names. My pop’s last name is Oxendine, but my mother, Miranda Shelton, gave me her family’s last name.

My mom was a strong single parent, raising four of us on her own. She never showed any signs of giving up. My father – who is also my twin – didn’t live in the same household, but he was there for me. He is my hero because even while fighting his own demons (drug addiction), he always came through for me.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tip #17

Is Drill Music Misguiding Your Child?

“My fingers [are] itchin’ to catch a body …” were the cold words a young man sang as he walked passed my bed area, bobbing his head and dancing to his drill music (modern day gangster rap). As I sat on my bottom bunk and reflected on what I had just heard, I realized how drill music has influenced the rational thinking of young minorities, incorporating violence in their perception of life. As the young man continued dancing and singing aloud throughout the dormitory, another thought crossed my mind: drill music may be a motivator of gun violence, substance abuse, and drug trafficking.