The Prison Industrial Complex
Updated: Oct 16, 2021
Wow! Welcome and thank you for spending some time in my head.
First, what is radical hope, and why should you care about it? What is the prison industrial complex especially in relation to radical hope?
What is radical hope? I would like to propose this definition: “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future,”wrote the poet and philosopher David Whyte in contemplating crisis as a testing ground for courage. https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/11/28/radical-hope-jonathan-lear/
What happens when the measure of ones heartfelt participation in life, in community, at work, hopes at a future are thwarted from birth, generationally, systemically, and categorically emotionally?
There is not much I know about my generational genetic identity in terms of medical, mental health, or addictions, but when I start to examine the current situation in my country, I can't help but think about my personal history in which to examine it.
Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. As I sit and watch hundreds of thousands of the strongest black men in America be cut down by police brutality, lopsided judicial court systems where lawyers are in bed with judges, prosecutors, and prison guards I often wonder can this all be restricted and dismantled, or demolished? At the very least transformed?
What is hope in the face of a system that is so unjust that it takes large amounts of money to be considered not guilty? My son is in prison and has been since he was in pre-school. He was systematically oppressed physically, mentally, and socially into a system that had no empathy for the financial circumstances of our situation. At the time I was a young mother, having had him when I was 19 years old. At the time I had no idea that this was occurring not only to me but to millions if not trillions of other mothers across this vast nation. At the time I was in a struggle with my own illusions of life trying to 'make it' up the financial proverbial ladder in the workforce thinking I was bettering myself for both my son and for my family. At the time I thought the only way to 'make it' in this country and save my child was to get educated, make enough money to thrive, and surround myself with whiteness.
Sometimes when I look back I see just how brainwashed and socialized I was into believing that the world needed another 'educated' black person. What good is education when you have no money to take care of your basic needs or enough money to save your child from a system that relegates all black kids to either a prison system or a college system which teaches them to capitalize on each other's pain? It took me a long time to recognize that neither is the solution. That the only solution is to surrender to the universe to find a new way of being and coexisting in the world, for me that was leaving corporate America and starting my own business. For me I decided if I was ever going to 'make enough' it had to be on my own terms and I had to learn to do it for my son so that when he comes out of prison he too will be able to 'do it' on his own terms and have way more options than just participating in a system that will never value his hard work, his genius brain, and empathetic heart.
I cry often for the many folks, black and white, that have even spent just one night in jail or prison. I think, during covid 19, how many have been on lockdown for months on end with only three hours a day of freedom from a tiny cell, and even then that freedom never includes the freedom to go outside to breathe real air. Sometimes I sit and wonder why I cry when nobody knows the tears that run down my soul. Often, I wish for better humanity in people, in the world as a whole. With so much to do in the world and in so many ways to contribute to society, I often wonder why people refuse to get involved and or demand to see the insides of these prisons to hold these systems accountable for inhumane treatment. I often wonder why we as Americans have no desire to see what is truly happening and act on this outrageous slaughterhouse of the soul, the being of humans.
It is my belief that even murderers deserve to be treated with some dignity of respect. That what divides us from those who have lost their way and those on the inside is the ability to empathize and love under conditions that most have never had the ability to feel or see. If we continue punitive measures instead of harnessing the very thing that makes us human, our ability to love, then the human condition will continue to de-evolve and become nothing more than a greedy soulless species. I do not want this for my son. I do not want this for our beings on this planet. But how do we dream a different dream? How do we wake up and see or at least trust that we can do better as a nation? As a species cohabiting spaces with other beings?
Asking more questions seems to me to be the answer. Listening deeply to each other without judgment, without expectation around how we desire things to turn out. Having the expectation that 'I know better than you,' or 'my experience is more valid than yours,' seems to be a perspective worth disengaging in in order to get to a better course of action. I am working towards these goals with the assumption that I can only change the world for the better if I too can stop, pause and listen instead of reacting. Maybe we can do this together but if we can't it starts with one person, and that one person can be me.