Daniel and his family are living a part of the nightmare that is New Orleans for the Black men who have been lucky enough to live past 35 and not be incarcerated, even though many have gotten into some minor/not so minor, felony infractions. When I watch what is happening in Daniels life, he seems in some way to be the embodiment of everyman when it comes to the situation for too many young Black men in this country.
I have heard it said, in the Black community, for years primarily through the media, that the Black man has historically been institutionally punished more often and longer than then other ethnic groups. What I have witnessed is that American men of African decent~the Black American man, becomes a part of an insidious political-corporate soul destroying entity called "for profit" prison industry. A corporation by law must be profitable and so new sources of revenue - i.e. 'human beings' are needed to fill the prisons. In turn, more human bodies filling a prison creates the need for more 'profitable' prisons to be built. When I look at this through my heart I have a vision of a soul destroying serpent which is a part of a Medusa like entity.
And this is only one aspect for there are many other political-corporate structures that are a part of this Medusa feeding off of the sufferings of the least among us.
It seems to me that within the crime and law structures that we have created as part of our national consciousness, that we have created a way which allows us to forget, be in denial when it comes to this particular group of human beings. These are the incarcerated, the law breakers, and the mentally handicapped and ill, all of whom become a blur on our national consciousness's which only seems to be awakened when we hear some political rhetoric about being "tough on crime" or when there is news of another murder on the streets. In many of the Black communities I have been welcomed into, I have met TOO many people who know from the depths of their hearts and their ancestors hearts, about what "being tough on crime" means, most especially the Black man. From what I have witnessed in New Orleans, TOO many Black American mothers and fathers watch their children or the children in their communities grow up in poverty, violence, and under a classism that comes from institutionalized racism and oppression by a majority of unconsciously sleeping, privileged, "white" Americans.
I can tell you that it took me until I was 48 to really begin to have a ' profound knowing' of how horrible racism and classism is. That insidious racism (especially) did not stop with the reforms and the steps that were made in the 1960's and 1970's surprised me when I first came to the South. I will never lose the consciousness that racism (and classism) is institutionalized and often privatized, dehumanizing, and probably even more things that I haven't stated as I am no trained activist with statistics; I am just one planetary sister~human being "showing up" for my planetary brothers and sisters.
Yeah, I am just 'getting it' and it has really only been since coming to New Orleans to serve. This evolving awakening has happened through the meetings of 3rd and 4th generation Black Americans of African decent, whose family members can name decedents that were from slavery or were free born. I am really just getting it that with 'freedom' for the Americans of African decent came the lynchings. Then the Jim Crow laws. I have harse thoughts for our ancestors who engaged in the slavery of other human beings for themselves and their families personal profit. I feel too many were pious arrogant hypocrites who brought other human beings in chains as SLAVES to lands which they were taking from the First Nation Peoples whom they were slaughtering pretty much wholesale, for land.
Here is an illustration of how far away I was from the greater consciousness of what life has been like for TOO many Black Americans, and for me, most especially, Black New Orleanians: I remember getting frustrated over the years when watching Tony Brown's Journal on PBS or listening to News & Notes on NPR thinking, "hey this kind of stuff is over with and why are the people on these shows so angry anyway?"
I was aware of blatant tolerated racism, such as DWB and unconscious racist remarks around me (compared to what I have seen in the South I would say the racism I was exposed to seemed to be from cultural ignorance rather from old hates and prejudices based on race.) so I was out of the loop which might give context to the anger I was hearing. I in my sleepy white priviliged reality, I thought there really had been greater strides in equality and ending racism then there actually were. I was only 6 when the Rev. Martin Luther King was becoming a household name and in the news. I was exposed to Black culture through music which I loved and through television. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood where my parents where the second and third generation children of European immigrants. In the early years my parents were poor, my dad always working 2 jobs and fixing everything in miraculous way. Alright, I am digressing, we were poor at first and then my parents got the privilege to be a part of the middle class national growth that came right after the periods when All in the Family and the Jefferson's were on t.v.. That was my only exposure, there were no Black families nearby unless one purposely drove into which I now understand to be the segregated Black section with some racially integrated areas, which were still considered to be "bad" neighborhoods without anyone really saying why. As I am writing this I am remembering being taught through whispered inuendo that "it was dangerous" to ever drive in the Black neighborhoods. OMG, I grew up is an racially exclusive middle class white only community 20 minutes out side of ironically ~ the city of brotherly love. Actually it has only been within the last 10 years maybe, that in my old neighborhood where my mother still resides, that I now see Black families in cars and in stores and living as a next store neighbors (a mixed race marriage, and for where I grew up this level of integration is big).
Here's where I am going with this line of 'reasoning', yes some Black Americans did get to enjoy what my parents did thanks to the unions. Yet there was always a big difference even if a Black American family did prosper. There was and continues to be racial profiling. And that is just unfair - because I was born into a 'white' family - my family members will never be racially profiled. Unless my father committed a traffic infraction, there was no reason for a police officer to randomly pull him over. And what I didn't understand then, and am only really getting through my being in New Orleans, is that just by the fact that my skin is peachy-white, I have many more freedoms, civil rights enforcements, and what I have come to understand as "privileges" than someone whose skin is brown, dark brown, or black.
I have "privileges" just because I was born into a peachy-white colored vehicle for my souls embodied journey on this planet.
Wow, wait until all the laws that Congress and the Bush administration have created to severely curtail our freedoms and liberties, come into affect. I believe it will only be then that the 'average' white man and woman will know what it is like to lose liberties and the right to a life of respect and dignity when they live under oppression and selective corporate/religious/politically institutionalized group punishment. film link: America: From Freedom to Facism
Perhaps the loss of rights will be a different version if you will, but the human suffering that comes with it will be same. Perhaps that is how the pendulum will balance itself and in the end, once everyone loses their rights, we will finally evolve and never again act in this with way with our planetary brothers and sisters.
The GEO Group, Inc.
GEO (NYSE: GGI) is an industry leader and pioneer in the privatization of correctional facilities
throughout the world and is the largest publicly traded ... Stock quote for GEO
www.thegeogroupinc.com/ - 21k - Cached - Similar pages