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Swannanoa CC

Black Mountain, NC

 

I would usually be the first to proclaim, “ALL LIVES MATTER,” in my self-deluded effort to eliminate color lines, but the statistics rise to contradict me. The number of African Americans that have fallen victim to police-related shootings and violence so far overshadows all other races combined so that I can’t even successfully lie to myself. In our society that lives in fear of the ever present threat of terrorism, African-Americans and Native Americans have been subject to domestic terrorism from the dawn of this nation.

As long as power and authority have existed, they have been abused. Police killing people isn’t some new phenomenon with a market freshly cornered by young and inexperienced officers. This is their culture and it is to a large extent accepted, standard operating procedure. Until the advent of our new digital age, the system was built on their word versus ours, with ours not counting for much. Now the tables are turning because technology is providing the irrefutable proof that our testimonies lacked. From unarmed men gunned down in cold blood, to children being appallingly abused by officers in their schools—the word of authority is no longer gospel. While not all officers are evil and there remain shining exceptions that seek to serve the interested of their communities, there is an undeniable problem with any organization that, by either omission or commission, allows for monsters in their ranks.

I wish I could tell you there were some major discussions or resistance in my prisons but I can’t. I’ve spent 7 1/2 years in the midst of a sociological experiment gone horribly awry. I have met only a precious handful of socially conscious individuals over the course of my incarceration. Many of these women have never voted and would continue to do so without knowledge or regard of how many African Americans and women fought for the rights of future generations, our generations. What I want the public to know is how tragically young many of the women in prison are, Black women especially. These girls have been failed by all the social systems, the public school system, and finally by the criminal justice system, simply shuffled through from one to the next with a lack of concern that is criminal in itself.

At NCCIW, which is the large maximum security women’s prison in Raleigh, there is no cable television and mail and magazines are closely monitored. We were frequently denied material that they thought might incite or inspire, and any correspondence they deemed questionable. I like to think that the lack of interest in any of the revolutionary movements stemmed from a simple lack of information, but maybe that’s just what I like to think.

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