Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At nineteen, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served ten long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.
In Bird Uncaged, Peterson challenges the typical “redemption” narrative and our assumptions about justice. With vulnerability and insight, he uncovers the many cages—from the daily violence and trauma of poverty, to policing, to enforced masculinity, and the brutality of incarceration—created and maintained by American society.
Bird Uncaged is a twenty-first-century abolitionist memoir, and a powerful debut that demands a shift from punishment to healing, an end to prisons, and a new vision of justice.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Hiding 1
Chapter 2 Move On 15
Chapter 3 Losing My Religion 29
Chapter 4 Dash 49
Chapter 5 Okay 55
Chapter 6 911 79
Chapter 7 9/11 89
Chapter 8 Sponge 105
Chapter 9 Freeish 135
Chapter 10 Bridging the Gap 147
Chapter 11 Decarcerated 169
Chapter 12 Pens from the Pen 185
Chapter 13 Un-American and Free 193