There’s a good post up on ColorLines about the criminal justice system and the black community’s ambivalence about reform. Some support it as a “defining political issue”, but others feel differently:
Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative, says all of these efforts can be hard sells inside Black America itself. “We’re quick to respond to [cases] of driving-while-black because that also is affecting doctors and lawyers,” he says. “But there seems to be a real pressure in the African American community, in the minority community, to throw away the ‘dysfunctional,’ the ‘impoverished,’ the ‘broken’ so that the elite can feel welcomed into the mainstream with less fear and prejudgment.”
Later, there’s a mention of Reginald Dwayne Betts, former felon, now a scholar and poet. He spent nine years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in a carjacking. I did a search for some of his poetry, and found this (excerpt below, follow the link to read the whole thing):
Sometimes It’s Everything
I read this and wonder if Betts would have been designated by the elite, in his carjacking days, as one of the dysfunctional, the impoverished, the broken. I wonder about all of the others so designated. I wonder who else has been lost. And not just the would-be poets, but the normal everyday voices. I’d say they’ve disappeared, but that sort of phrasing is conveniently passive; it wasn’t an accident. We’ve disappeared them.
And we don’t miss them because they never mattered to us anyway.