Dear SBF: Looking for a Potential Mate…Go to Prison and/or School

Wait, wait, wait!  Before you get your panties all in a bunch let me explain.  I don’t know if many of you have been keeping an eye on the recent bills being considered in Congress regarding the federal sentencing guidelines reform for crack vs. cocaine (the Fair Sentencing Act) or the bills concerning the disenfranchisement of felons (the Democracy Restoration Act of 2009) but these are currently before the legislative bodies, both nationally and locally for a number of reasons.   First off, roughly 35% (and higher if you consider the federal prisons) of the prison population is made up of Black men, where Black men make up only 12% of the overall population.   Okay, you don’t have to be even remotely mathematically savvy to see that these numbers are highly disproportionate.  This is a huge problem, economically, culturally and psychologically, for our community but more so for the Black family.   When more Black women than Black men are graduating from college, although almost 50% more Black women enroll there is an even wider gap in the number that graduates, this just compounds the problems.  To make matters worse, up to 60% of Black men have a criminal record (that number may be a lot higher for some cities like Chicago) and are limited in going anywhere but back to prison or the welfare rolls.

This is the problem, and hence where you come in at SBF, because many of these young Black men are unfairly targeted, unfairly penalized and unfairly disenfranchised upon release.  We don’t have to feed into “their” hype. As Michelle Alexander describes it, in her book “The New Jim Crow:Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness“, (www.newjimcrow)  this is modern day slavery.  Ms. Alexander highlights the fact that there are not only more Blacks imprisoned than there were slaves in 1850, but that there is a huge inequity in the drop in the crime rate since the 1980’s while the number of convictions soared since that time.  She further mentions that more Blacks are disenfranchised in 2004, than before the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified which prohibited the denial of the right to vote on the basis of race.  This is no coincidence, Black men are being enslaved in a covert, yet pernicious way.  I practice criminal defense in New York City, where the incarceration of young Black is a whopping four times more than the number of Blacks that occupy the city.  It’s not hard to tell when I enter the courthouse in any borough and the courtroom is so overwhelmingly filled with Blacks, that I occasionally get mistaken for being a defendant.  As a criminal attorney, it didn’t take long for me to realize the number of potential clients coming to my office were unfairly stopped (clear violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments), illegally detained, were the subject of “evidence planting” and were forced to take pleas or wrongfully convicted (especially when they insisted on proving their innocence by rejecting any pleas, opting to have a jury decide their fate instead).  It is unfathomable how blatant and ubiquitous police officers, prosecutors, judges, etc. are with their total disregard for the truth and for doing what they all pledged they would do under the Constitution.  Not every man in prison, or with a criminal record, did in fact commit a crime-many of them happen to be a victim of an inherent racist justice system.

So SBF, another alternative is to direct your attention to the schools.  The School to Prison Pipeline (http://www.nyclu.org/node/1323) supports what many Black parents are already aware of, the education system is just another ploy to direct our young Black men to the prisons.   Black students (particularly Black boys) are expelled at an alarming rate, 34%, making it more likely to be held back a grade; Black students (again mainly Black boys) are more likely to be placed in special education, minimizing the likelihood of them graduating from high school; and Black boys are more likely to be arrested in school for minor infractions than any other race, thereby establishing a relationship with the penal system a lot earlier in life than what can be justified.

So you see, SBF, the moral of the story is that we can do something.  We can effect change legislatively (go to www.sentencingproject.org), we can mentor Black children (especially Black boys) through the schools, community organizations, churches or one on one or we can merely support our Black men in any way we can.  We may not find our soulmate in any of these places, but we can certainly increase the pool of potentials for someone else.

For further reading, go to http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/academics/profiles/dwilkes_more/57racism.html

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. WhiteDevil Said:

    LOL

    good story. Made me laugh.


{ RSS feed for comments on this post} · { TrackBack URI }

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: