Last year I joined EJI – Equal Justice Initiative – being able to watch and hear this video solidified for me exactly why I am doing what I do. I have joined and/or read about many organizations trying to change our injustice system. Why do I have the desire to fight to change the perception many people still have who think prison is just a place to lock up bad people. Unless you’ve actually done the homework and followed the trail, it is very easy to believe what you see on the media. But that is an issue for another post. It seems to be getting so much worse. There is a new injustice, a new murder or beating every week, by the police, and by the prison guards, and people are getting very very angry. Can you blame them? There is more to it when you take the time to understand. It is so easy to put people in prison who have been deemed unfit to be in society while also giving the prison industrial complex another body to fill a promised bed by our government. Why has our government promised that? How can prison population be reduced when the profit makers are fighting so hard to make sure we keep our inmate count as high as it is? How many more of our children are forced through this funnel to complete their profit agenda. People are more expendable now than they have ever been. Are my grandsons going to get sucked into this? It scares the crap out me.
It is very very easy for white people to say they aren’t racist, but have a black man approach them walking up the street and they are going to think of the possibility he is going to hurt them, steal their purse, or they’ll cross to the other side of the street just in case. I tested that theory on someone who declared she wasn’t racist, but still said she would be very suspicious of seeing a black boy in a sweatshirt with a hoodie? An article of clothing made her fearful. That was what the media has shoved down people’s throats. So she said she would be suspicious of anyone where she couldn’t see their face. So what about a wide brimmed hat, or a baseball cap and sunglasses. Would she be suspicious then? Does that count, or is it just hooded sweatshirts? She didn’t know what to say. She isn’t racist – but still thinks racist because the media has made her fearful of hooded sweatshirts.
But having the probability of that racism being directed at a member of your own family and you will be forced to look at yourself and the split second racist thoughts that fill your lead. Add to that all the people who are outright racist – against any race not like them and it becomes the powder keg it is now, where it’s okay to shoot a black man in the back seven times and try to say it was because you feared for your life.
The percentage of black children without a father is staggering. It is many times more than white children. The effects of only having one parent has an effect on children that really isn’t talked about, because we, as single mothers just suck it up and do what we have to do to take care of our children, and the ramifications later in life is where we see those effects the most. I understand that. So should my daughter, the mother of Jamie’s son, but it seems she doesn’t. I would think for that reason alone, my daughter would make an attempt on behalf of her son to help him know his father loves him. But later, when he grows up he will have all the letters his father wrote about how much he loves him and begging to see his son.
I do what I do in the hopes that it will help him create a life when he gets out where he will be able to help provide for his son; use the experience of his life to talk to children and communities. If he can be a positive example and role model and turn this negative experience into something positive, isn’t that worthwhile pursuing? How could he provide for a child without even a GED, any work experience or even the smallest amount of wisdom learned from life experiences? His teens years were spent being unjustly locked up in juvenile detention, and juvenile solitary confinement in detention centers too far away for family to visit if they wanted to. He was swept up by a cop with a vendetta. I’ve written about that story. When he gets paroled, sometime in his 30’s, he will still not have any life experience. Do I let my grandson’s father flounder with no guidance, when I can help? How does he not become one of the 71% of parolees who go back to prison because they don’t know how to make it outside? No one will rent to them or want to give them jobs. Having epilepsy with the possibility of a seizure at anytime is also a drawback. Life will be very hard.
If these writings that he and I are doing together are able to make a difference in his life where he can help provide for his son, hold his head up and set a good example, will it help his son, as well as his younger brother, who doesn’t have is father, either? Can fault be found by what I’m doing? If there is a possibility that I can actually get this book I’m writing, “Inside the Forbidden Outside” off the ground, is it not something worth trying? It’s easy to fail if you never try. It’s easy to give when it becomes too hard. I don’t live my life that way. Never have and I won’t start now. There is already a second book planned. I struggle to learn because I have a dream. I see this dream. I don’t take the easy way. Instead of encouragement I hear negativity, but I will not give up. Because I love my family, my kids and grandkids and because I love Jamie, as a man, a human being and a man with a life worth fighting for. I can see what the possibilities are, and I am the only one who has fought for him. No matter what, when my grandchildren are grown I hope they learn from me that you need to fight for the things that are important. I hope they look at my life as an example that life is for the living. His son will always know the love he has for him. No one can take that away.
I have several mottoes I have used to live my life. One of them is: There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who say, What happened? I am a person who makes things happen. The strength and intensity of my convictions scares people – because they have nothing worth fighting for.
Loving your children, by itself, will not protect them from the cops or the racism coming and they, too, will be easily swept up into the school to prison pipeline that has propelled far too many kids into, and it ruins their lives and you can’t do a damn thing about it unless you have a whole lot of money, and even that often doesn’t work. It would be better to join me in this fight. Help me fight for their lives instead of fight against me. It will be seen, perhaps, when it is too late, and you end up being the one trying to take care of someone who is locked up. The percentages are not in my grandson’s favor. A vast amount of people, especially during the next ten years will use every excuse to add one more juvenile to the roster of kids in detention to abuse, waiting until they are old enough to go to prison.
The prison industry uses the test scores of 3rd graders to determine how many beds they will need for adult prisons because they decide these kids will never have a good job and will instead turn to crime. Recently they filed felony charges against a 12 year old black boy with autism because he got emotional and panicked and pushed back against a cop who was trying to restrain him and the cop filed felony assault charges on him – this tiny boy with black glasses. Why would this cop do that? What was his training? This is what I am trying to fight against and too many people turn and look the other way after they see the blurb on TV news. After all, what can they do? The American people have looked the other way about many things far too often.