Here at the Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, we just can’t get enough of the incredible stories and images that come out of Humans of New York, a blog curated by New Yorker Brandon Stanton. Over the next few days, Brandon’s blog will be featuring a variety of stories of men and women incarcerated in federal prisons in the United States.
Here’s a sample from a young man and his mentor that Brandon interviewed at the Federal Correctional Complex at Allenwood, Pennsylvania:
He’s a beautiful person. He always tells me: ‘We’ve got to find a way to win by losing.’ In the eyes of society, we’ve lost already. Everyone in here is a loser. We can either be angry about it, or we can keep trying to grow. He’s always correcting my Spanish and giving me quizzes. He used to be an engineer, so he’s been tutoring me in trigonometry. He’s been a blessing to me. He’s helped me to not be so angry. He’s always so happy and optimistic. And I don’t know how he stays so positive. Because I’m getting out of here in 40 months. He’s doing life.”
This particular post, in our opinion, gets to the heart of why Humans of New York is such a powerful medium for story-telling, and why hearing intimate personal accounts are so important when we consider the lives of Americans touched by the criminal justice system. It also serves as a reminder that resilience and hope can be found in the most unlikely of places, even for those serving a life sentence in federal prison. Perhaps it does really matter what specific offenses landed these two men in prison. Perhaps if you knew what their crimes were, you’d think differently about the obvious bond of friendship, respect, and compassion between them. But stories like this (and we are confident there are thousands and thousands of them) give us pause, and encourage us to learn more.