The Legacy of Slavery
Turn the iron houses of oppression into schools of liberation. American prisons and the activities which they prohibit are aimed at very distinctly defined sectors of the class – and race-sensitized society. The ultimate expression of law is not order – it’s prisoners. There are hundreds upon hundreds of prisoners, and thousands upon thousands of laws, yet there is no social order, no social peace. The law and everything that interlocks with it was constituted for poor desperate people like me.
Author of the acclaimed book, Soledad Brother: In the Supreme Court’s dictum in the case of ex-slave Dred Scott: “A black man has no rights a white man is bound to respect.” Under the 13th amendment, enacted at the end of the Civil War in 1865, which forbids all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude: in article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
This is my personal understanding of the United States’ failure to acknowledge the legacy of slavery, lynching and racial segregation. The presumption of guilt and dangerousness is the harmful idea created to defend it and so slavery did not end – it evolved, as the nation and its leaders allowed African people to be burdened beaten and marginalized throughout the 20th century.
In today’s society I am under premeditated murder not yet committed: each day when one person commits a violation we are all punished for this act. Just last week an inmate attacked another inmate because they could not resolve a difference of opinions. Lynching is still part of our everyday society when one person is envious of others racially or socially.
I have had the luxury of sight, while they were doomed to a ghetto myopia so profound they might never see or think or dream, or even know they could see or think or dream. I wanted to fall to my knees and ask them for forgiveness. I wanted to beg them to forgive me, for I had tried to forget. I wanted to beg them to forgive me for leaving them for so long, as I had now, for I could never go back there again if I wanted to stay sane. I wanted to beg them to be patient with me, for I had to go back there again if I ever wanted to face all of the pain in my life.
In the movie, “Life”, the – upper room – that place where they’ll rest eternally from the bone crushing reality of lifelong imprisonment. It is clear that our prison population is aging, but we cannot die out of mass incarceration.