A prisoner speaks. Are we listening?

By Reade Brower | Oct 15, 2020

Let me introduce Mathiew Loisel; he might help us (especially the white privileged males, like myself, in our community) understand that skin color matters.

Citizens of our society are highly influenced by what economic class they are born into when it comes to determining whether they get a fair chance at the American Dream. Even with improvements, it is fair to say that poverty and access to education, on average, are not at the same standards for non-white families.

Being born poor or with non-Caucasian skin does not put you out of the race, but it does put you behind. It is tone-deaf to think that “all lives” matter (they do) because it ignores the reality of life in the USA.

Below, Loisel shares a story white male men cannot completely understand because we haven’t lived it. Some think the Black community needs to responsible in solving their own problems in their neighborhoods. That notion ignores the systemic problems that Loisel speaks to below.

Loisel is an inmate at Maine State Prison; he is doing everything he can to use his time there productively to educate himself and become a better person,one who can actively engage in a society where he started out behind most of his peers.

*****

'A History of Violence'

By Mathiew Loisel

A couple of months ago, Americans looked on in horror as a white police officer kept his knee on an already subdued Black man’s neck for nine minutes. Despite George Floyd telling the officer he was unable to breathe, the officer kept his knee on his helpless neck. Ultimately, George Floyd died senselessly; he is another victim among countless others who died at the hands of state-sanctioned violence. Some readers might not like this term, but it does not change the fact that it is what it is.

For the last 30 years, the federal government has given billions of dollars to state, local, and county police departments in the form of tactical, military style weapons, vehicles, and other equipment. Many law-enforcement officers have received specialized training from military instructors, and many are ex-military themselves. In the last 30 years, we have seen bills like the Truth in Sentencing Act, and the Violent Crime and Control and Law Enforcement Act, which introduced 100,000 new officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons, and eliminated the ability of incarcerated citizens to receive Pell Grants and federal funding for college.

In sum, both in terms of social policy and the effects on our communities, both these bills are public policy disasters. Despite increasing the police force, the prison population has continued to rise, mistrust of police is rampant, and despite being 12% of the U.S. population, Blacks and Hispanics constitute 63% of those in jail. Part of the problem is police officers have been given tactical weapons and are trained to view non-white citizens as potential enemies and armed combatants.

America has traditionally viewed blackness as a threat, specifically the Black man, with officers often going into their communities projecting a perceived notion of blackness.

What many Americans fail to realize is that historically it has been a crime and sin to be black in America. For too many years, Blacks have demanded their civil and human rights, only to be met with concessions and tokenism. Since the days of slavery, Black families have had to endure constant violation of their bodies, constant burying of their youth, lynching of innocent young men and women, living with psychological horror that is their blackness, and nothing else — thus the reason for their unjustifiable suffrage.

Single Black mothers, who have husbands, brothers, nephews, sisters, nieces, et cetera, have cried in the middle of streets as another Black man is killed by police. Every time a young Black man or woman dies this way, the Black community is reminded of their blackness.

They are reminded that for 350 years they have encountered institutional and systematic racism; they are reminded of the white bodies that mutilated their skin. They are reminded of the physical chains that were replaced by economic ones. They are reminded of the little girls and boys who lost their lives in churches blown up by American terrorists (Ku Klux Klan) and they are reminded of the lives that languish in prison cells because they live in a society where many whites sleep better at night knowing there is one more Black man or woman off the streets.

The death of George Floyd is not about a single person for the Black community. George Floyd’s body — his blackness — is a symbol of a history of violence against a people deemed to be inferior and undeserving of life. Each new Black body lying in the street resurrects this history of violence for the Black community.

*****

“If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed, and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.” — George D. Aiken, U.S. Senator (1892-1984)

 

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 16, 2020 06:10

Thankful for having the opportunity to see people grow when fertilized with just a small bit of TLC. We all need that don't we? I know I do.  

Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” King James Version (KJV)



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