how did we get here? and is it possible to reverse course?
to the first question i will say that the biggest weapon known to man is EDUCATION after having spent 20 years in prison and as i look back i am where i am today because of education. i can even say that the education that i had prior to coming to prison gave me a edge over most inmates. there has to be a renewed effort to change the way that blacks are educated. there has to be an effort within the homes of black families to educate the youth about the mis-education that many of us have received about life and who we are and were supposed to be. even as i write this i have apprehensions as to what term do i use when i talk about this issue, black or afro american. i prefer afro american and that is due to the understanding of how significant that part of my heritage is to me and what identify with. yet i remember in the early 80s there were discussions in the black communities that surrounded the question of do we identify ourselves as blacks or afro americans. and ironically this was a topic of discussion with many opponents on both sides. yet what i didn’t hear was how do we identify ourselves in terms of morals and values. i think that we got so caught up in the ‘discussion’ of acceptable nominal terms as if this solidified our position and status in this country. so in this we lost ourselves and a part of the struggle was forgotten. there has to be a reinforcement on education. as it was a lack of it that created certain situations that made it easier for blacks to be sucked into this war against blacks by way of drugs. see for those of us can remember the early eighties was the tail of a movement where there was emphasis on black pride and education. this push was so strong and forceful that a government movement was created to stop it COINTELPRO, being one of them. with the death of some of the most prolific black, educated leaders of that time caused other elements that caused many blacks to forget the real issues at hand. blacks have proved themselves to be very intelligent and capable throughout the course of history, whether you agree with their ideology or not is not theh issue. we are talking about them reaching a certain level education to even be able to reach the world podium and get the ears of the masses. with the push of this war on drugs we see that the intended target were the children of that future generation of black youth that followed. as i sit here in prison and compare the time and era in which i came through and now i see the ill effects of the ‘crack babies’ and the broken homes in which they come from. and it shows the most in the mental capacity of these young men. the irony in all of this is that the elder men that have been active users of the drugs at a older age still have better cognitive skills than the younger men that inherited this thing. they older guys that came up in the 60s and 70s are very well aware of the issues that plague them while the youth don’t have a clue. i see this all the time. so these prisions were built for them not just as the prisons that they build today are for those that come after to me.
so how do we stop this? by educating those who will be effected to most by the thing of mass incarceration. that is the beautiful thing about Michelle Alexander’s book it educates.
as to the next question how did we get here? it is understood that certain atrocities took place and that as a result of that there are stereotypes, biases and prejudices that do affect the social status of blacks in this country. but we at the same time have lost touch of what it is to be family and the values of community. to me community is about common/unity. that is what it is to me. we have lost touch with this. and as much as i hate to admit it it i am here in prison as a result of something that i chose to do. yet the idea was planted by someone who looked like me, black. the drugs and guns that come into the community come by way of another black person. the violence that is perpetrated in my neighborhood is done so by those that look like me. as it was pointed out in class. what good is a terry stop if you are not packing or holding? why change the laws of racial profiling when 90% of the time gold is struck? if we want the laws to change and be amended we have to stop breaking them. once this happens these laws will be seen as ineffective in fighting crime and drugs. i am not concerned about the numbers of blacks to whites in who uses to most drugs and gets off etc. what i am talking about is us taking accountability for our own!! there are a million arguments that we can make about racial disparity yet those arguments are not going to stop the violence, rape and murders that are being carried out in the black communities right now. we need action not arguments!! we get the numbers and the studies but who is going to step out on the limb and address these issues. this is the role that have to play and i encourage all of you to play the same role. we say that the white man put us here for whatever reason do you expect for the same one that put you here to get you out? to raise your kids? we complain about the white man and his system yet we turn to them for the answers to our problems. we need to be real and upfront with our own and learn to solve these problems ourselves because we are the ones who suffer the most from these ills.