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.

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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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In Ad Seg How Can You Deal With Loss?

January 16, 2016

     Hello mom, How are you?  Fine and in the best of health I hope.  As for me, so far,no trouble.  I have been staying to myself.  It’s okay here, just a little weird.  I have a neighbor who is really coo-coo.  He talks to himself and when gets mad he goes off on everyone around him.  So guess who gets the first verbal ass whippin’?  Lol, yep, me.
As of right now the unit is on lockdown, so there is not much going on.  I’m waiting to see the doctor.  I should see him this Friday or Monday.  They have charged me with a new co-pay of $100 so they will taking half of the money you send me until it is paid.

cellRight now now I’m a level 3.  I’m only allowed to have one visit per month.  I’ll receive my level 2 in 30 days only if I do not get any major cases.  I don’t plan on getting any. Life is life and no one knows the outcome of the future.  However I do know the causes and effects.  Only I can stop myself from being who I really want to be.  I’m going to let the past be the past.  I am in control.  I have just been allowing my anger to get the better half of me.  However, I also knew that half the time the guards at the Wynne Unit I had to deal with were the same ones all the time and I knew what their routine was going to be every day. They would spend time talking shit at me to pass the time.  I knew it would not be long before I blew my top and put my hands on one of them.

     You have no idea of the suffering I went through the last few weeks there.  Before I was moved to Allred Unit I was sprayed two days in a row with a big ass can of pepper spray.  then they tossed me back in the same cell with no water because they turned it off.  I also had all my stuff taken away from me again.  This takes the cake: Then they rammed my head into a glass window.   Now I will say that half of that was my fault, but it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t taken my property.  All of this happened because I tried to help someone else.  they don’t like it when you do that.  I always end up in deep shit because I try to help someone.  It’s the risk I take. I try to help people who are new when they don’t know the rules.  The officers get mad when I do that so they lash out at me. When I tried to talk to them with respect they looked at me like I got shit on my face.  It’s crazy.

     That way was the past.  New unit, new year.  I should only be here until I get out of ad seg.  I will then go to a program.  I can make parole from here in seg.  It’s going to take a little time but it’s worth a shot.  It takes a year to get my line class yet.  I have to do a year anyway in seg.  Well, really it’s a little more than a year.  I’ll be okay so don’t worry. So far everything is okay, besides the nut next to me.

     I’ve been sleeping better lately, which is good, because I haven’t slept good in awhile.  At night I do some chanting, exercise, deep breathing and meditation that I learned from a prison magazine called “Turn it up”.  It’s pretty good.  There are some websites I wrote down that I wrote down from it.  One of them is on a woman named M. Alexander.  If it is possible, could you order me a book called “New Jim Crow Organizing?”

(Sonni’s note: I have written about Michele Alexander.  The full title of this book is: The New Jim Crow.  Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. http://newjimcrow.com/  I recommend going to this website and reading about it.)

     You have come to know me so well, so you know pretty much when something is wrong.  Please call Wynne Unit and ask again about my property.  I am so afraid they won’t send it all to me.  They have all my letters and books and all of my pictures.  They have everything I own that is my life and much of it can’t be replaced.

antie
Jamie’s older brother, Antie

     I have so much mixed emotions about the truth.  Sad but true.  I have come to realize that my communication with my family has run out.  I think of them and it hurts me.  However, when I am just going about my day, I am fine.  The last visit I got from my mother she told me my brother was outside, but that he wouldn’t come in and see me.  Did he not want to see me? Was my mother telling me the truth?  Telling the truth may not be what she does, thinking about others things she said.  I was hurt when she said my brother didn’t want to see me, but I got over it.  I try to put it behind me but it pops up here and there and I would say to myself, fuck him.  But I can’t be mad at him, because I’m here because of me, not him, but it would help if I had my family.  As far as my mom, I just can’t bring myself to say anything bad about her.  Yeah, it hurts like hell that I have not had her support while I’ve been here these last ten years.  But there is nothing I can about that in here.

(Sonni’s note:  I have reasons to believe that his mother wasn’t telling the truth about his brother being outside but not wanting to come in. He loves his brother and was hurt thinking he came so close – outside the building – and wouldn’t come in.  something sounds wrong with that.  His mother has said other things that weren’t true, like telling him who his father is – he has never known – and saying that they got married and that he is an x-cop.  Jamie started writing letters to him that were never answered.  He even sent him a birthday card, so was that made up, too? I asked her once to help pay his medical fee, which has to be paid every year, and she blew me off.  She told him this exactly a year ago during a rare visit.  But funny, she lives alone and recently moved again.  She never got married to anyone.  Would someone in his family told him his mother got married – and to his father no less?  Wasn’t that supposed to be a happy thing? She gave him hope and broke his heart with it.  Why do you think he calls me mom? )

This letter is to be continued . . .

Jamie’s facebook page . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Chapter List for the Book I’m writing: Inside The Forbidden Outside
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare

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