Jesse Ayers4

Student Spotlight: Jesse Ayers on Friendship

By Jesse Ayers | June 15, 2021

As part of Mount Tamalpais College’s summer 2021 fundraising campaign we are highlighting the bonds of support that exist within the incarcerated community at San Quentin, and the many ways that people care for each other, and lift each other up. We are proud to share some student reflections on people in their lives that have helped them through this last year.

During the pandemic, a “false positive”, resulted in “contact tracing” sending a number of inmates to “the hole”. After 21 days of quarantine, the inmates were returned to general population dorms. One of the inmates was from building (dorm 4) , he had been in dorm 4 for two years and now he was sent to my dorm 3. I had seen this guy around, at the various concerts on the yard and up in the chapel (before the pandemic) so I knew he did hip hop, R&B / Country music. I walked by his bunk and asked if he wanted to sing some country songs, just to practice, and he said “Sure”…

Since that day three months ago, I found a friend and a brother, someone who I have been able to share everything with. Both of us have suicidal pasts, mental health issues, similar childhood trauma…  Not to mention I found out that he’s a brilliant writer, singer, rapper, and author! I write scripts and screenplays, not to mention poetry. Quincy writes children’s books, his own biography, novels, songs of every type of genre! We have also been contributing to The Beat Within, telling our stories to help guide the youth inside of the Juvenile Justice system.

Quincy (Journ-E) showed me how to turn my poems into raps, to structure the sentences, people clown us saying “Don’t give that white boy the game!” 🙂 But it’s funny because I’ve always wanted to rap but didn’t think it was something I could actually do…  Quincy has been such a positive influence on me. When the pandemic hit I was cut off from all of the outside loving volunteers who inspired my change and encouraged my progress. I was always being told how famous I’ll be when I get out, how much money I’ll make, doing my comedy/acting. But I just want to be of service and give back…

Quincy gave me a chance to help someone write, sharpen his skills, and what I got in return was what I was missing. As an artist, I may be very funny, and talented, but I’m constantly dealing with a hurricane of doubt and negative thoughts about myself. Mental health “experts” only come in once every few months to talk to us (if we’re not EOP) and I have given up on thinking mental health is “the cure”. But Quincy has been a sounding board for me to share my issues with, he has calmly listened to me (a priceless gift) and whenever appropriate he gives me feedback or advice. He and I may both be on “The Big Screen” one day, but right now we are both in prison, and thankfully he has been there to help me through the most difficult part of the pandemic…  One day at a time…

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News: Today, ED is announcing new efforts to expand access to higher education in prison for justice-involved individuals. [🧵 1/6 ] https://blog.ed.gov/2021/07/new-efforts-to-increase-access-to-pell-grants-for-incarcerated-students/

"He's practicing out on the yard at San Quentin, and Pat and Antwan have voices from the yard swirling around the saxophone in the mix. It immediately conjures the place, and the talents and hopes of the guys in there." https://buff.ly/2OzPBxy (2/2)

This fall, I am co-teaching a course on Linguistics and Language to incarcerated people at Mount Tam College at San Quentin Prison. I am so honored!

We can't use any technology, so if you have any resources you can share, please do! The course will be socio-heavy. RTing helps 🙃