What Exactly Will It Take?
I attended a demonstration protest yesterday at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). October 1st 2014 was the first day of the Month of Resistance against mass incarceration and the criminalization of a nation of black and brown faces by America – mainly Black and Hispanic. Desiring to be on the right side of history as it pertains to the rights of all humans, I’ve chosen to be an active and vocal participant in this movement to STOP the madness of what is increasingly becoming a police state in America.
POTUS Nixon first introduced the idea and initial launching of The War on Drugs in the early 1970s, and subsequent perpetuation of it was headed by the following former POTUSs Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both Bush’s, right on down to Obama. This all happened right underneath our noses; not many people other than its architects were cognizant of its effects of it until decades later. As a product, today it boasts increased incarceration rates in America of more than 500 percent – wait a minute, I don’t think you heard me clearly…I said FIVE HUNDRED PERCENT!! If we are negligent in allowing things to continue as they have, statistics indicate that 1 in 3 black males will see the inside of a prison during his lifetime. This is NOT acceptable!
The United States (including Hawaii and Alaska, accounts for less than 10 percent of the world’s population, but it imprisons somewhere in the neighborhood of 26 percent of that same population. The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. more than triples the number of any other so-called “civilized” society. Doesn’t sound very civilized to me.
This had to have been an act of deliberation, not much different than the forced transportation of African slaves across the Atlantic and to America for the deliberate purpose of cheap labor needed to build and feed the then infantile corporate greed monster. Of the more than 2 million people currently warehoused behind prison walls, upwards of 60 percent of them are Black or Hispanic male. A large proportion of these prisoners are tortured and placed in solitary and often unsanitary confinement, with only one hour of freedom each day. This is modern day slavery if we’ve ever seen it. What makes these numbers even more condemning of our justice system is that there is no evidence in terms of what race or ethnicity commits the amount of crime that would justify such a disproportionate increase or occupancy. There are also many injustices that are happening with the women in American society and around the world, but we’ll have to touch on that one some other day.
I would like to commend the very small group of students – all female – that headed up the demonstration today and for exhibiting great courage in the face of their peers. You did that bullhorn major justice today! 🙂 I was reminded of myself, who as a young college student, had very little hesitancy to stand up for what I believed was right and fair. Seeing this encouraged me that there truly is hope. I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed with the number of students who were willing to jump right in and stand beside us against this slow genocide taking place among us – among them. It is a genocide of epic proportions of their generation, so I hoped that having a close proximity to these happenings might give them more motivation to engage. What we received from most of the students passing by was apathy. I know they had other agendas, but apathy was what we received. Just like most of the adults who regularly occupy and influence their lives, apathy is mostly what they could offer. Without being able to identify directly with this issue; without having had someone relatively close to your life go through this or be touched by this; without having someone who at least looks like you be targeted and criminalized on the basis of their skin color – seems to able to breed only apathy, I guess. I will tell you this – apathy will get us absolutely nowhere, of that I can assure you! I will give credit to the many students who were willing to at least stop and inquire of what was going on, as well as those who were willing to accept a copy of the informational leaflets we were distributing. Thank you.
So, what’s it going to take? Is it going to take the number of people incarcerated to reach a whopping 3 million? Is that what we’re waiting for? That number is very likely if we don’t wake up and act NOW to reverse this tragedy. Is it going to take every single individual having someone close to them, or someone they know peripherally, to be murdered or brutalized at the hands of law enforcement? Is it going to take a number greater than the sixty black and brown men who have been murdered in the last sixty days alone? What is it going to take to fuel this much needed movement?? What’s it going to take to get as many people to LIKE and inquire about “what it is I am involved in, and how can I play my part to help” as I get to LIKE a recent photo of my favorite pet? Are human lives not as important as a cat’s? Are human lives less valuable than the latest pair of Jimmy Choo pumps? Watching my Facebook feed, such would surely seem to be the case. I can tell what won’t move us to the next plateau as a society fighting for equality – and that is the kind of reaction we saw from people yesterday. We will need the energy of millions of you to propel this engine of demolition and reconstruction of a broken penal system forward. Standing around watching your brothers and sisters fight on your behalf simply is not going to cut it as it has in the past. We are at a very pivotal point in regards to two main topics – Global Climate Change and Mass Incarceration in America. If America is intent on remaining the Superpower that it is (and I’m fairly certain that they do), it had better start doing right by its citizens and immigrants, else they will inadvertently create an entire generation of enemies living within its own borders. The veil that has covered its dirty underwear for so long is wearing thin, and their “privates” are slowly being exposed to the rest of the world. How can you continue to project yourself as a nation of peace when the way you treat your own citizens are so barbaric? How can you do this when all you do is perpetuate war and not peace?
Get from behind those laptops, mobile phones and apps people! Come out and join the fight the power structure that is intent on suppressing, oppressing, and alienating poor people and people of color, forcing them into a social under-caste . We must stand together, hands interlocked and united in love and respect, and demand systemic change that will take us all in a better direction that will serve to salvage this young generation that is on the fringe of being lost for good.
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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization.