Posts Tagged ‘Black people’

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The latest events surrounding the death of Michael Brown has me wondering about the future of the the world we live in. I think of the events that have taken place and wonder how will this change the society.

I think of the racial split that will occur behind this event. I am grateful that the youth of today are more open to the diversity that makes up this country.

As these events unfold the discussion on the prison yard is interesting. Those mostly concerned are black, and you can hear frustration and anger in their voices.

Being incarcerated I have a different view. What happened was wrong, no doubt. But, the way that the community has decided to voice the wrong is not proper either. I know there are some who are taking advantage of a bad situation. But at whose the expense?

I remember early in my incarceration we decided to protest the living conditions within the prison. At the time I was being housed on the juvenile range. Someone came up with the “good idea” of throwing our mattresses and property on the tier and lighting it on fire. We were locked in the cells and started to throw out our stuff. We were yelling for our demands to be met. We gave them 5 minutes to fix 100 year problem.

We started to toss baby oil on the stuff, as baby oil is flammable and will burn. 5 minutes passed and a match was lit and tossed on the stuff laying on the tier. A big fire ignited and there was this loud whoosh sound. In a matter of seconds the tier was on fire. Smoke start to fill the locked tier and cells. We almost killed ourselves!! Guys were choking and screaming to be let out the cells. Guys were sucking air through the toilets. We would flush the toilet to get air in the bowl. The bars got hot to the touch. We almost killed ourselves! What did we do? Excuse my French but we did not get shit and we fucked up the prison some more! The prison that we had to live in because they were not going to let us free.

We took a situation that was criminal (the mistreatment of inmates is called cruel and unusual punishment) and harmed ourselves. We did not get what we wanted, a 5 minute fix to a 100 year problem. We ultimately made it bad for ourselves. It is more criminal to create a oppressive situation for oneself. This is what the people of Ferguson is doing to themselves.

Make no mistake about it.. Wrong is wrong. But you don’t fix wrong with more wrong. Something needs to be done. Answers need to be given. But this is a 400 plus year problem that people want fixed today. Sorry but I doubt that it will happen in that fashion.

We need to step back and readdress the problem the right way. Intentions need to be made clear. For what purpose are we here for? What is the goal and object of any demonstration and protest? I am glad that people are stepping up. But not the manner in which some of are doing so.

For those of us who can remember 9/11 we see how this event has changed the world, and not necessarily for the better. We are no more safer today. From what I hear it is more of a hassle to maintain privacy, to avoid being profiled, and to travel. I don’t know an outside world post 9/11 so I don’t know. But I will say this. What happened in Ferguson Missouri will be monumental in changing future events just as 9/11 change world events. The issue of race and poverty can no longer be avoided. When the time comes to address these issues, whether by dialogue or actually putting forth actions, what course of action will be taken.

We can no longer, as a society, avoid what is to come, in terms of social change and justice. To do so would truly be criminal.

Talib would like to hear other opinions about this situation. He is currently incarcerated but maintains the A Voice From the Inside as a means to reach out the public, and as a tool of awareness to what goes on in prison. He is open to taking all questions and comments. If you think others would be interested in hearing more pass the word, repost and sign up at his site.

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Week 3 of Victim Impact.

Wow today was a very intense day, to say the least. The topic started out on education and the importance of education. One of the questions was how much is enough. During that discussion the topic of race and history came up. To me this is an important topic. Some of the other facilitators did not think that this issue was relevant.

One of the thing we suffer from, not only in this country but the world over, is fear of the truth. The truth is that many African- Americans lack the information that other races have that make them feel proud of how they are. The history, as it is taught in this country, of Blacks began on a boat; on a boat in chains in shackles. What does that say about the trans-generational trauma that many Blacks suffer from today.

It is a known fact that certain behavioral habits/traits and diseases can be breed into a race of people. Look at the disposition that the Native Americans have to certain diseases, alcohol in particular, that stems from the introduction of those diseases in their communities as they were fighting for the land that was taken from them. It is a fact that alcohol was used as a means to buy off and control the natives by the white settlers.

In the case of African-Americans we suffer from some of the same trans-generational trauma, if not more. Some of the myths of Africans still are used today. From the comparisons of our penises, shoe sizes. lips hair types etc. Black women right now have a mountain of identity issues when it comes to being accepted in this country. As to what is beautiful and what it looks like. It says a lot when you see a Black woman dye her hair blonde and wear blue colored contacts. Everyone has the option to dress as they want it is just sad that the image of beautiful has to come from outside oneself. What makes a person beautiful is not what is on the outside but what is on the inside.

So what does this have to do with victim impact? A lot! History plays a major role in the acts that many of us commit. It is not the focus on the program but it is a starting point for many. An example of this is that almost everyone incarcerated dropped out of school. I believe that there are two systems in this country that allows it to thrive and fail at the same time.
The education and criminal justice system. Almost everyone who drops out of the educational system find themselves within the criminal justice system. Almost everyone who takes education serious almost never find themselves in the criminal justice system. Not to say that they have perfect crime free live but due the having a certain amount of education they have other options and more opportunities.

I believe that the more education one has the less likely they are going to, either come to prison or come back to prison upon release. Often crime is committed due to lack of education. One of the most monumental cases of our time is Brown v the Board of Education. It is a historical case in a time and era that had many challenges in terms of equality. This land mark case changed the education system in this country forever. I asked the question how many guys ever heard of this case and only 3 hands went up! If many of the young men in the class understood the implications of this case would they take education more serious? See this is one example where knowing history plays a critical role in the choices that one makes as it concerns committing crimes etc. Not to say that it is the end to all but it is a start. As we talk about victim impact it is important that we talk about education and history at the same time.

Another fiery topic that came up is role models and aspirations. I made a statement that the role of role models has been misplaced. That the true role models for our children are the fathers and mothers that bear them. Some of the guys mentioned what did I think about Obama and him being a role model. I told them that I did not believe that he will not be a role model for the children that I have one day. That, regardless of my past and the bad choices that I have made in life, I will be that role model for my kids. I also mentioned that what they were using, mentioning him to be a role model because he is the first “black” president is misplaced responsibility. That it is easier to point your children in the direction of someone else to aspire to be like than it is to change the behavior that is needed to be the role model and example that our children and communities really need.

This did not sit well with some of the men as it seems as if I was to giving credit to the achievement of Obama. It is not that I am not recognizing the accomplishment. It is I am not going to put my job off on him. This has become a pattern that is found in the urban communities. Whenever something goes wrong people place the blame on external sources. Not to say that there are no outside influences in the decisions that are made; but to say that there has to be some accountability as well. This attitude is very common in those that refuse to admit that crime and anti social behavior is a result of their actions. That at the end of if all it boils down to the choices that are made, individually.

It is unfortunate that the institutionalization of these communities are as such. The harsh reality is that a lot of the conditions we have created ourselves. If one does not want to admit to that at least admit and own up to the conditions that, individually, have been made. Choices that have lead to the destruction of communities and lives. That is the part that as individuals we have control.

Those around us are our best teachers. What we learned we learned from others. So when we talk about role models we have to be the example that we want others to live by. It is not the job of another black athlete, politician, doctor etc. It is the role that we must fulfill. This is where it becomes important to know history, as a starting point; To use as an example.
This is not an easy journey as it means changing belief systems, values and mind-sets. It is a challenge to get someone who has been a victim to realize that through this he/she has become the victimizer. It is a challenge but hopefully some one gets it.

I asked a question in the last class and yesterday one of the younger guys approached me and mentioned to me what happened to him. I challenged all of the men there that had children that if they told their child that if they had one wish what would they wish for. I told them that most of them would wish that they were there with them. This guy did this and his daughter told him, ” I wish that you were here with me.” He said that it bought tears to his eyes.

There is another guy that meet is father in prison for the first time. They were in a state prison together doing time together. His father went to prison shortly after he was born for Life. He never meet his son until his son came to prison 20 years later. They spent 4 years together and when the son left he knew that he was leaving his father behind forever; that he would never see him again.

This guy came up to me later and vowed to do and be better for his son when he went home. I thought that it was all talk. He began getting serious about his GED studies, he even got a tutor to spend time with outside the class. He has opened up more in class. He has even severed some of the negative ties that he has.

So although it is a challenge it is worth it. If one persons life is change it makes a difference. Until next week.
Peace

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I was reading something today and it read “solutions to double consciousness.” When I read the statement it made me think about what it meant to have a double conscious in the first place. I wrote about this a while ago and I guess that is why i feel compelled to write about it again.

After thinking about this statement I had to ask who does this really apply to. I mean in order to have a double consciousness you have to have one to begin with. So how do you answer this question in a world where there are people who don’t have a consciousness to begin with.

There has to be some sort of education involved to get to the core of ones beings. It will allow for one to come into the essence of self. To know thy self is one of the greatest tools that can be used in finding the solution to having a double consciousness. But, how does one achieve that if they are part of a group of people that lack heritage and culture to identify with in the first place?

During one of my classes I posed the question to 2 white men and 2 black men. I gave a slip of paper to one white guy that read, “what does it mean to act black?” and i gave a slip to another white guy that read, “what does it mean to act white?”
I also did the same to the two black guys that i had selected to answer these questions. I asked one, “what does it mean to act black?” and the other “what does it mean to act white?”

These men were not prepped to answer these questions and were selected at random. You would not believe the response that was given. Every answer was based on a stereotype. What was worse was the stereotype that the white guys had for “what does it mean to act black” was the same stereotype that the black guy gave when asked “what does it mean to act black?” Talk about a double consciousness!

The typical response was a negative one. One where the black guy always had to find a way to “act” a fool and ignorant! So I asked the question, “why is it that not one black person in this room said that to act black is to be a father, responsible. law-abiding, educated, loving, caring etc.” The shame that filled the room was heartbreaking. That many young black men have fallen victim to a stereotype that someone else gave them.

I asked a Hispanic guy what it meant to be Hispanic and the first thing that he said was,” ahhhh I don’t know how to answer that, but we have our culture…” I stopped him and told him “you have said enough.” It is sad that many blacks when asked about their history the think that it began on a boat in chains and shackles.

What does that say about the consciousness of someone to think that their existence began in a state of degradation. So much so that till this day they believe that the only thing that they can identify with is the definition that someone else has placed on them. Therefore they act that out.

This is the state of affairs of many of the young men here. They take pride in being called nigga, dog, thug, fool, pimp, gangsta and all of the other adjectives that have been adopted into the culture of mainstream America, as it concerns the black communities.

I asked a question, the same day, where did blacks learn what they know about themselves? No one had a legitimate answer to that question. Most of these guys are young so don’t remember a time where TV was (and still is) by white shows. So they have no idea as to what it means to live in a society where there is no one on TV that looks like you. See this is something important as TV often becomes the medium from which we learn, from where the status quo comes. So it is through TV that we learn most of our behavior.

When did the decline of the black community really begin? Who knows but I do know that when they begin to give us time slots on TV to be fools it seemed that we took those images and ran with them. Do you remember N.W.A.( niggas with an Attitude) they changed the game and we became known for a new genre of rap, gangsta rap. Where we yelled fuck the police and talked about niggas getting shot and I can’t forget “A Bitch is a Bitch” or the other songs that came out that young blacks began to identify with, shit that was causing them to kill themselves a mile a minute.

What about Boyz in the Hood, Juice, Menace to Society, South Central and the many movies that came after that that depicted young black men as menaces and culprits to every type of crime that could be committed. I was so wild in those days I can recall a guy pulling out a gun on me an pulling it and hold it sideways, imitating what he saw Ole Dog on Menace to Society. See i can sit back and recall those days of foolishness.

Why is it that Denzel won an Oscar for portraying a crooked cop? Why did 36 Mafia win an Oscar for it is hard out here for a pimp? Why couldn’t Denzel win for Malcolm, John Q, hell Man on Fire for all it matters. My point is that if the images that are portrayed on TV and in the movies depict blacks in these stereotypical ways what do you expect from some one who adopts these roles? Where is the consciousness to begin with?

With that being said how do you answer the question, what is the solution to having a double consciousness? I say that it starts with those of us who have a good idea of where this double consciousness comes from begin to educate those who don’t. Sometimes those who know take for granted that no one wants to listen when that may not be the case all the time.

For instance one day a young guy was talking to me and he says, “see that cracker over there.” So I ask him what did he mean by that. He says, “I mean that white guy over there, the racist one.” So, I ask him if he knew where that word came from and why it was used. He says,” No. I just know that it refers to the racist ones.” So, I explain to him that every time you call that guy “cracker” you exalt his status as an oppressor. He looks at me in disbelief. I go on to tell him that the word “cracker” was a word that the slaves used for the white man because they didn’t know his name and every time he came to punish someone they used to say here comes the “cracker” as that was the sound that came from the whip. He was blown away by that small information and vow to never use the word again. In that regards he was able to deal with that double consciousness.

The same thing exists in the names that most black people bear. Jackson, Johnson, Williamson, Robinson etc. These are all names that were passed down from slavery to identify the owners of these slaves. So the slaves of John were called Johnsons etc. I just use that example to point out that even the best of use carry some of these traits with us on a daily basis. We sign big checks bearing these names. We buy big houses bearing these names. We pass these names on to our offspring’s. We have family reunions celebrating these names.

So it is safe to say that the vast majority of African-American or blacks, which ever you deem to be more political correct, suffer from this thing called a double consciousness. But, as long as you know that a disease exists you can continue to treat it. You may not cure it all the way, that may be too hard, but it is treatable. You can treat it with education. Education of self and others. In order to get to an end you have to know where you are starting from!

for what it is worth i consider myself to be one of the fortunate guys here in prison as i have family that supports me and comes to visit me, at least once a month for 2 days. there is something that i want to say about these visits and what i find to be interesting. the thing that sticks out the most is the number of women that come to visit these men. it is sad to see the elderly women that come to visit their sons and other male family members. it is also sad to see the mothers of these guys children lug these kids into these institutions as they try to keep a dysfunctional family together. it is heartbreaking to see, at the end of these visits the children, cry and cling to their dads and brothers. it is a unique experience to see these guys that are supposed to be harden criminals try and relate to these children and get frustrated when they can’t relate to them.

today there was this guy that was trying to relate and talk to his daughter and she refused to communicate with him and she ran off to the bathroom with tears in her eyes. as she is running off crying the father yells out for her to come back and as she ignores him he says.” why are you mad at me? i didn’t do anything!” wow!! is what i thought. did he really say that. that he didn’t do anything as if him being in prison and not part of her life wasn’t enough! i have had many moments where i have gone through things and say to myself that this is can never happen again, incarceration. but at that moment that was the saddest moment of my incarceration. i think that it was because i can see the long term effects of that moment.

when i am sitting in that visiting hall all i see is the broken families and worn down women that come week after week. they endure tremendous pain to get in here, as they have to be able to clear security and that is a degrading feeling to have to endure yet they endure just to see that son, husband or brother not knowing if this will be the last time seeing that person. what i don’t see is the homeboys and the street partners that these guys are always bragging and boasting about. i get so tired of the ‘my man this and that’ i never hear guys talk about their kids and how proud they are of them for what ever achievements that they may have accomplished recently. to see that guys place more love and concern for a table in the mess hall, or a chair, and the other things that i have seen guys get hurt over is a shame. as they reps these blocks and gangs while their children suffer is a shame. to see the next generation of dope dealers and crooks and future inmates is a sad thing to see. but that is the reality of it.

Michelle Alexander talks about racial disparity and things alone that nature but the sad truth is that there is not a system that can put more black people in prison and harms why than the family system, because this is where it starts. if the family system is broken the rest is bound to go down hill. as i know for a fact that what ever crime and delinquency that people learn, they learned from someone that was close to them, it was somebody that looked like them. this person looked them in the face and told them that whatever it was that they were about to do was alright. that is the sad truth! rarely do i hear them telling their kids that this is not cool and to not be like them. they make it alright to be here. all that does is removes the fear of incarceration and when there is no fear there is no limits to the acts which they may commit. and the end result is right here!

how do we deal with the current black leaders in the African American communities? and do they share in the culpability of the design of the criminal justice?

that is a question that comes up often in the groups that i sit in at times. i am of the mind that there are a lot of leaders that have exploited the black communities and have gotten rich of this exploitation. they have done nothing but incite more anger,hatred,animosity and separation in the black neighborhoods than they care to admit. so if this is the case than blacks don’t stand a chance when it comes to change and progression in this society. Michelle Alexander touched on this a little in her book.

it is know that we suffer from issues that extend from drug abuse to identity issues. we have yet to identity ourselves as a people. i remember fondly, in my younger years, hearing the term “african booty scratcher” or having the idea being planted that african people were savage. this lead to the feeling that i didn’t belong to that part of the world, as black as i am huh! well the connotation was that we, of all people didn’t want to be from there nor associated with that land. we wanted to be native american. we were thought to love all but hate each other. nappy headed, big lip black ass nigga!! we tore each other down and that still exist today. i met a black girl who told me that she don’t call herself african american because she doesn’t even know if that is where she comes from. how is that? the same thing that i heard 30 years ago is still being debated today, who are you and where are you from. so if you don’t know where you are from, and accept that, where the hell are you going. does acknowledging this and loving this means that you have to hate others? no not at all. it means that you can love others and appreciate them more as you know what it means to love the human race. but you can’t do that if you love everyone else yet hate your own. as you make up a part of the human race, the only race!

back to what i was saying. some of these leaders have profited off of teaching us to hate other. where is the talk of self love? how is it i understand more about the so called ‘enemy’ and his plot than i do about my myself. where is this education at? this is where i hold those leaders responsible. all of the stuff that they preach in the churches and some of these mosques are geared to further oppress blacks and not uplift and liberate them. it is no secret that most black families are tied into some sort of religion so the most fitting place to begin this conversation is in these places. the same way that these mass revivals are staged and conventions etc are set up there should be conventions that address the plight of blacks in these urban communities. when are we going back into them to clean up the mess that many of us left behind. when are we going to go in there and uplift the people and show others how to better there quality of life? see those that have the major power an money to do so refuse to do so. that is that double consciousness that w.e.b Dubois speaks about. it is cool to talk about the issue and all the blacks that are locked up but no not cool to act out. why is that? could it be that we are so far gone that we don’t even trust ourselves? hum! now that is something to think about. we have been told for so long that we are not to be trusted that now this is the way that we think about each other.