Will Black men overcome the criminal justice system?
Dear , Black Men
Barack obama said “ so let’s look at the statistics the United States is home to 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners” there was a prison population of 300,000 people in 1972 . Today we have a prison population of 2.3 million , the United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world can you believe that ? . Black people suffer from many losses such as voting ,The war on drugs , Over policing in black communities and pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit .
Black men and black people in general are over represented in the news as criminals . That means they are shown as criminals more times than they are actually criminals , based on FBI statistics . The war on drugs had become part of our popular culture in television programs like cops. When people cut on their local news at night they see black men being paraded across the screen in handcuffs . They were creating a setting where people would be afraid and when you make people afraid ,It’s easy to justify throwing them in the garbage can . Society makes black people their own crime because that’s how we introduce them in the world for example you often hear “ that’s a rapist , that’s a murderer, that’s a robber , that’s a sex offender , that’s a gang leader” and when you hear that so often it becomes easier to expect that their guilty and that they should go to prison . The reality Is that no one who Is white truly understands the challenge of being a black person in America so they have then educated public purposely , over the years to believe that black men in particular and people in general are criminals . To be clear white people aren’t the only ones that believe this black people also believe this and are scared to be in their own community because of the way they explain us on the news and social media . They tell us to be careful when you’re walking home at night , make sure you stay alert , don’t play your music to loud , if you see anything weird call for help and this makes people worry and feel unsafe .
Looking at the way democrats were defeated in 1988 ,1984 and 1980 there comes to be a belief among the democrats that they have to adopt a position that is much more centrist . It became kinda impossible for a politician to look soft on crime . during that time if you appeared soft on crime they weren’t going to take you serious and you wouldn’t win the election . When you are in an environment where everybody’s doing the same thing everybody’s competing to be tough on crime you quickly all end in the same space so it doesn’t become a political advantage unless you do something more and by the late and early 90s people like bill Clinton had begun to figure out they’ve been able to match the consistency of “ squishy , soft liberal won’t protect you , tough conservative will protect you” and they won the fight every time . Bill Clinton was trying to figure out how to deal with a country that was still basically Reagan’s country but he was trying to govern as democrat . Then some horrendous crimes take place “ Polly Kalamazoo , abducted from her bedroom at home and ended up killed” which led to the California “ three strikes and you’re out” law Bill Clinton said “ when you commit a violent crime you will be put away put away for good , three strikes and you are out” A persons convicted of their third felony essentially that person is mandated to prison for the rest of their lives . Mandatory sentencing said that they were no longer going to let judges consider the circumstances around a crime they were just going to impose a mandatory sentence and that was a hard Thing for judges because they were trying to dispense justice on a daily basis and now cant do so. This is important because mandatory minimum sentencing laws force a judge to hand down a minimum prison sentence based on the changes a prosecutor brings against a defendant which result in a conviction usually a guilty plea . many states have such laws every significant federal drug offender could get a very long sentence . The truth in sentencing that kept people imprisoned for 85% of their sentence , the idea of truth in sentencing was that you were sentence to a certain amount of time and the public wanted to be confident that your gonna do just about every bit of that time . They found a way to move pass parole so when you get in the federal system and they give you 20 or 30 years that what you got parole was a mechanism for getting people out of prisons when it was clear that they were no longer a threat to the public safety . Then comes the Congress with a proposal for a 30 billion federal crime bill of 1994 that was heavily loaded towards law enforcer incarceration the omnibus crime bill was responsible for a massive expansion of the prison system and beyond that , it provided all kinds of money and perverse incentives or law enforcement to do a lot of the things that we nowadays consider to be abusive not only did he increase fungi to states to build prisons to locked as many people involved in drug crimes but also to put 100,000 police officers on the street . The effect that this had on black people was that they were easily targeted and put in jail for infamous crimes because they needed to fill up these jails.
Based on the film “ 13th ” Throughout American history African Americans have repeatedly been controlled through systems of racial and social control that appeared to die down but they are reborn in new forms tailored to the needs of constraints of the time. After slavery ended a new system was born and it was called convict leasing . Convict Leasing was a system of penal labor practiced in the southern United States . Convict leasing provided prisoner labor to private parties, such as plantation owners and corporations. The Lessee was responsible for feeding ,clothing and housing the prisoners which was a new form of slavery and once convict leasing faded away a new system was born which was the Jim Crow system that relegated African American to a permanent second class status and here we are years after the collapse of the old Jim Crow and new system has been born again in America a system of mass incarceration that once again take away millions of poor people overwhelmly poor people of color of the very right supposedly won in the civil rights movement and instead of talking about it we just tired to move passed it after the civil rights was passed on and the civil rights laws they tried to play it off and because they didn’t deal with it back then that racial difference continued and it turned into this presumption of dangerousness and guilt that follows every black and Brown person wherever they are , “In 1850, Slavery was common throughout the southern United States , with concentrations in Georgia , South Carolina and Mississippi . A similar pattern is reflected in the number of American incarceration in 2000.” If there was a shortfall in the workforce , local law enforcement authorities simply made more arrest whether a crime was actually made or not . “ once the system of mass incarceration began to grow , it became quickly apparent that a lot of money could be made .
Many people don’t realize that Jim Crow laws still exist today, studies show that the Empire States constitutional history , “Jim crow in New York” traces the current criminal imprison law to a century-long effort to keep African -American citizens out of the voting booth. And as the reports makes it very disturbingly clear: New York’s felon voting bar has been deep roots in jim crow . More than 108,000 New Yorkers are currently imprisoned under the law . And 80% of those who have lost the right to vote are people of color . Here is some history , for about 100 years , New York lawmakers found many ways to keep African Americans from voting . First, of course there was slavery. After emancipation, two laws continued to be especially effective: one that required blacks- and only blacks – to own a certain amount of real property in order to vote, and another that allowed countries to imprison those convicted of “infamous crimes”. African American suffrage was the subject of much debate at the 1821 and 1846 constitutional conventions , and the transcripts contain some astounding racist rhetoric . One theme that occurs again and again I cian alleged criminal propensity among African American as reason to restrict the black vote . In a refrain that echoes throughout the century-long suffrage debate , delegate Samuel young implore in 1821: “ look to your jails and penitentiaries. By whom are filled ? By the very race whom is now proposed to clot with the power of deciding upon your political right” . During slavery and the period when the property requirements were imposed on African American, New York’s criminal disenfranchisement law was merely permissive : that is , the state constitution left it to the discretion of individual counties weather to disenfranchise those with criminal convictions. The same year the fifteenth amendment force New York to eliminate its property requirement , the state amended the constitution from allowing countries to decide weather to disenfranchise those convicted of crimes , to requiring disenfranchisement throughout the state of anyone convicted of an “infamous crime.”
How the love for poetry began
It began in 10th grade. I was in a class called poems and poets . It was the end of the semester and we had one last assignment to do for our final grade , it was to create our own poem and present it for exhibition night . I didn’t know how to write a poem or where to even start so you can only imagine the trouble I had with this assignment . After explaining to my teacher that I didn’t know how to write a poem she suggested that I read poems from famous writers such as Maya Angelou , Alice Walker and Alicia Keys . After reading and listening to all of they’re poems the one I could most relate to was Alicia Keys “ Prisoner of words”.
The poem “ Prison of words” by Alicia Keys mostly talks about being a prisoner. Not a prisoner in a cell but a prisoner of words , words she holds inside. She states that “ only a puppet mostly i say what you wanna hear” by this i believe that she is saying that she is basically questing our ability to accept the truth if it were spoken. She says that she is scraping the earth to find a piece of herself. She is searching high and low for the real her. The her that is hidden . the part that she wants everybody to see, the only problem is that part of her is trapped by words unsaid. Alicia keys compares herself to being a puppet by using figurative device metaphors . “yet only a prisoner mostly i say what you wanna hear”. This is a metaphor because it compares two or more things without like or as . the next device she uses is symbolism. In this spoken word piece the prison mentioned refers to her mind. Her unsaid words are trapped in her mind like a prisoner in a cell.They are unable to come out and be heard.
I connected with this poem more because at the time i found it very difficult to speak my mind and I allowed my excuses to guide my response. I mean everyone has been in a situation where we see something wrong ,but can’t force ourselves to say or do anything about it . Sometimes i wish i could talk to that certain someone , but i end up stopping myself . I feel imprisoned in myself by myself. Once I realized that poetry could help me understand myself more and open my mind to things I never thought of I fell in love with it and I began looking at other poets such as Pierre Alex Jeanty , Rupi Kaur and Omar Rodriguez.They mostly talk about their journeys,including mistakes they made walking into love , loss, trauma, healing, femininity and hope that other will learn from them . For me being the reader it helped me to understand that I wasn’t the only one going through these mistakes or feelings . It also helped me to view the world different .
Reflection on annotated bibliography:Spoken Word Poetry
In my annotated bibliography most of the author’s tones are mournful because of the situations they are in or because of the story they are trying to tell whether its feeling “alone” in a world where everyone needs each other or knowing the strength of your beauty or simply not being able to speak your mind truly . They mostly have an emotional appeal towards the audiences because they want to persuade the audience to connect, feel empathy and also to make a change within their own lives . Expect for two poet’s they use a reason Appeal Maya Angelou “phenomenal woman” wants her audience to believe having confidence to face the world can be a challenging task but you can do it she also wants them to know that being a woman is a blessing , it’s god’s gift to nature to protect and to balance life. Women hold the strength to do anything in this world. For the next piece “ lord is coming” by H.E.R she talks about the reality of life in all of her poems and it’s clear that she does a lot of research and knows a lot about her history in this poem she wants her audience to know that what’s going on in the world rn isn’t right . She talks about disapproving racism and how immigrants are being separated from their families. Theses type of things been going on for way too long and things needs to be a change now.
From all of the Research I did with these poems I learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to help to help someone in need of help because everyone needs someone to lean on , don’t let what’s going on in society put fear in your heart brighter days are coming , you are still capable of love you just need to believe in yourself and love yourself and last but not least if you feel like something needs to be said to speak your truth don’t hold back because your afraid someone won’t understand . speak your mind you never know what will happen. I feel like the authors did an excellent job getting their audience to feel everything they said they also did a good job persuading them to make a change because ik after reading / listening to these poems I want to make a change.
Although I worked on this assignment very hard and tried my best to understand each prom word by word. I would still want to know how to exactly make a poem . I don’t understand how some people can understand how they feel and just write it down and make it into a beautiful poem . Don’t get me wrong I love poem and I understand them but for it just hard to write down my emotions because I could barely understand them . I also wanna know more about my history I feel as though if I don’t know all of my history I will never move on in life “ Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat”- George Santayana when I read the quote it hit me hard and it made me want to teach myself more about my history.
Spoken Word Poetry : An Annotated Bibliography
Angelou Maya. “Alone” 1975.https://youtu.be/qDf88rfzqBY
The poem Alone by Maya Angelou, is written as the narrator thinks about life and its meaning. The poems speaker is lying in bed thinking and searching for answers when she realizes she has the answers.She concludes that people need each other because no one can really and truly face life alone. The theme of people needing people resonates through many of Maya Angelou’s work. Having to live through discrimination and the civil rights movement and beyond .During the early 20th centry has showed her many lifes failures and successes. The number of times Maya Angelou says the words and emphasizes ‘ Alone ,all alone /nobody,but nobody/ can make it out here alone’ shows the importance and main idea of the poem. This literacy narrative appears in the movie ‘Poetic Justice’ where it shows the theory pathos where she is convincing the audience that hard times are coming and these are the times that people need to help one another to help them through their suffering
Angelou Maya. “Phenomenal Woman” https://youtu.be/e487wXbqROk
This poem “ Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou is written to describe how women are seen in society and how she actually is. The poem clearly illustrates that no matter how a woman is , she is still noticed in a crowd femininity is a blessing in disguise. How women can stand bold and beautiful to the world in this new century. I would say the rhetorical appeal would be Logos the author wants the audience to understand that being a woman is a blessing , as that is God’s gift to nature to protect balance and nurture. The strength a woman holds can in no way be measured and how balances life and the situation that come in front of her , no matter what. She tried to persuade her audience to believe that having confidence to face the world, no matter the scenario may be the most challenging task. In this poem Maya vividly reminds the reader of the strength a beautiful woman has also radiates,energy,wisdom and belief.
H.E.R. “Lord is coming” https://youtu.be/GipRLnGBfwI
This poem “ Lord is coming” by H.E.R starts off as a spoken-word screed disapproving materialism,racism and talks about how immarnet families are being separated. As the choir dresses in all balck humming the tune she talks Police brutality drug abuse and depression and how it all goes unnoticed until someone is suicidal. The poet wants her audience to know We don’t learn from our Idols if we keep repeating the same cycle. We have the same rights as white people but do we really get the same treatment it’s a fact that they separate us from the truth but during these are the devil’s times the Lord is coming to save us free. The rhetorical theory this poem is Logos because she has details and facts to support her claim.
Jeanty Alex Pierre. Book ‘H.E.R’ published in 2012
In this book the author does not claim to be a great poet but a great observer of her. In each poem he explains the strength a woman has and the beauty. I feel like this connects well with pathos the author wants the reader to know the feelings of being loved . This is a beautiful expression of heartfelt emotion using short and gratifying sentiments.
Shakur Tupac. “I cry” –
The poem “I cry” by Tupac Shakur is written to explain that people were not really there to feel what tupac felt. He had to endure all his pain and sorrow by himself. I also feel like he talks about how the world was a very dangerous place for people of color to live due to police brutality, even though it does not clearly specify it. Tupac wants his audience to know that even though it is noticeable that he is sad and in tears , no one seems to understand what he is truly feeling. The rhetorical analysis for this poem is pathos because tupac expresses that people don’t really care about his emotions and would father focus on themselves and not the hardships that others have to endure.
Keys Alicia . P.O.W https://youtu.be/AkSObnpCimA
The poem P.O.W ( prisoner of words) written by alicia keys is describing how it feels to feel alone and feeling like you can’t say anything you want to say because you’re afraid no one would listen or even take your thoughts into consideration. She’s trapped by so many emotions and words that she doesn’t know what to do. The poet wants the audience to know People who stuffer with their emotions and feeling trapped in their minds actually want someone to help but are afraid that no one will understand them. Alicia says “ I should stop to speak but I stop and stay silent and now I’ve Made my own hard bed inside this prison of words unsaid” she expresses the difficulty she faces to be understood and to express herself. Her lack of expression has also led to her being sad, miserable and suffering. She states that her lack of words has somehow become her own doing which leads to her misery. For many, it also leads to guilt because they try not to hurt other people’s feeling but then they really aren’t trying to take individual feelings into consideration. I believe the rhetorical appeal is pathos the poet uses the metaphors ‘prison’ ‘gun’ ‘solitary confinement to persuade the audience to feel empathy and for them to connect with her.