“I’m Not Racist, but . . .”

Enough stop racism

I grew up racist. I didn’t understand why. It took me well into adulthood to figure that out. My parents were good people. They raised their children with values. They never talked badly about the black people in our town. We also had some Italians and I heard other people call them Wops and Puerto Ricans were called Spics. There were no Hispanics. No Mexican food. Not even a taco. Looking back I can see that segregation and the lack of blacks and whites mixing socially caused my racism. I was scared to death of black people and there was no one who talked to anyone about this divide.

I grew up in Pa in the 50’s thru the early 70’s then left to go to school. My town had a clear line and white families lived on one side and black families on the other. I learned many years ago that black families couldn’t secure home loans on my side of the line. I remember hearing if a black family were to move into the neighborhood property values would go down because those people don’t take care of their homes and would trash them. “Just take a look at how they live.” But they didn’t own the homes they lived in. They rented from white landlords who felt little need to keep their properties in good shape. They had approval from the government.

I read an article on Moorbay’s Blog, about the fairly recent history of the last 100 years of housing segregation that forced black families to live in substandard housing. Read this article for yourself and learn. It caused me to respond with this post.

I came from a lower income family who didn’t live in the best part of town. My parents worked hard to provide a good home. There was an empty I’ve cream factory across the street and a big park a half block away. Often in the summer black children wanted to play at the park and had to walk through white neighborhoods to get there. They walked down my street. Not my side of the street but stayed close to the factory. They were as scared of us as we were of them. We didn’t call to each or attempt to make friends.  I had never touched a black person and wondered if their skin felt like mine. I wanted to feel their hair. There was no effort to bring the people together. When I say, no effort, I mean absolutely none, ever.

Today many white parents are raising their children to be racist. Maybe not overtly, but by comments inserted into conversations that put white people on a rung that black people don’t deserve, so white kids learn in subtle ways that they are better than others. These kids grow up saying things like, “I’m not a racist, but . . .” and go on to say something disparaging about that race, be it black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Guatamalen, Honduran and many more. White is superior in their minds.

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Today these kids are recruited on college campuses. Kids repeat what they hear and some become violent adults, like shooting at a teenager who knocked on your door for directions, and the man was a retired firefighter who saved people. A man who lied and said his gun went off accidentally. He couldn’t take responsibility for his actions.

After all this time how can this racism be continually perpetuated and not understood it is wrong. Everyone is human. No one is a superior human. Humanity comes from inside. It doesn’t come from skin color. We all know this so why do we continue to say, “I’m not racist, but . . .”

Since Trump, the rise of hate crimes has become staggering. People can openly hate now and the President of this country has called them ‘good people’ and mocks people of color. They use his show of support at their white nationalist rallies. Any race other than white is disgusting and inferior to this deeply flawed man. White people all over America are sucking it up like babies to a breast. It is nauseating to me.

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Last night my ten year old granddaughter needing a shower said, “At least I don’t smell like a Mexican.” That quickly got my attention. We had talked before about racism and racist comments but she had trouble understanding how she had slandered an entire race of people with her remark. Mexicans stink. “I didn’t mean that!” she said. I told her, “Maybe not, but that is what you said.”

My son works at a boat marina. Hot, sweaty, dirty, smelly work; a mixed race of workers. They joke among themselves calling each other names. They know they’re joking in good nature. My granddaughter overheard. She wasn’t trying to be disparaging but needed to learn if she used that among school friends how wrong it was to say that.

So many of today’s children are rude, undisciplined, smart mouthed and think they have a right to backtalk and argue and cuss at you. It is what they learn at home. Many parents are not teaching their children right from wrong. New racists of all ages are being raised thinking white people should be dominant – because their parents taught them that. I fear it will get much worse.

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The Missing Verse of the Star Spangled Banner

Black soldiers fought with the British for teir freedom. Wouldn’t you? The Promised they would not be forced to be returned to the owners – as if people owning people was ever okay. Even as late as last year, Republican politicians in the south were trying to change the school history books, rewriting history, promoting the fallacy that slaves really had it pretty good. Well fed and dressed. They forgot about the raped, beatings and selling family members and never seeing them again.

This weekend, my mother was visiting and was reading a book history book titled “Mirrors”. She was shocked to realize that slavery in America lasted over 400 years. She didn’t know.

<<< >>>

Complete version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” showing spelling and punctuation
from Francis Scott Key’s manuscript in the Maryland Historical Society collection.

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
‘Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

<<< >>>

It is obvious, it is not in Trump’s best interest to tell the truth about why the NFL players are kneeling and what it stands for. In addition, Trump has often let words come out of his mouth about things he really knows nothing about. His ignorance is often astounding. He repeats lies so often his base thinks it’s the truth. All of the people who join him in bashing the NFL players and calling them names without ever actually attempting to understand why it was happening is just as ignorant as he is.

It easily showed who the real hidden racists are. Many of them call themselves Christians, but I sincerely doubt that this behavior is taught in Christians teachings. Even the simple teaching taught to children called, “The Golden Rule”, says to treat people the way you want to be treated. Why is that taught? Does it matter? What happens when we treat people badly? This Christian teaching gives you the answer: “You reap what you sow.”

Do you believe that? Do you think it applies to you? All of the time or some of the time? Do these rules – these teachings – apply to the way white people treat black people or do you think America should be white again, when it was never white in the first place? Do you think being white has privileges? You know it does. It shouldn’t, but as long as you are white you don’t care.

America still treats Indians as though they are worthless and white people are better. We destroyed them. We invaded and conquered them in true Christian fashion. People who insist America is a Christian nation yet does horrible things to people who aren’t white even though their religion teaches them there will be repercussions to the things they do, they do it anyway, as if their God will applaud their bad behavior against people who are also made in his image – so the teachings go.

I have listened to white Christians online the past few years, on up to this national anthem incident as they spit hateful names at black people, following the hateful comments by our hateful president who has bashed all races, and women, since his presidential campaign started. We sat shocked at the filth that spewed from his mouth. Surely this wouldn’t be allowed to continue. Everything that has followed from the beginning of the destruction of our public school system to wanted money from Medicare to build his dam wall, terrorizing Hispanics who’ve lived here most of their lives as well as the Muslims, taking away the chip program for low income and single mothers, destroying the EPA and allowing more toxins into our air and water – and the list goes on. – and there are people who approve?!

Those of us who know right from wrong were amazed that so many people hated America so much and held inside themselves the same views he held.

I sat one day with a feeling of dread and typed the words, “How will we be able to put the hate back in the bottle now that this despicable abuser has said it’s okay to hurt people.” In addition, he openly installed leaders of the KKK in his cabinet. Mass killings have escalated. He will do NOTHING except what the NRA wants.

My children are grown. When they were young I would not allow them to have play guns of any kind. The more guns there are, the more mentally unbalanced and drunk (mostly) men will use them. Ask my sister. Her husband, in one of his drunken stupers got his gun out and waved it around. He spent 11 days in jail before he could post bail. If he were black it would have been a lot longer, if bail would have even been offered. My sister bought a gun to carry in her purse because she was afraid of him. What part of the second amendment does that apply to? Why should you have to protect yourself from your husband? But everything is okay now. He decided to become a Christian, at least in front of people, and the story of what happened that night changed and a new truth was born.

What do I do with my good Christians friends who spew Trump’s hatred? I am not including all Christians here. Each person has the right to practice any faith they choose that they believe makes sense to them and helps their life. But that does not mean it is okay to hurt people who are not like you. And if you are going to be hateful – without investigating the things you say are true, and instead allow yourself to be lead around by the nose to support a president who clearly has some problems mentally, then you will be thought of in the same light as he is. He has the lowest rating of any president in a very long time. There is a reason for that. 

Support him if you want – but research what you think you believe. The national anthem is not what you think and you need to find the truth. I stopped pledging the flag about 40 years ago when I found out it had been changed. Do you know that? Do you know why? 

I am proud of the NFL players. Black people have been trying for along time to get the attention and be recognized as equal human beings and nothing worked. If you don’t support this – I mean, really support this, and not just lip service – then the line is drawn in the sand for me. 

I have black grandchildren. Real people. I won’t tolerate anyone thinking they are better than they are in any way. You can’t straddle the middle of the fence. You can’t think you are superior to my family or anyone else who isn’t white.

I am ashamed of this man who is supposed to be “my” president, whose lack of real compassion prompts him to talk about people like the uncouth person he is.

 

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LIFE BEYOND BARS-The Beast Must Be Fed

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Isn’t it ironic that these men were pretending to join in on being aghast at Hillary’s supposed lies, but now that Wall St is getting front row seats in the White House to manipulate the country’s finances, they want to make sure their shady dealings are glossed over during their confirmation hearings. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Unless you know someone in prison,  the way people think about prison issues is very narrow, if it is thought about at all. Take for example, the chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” concerning Clinton. It didn’t matter if she did anything to be locked up for.  People were caught up in the emotional release of endorphins and the pleasure it gave them to anticipate her being hurt or possibly even dying. But they have forgotten about 2009 when the banks and mortgages began causing the ruination of many people’s lives, including my own.  Where is the outrage over them running the country from those who supported this ticket? Should we “Lock them up?”

A majority of people don’t follow world events close enough to truly understand what happens in the world around them, or they center what they believe on an infotainment station like Fox News and think they are getting all the truthful news they need to stay informed. But yelling  “lock her up” gave them something physical to get back at to relieve the failure of being able to do anything about it before.

They were looking for anything they could find to blame for unhappy lives. It must be someone’s fault and they would have had Clinton hanged on TV if they could, and even cheered, even though the issues they wanted her imprisoned for weren’t issues that would have affected the success or failure of their lives Would it matter if she was innocent? Again, no, and they wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

Sadly, there is something so exquisitely intoxicating being part of a large group of people who are all yelling at the top of their lungs, at the same time, to hurt someone. They even allowed their children to witness it, creating the next generation of haters. Who better to emulate than mommy and daddy. Why do you think we still have racism? It would have died out long ago if parents didn’t teach their children bad ways of thinking.

When a parent is the one to teach a child an important part of reasoning, the child naturally assumes it is the truth. Why wouldn’t they? Why would their parent lie? The same goes for religion. If you hear something enough it becomes the truth. It takes a strong person to examine those truths because it can affect those important relationships. Why else would a child grow up thinking they were a privileged part of society because of the color of their skin if it wasn’t something they were taught? Some children eventually become smart enough to think for themselves.

Some people must like it when it becomes legal to kill someone and get away with it.  It serves a purpose, like a hit of heroin. It’s a release. They enjoy it. It feels good. Why else have people gathered for centuries to watch people being put to death. It’s entertaining. For some it’s even sexual.  For some it’s revenge.  For some, curiosity. This mind set was used when people gathered to hang black men from trees like low hanging fruit. They needed only the smallest of reasons, a lie being spread that a black man had the audacity to touch a white woman – or maybe he only looked at her and that was enough to call for his death – with no remorse. Many still feel the same way today.

If you read history going back to the time of “The Games” in Rome, people absolutely loved watching well trained men kill each other. They cheered. The entire city emptied out to go to the arena to watch the games. People got angry if the politicians took their fun and enjoyment away. Moving ahead, they loved the burning of witches and hearing their screams. They even took their children to watch. Public hangings. Electrocution. Death by injection. What is is it about people who get off on the killing people and loving to watch?

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Emmet Till (This video should make you cry that ANYONE could do to another human what they did to this boy! If it doesn’t, shame on you. ) Emmet was a 14 year old boy in 1955 who was kidnapped from the home of relatives, beaten mercilessly, killed and found in a river for flirting with a white woman. How anyone could condone this act is sickening. Emmet was just a boy! But even today there are plenty of examples of this happening by people who think being white is superior to being black and it’s okay to kill black people.  Look at how many cops have come under scrutiny for killing them for no reason. They say, “I was afraid for my life.” Can’t they come up with more than one thing to say? That excuse is used way too much. But they get away with it! It must be in the cop’s handbook of how to get away with killing people you don’t like.  This way they don’t get prosecuted because then the courts would have to admit it was wrong. It will continue as long as there is no price to pay for taking the life of another human being. Any human being. How long will that take?

The question has been raised many times; is murdering someone because they raped or murdered someone okay? What difference is that murder? Is it because we decided certain murders are okay because we legalized it? What does it matter if it is still the brutal slaying of human life? States go back and forth on the legality. But in the end they still have to bear the brunt and live with the consequences of making the cause of making it legal to kill another human life.

The US is a country that wants the people to think it is a Christian nation, yet allows this barbaric practice never thinking it through to the end. If they truly think an all-knowing, all-seeing entity in the heavens is watching what they do, what do they think this intelligence “up there” is thinking about when it sees, down here on earth, the people committing hate crimes and sees people who think their skin color makes them special when supposedly “He” created all people of all races to be equal?  Did he think, white people are special and they can use black people, Muslims, American Indians or Hispanics like dogs? I think God would be pretty disgusted with people who think they are the chosen few – if you believe that sort of thing.

But I guess we’ll never know because people separate their religion from their actions. They pray when someone is sick or when they die. They pray for unborn babies. Some even think a person can pray away being gay. But do white people pray for God to forgive them for all the black people who get killed just for being black. Do they pray for the children who lose their parents because of bogus charges or unreasonable sentences they themselves don’t suffer? Do they pray for the youth who get killed by people like George Zimmermann who thinks if they look suspicious he should be able to kill them, yet when a jury can’t convict him because he is white and so are they, it happens over and over and over again. Someone, explain it to me please – why is this okay? Is it okay with you, and if it isn’t, what are you doing about it?

This isn’t a fun subject to write about. I doubt we will ever completely understand why we let it happen.  Many people inside prisons were never guilty of their charges. Our justice system is corrupt. We have finally begun to let innocent people out after they spent decades inside paying for something they didn’t do. How many innocents have we killed? No one likes to think of that. It’s not supposed to be part of our lives. That’s we they are kept separate, so we don’t have to think about them.

Most people, if they have no one inside, don’t want to believe all prisoners aren’t guilty. We want them to deserve every atrocity that happens to them in prison. We don’t want to think we got it wrong and locked up innocent people. The courts will fight tooth and nail to keep convicted people guilty or they look bad.

race graph in prison

If we separated the guilty from the innocent and then sentenced the guilty appropriately, our prison numbers would be the same as other countries. How can we – just one country – imprison 25% of the WORLD’S population without imprisoning a lot of innocent people to satisfy the thirst of the prison industrial complex? Doesn’t that bother you? It bothers me a lot, especially because America thinks they live in a country of Christians. That is so hypocritical!

Our entire prison system needs a total make over, beginning with the ever-changing reasons why we decide certain segments of society should be locked up.  Because of the prison corporation’s increasing thirst for profit, the need to incarcerate more segments of society has to expand. If we are decreasing the penalty for drugs, then those people need to be replaced with others in order to keep the prisons full. So who gets locked up, and who doesn’t get let out?

Why do you think they fight to keep the elderly imprisoned? Exactly how dangerous is an old, sick prisoner who can barely get out of bed who wants to spend the last of his life with family? “But he pulled an armed robbery 40 years ago!”  What exactly is he going to do? He did enough time. But corporations get paid by the govt if his bed is empty. Family pays in so many other ways so it hurts the bottom line to let him go. Enough is enough.

Now we have increased sentencing of children, even as young as 5-10 years of age. “I don’t believe it! That will never happen!” Believe it. It’s real. Michigan made it law on January 1. kids will get slapped with a felony charge for fighting – at any age for any reason. Half of all schools now have a cop on the premises. Don’t kid yourself it is to protect the school. It’s for easy access to the children. The wrong kids of course.  The black and Hispanic ones. The beast must be fed.

I’m going to leave you with one last thing to read and I hope you take the time to do so. Open your eyes. See what is happening. Do what you can to help change things.

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How Long Would You Wait For An Inmate?

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I watched a video recently about inmates who have long sentences and what happens to those who initially supported them – those that were good friends and even family, spouses and long term girlfriends. They think at the time they will wait for them until they get out. They will stick by them until they are released no matter how long it takes. They mean it when they say it. They can’t imagine not being there for them, but they eventually go away. They start writing less and having excuses. They slowly forget them. They go on. But what if there are children?  

The documentary stated that three years was the about the longest time even the people most in love can make it. Brothers and sisters make themselves believe they are too busy. But really, how much time does it take to write a brief note and say, “I still love you, bro.” instead of saying, “It’s not my fault you’re in there.” as if anyone blamed them for it. I only know what it has done to Jamie because he had to find a way to make himself not care. I know how hard that is. I’ve been through it but for different reasons. The pain is the same.

People can be pretty selfish and it’s hard for them to support someone who is incarcerated, so a lengthy sentence means they are pretty much on their own.  A few kind words helps with depression when your family shows they love you. Family is often the first to hurt you because they feel entitled to do it. They pass judgement and are often the first to hang you out to dry. When the sentence is over do they expect all will be forgiven and life goes on as it did many years before? That is a tough question. I doubt they’d want to hear about what they have been through. Experiences have made them different people . How can they relate to each other? If it was a long sentence or a life sentence – forget it. So many people inside have absolutely no one, regardless of the reason they are there. Many didn’t have anyone before they went in.

Remembering My Life  by Sonni Quick  copyright 2015

After three years they might still have mom; maybe their kids and maybe they are now grown, although probably they visited infrequently. The more years that go by, older family dies and you are on your own. The unfairness of sentencing – life with no possibility of parole for what could be a simple theft – theft for a variety of reasons – with no one hurt. Still a crime, but a crime that should have a sentence that equals the crime and likely, at most should carry 5 years and then released -given back their life, but instead, depending on the state they are given life – a death sentence in some states because you are black. Buried alive. And maybe it was a serious crime. Either way the sentence is the same -cut off from everyone they love so they can be slaves for corporations who think their life has no value beyond the work a slave is meant to do.

I don’t blame my daughter for moving on from her life with Jamie. He doesn’t blame her, either. He never stopped loving her because she will always be the mother of his son. They are connected, but he has long since wanted anything else from her except for her to be happy. Life was hard raising kids on her own with little help. Her life is stable now with a man in her life who is good to her and her children. He has been a good father to their son and her other children. I am happy about that, but it left Jamie on his own without his family who hasn’t been there for him at all in eleven years. It left him without his son because no one would bring him to visit.

His family has not once helped him see his son. Excuses for ten years. No one could be bothered. I do blame them. They let him suffer on his own. No one thought of what that would do to him. The law of cause and effect is strict. Even if they are Christian you real what you sow. You get back what you give.

I worked hard to keep his head screwed on straight because I cared. No one else cared. Was I supposed to walk away from him, too, and still live with myself? Was I supposed to hurt him, too? Is that the kind of person I am? Should I have felt after three years that I had done enough? No, absolutely not. I only wish I could have done more.

*****************************

Sept 2016

Hello Beautiful,

From reading your letter it looks like your hands have been full. All this stuff you do on the internet. I’ve never messed around on the internet. Of course it’s nothing like it was back in the 90’s. We had a computer but no internet. There was no Windows or a mouse that you clicked on a screen. time-coverI was reading the new Time magazine I got. On the cover it has a little furry monster with horns, a big grin and also had a laptop on his lap. The article speaks about all different websites, what they are used for and so on. However, the main topic was about the hate in the internet world. It’s everywhere and it’s crazy.  I think about that. People can hate and not be seen. They teach their kids to hate. You can pass them on the street and not know how much they hate and crap they spread all over the world. They don’t get hurt, but it causes other people to hurt each other.

Moving on: Guess what I had for breakfast. I must say the breakfasts have been a lot better lately. Scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast, jelly and butter’ 1oz bowl of bran flakes and peaches. On this date next month I will have the exact same thing. The menu does not change.

I know it’s been hard taking care of your mom and doing all the things you do. Don’t try to do too much. You usually do. As time goes by maybe you’ll have more help from other family members. Please tell your mom I said hi and tell her not to give up.

I do know this. If I believe in anyone it is you. If you tell me not to worry, then okay, I won’t worry. You tell me you aren’t going anywhere. I believe that. I have to believe that. Sometimes it is hard because I see what happens to dudes in here. I get scared I’m going to lose you, but you tell me you aren’t going anywhere. I don’t think I would have made it without you. I won’t worry anymore.

********************

Hey, can you do something for me? Can you look up anything you can find on the statue of Liberty in New York? I told this dude she had a name so he and I went back and forth about how it was a gift from the French, but we don’t know anything else about her history. Also, from now on, if you send books please have them be educational. English, history, math and science. I really do need to work on my education. I can’t wait for them to let me learn things.

That’s all for now. I have to get this out before they pick up mail.

Love always, Jamie

Someboy's son, sonely inmate, inmate family loss
source credit: ripten..com

THE NEXT MONTHLY ISSUE OF THE ITFO NEWSLETTER WILL BE GOING OUT SOON. TAP THE LINK TO GET IT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. EACH ISSUE NOW WILL FOCUS ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF PRISON ISSUES EACH MONTH. THERE HAS BEEN NO TALK OF PRISON REFORM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN EVERYONE JUMPED ON THE BANDWAGON SAYING THEY WOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. NOW NOTHING IS BEING SAID. IT WILL BE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE THAT HAS THE ONLY CHANCE OF CHANGING THIS. PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR OWN SM AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SHARE IT, TOO. WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AS THE AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE DONE. WE NEED TO MAKE PRISON REFORM IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT. CAN WE DO THAT?

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It’s Not Enough Just To Deplore Horrific Violence

(If you don’t know who Michelle Alexander is you should do some research on her history. She is a voice of reason among a sea of voices who speak only to hear the sound of their own voice pushing an agenda that benefits only the mighty few. Earlier in my postings are other articles and at least one video by her as well.)

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Michelle Alexander: It’s Not Enough to Just Deplore Horrific Violence

We need a profound shift in our collective consciousness in order to challenge an entrenched system of racial and social control — and build a new America.

By Michelle Alexander / BillMoyers.com July 10, 2016

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photo credit: flickr

I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. Thursday night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?

I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. I know that I am not alone. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. But they knew they had to walk. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. And so do we.

What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places. I am asking myself what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage. It’s a question that requires some time and reflection. I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. What is happening now is very, very old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well. In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all. I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country. Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. A profound shift in our collective consciousness must occur, a shift that makes possible a new America.

know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations — resulting in thousands of dollars in fines — before his last, fatal encounter with the police.

Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by. He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record. His act of survival was treated by the police as a major crime, apparently punishable by death.

How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.

This is not hyperbole. And this is not new. What is new is that we’re now watching all of this on YouTube and Facebook, streaming live, as imagined super-predators are brought to heel. Fifty years ago, our country was forced to look at itself in the mirror when television stations broadcast Bloody Sunday, the day state troopers and a sheriff’s posse brutally attacked civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma. Those horrifying images, among others, helped to turn public opinion in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the images we’ve seen in recent days will make some difference. It’s worth remembering, though, that none of the horrifying images from the Jim Crow era would’ve changed anything if a highly strategic, courageous movement had not existed that was determined to challenge a deeply entrenched system of racial and social control.

This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won.

************

Michelle Alexander is a legal scholar, human rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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David Snape Show 2 (4.4.16)

I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show about the US prison system, Jamie Cummings and how he deals with epilepsy in a system that doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.  When you go to the show it is quite long, a little over two hours. If you move the bar ahead one hour and twenty minutes it should be shortly before the interview starts.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools using cops for discipline instead of detention, and putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car.

We talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can find chapters on the blog. It’s more than half done and the editing process has begun.

We also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which will be included inside the back cover. At the end of the show one of my more recent pieces will be played.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book that I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up in prison. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of government pushing the War of Drugs on to black men’s shoulders making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramification of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. It was because he defended his mother from a cop who illegally entered their home. He injured his mother and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He hit the cop with a broom. It cost him the rest of his high school years and four years of his life.

This story needs to be shared. Unfortunately, it happens far to often to too many black youth. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of the book will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. It bring so much encouragement to Jamie as he sit in his cell 23 hours a day, working his way again, up through the levels. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know.

Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

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David Snape Show - Bourne and Beyond

On the show, we look back at the career of Ronnie Corbett. Why both the UK steel industry and Qatar’s World cup are in tatters. And can Rihanna make it 3 weeks in number 1 in the Itunes Power rankings?
All that plus this weeks post of the week: What Am i reflecting by Nancy Ruminski.
This weeks new artist showcase: The Ellipsis, Robyn Sherwell and Mt.Wolf
Two interviews: one with last week’s new artist showcase star, Salix Willow. And Sonni Quick with one of the most hardhitting interviews we have ever done, talking about the US prison system and Jamie Cummings who has epilepsy and how he’s been treated in there.

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What Makes Some of us Racist?

nelson mendela

Racist Remarks in the Media

Several times in the past few days I have the misfortune of having extremely racist language directed at me by men who told me how stupid I was for not understanding how low the mentality of black people are, that being criminals is hardwired into their DNA and how they should all be rounded up and put in cages away from white people.  They are dangerous and the proof of that shows in how many of them are already locked up in prisons.  They can’t control themselves, and if they are near you they are more than likely going to hurt you, rape you, steal from you, and the list goes on . . .  I wonder if it will matter that the real reason black men were hunted down to imprison, starting in the 70’s, was finally revealed by John Erlichman, a member of Nixon’s staff, when he came clean about the ‘war on drugs’ last week?

This tirade against myself began because of a comment I made on an article about the ongoing racism in America, asking why is it still happening?  We’re intelligent people.  We know the color of our skin is not what makes us good or bad people.  Much more goes into the making of our belief system and often it begins with the way we are raised and what we learn from the adults who raise us.  Whether it is racism, or the faith we believe in, the desire for the food we eat or encouragement to do the best we can; these are the things that help us become the people we are, not what color we are.

The words that were typed to me in response to what I wrote was dripping with ugliness.  It was agreed with by another individual.  How can people hate others so much, and it isn’t hating one person, but an entire race of people?  Examining the personality of these haters, is there anything about them that would make me want to be white?  How could I say I was was glad to be white if being white meant I would be like them?

Are We Born Racist?

If they were raised with parents who constantly demeaned black people, or any other kind of negativity about any subject, that is what they are going to believe.  Most Christians are Christians because that is what they were taught.  If you were raised Muslim, you will probably believe in the Muslim faith.  If your family believed in eating right, you wouldn’t stop at McDonald’s for dinner. It is hard to stop believing what you were taught.  If someone said to you, “As of today, you can no longer love your mother.” Could you do it?  Of course not.  You can’t stop believing something just because you tell yourself that is what you want to do. You can’t believe anything just because you say that is what you are going to believe now. You can’t decide to believe in God if you are atheist when you don’t believe.  Can you stop being a racist just because you now believe it is wrong?  It’s not that easy.  Words are cheap.

Fortunately, all white people don’t think like racists do.  I’m not proud of who I am because I am white and I deserve it because I am white, although there are people who do believe they are special because they are white.  I am proud of who I am because of who I am, not because of the color of my skin.  It is people like these men who have had it hardwired into them, from the time they were born.

Is Racism Being Promoted by Politics?

Sadly, there are still so many people who think the way they do.  This isn’t the first time I have heard these things.  Because I work within the prison industry and support the many people – black and white – who have been sucked into our justice system under false allegations because of the need of the prison industrial complex to keep their prisons full. Is this going to change?  Can it change?  Can Bernie Sanders lower the prison population like he says he is going to if he is elected?  He can’t, for the same reason Obama was stopped from doing everything he wanted to do. The president doesn’t have the power to do what he wants, if it goes against what the corporations want.

This presidential election year has done more damage to us as a country than we realize.  Before now, most racists weren’t very vocal about being racist.  Most people would deny being racist because they didn’t want people to know what horrible people they really were.  Unless they were with other racists where they could be free to say what they wanted, people who promoted race hate, and hate crimes were vilified in the media and prosecuted.  Now the racists are applauding each other out in the open.  Trump has let them know it is okay to punch people in the face if they don’t like them.  It is okay to go to their places of worship and attack them.  Be it black people or gays or Muslims, we forget they are people first and foremost. Students are attacking people they don’t like in school or anywhere in public, and they are learning it is okay to do this.  Being a racist is okay now.  They don’t have to hide it anymore.  They don’t have to pretend to be good people.

Racism is at an all time high against anything other than heterosexual white, as if all people in this genre are supreme, no matter what.  Who is next?  And the worst part is; after the election, how do they reel it back in again or does it get worse?  Add to it, The NRA wants everyone to carry a gun, and no one questions what the NRA’s ulterior motive is, because obviously the reason of protecting your house goes right out the window when you strap that gun to your person and take it to the grocery store.

One Nation Under God?

one nation under God

We are witnessing the demise of our country that was supposed to be “The Land of The Free and The Home of The Brave”.  That place doesn’t exist anymore.  Those who insist we are “One Nation Under God”, and really believes in God, needs to examine what that means, because if this is what it means to be a nation under God then there are many people who need to be very ashamed of themselves, because this racism was started by good God fearing Christians. What do you think?

 

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Why Do Black Children Become Prison Inmates

black students

At a time when many white students are preparing for their life by going to college, many black youth are preparing each other by learning how to evade the police, because they know it’s just a matter of time before they become a target. This is not a joke. Black kids KNOW  it’s just a matter of time before they will be harassed by cops for absolutely no reason. When they are old enough to drive many get pulled over an average of once a week. There is no violation. They are just black and cops often do whatever they can to find a reason to arrest them, smash their windows, use their tazers even in front of their children, terrifying them. They don’t care what they do in front of children.  Everyone has seen the videos. I have two half black grandsons. If I didn’t, I could like all white people and say, they probably did something to deserve it. It really affects my life because I’m white and cops smile at me.  But they won’t be smiling at my grandsons, so I’m in this fight for the long haul.  One in three black men go to prison at some point in their lives. With 2 grandsons what are the odds of at least one of them will go to prison? A black man doesn’t need to be guilty. We hear often of inmates being set free because they were finally proven not quilty. Over 70% of these men are black.

It starts in childhood. Kids play act what they see. A game of tag becomes instead, pretending to be a cop and a criminal and learn how to arrest each other and pretend to cuff their playmates and do cavity searches.  This is real life to black children.

What makes it even harder for black youth is the way schools punishment them, starting with the attitude of many teachers.  Racism in schools is rampant. Many teachers teach racism by their actions.Why is it that teachers find it so easy to expel a black child, when a white child mihg de only get detention for doing the exact same thing? An after school fight for two white boys more than likely will end with their parents being called. If you are black, the police will be called and they get their first taste of jail and end up with fines.  If they can’t pay that fine they are arrested again. Minority families with lower incomes are affected the most. When a child is removed from school it begins a spiral down that becomes an inability to finish a high school education. Forget college.

inmate education, prison classroom,

This is what happened to Jamie’s life, and there was no one who could help him or his mother change the outcome. By the time he was in his mid teens with his high school years just beginning, the court system was doing it’s damnedest to end his possibilities.  He is 33 and he still isn’t allowed to take the test to get his GED.  He’s a smart man. He would love to have an education. With more time to go and still having no education, what are his chances?

It takes more than wishful thinking.  Because there is no one else willing to do the legwork, I have research to find out what his options are.  There is a school for inmates in Dallas called the Windham School.  http://www.windhamschooldistrict.org/

EDUCATING INMATES 

inmate education, recidivism ratefor educated parolees
photo source: imgarcade.com

Educating inmates lowers the recidivism rate back to prison.  Getting a GED, learn a trade or take college classes.  I don’t know yet what it will take to get Jamie involved or when it can begin, but it is worth finding out. I can only think that something like this would help him with parole. This isn’t automatically offered to inmates.  An inmate need someone on the outside who takes the time to find out about it. Overall, there needs to be more stress on inmate education if you want to slow down the revolving door for those who want to get off the ride.

This past year the subjects of prisons and decreasing the population has been a hot topic. Are the politicians serious? Or is it all talk? In this election year I have heard more hate talk and about people that shouldn’t be allowed to live here. The KKK is endorsing Donald Trump. If by chance he wins, what will they expect back? A large amount of people think we should have never freed the slaves. Are these the people who become cops who kill and teachers who expel black kids? Who taught these adults when they were kids that hating another race was okay? Who taught the adults today they are superior? Because somebody did.  Are these people who think they are better, because they are white ever going to want these black people back into a society that doesn’t want them there in the first place?

This presidential election year has shck n me how hateful, cruel and judgemental the people of America can be and it scares me. Politicians have to loudly proclaim the are Christians but their actions  at makes a country great, since making America great again seems to be such an issue, is the people in it. When I see the incitement of hate, and the cheering that goes with, when I see a candidate say he wants to punch a man at his really and people cheer it’s like watching America vomit all over itself.

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http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/discipline-black-students-041515.html

By

Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers.

Yet the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear – until now.

“The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. “What is less clear is why.”

In the study, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” which was recently published in the journal Psychological Science, Eberhardt and Stanford psychology graduate student Jason Okonofua reported on two experimental studies that showed that teachers are likely to interpret students’ misbehavior differently depending on the student’s race.

In the studies, real-world primary and secondary school teachers were presented with school records describing two instances of misbehavior by a student. In one study, after reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.

A second study followed the same protocol and asked teachers whether they thought the misbehavior was part of a pattern and whether they could imagine themselves suspending the student in the future.

The researchers randomly assigned names to the files, suggesting in some cases that the student was black (with a name such as DeShawn or Darnell) and in other cases that the student was white (with a name such as Greg or Jake).

Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student.

In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.

“We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time. This pattern sensitivity is especially relevant in the schooling context,” Eberhardt said.

These results have implications beyond the school setting as well.

As Okonofua said, “Most social relationships entail repeated encounters. Interactions between police officers and civilians, between employers and employees, between prison guards and prisoners all may be subject to the sort of stereotype escalation effect we have identified in our research.”

Both Okonofua and Eberhardt suggested that useful interventions with teachers would help them to view student behavior as malleable rather than as a reflection of a fixed disposition, such as that of troublemaker.

While racial disparities can be lessened by psychological interventions that help improve black students’ behaviors in class, it is also important to understand how that behavior is interpreted by teachers and school authorities, Okonofua said.

Jason A. Okonofua, psychology: (650) 736-9861, okonofua@stanford.edu

Jennifer L. Eberhardt, psychology: (650) 703-2224, jleberhardt@stanford.edu

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu

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US Presidential Candidates are Already Stumping For Prison Reform

The facebook page for Jamie Cummings is different than this blog. In addition to the posts there are many current articles added there daily about what is happening in society about the issues surrounding prison reform, juvenile detention, political issues about prisons, immigrants and individual accounts of police racism. http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison I’d appreciate any traffic there and liking or sharing anything of interest. Promoting a blog and a book, “Inside the Forbidden Outside” takes daily effort.  If you’ve been reading what I write, this is one way you can help me that matters a lot.

I’ve noticed that prison issues and topics like mandatory minimum sentencing is already being slung around by hopeful US presidential candidates even though the election is still 1 1/2 years away. Each party is already accusing the other of being responsible for the cause of so many black men being locked up. http://michronicleonline.com/2015/05/21/paul-rand-blames-bill-clinton-for-locking-up-a-generation-of-black-men/
I’m glad it’s being talked about. It shows me the book I’m writing is being written at the right time. Hopefully it will give the politicians something else to talk about besides gay marriage and abortion.

Since the prison industrial complex lobbies hard and contributes so much money to the campaigns of politicians, is it for show? We are aware of campaign promises that are never kept. But, at least the problem is being talked about and if any changes come from it, it will be a move in the right direction.