Slavery, Lynching, and Mass Incarceration

Slavery, Lynching and Mass Incarceration

When I think of slavery, lynching and mass incarceration, I see no difference among them.  Slavery comes in many forms. You have the traditional sense of slavery and you have the modern-day sense of slavery. Just as with our constitution, there is a frozen theory and an evolutionary theory.

The frozen theory is the constitution itself and what the framers intended; and the evolutionary theory is the way that different courts interpret the constitution.  The evolutionary theory is what allows good ole boys in the State of Alabama to interpret the law in their favor to protect their own. The laws in the state of Alabama today are much like the vagrancy laws in the early 1900’s. Vagrancy laws constitute the offense of a person not being able to prove at a given moment that he or she is employed.  In Alabama alone, hundreds of thousands of pages of public documents attest to the arrest, subsequent sale and delivery of thousands of African Americans into mines, lumber camps, quarries, farms, and factories. Today they use stocks and bonds. The 13th Amendment states: neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted . . . establishing modern day slave systems, trading the name ‘plantation’ for ‘prison’.  Slavery comes in many forms with many faces. 

Welfare and Section 8 housing also contribute to slavery.  Welfare dictated the size of low-income families. My grandmother had 17 children. Now, if a woman has four children we make a mockery of her. The bigger the family, the more work could be done which means more income. Our families went beyond the household and extended to the community. What happened to all this love? As a family and as a community we raised men and women and no one went without. Divide and conquer. Trust issues. Section 8 made sure that the father or father figure was removed from the home. In order for a struggling mother to secure food and shelter for her kids, the father figure had to be removed. Any sign of a man in the home resulted in an eviction notice. Job opportunities. Without job opportunities there is no income. Then all of a sudden our neighborhoods become flooded with crack. Everyone chasing the American dream. How can you tell a young man, and not just a young man, but anyone whose family is starving –  barely have a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs – not to break the law when all he sees every day is people who appear to be rich and above the law living the American dream.

What can you tell a man who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from, who has no job skills, little to no knowledge and what little he has won’t put food on the table. What knowledge he has won’t amount to anything because he was mis-educated, not taught the basics in life, all he knows is survival. We have a need for survival. Our constant mind state is survival by any means necessary. It’s like we begin to panic. Constantly thinking that if I don’t rob, steal, sell drugs etc. … I won’t make it. No one educates these kids to the system and the way it works. No one told them about shelters, no one told them about the Jimmy Hale mission, no one told them that if they were in fear they could call someone for protection. Therefore, it was a custom to do what you saw. So we became enslaved to this design that no one can see but the Masters as they continue to sit on our benches, deciding our fate. It’s like facing death in the eyes and not wanting to die, so we fight to live the only way we know how. The crime rate is extremely high. In the 80’s most of our parents were using drugs and we (panic stricken children with a need to survive) sold drugs, Robbed and stole to get by. Our government declared a war on drugs, which led to an increase in crime, leading to an institution of strong black men being housed in a warehouse for the duration of our lives. Removing the strength of the family, leaving the rest in panic in chaos. 

Why in 2020 – since it’s not just the black community but mostly white communities that these new drugs are affecting –  is it not still a war on drugs? Now that it’s affecting their communities it’s called “a state of addiction”. 

America will always be a slave country and anytime you have slaves, lynching can’t be far behind. In the traditional sense they used ropes. Now in the modern sense they use badges and guns. The media make sure we stay ignorant and they place weapons of mass distraction in our hands and create various situations pitting us against one another and watch as we do it for them, dying and coming to prison at an alarming rate, killing two birds at one time. Being placed in a warehouse for the rest of your life. Inside these walls situations and rules are made for the destruction of the population. Today, the slave master has traded his chains and whips for batons and mace, and just as the “traditional slaves” had to walk on eggshells to avoid being beaten, so must the modern slave, for the slightest misunderstanding can result in a beating or a lynching. 

Michelle Alexander did a good job explaining mass incarceration. I think our problem with mass incarceration is not recidivism though recidivism plays its part. We have mass incarceration because we tend to lock our youth up and give them life without the possibility for parole for some trumped up capital murder or a three-strike law. You can’t reduce the prison population when you have people you never intend to let out and are constantly adding to it. With life without parole inmates you have a constant number (the number you need to operate) and having a mass release, releasing the 10,000 inmates whose recidivism rate is 90% and you have 15,000 already waiting to come with the time and 10,000 waiting to get time you’re getting nowhere. 

In 2012 deceived citizens voted for an amendment to the Alabama constitution that allowed for $437 million to be transferred from the state education fund to the state general fund. In conjunction with this transfer was the borrowing of the $437 million from the general fund supposedly to be distributed to financially depleted agencies such as the state prison system. Former Governor Robert Bentley promised that this money would be paid back in three years. However, at the time Bentley resigned from office five years after the money was borrowed, it had not been paid back. Out of $437 million, just under a quarter of 1 million had been paid back. Records with the secretary of state can confirm this. Before resigning Bentley was asking for $800 million for a supposed “prison reform initiative”. Had it not been for the scandal that removed Bentley from office, we would have fallen for it again. Constantly falling for anything the slave master put in front of us. 

Prison is supposed to be a place for rehabilitating its citizens so that they may be reformed to become productive citizens. Unless one is willing to rehabilitate him/herself, there is no rehabilitation on the modern day plantation. To sentence one to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole leaves no chance for reconciliation. Life without the possibility for parole is a death sentence. Now that we know these things we come to the understanding that we are in a place of penitence we continue to build. Fighting to give back to society, if only by raising men behind these walls to go back into society to rebuild the same communities that we help tear down. God made man to cultivate – not just cultivate the land but his wife, his children, his home, etc.  And where are we “MEN “? Now that we know what God intended for man, and the slave masters know, we know because he analyzes us, always has studied us; is this why the slave masters flood our communities with guns and drugs, why they create laws stating a public outcry using the media to scare us into lynching ourselves by voting for laws against ourselves why they lock us up at a young age at an alarming rate to never let us out again no matter how much change is made. Do we not believe in second chances or rehabilitation? In order to get rid of the slave mentality we have to do what Moses did and part the Red Sea. When I say part the Red Sea, I’m not talking about splitting water and walking through it, because I don’t believe that’s what Moses did. We must kill off the old and raise a new; we must change our way of thinking and the way you change your way of thinking is by acquiring knowledge the more you know the further you’ll go in life.


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