Sometimes, I’m shocked by the youth of some of the young men around me.
I’ve met guys who have never heard of Chuck D., Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley. When I mention names like these, I can tell by their blank stares that they have absolutely no idea who these great musicians are – or were.
It’s impossible to talk jazz with them – that’s like rapping to them about lutes played by ancient Greeks.
That’s a side of the prison industrial complex that most people – even activists – don’t see.
Children in prison – so young that they don’t shave – serving decades in prison – with decades to go!
Most are the human flotsam and jetsam of the drug wars, the illegitimate economy that flows in too many urban communities, and the raging fury that sparked the imprisonment boom that was – and is –America’s rural jobs program.
Enemies of the State at birth, given an abominable, punitive, empty education – a preamble to prison that trains children to accept metal detectors and little else; so that schools are training grounds for prisons upstate.
What is clear – or should be clear to all of us – is that the present system isn’t working and real dramatic and long lasting changes must be made.
Far be it from me to praise the U.S. Supreme Court –I’d be the last man to do that. But it’s a measure of our present politics – the politics of revenge, retribution and mass destruction by incarceration, that it was the Supreme Court majority that determined that dozens of state prison systems were functioning in an unconstitutional manner (In the recent Alabama v. Miller case, regarding juveniles doing life sentences) – this Supreme Court, perhaps the most conservative in 50 years!
What does that say about legislatures?
What does that say about Black politicians?
What does it say about the political status quo?
It’s going to take a Movement to change things.