I posted this to Facebook just now, thinking that it has little to do with Children’s or YA literature so the paragraphs do not belong on this blog. However, when I consider the reason for We Need Diverse Books movement and the imagery of young black males portrayed in some “gritty” modern teen novels, I found myself compelled to post my facebook update here as well:
Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” for status update. What’s been on my mind so much lately (because I’m listening to Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow) is the INjustice in our Criminal Justice system. Looking to verify some of the scenarios she cites in her book, I looked up the current prison fact sheet and found this (and other facts) on the NAACP site:
Drug Sentencing Disparities
- About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
- 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
- African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
- African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)
What I now realize is that — these African American prison inmates do not just serve time and endure unfair punishment, they also lose many of their civil rights: including the basic right to vote to change the societal bondage of such unfair conditions.
We need to be aware and demand and SEE change in our Criminal Justice system and not allow the local and federal governments to keep funnel precious resources and huge amount of money into maintaining a penal system that does nothing to improve our society for all (building more prisons instead of training teachers and supporting education, for example!)