Prison was an awakening experience.
Every statistic concerning blacks and the prison system was right in front of my face. I could no longer deny 1 in 3 blacks will experience jail; 1 in 15 black children have a parent in prison; blacks make up 40.2 percent of the U.S. prison population and 78 percent of blacks who leave prison return within three years.
I was witnessing it first-hand.
The relationship between the United States and people of African descent has been an unfair arrangement since before the birth of this nation. Europeans brought black people to this continent as a commodity. Since having to abolish slavery, they have found ways to keep us as profitable commodities by capitalizing on our ignorance, stupidity and indifference.
In 2014 this country has more black men incarcerated than were ever enslaved. Fact is, the only reason the government keeps building prisons is because we keep filling them.
With knowledge being as easily accessible as it is today, ignorance, stupidity and indifference are not unfair handicaps that we are oppressed into accepting; they are choices. We are choosing the less successful road that leads to prison, addiction and un-natural death because it has been endorsed as cool by an influential subculture.
It’s just that simple.
Prison didn’t sneak up behind me one night on Huntington Avenue and build a fence around me. I landed myself in prison doing things I knew were wrong.
You’re not being rebellious against an oppressive government by not obeying the law. You are, however, giving those who want to see you fail exactly what they want. What part of your incarceration or un-natural death sabotages efforts to keep youoppressed? What part of you not being involved in active citizenship is an advantage to you, your family or your community?
I have heard if at first you don’t succeed try, try again, but in my personal opinion, attempting to succeed by re-adopting a lifestyle proven to be consistently unsuccessful seems stupid.
Realizing what has been done to us in this country since the civil rights movement has only been successful due to our cooperation, led me to just one option: Change for the better.
Last thing they want us to do is change for the better. They need us illiterate, distracted, intoxicated, misguided, intimidated, irresponsible and battling each other. If we weren’t, they would actually have to share this continent.
We have to utilize our skills in a legal positive manner ending this epidemic of mass incarceration before we are an endangered species unable to be found in the wild and prisons turn into zoos displaying the 21st century negro.
Take a moment to consider what we would have if we could have directed the young men and women we have lost down a positive path before it was too late. We have lost countless valuable members of our society.
Our young entrepreneurs, masters of marketing, production, packaging, distribution, management and sales spending 20 years in prison getting paid $16 a month to work in a chow hall or curled up on a bedroom floor with a bullet in the head because they only applied their talents to risk life, limb and freedom trafficking drugs.
Our young leaders, charismatic, passionate and articulate serving life in prison because they started a street gang instead of a movement.
Our young warriors, strong, fearless and abundant never tasting freedom again imprisoned for violent acts against they’re own people.
We are not without black leaders. Our leaders just so happen to be asleep, as are the majority of our population. There’s a Huey Newton, Malcolm X, Angela Davis and Joanne Chesimard born every hour, needing only to be fed, nurtured, protected and developed.
Not only have a percentage of us decided to forfeit this game called life, we dance to music celebrating our forfeiture, we encourage others among us to forfeit and we inspire those who look to us as role models to forfeit as well.
Let’s make it clear: Forfeiting is not an option by uniting, progressing, prospering and meeting all who oppose us halfway.
Harriet Tubman once said, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves”
The alarm clock is ringing people; time to wake up.