Prison Radio
Charles Karim Diggs

My name is Charles Karim Diggs. I’m calling from, uh, Pennsylvania Graterford state prison, and the, uh, topic for my, uh, little essay here is, uh, “Are We Letting a Great Moment Vanish?”

This nation is suffering from the original sins, which was slavery and elimination of the original people, the Indians. In order for a nation to grow, there must be a redemption for that nation. It’s absolutely necessary for healing and to move forward.

Dr. Martin Luther King said in his speech, in 1966, he said: “All here and now.” What the subject was about, he wanted our rights, our human rights right now, not later, because many people were saying he was moving too fast, the movement, and he was saying, no, we need our rights now and we need it here.

And I think that’s very pertinent to what’s going on now in this country. If we relax for a moment, take a- just a brief moment to look at where we’ve come and where we’re at now today, and a serious study will show you that the messages that was given decades ago are still relevant today. We are now 51 years away from 1966. Are any following any further and making a better society for African-Americans, for poor people, for women and children?

After the death of our two conscious leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm Shabbaz, and many more that- that went down in the struggle, the conditions seem to have gotten worse for the poor. Even though many of us are in college, we’re also in the political arena holding offices all the way up to the United States president.

This was- this advancement was not sweeping. It was small percentages of people who was able to take advantage of the opportunity. The majority of the population remains subject to economic and political poverty. The government continued it as it’s done today: considers all black Americans as a threat to white supremacy. There’s discussions today going on all over the country about white supremacy.

But I would like to say it’s not a color of the skin, and it’s not a word or a term that we should be afraid to confront. The white supremacy concept is written in the Constitution and all the systems that come from that, that’s the problem. This is why we’re still arguing, debating, uh, police killings, uh, we’re arguing poverty, lack of employment and housing and fear of medical care, because of systems in place.

And until we realize that this whole- the structure was created by white men who felt that only white property-owning men had a right to say anything about how this country is to operate. It’s the same example with women rights. Women got rights when they protested and made their demands a demand, but we’re suffering that same exact problem today.

And I think we need to begin to expect more from our leaders and from ourselves getting involved in the struggle throughout this country. If we expect to take advantage of the moment, we have to understand that is- it is uncomfortable, it’s challenging. Our collective community must realize white supremacy has no place with disagreement.

This is one reason why police are always at the rallies, are geared up for war. And only the people are just trying to express their, uh, their First Amendment rights, you know, their freedom of speech to speak to the government of their, uh, distress. And this is what the Constitution requires. It tells you you should be able to redress your government peacefully.

We move on to how do we bring these changes, how do we produce change? I would suggest that the schools, and the homes, and the various different community groups begin to teach the children about systems, about government at an early age. I believe our civic courses in school doesn’t do it. It doesn’t start early enough, and it doesn’t get into the depths of it.

For example, when they have Black History Month, they really don’t get into the actual substance of Dr. King’s speeches. He talked about poverty, economics, war, why the people in this country who are poor are going to remain that way for- for various different reasons, because we’re spending so much money on the military throughout the whole- all over the world, and that causes billions and trillions of dollars. So I think we need a total re-education of the purpose of our struggles and what the movements should be about instead of just complaining about being unemployed and crime, massive incarceration. There’s reasons for this- there’s structural components set in place that maintains a permanent underclass, stressed-out population.

So that’s basically my, um, my little message for the day. I wanted to- the people who are listening to the think of it as a structural and the systems in place that we have to deal with. That’s how you deal with white supremacy.

Thank you very much.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.