Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There are (finally) laws protecting us from things like this...

NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, is at it again. I posted about one of their demonstrations quite a while ago, but they have been making headlines this summer with their national tour. Their website boasts of their 23 city voyage as well as all of the "bullying" activists have "inflicted" upon them:

Civil rights????? PLEASE. This group is clearly just using familiar rhetoric to rile up a jaded sense of "defending the sanctity of marriage," heck, of America itself. But I ask you, what are the effects of groups like this. Exhibit A:

Surely the spokespersons for the group would not (publicly) condone murder, but look at what type of mindsets they inspire, cultivate, and give a home to. I say NO MORE! The newly passed Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act now makes it a punishable act to endorse a blatant hate crime. The maker of the sign was kind enough to leave his name, make sure it's put to good use. Contact Indianapolis law enforcement and demand that this man be brought to justice:

(317) 229-3700

U.S. District Court
Birch Bayh Federal Building and
United States Courthouse
46 East Ohio Street, Room 105
Indianapolis, IN 46204

PS: With all the hate in this world...send someone who needs it your love today.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Incarceration Blues...Part IV (POLICE BRUTALITY)

This all began because a man jaywalked in Seattle...

I wish that there was a little bit more of filming done before the situation escalated, but regardless of the struggle...the woman in the pink shirt did NOT deserve that punch in the face. I wonder if it's protocol to punch a woman who was trying to stop the physical struggle. Of course the woman in black would resist in the second half of the video...her friend had just gotten punched in the face. There has to be some back story to this, probably a long history of police brutality in the area. Why else would a crowd gather so quickly and begin filming as if they knew that the cop was going to become violent. That type of reaction comes from experience. I wonder how long it will take the cop to apologize, go through an obligatory "trial," and then get back on the street.

This is just another display of power dynamics at work. Some say that the woman deserved the treatment, but I ask you this: When was the last time that you saw a lady punched in the face for jay walking in suburbia? Bergen County? Your town? Never perhaps? If we can not trust those who are supposed to protect and serve justice...how will we survive as a civilization?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Incarceration Blues...Part III

Ok! So I'm a little late with this one, but only because I was apartment hunting for grad school. I've been doing a lot of heavy writing lately so today I thought I'd change it up. I first saw this video in a class, and it brought me to tears. This focuses on the female/motherhood experience while incarcerated as well as some information about the alternative options few facilities offer for mothers and their children. Enjoy:

What are some of your opinions on the issue? Commentplease&thankyou!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Incarceration Blues...Part II

So choices...we all have some of those, right? The words that our tour guide spoke really stuck with me. (see post below) Here's my thing, one can not expect everyone to make the same choice, the right choice if you will, when people have such a wide range of opportunities and experiences. Opportunity will forever go hand-in-hand with choice. Let me expand on this a little bit.

During this courthouse trip we were also able to witness a woman being sentenced for a series of shoplifting offenses. While the details of the case weren't completely clear, what was clear was that the woman stole designer handbags and resold them because she needed the money to survive. There were several indicators that this woman was not stealing to become rich. She had a child at home, she did not speak one word of English, and she did not have a high school diploma. While there are jobs out there for the non-English speaking, the managers of these jobs often take advantage of their employees. They are rarely on the books, hence they are often forced to work both sporadic and long hours for very little pay.

Taking all of this into account, I ask you: What choice did she really have? Not that I'm condoning bad behavior, but certainly I can understand why this woman resorted to theft. I expressed my sympathy for the woman to our tour guide...her response: "Well if you needed money, would you go out an steal?" I said nothing aloud because at this point it was not worth debating over, but I wanted to respond with a "Well no, but then again I have a college degree." As a matter of fact, I have tons of privilege that this woman didn't. I am childless. I am a natural born citizen. I speak English. I have official job experiences (including references). I have a social security number. I am about to earn my Masters degree. I am upwardly mobile. I have a supportive family. True, she and I are both women of color from impoverished urban households, but I can not pretend that the choices I have made were ever even an option for her.

Surely I do not mean to generalize. There are always exceptions to statistics. One set of circumstances will not always have universal outcomes, but poverty is a hell of a thing. Poverty is an often time inescapable, cyclic, trap. To top it off, as if this woman didn't have enough financial woes, her charges ended up resulting in over 2,000 dollars worth of fines. I wonder how she will be able to support her child, pay her fines, and obtain employment with a record when she gets out of jail. Maybe she'll just "choose"... a miracle.

Tune in tomorrow for a look at motherhood and incarceration...much love people. Comment if you want!!!!!

Incarceration Blues....Part I

So I totally told a few people (ahem Steph) that I was going to write about this weeks ago. My bad, however better late than never? So last Friday I went on a Career Exposure to the Bergen County Courthouse with my EOF students. I think the students got a lot out of it, however I found myself more frustrated with the justice system than ever before. I think I've finally decided that I am officially a prison abolitionist. THE SYSTEM IS SYSTEMATICALLY FLAWED.

This mini-piphany was all with good reason. We were able to sit in on a series of sentencing hearings. What instantly stuck out to me the most was the sea of white faces. I mean public defenders, prosecutors, stenographers, officers, onlookers, and of course the judge. The only people of color were the majority of the students I had brought and the people being sentenced. I tried to get past this and focus on the crimes and neither the criminals nor those who have been granted the authority to pass judgement on them. But this just ended up making me even more frustrated.

One man was being sentenced after having plead guilty to raping a young girl from the time she was 5 to the time she was 13. He was sentenced to 5 years in American prison plus deportation following this time period due to his lack of legal status in the states. His response when the judge asked him if he had anything to say on his behalf: "Coming to this country has only brought me troubles." So does this mean he can go back to raping young children when he gets out in 5 years???? Talk about a lack of remorse or accountability for one's own actions. The next man to come up was also Latino. He had been charged with drug possession, but unfortunetly for him it was his third offense. He had been holding down a full-time job, and paying weekly child support for his 13 year-old son. He was clearly a drug addict. A man who's addictions have truly ruined his life and landed him in court time and time again. His last statement: I'm truly sorry. I just want to get the help I need to get better so that I can take care of my son. His sentence: 4 years. No drug treatment, no rehab, no chance of probation...


After the observations we had a chance to reflect with our tour guide. I expressed that I had some sympathy for the one man suffering from addiction...she became frustrated with me and gave a stern warning to the rest of the students: "Never make the mistake of feeling bad for these people...they made their own choices."

Needless to say, I want to talk about what choice really means, however this will have to be saved until tomorrow as this will be a 5-part series this week!!!!! Tune in tomorrow and as always your comments/love is always appreciated.