Author: Elijah Thomas
Incarceration Leading to Oppression
Conversations about the incarceration system has been growing rapidly due to the massive increase of people of color being incarcerated in the United States. My research topic is “ Does the increasing rates of incarceration lead to the oppression of people of color.” The communities that I am trying to reach are the oppressed people of color, social activists and the department of justice. The position that I want to persuade is that the increasing rates of incarceration does in fact lead to oppression of people of color due to the fact that black inmates make up nearly 40 percent of the prison population and make up 13.4 percent of the total U.S population, also once the accused is out of jail they lose some of their rights and this also has an impact on their mental health, and with the increasing rates of incarceration of people of color the rates for white people incarcerated are significantly lower than those who are latino and black.
When the accused come out of jail they lose majority of their rights such as the right to bear arms, the right to vote, and sometimes they aren’t able to apply to certain jobs due to being a felon even if they were wrongfully incarcerated. This can impact their lives due to the fact that after being in jail it is hard to find a job or make a living which indirectly forces felons to break the law to either feed themselves or their family. That isnt always the case, because some states have believe in incarceration but believe in rehabilitation which gives the accused another chance at life, and a better chance than once they would have received if they were incarcerated for their crimes or wrongfully incarcerated. My issue is something with real consequences today because the incarceration rates for blacks are still higher than whites in every state, and there is a major gap considering the population. This also goes into the factor of mental health because while being incarcerated your mental health takes a big hit. Prison is known as an unsafe and unhealthy environment, according to Good Therapy,”The Effects of Incarceration on Mental Health” an article posted by Zawn Villines, Villnes said “The DOJ reports that 70,000 prisoners are sexually abused every year, and assaults, fights, and other acts of violence are common in a prison setting……This ongoing climate of trauma can create anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD in prisoners who previously had no serious mental health issues.” This goes to show that someone who has a history of mental health issues or someone who has/had no past health issues is now in the environment that can create mental trauma that can lead to mental health issues.This is why I feel the increasing rates of incarceration lead to the oppression of people of color.
I find it crazy that in the United States alone people of color are found to be incarcerated alot more than those who are white. There has been a lot of studies showing the major difference in population in the prison system when it comes to incarceration. One of these studies have been done by the NAACP where they have stated, “Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.” The study taken by the NAACP has shown that there is a major difference in race for the amount of incarcerated persons in 2015 in the United States alone. With the rapid increase of incarceration of hispanics and blacks, tons of social activist groups have came out of the dark, or has had the spotlight shone on them to address and inform people such as other social activist groups and the Department of Justice about the increasing rates of incarceration of blacks and hispanics that can further lead to the oppression of people of color. This is another reason why I am addressing the rapid increase of incarceration of hispanics and blacks to further the conclusion that the increasing rates of incarceration can lead to the oppression of people of color.
And at last, the last message that I am trying to inform my audience is that with the increasing rates of incarceration of people of color the rates for white people incarcerated are significantly lower than those who are latino and black. This is the major factor on oppression of people of color due to incarceration. The United States of America is viewed as the country with the most incarcerated rate, with African Americans leading the rates of incarceration in America. There have been books and movies such as “The Other Wes Moore” which talks about incarceration of black people and the effects on their social life and mental health due and why this is more of the reason why the Department of Justice should use rehabilitation as much as they use incarceration, and a movie that also goes hand to hand with this topic is the Netflix movie called “13th” which informs the audience about the prison system and how the 13th amendment allows people to be used as slaves, doing labor due to the fact that the 13th amendment says that any acts of slavery was abolished unless when it is punishment for a crime. There are also studies showing the major difference in race when it comes to incarceration, according to prisonpolicy.org they made a graph of the amount of people incarcerated per race in the 2010s and with the race with the lowest amount of 380 was white, and the race with the highest amount standing at 2,207 was blacks. This study goes to show that there is a significant difference in race for incarceration of whites and blacks with further adds on to my belief that incarceration can lead to the oppression of people of color.
I find it shameful that a country wouldn’t take this opportunity to use rehabilitation more than incarceration due to the massive difference in race when it comes to incarceration in the United States, Social activists fighting for the lives of those who were wrongfully incarcerated ad for those who are incarcerated, and how the Prison environment isn’t for anyone and can lead to mental issues even when you had no past history of it. This enforming essay was made to inform anyone of the audiences that incarceration does in fact lead to oppression of people of color.
Reflection: Short Stories
After creating and revising my own annotated bibliographies I can now call myself a veteran and someone who has a lot of knowledge about my said topic, which is Short Stories. One thing that all of my sources share is the fact that all of them are fiction. It is possible that Short stories can be non fictional, matter of fact it’s more likely, but I personally chose these sources because of the messages behind them and how popular these sources are. Something else that my sources all share is the fact that they have a message or meaning behind each story that can be related to currently in the world. I personally feel that short stories should always have a message behind it, it can portray to only the author, or it can portray to a specific audience or it can be relatable to anyone. Another common theme that my sources have is that they are all in third person. Just like the first one, there are multiple short stories that are in second person and first person but I chose these because of personal preference. I can also say that even though all of my sources are short stories, they don’t always have to be related or have anything in common and one of the things that my sources DON’T have in common is the message and meaning behind it. One short story can talk about the progression of technology in society and another can talk about the love of your life. They don’t always have to be the same but they must have a message to convey to their audience. What I learned from my topic was that every short story has a message that can be related to, and that every short story has a clear understanding of who their audience is. What I still want to learn about this topic is the differences between 1st 2nd and 3rd person short stories.
What I learned about myself as a writer is that I love creative writing because of how creative my mind is, I always use figurative language, diction, and imagery to express myself in my own creative writings, and this is what I am attracted to as a reader. I find myself intrigued to creative writings. I would like to continue to grow as writers by exploring other genres to see what I am fascinated by and what I find myself doing as well. In order for me to enact these changes I have to pick out random books from each genre that I find myself writing about and spend weeks and months dissecting these books to understand the meaning behind all of them and how this can be related to short stories.
Short Stories. (Annotated Bibliography)
Remember growing up and reading books that only had 12 pages and filled with a lot of pictures. Remember going to see plays and films based off of these stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping beauty. What all of these stories have together is that they are all Short Stories. Short stories provide a message or meaning that is indirectly given to the audience, whether it is about morals, or lessons that should be taught. There are multiple short stories that provide messages that are indirectly given to the audience such as, “Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault, “One Day At Horrorland” by R.L.Stine, “Sirens” from the Odyssey which was created by Homer, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by Aesop, “Lotus Eaters,” and “Charybdis and Scylla” which are both from The Odyssey.
Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Other Classic Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. New York: Penguin Books, 2008. Print.
In the short story, “Little Red Riding Hood” Little Red Riding hood was sent by her mother to give some goodies to her grandmother and on her way to her grandmother’s house, she stopped to take a rest. While she was resting a wolf came disguised as a dog and asked where she was going. She told the wolf she was going to her grandmother’s house and on her way to the house the wolf beat her there and tried to personate as the grandma so that he can eat Little Red Riding Hood. Charles implemented this short story with a message behind it that children and women should be wary for their surroundings and not talk to strangers.
R.L Stine, One Day at HorrorLand , R.L Stine, February 1994.
In the short story “One Day at Horror land” while lost The Morris family and clay found an amusement park called horror land and once they parked their car and go out, the car exploded and they were stuck at the amusement park which had monsters, ghouls and zombies. The family thought it was just a scary amusement park but then later realized that this park was the real deal. R.L.Stine used horror to convey to his audience and used a lot of imagery to create the message of understanding your surroundings to notice when something isn’t going in the right direction.
Homer, and Robert Fitzgerald. The Odyssey. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
In the short story “Sirens” Odysseus (The main character from The Odyssey) sailed through a sea full of monsters to reach Ithaca and the first set of monsters the crew had to come across was the Sirens. The sirens would sing to the men to make them jump overboard so they could eat them. Odysseus wanted to listen to the sirens so he had his crew tie him up while they sailed with wax in their ears. The sirens represented desires that men cant have, desires that will make them go crazy and not think before acting. Homer wanted to persuade people that even though this is Greek mythology, that “Sirens” can be related in the real world and one example of this is Money, because people’s actions change and don’t think when money is on the line.
Aesop, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. 1867.
Barnett, Carol. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Lincolnwood, Ill.: Passport Books, 1990.
In the short story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” the shepherd boy lies about seeing a wolf to gain the attention of the villagers, after tricking the villagers multiple times the villagers stop coming out because he called out a wolf. But this one time a wolf actually came and he called out no one came. Aesop uses this to create a message that the more you mess up your credibility the less people trust you which in the end matters.
Homer, and Robert Fitzgerald. The Odyssey. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
In the short story, “Lotus Eaters” while Odysseus sailed through the sea to reach Ithaca, Zeus sends a storm that sweeps them for 9 days before it brings them to the island of the lotus eaters. On this island the natives went to Odysseus’s men and tricked them into eating the lotus which as soon as they ate the lotus they lost all memory and thoughts of going home. The only thought process in their brain is to stay on the island and eat more lotus fruits. The men who ate the lotus fruit were then tied on the boat so that they wouldn’t stay on the island and eat lotus. Homer creates a message of “curiosity killed the cat,” by introducing the men to lotus flowers and since they were so curious on what it was they ended up being tricked to stay on the island and ultimately forgetting on going home.
Homer, and Robert Fitzgerald. The Odyssey. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
In the short story, “Charybdis and Scylla” after passing the siren island, Odysseus ended up confronting another pair of monster(s) which went by the name of Charybdis and Scylla. Scylla is a six headed monster who eats one sailor for each head, and Charybdis is a massive whirlpool that can potentially swallow a whole ship killing everyone on the ship. Odysseus listens to Circe’s instructions on how to pass Charybdis and Scylla by holding course tight against the cliffs of Scylla’s lair but avoiding Charybdis. While doing this Scylla ended up swallowing 6 sailors. Homer implemented this story to create a message of “choosing the lesser of two evils.” Which means when one is represented with two horrible choices but goes with the one which would have a lesser of a consequence than the other choice.
Almost every short story created was made with a purpose which is to create a message or meaning that can be indirectly or directly given to the audience/readers. Majority of the well known short stories were created a long time ago which are still used to this day because they message was meaningful and can be related to. Short stories can also be a place that expresses imagination like none other, but in general short stories are known for their messages.
Growing up, short stories were essential to everyone’s childhood whether it came from cinderella , snow white, red riding hood, goosebumps and ect, it impacted someone’s imagination. But people fail to realize that these short stories always had a message or a meaning to them. I fell in love with goosebumps because growing up reading those books increased my imagination and figurative language and inspired me to become a creative writer. The way the story resolved around every short story from goosebumps always gave chills or “goosebumps” all on my body, (ok I’ll stop). And short stories tend to hold stronger messages such as red riding hood and snow white, i’m pretty sure the last time someone older than the age 17 has read those short stories was around 10 or 12 years ago, but still know the meaning behind these stories. Creative writing is also another way to put your imagination onto a paper and let whatever flows to your brain be drawn with words.
Shamefully holding up a fake smile just to point out that “I’m not hurt,” to show everyone else that having a lisp wasn’t really a problem and that their jokes and laughs didn’t affect me, but it did. Growing up I felt different wanting to interact with people and always answering the teachers questions, but still somehow always quiet.I felt like I wanted to be alone but part of me wanted to open out more, creating strong friendships and short and unwelcome friendships that impacted my life drastically. It was one day in class which I was participating like there was no tomorrow not caring whether I got questions right or wrong. Throughout the day my teacher wanted everyone in the class to take turns reading, and since everyone had assigned seats based off their last name I happened to be the last person reading. There was only 2 pages remaining so I didn’t feel pressured at all until the moment I had to pronounce words such as “Ship,Time,Thought and Choose.” Hearing laughter after one mistake push shivers down my back and caused my hands to shake, having eyes glued to my face forced me to lose my train of thought, causing more and more mistakes.
This experience had a negative impact on me at first, it never crossed my mind that my lisp was that strong because in my household I was never addressed for my strong lisp, talking to my friends never was a problem which goes back to what I said on having strong friendships. But the moment that everything went “downhill”, it changed me. I told my mother when I got home and the day after I went to a speech impediment class and worked on my lisp for around a month and a half. I didn’t want to be in the class because I felt I was only there because I was made fun of in class. I had to leave class during certain hours to go and work on my lisp with the speech impediment teacher, I began to feel like I was a burden on both my teacher and myself. It came to the point that I felt that my lisp was attached to me, it even crossed my mind that “Lisp” would be on my gravestone. Week after week there was no improvement whatsoever, I still couldn’t sound the difference between “Ship” and “Chip”. After a month my strong lisp started to go down, it was still visible but not as strong as it was a few weeks ago. I began to be more anti-social in class because I didn’t want to be made fun of again because of my lisp. The moment I went home from school that same day I went straight to sleep without talking to anyone at all, the burden “on my shoulders” kept me mentally stuck not knowing what to do, having both anger and sadness built up inside of me like a water balloon waiting to be thrown to “pop” and release everything built up inside of it. I was rushing to have my lisp go away, it gave me nothing but negative energy to me, my family and my classmates. And after one more week in the speech impediment class I didn’t have to go to work on my lisp anymore. Looking back at how the personal experience shaped my relationship with reading and writing it had both a negative impact and a positive one. The reason why I said it was negative one was because being made fun of made me more anti-social for 2 to 3 years ruining some relationships I had with teachers and friends, but the reason why I would say it had a positive impact on me is because since I was alone, I had no distractions and had more time for myself in class. I wasn’t doing so well in the class but the moment that incident with my lisp happened I had the urge to do better in all of my classes all of a sudden, I had the urge to become a better reader so I wouldn’t make anymore mistakes and improved on my reading by reading books at a different grade level than what I was at. In general aspect of having a lisp was a strain on me mentally but after looking back from the position I am at now, it made me into who I am.
Malcom X “Learning How To Read”
After reading the autobiography of Malcom X I can truly say that I feel inspired not only from his actions as a civil rights activist but as his thoughts on education itself. Growing up I never really knew a lot of Malcom X besides his role in the civil rights movement and how he went along with that role, never knew anything about his nationality, his background, his family and at last himself. This autobiography put more information in my mind about Malcom X compared to what I was receiving from school. Learning that he didn’t graduate high school and his last encounter with school before getting arrested was 8th grade shook me at first, I related with him when it came to being in a different environment and atmosphere mentally when reading and I also connected with him when I found out his penmanship wasn’t the best. He was connected to books and knowledge that made me changed the way I think about Malcom X. The use of diction during his speeches baffles me after learning more about him. He went out the way to ensure himself that he would be educated, then went out to educate, influence others and to express himself freely. He used to be in chains mentally and physically but the moment he was educating himself was the moment he felt free from both the mental and physical chains.
Shamefully holding up a fake smile just to point out that “I’m not hurt,” to show everyone else that having a lisp wasn’t really a problem and that their jokes and laughs didn’t effect me, but it did. Growing up I was always know as different wanting to interact with people and always answering the teachers questions, but still somehow always quiet. I kinda was in a rare condition where I wanted to be alone at times but I didn’t at the same time, creating strong friendships and short and unwelcome friendships that impacted my life drastically. It was one day in class which I was participating like there was no tomorrow showing different emotions depending if I got something right or if I got something wrong. Throughout the day my teacher wanted everyone in the class to take turns reading, and since everyone had assigned seats based off their last name I happened to be the last person reading. There was only 2 pages remaining so I didn’t feel pressured at all until the moment I had to pronounce words such as “Ship,Time,Thought and Choose.” These words had such a strong impact on me at the time because of my lack of ability to pronounce words correctly due to my strong lisp. Hearing laughter after one mistake push shivers down my back and caused my hands to shake, having eyes glued to my face forced me to lose my train of though causing more and more mistakes.