My name is Charles Karim Diggs, calling from, uh, Pennsylvania, Graterford prison. And, uh, this additional, uh, topic I would like to talk about public health.
There is a public health problem in America, which is an intricate part of the massive population. [inaudible], drug abusers, and all other types of self-destruction that we see taking place. We also have a high suicide rate for youth, for children. Any country that has this type of problem to begin to look at its own behaviors and why it treats its citizens.
Why are so many millions of citizens using narcotics? We’re talking about people from well-to-do neighborhoods, wealthy people, college people—of all races. We need to consider turning prisons, state, and federal and local prisons, into health institutions and revamp from the bottom up to allow an environment that compliments all the essential elements that support positive attitudes and human development.
The ancient theories have proven to suffocate human potential. It creates pain and suffering in the human mind, which is not the cure for solving the national character of crime and recidivism. The only cure is a system that allows human beings the necessary needs to develop themselves, to build up their courage, to build up their self-esteem.
You can never arrest crime by continuing to build prisons and mandatory sentencing. Police need a whole new training and educational system to deal with the problems that they face each day. We cannot continue to blame the police. They can not continue to blame the people who are being abused or even being killed by the police.
There has to be another way to teach men and women how to deal with conflict in the streets, but we’re teaching the police to shoot to kill. You know, we’re not equipping them with the proper psychological tools so they can handle the different situations that take place each and every day all over America. There’s a lot of work to be done, and every part of society will have to play a part. The nation’s ills, once again, it is not the police.
We have a thing called Black Lives Matter. There’s a reason why that organization found it necessary to come up with that definition. It’s because black Americans have felt like their lives don’t matter in this country. They felt that they’re invisible. And I think that this entire, uh, oppression upon a certain people, it needs to be not just talked about, but it needs to be taught at the earliest ages in school so that the young can understand America is a particular place, and it has a very specific type of history that no other nation has.
And what’s- the problem starts from people don’t understand the dynamics of racism and how it started and how it evolved into an entire system in the nation. And these subjects are difficult subjects to discuss with anyone. No one seems to want to really get into the fine- the fine parts of how this all started.
But I think Dr. Martin Luther King, he gave a great message when he said the nation has- it has a racial disease. It’s sick and we have to deal with it. We need more Caucasian people to- to listen and to take a stand against those institutions and forces that keep us divided. We need that same determination to change every other part of society that’s in denial. This denial is national. It goes across the board, the bottom-up— schools, prisons. Everyone says to stop using the race card, but we need to really get into that and discuss that and work on it. And I think this will be a better nation. Thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.