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Prisons hungry for Blacks, are we willing to comply?

caines | 4/4/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Over two decades ago, Black activist and scholar Angela Davis wrote a short but powerful book that took careful aim at Americas newest and most profitable business the prison industrial complex. In her book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis poses the rhetorical question whether the concept of prison had become an antiquated notion given the so-called progress this country had made since the Industrial Revolution. Daviss words have since been recognized as prophetic with many following her cue legal scholar Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow being the latest example. Their thesis is simple: the prison system in the U.S. has been designed to replace the invisible institution that is slavery and those who are its highest percentage of participants are Black men and women. Thats right, those who were once legally enslaved in the worlds most barbaric form of chattel slavery are once again being enchained this time in jails and prisons. As the prison rates in over half of our countrys states have decreased significantly over the last 10 years, Florida prisons continue to burst at the seams. Whats more, Blacks get sentences that are 20 percent greater than those of whites and for the very same crimes. Local activists here in Miami have wondered why Black men and women continue to ignore the stark reality that the prison industrial complex needs us so that profits can continue to be made. As they remind us, prison today is not about rehabilitating people its about making money. That being said, we urge all Black men, women and especially our youth to seek alternative paths and new ways of thinking to avoid being caught up in the maze that is prison. When we were denied equal education, it was our minds that remained locked up. Today, while we have seen advances that give Blacks a real chance to succeed, other obstacles have been thrown in our way. We just cant figure out why so many of us seem more than willing to comply and become inmates for life.