thesajidakhan thesajidakhan

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Sajid Khan  Public Defender, Writer, Muslim, Cal alum/fan, A's enthusiast, Co-host of The @aiderandabettor Podcast. Rooted in San Jose, CA.

To break
from falsity
The weight
of warden’s
An existence
on everyone else's terms
in the prison of

take back
On a
sun soaked

Andy Dufresne

had to
Five hundred yards
Five football fields
of foulness
a river of

#shawshankredemption #poetry #poetryofinstagram

Splitting up kids from their parents is nothing new in this country. ‬ ‪Don't forget that we've separated and broken families for decades through our unapologetic, dehumanizing use of mass incarceration as our means of criminal justice, inflicting irreparable, generational harm and trauma, particularly on communities of color. ‬

I close my eyes and relive my shackled 20 year old client Oscar, having just been sentenced to nearly two decades in state prison, hugging his toddler daughter in a courtroom before being whisked off by a sheriff’s deputy into a holding cell.

I hear my client Stephen recount a childhood apart from his father, Mike, who spent Stephen’s formative years locked away in a distant California state prison.

I remember my client Edward, pending trial on felony charges that were ultimately dismissed, forced to meet his newborn son for the first time through county jail glass.

I visualize the countless teenagers - Jonah, Arthur, Victor, Fernando- in juvenile courtrooms gripping their mothers, only to be yanked by probation officers back into juvenile hall.

I recall the scores of black and brown boys charged and prosecuted as adults, torn from their families and sentenced to lengthy if not life prison sentences, caged in faraway penitentiaries.

I see the fathers stuck in our jails pending trial, ripped from their children because they are too poor to afford bail.

I think of the thousands of fathers locked away in our country’s remote prisons on disproportionate sentences trying to raise their children by mail, grossly overpriced collect calls and sporadic visits. ‪

This callousness, inhumanity and willingness to shred family bonds is who we are and have been. The separation of children from their parents at our borders is merely the most recent manifestation of our ingrained, pervasive culture of mass incarceration, a culture premised upon reducing people of color to subhuman.

Let's look in the mirror and recognize our complicity in these horrid practices. Let’s resolve to make change, starting with a recognition of the humanity of black and brown people who commit crimes or attempt to enter this country without documentation.


The egg
A caterpillar
it could stay
a caterpillar
But it
a higher

its skin
spins itself a
Hiding in
plain sight

A revolution

The caterpillar
Digests itself
Dissolves all its
starts over
Imaginal discs
that morph into

The caterpillar
Its destiny
its wings
Its true colors

A rebirth

the beautiful

#poetry #poetryofinstagram #transformation #metamorphosis

Having finished my cathartic, orienting, renewing Hajj pilgrimage, I sat after Fajr (pre-sunrise prayer) in the basement of our Mecca hostel on the last morning of the journey. The Imam (prayer leader) spoke to the group and advised us to stay connected to the Quran upon our arrivals home, beckoning the non-Arabic speakers to read it in our native tongues to truly grasp the words and embrace and receive them in our cores. It dawned on me then that I had never read the book in English, that my connection to and understanding of it, the Muslim faith and God were inevitably limited. I resolved to return home and read every verse in English.

I came back and dusted off the Thomas Cleary translation of the Quran that had been gifted to me nearly a dozen years prior but had gone largely untouched. I toted it with me as I dropped off Sulaiman at Granada Islamic School and then would slip into the adjacent mosque prayer hall. There, I’d sit and read a page or two before heading off to work. Other days, I’d read a few pages before bed or after Fajr prayer. All the while, I would fold the corner of pages when I fell upon a verse that struck me or I wanted to return to.
A couple months into my venture, my copy with all its folded page corners sat in my backpack that someone stole from my car. Devastated but not deterred, I ordered a new copy and started from the beginning, methodically reading again, scouring for the “folded corner” verses and discovering a few others.

114 chapters, 300 pages, dozens of folded corners and about 9 months later, this morning, on the last day of Ramadan, I finally finished reading the Quran from cover to cover in English for the first time.
The experience was clarifying and confusing all at once, answering many long held doubts and questions but prompting new curiosities, concerns and uncertainties, connecting my depths to God and this faith and at the same time straining certain spiritual strands and stirring up new internal strife. But Alhamdullilah (Praise be to Allah), the journey and struggle to growth, clarity and the divine continues. Time to read it again.

Belated gratitude for another @warriors championship and the privilege to attend the NBA Finals again at the Oracle (game 2 with my buddy Farhan Syed). Year after year, my favorite time of the NBA season used to be the draft lottery when I'd eagerly await the opening of the envelopes to see which pick the Dubs would land. We were perpetual bottom feeders itching for a savior to make us remotely relevant. I'd spend months analyzing mock drafts and convincing myself that the likes of Cliff Rozier, Joe Smith, Todd Fuller, Mike Dunleavy, Mikael Pietrus, Marco Belinelli and Anthony Randolph would change the franchise's landscape only to be severely disappointed each time.
We got a little taste of success with Chris Webber's rookie year and then the "We Believe" squad but quickly and abruptly returned to the dregs of the league each time. The initial years of Splash Brothers Steph and Klay were more of the same: an entertaining, high scoring but ultimately losing team landing back in the lottery.
But then Draymond arrived in 2012 and Iguodala in 2013 and everything changed. Steph's ankles healed, Klay got consistently better and then Steve Kerr jumped on board in 2014. 4 years and the addition of Kevin Durant later, here we are: 3x Champs and owners of the greatest 4 year run in NBA history.
Simply unbelievable. But the journey from the depths of the league to the top makes these moments that much sweeter. But for the years languishing in the lottery, we wouldn't savor and appreciate one championship, let alone three, as much as we do.
#warriors #alhamdullilah

Thank you to Siddique, Hameed and Ahmed (missed you bro) for hosting the latest edition of the annual LTR iftar tonight.
Grateful for a healing, connecting night of laughter, conversation, hugs, prayer and halal Thai food with this band of brothers, many of whom I've known since birth. #alhamdulillah #brothers

With the sad news abound today and this week, wanted to share something uplifting and joyful: Sulaiman's Pre-K/K Bears flag football team who had a memorable season marked by epic wins, significant improvement and the sweet giddiness and amusement of childhood. Grateful to be surrounded by bliss and innocence for a few hours every Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to Coach Sameh and Hussain for all the help! #gobears

Sad, angry and disappointed that we lost a fair, thoughtful, compassionate jurist on our bench in Judge Aaron Persky who fell prey to a firestorm of misinformation, misplaced anger and inflammatory rhetoric.
Deeply concerned that this recall will cause judges to ignore the humanity of the criminally accused and impose more harsh, punitive, carceral sentences, thereby fueling mass incarceration.
Wary that this misguided recall's severe consequences will fall on the backs of the people of color, the poor and the disenfranchised who comprise the majority of people ensnared in our criminal justice system.

That's why we public defenders exist, why we chose this work. To rise amidst the most daunting, dire and unjust conditions and stand with the underrepresented, dehumanized and forgotten fellow human beings in the crosshairs of our criminal courts, to demand their rights, to tell their stories, to insist on their humanity, to honor their capacity for redemption, to free them from the cages of our incarceration epidemic.
We public defenders were made for these moments. To be the voices of reason and foresight when our communities lose their way, to push back against deeply ingrained notions of incarceration equaling justice, to stand firm against misguided mobs that threaten our justice system, to peel back and dismantle oppressive laws, to breathe life into our constitution.
The beautiful struggle continues. Let's go.

#freedomfighter #publicdefender

Alhamdullilah for Sulaiman's pre-k graduation this morning. Grateful to witness Sulaiman grow into himself, to revel with him in his moments of glee and to celebrate his milestones. The journey continues, inshallah.

Memorial Day morning moment. Alhamdullilah.

Proud to stand up and make it plain that I am against the recall of Judge Persky. This is a screenshot of a short video clip on the no recall of Judge Persky Facebook page.

In the face of a heavy pressure, potential criticism and the culture of mass incarceration, Judge Persky considered the humanity of Brock Turner and engaged in a thoughtful, holistic, individualized determination of the appropriate sentence for the particular crime and particular offender.
He did what was right, not what was popular.
Vote no on the recall (even if they spelled my name wrong, haha).

Shakur's first day of school! #soitbegins #thebandit #littletupac #huglife

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