My name is Kareem Charles Diggs.
I met a woman one day while sitting in the visiting room. She asked me why was the prison so large? And why there was nothing but concrete wires, gun towers, and most of the prisoners look to be African-American? First I told her we would have to know the character of American slavery and the r- and the racial legal system that maintained oppression into the 21st century.
The foundation of the American experiment is building a capitalistic nation based upon slavery. Slavery allowed wealth to be made and a new nation to be born. The heart of slavery was one person’s skin color was divine and the dark-skinned person was cursed by God. The religious and legal construction of slavery continued after the civil war under the 13th amendment. And other state and federal laws controlling where African slaves could sit, eat, live, pray, and walk.
The laws were incorporated into white America was to allow poor whites to feel superior over the slaves. This arrangement created by government would allow the myth of racial superiority to exist forever. Secondly, the results of such a system operating over 400 years has become the customs and traditions throughout America.
The horrible life that Africans had to endure was riven with systems put in place to keep slaves and the slave position forever. Jobs pay slave wages, schools produce more slaves, and political and economic freedom was a mere dream. Yes, crimes have been committed by Black Americans. But the conditions and circumstances were curated by the white supremacy systems.
Prisons will remain full and dark with dark skins until the economic inheritance of poverty and inferior education is eliminated from the American system. [Inaudible] the African American is the victim of a system rigged, codified in law, and backed up by force. The social and legal construction has to change. Or millions of Blacks will remain victims of a system that allows the continuous violence, extreme sentencing laws, and resistance to change.
This is why prisons are overcrowded with the descendants of slaves and poor people. Europeans came to America, they were not known as white people. They were identified by the country they originated from. Race became a afterthought as the nation became populated with slaves, and a distinction was made by law. This myth of skin color was sold internationally in order to maintain the inhumane treatment of the African people.
Even if Europeans wanted to reject the racial division, they had to comply or they would be in a violation of the laws. It became the rule of law to enforce the racial caste systems by terror, violence, imprisonment, death, and forms of torture. The continuation of repression and violence carried over into the 21st century. And throughout the struggle for freedom and equal protection under the law. The ideal remains a dream and lady justice does not see the African-American. African-Americans have been trying, dying to receive the white society’s love and at least respect.
We have accomplished neither. In my opinion, I believe African-Americans can be called victims of a violent nation of people who hide behind the cover of law to kill, discriminate, abuse, deny, and prevent African-Americans from breathing. And having enough safety to exist without fear.
The police violence continues because the system’s existence that started in slavery. The separate entities, schools have been arranged to keep the Black people in conditions that produce crime, desperation, disease, mental illnesses. Today the communities are still unequal in educational, economical, legal, and political. These legal boundaries maintain the structural violence.
These various policy and systems does not allow any substantial change. Even with body cameras, the murders by law enforcement will continue. If police are trained to kill, why do we expect them not to kill you? We need a system developed that does not teach murder. We need a judicial system that teaches judges to find a way to give more freedom and equality to its citizens, not less. African-Americans and all Americans are victims of a system that leaves us breathing for freedom.
My name is Charles Kareem Diggs. I’m calling from Pennsylvania SCI Phoenix State Correctional Institution.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.