Warning Signs of Danger Ahead
As some of us wring our collective hands and warn of what appears to be the establishment of an autocracy, a Third Reich-type dictatorship under Donald Trump here in America, what we are failing to comprehend is that some of our fellow citizens actually want the country to move in the direction of a totalitarian state.
These are folks — our fellow citizens, mind you — that are willing to give up their essential right to liberty for the vague promise of safety and control: control of our borders, control of adherents of minority religions, and control of dissent by anyone who is not a straight, white, right-wing male. And these folks lie through their teeth and steadfastly maintain that we progressives are getting all bent out of shape over nothing.
The closest political construct we’ve ever had to totalitarianism in this country is slavery, where some Americans exercised total domination over other Americans … and this was accomplished by creating the myth that these “others” were not Americans at all, and indeed, in the minds of some, were not even humans. While we won’t go back to that ugly time, in point of fact, we are on the path to a creating a form of government that will give one group hegemony over all others in point of principle.
And the only way to stop this juggernaut in its tracks is for the Republicans in Congress to strap their nuts on and stand up to this bully like true Americans. But that’s the scary part … by all appearances up to this point they are not willing to do so, electing to quake in their boots instead. What kind of patriots are these?
The Myth of Failed Reentry
I’ve worked in the field of prisoner reentry for over a decade now, and I’m here to tell you that, for the most part, the alarming stories you hear of how people exiting prison can’t find gainful employment are just that: Alarming stories. For the most part they are simply myths, urban legends.
Now these stories might have had some validity at some point in the past, and to some degree they are still true today. But for the most part the failure to secure employment lies with the returning citizen, not the uncaring society we hear so much about. Certainly some barriers to employment still exist, and many of them are grossly unfair; but unfair barriers have always existed for virtually all persons of color.
But too many young men return home from serving, say, three or fours years in prison, and they still don’t have their GED. How the hell does that happen? Did they spend all of their time shooting hoops and playing Spades? I know all of the stories they tell about how crowded the classes were, or how much the “teacher didn’t like them” … but these are simply bullshit excuses. Too many of these dudes come out of prison thinking they are owed something by society simply because they were incarcerated. Uh, not true.
In many cases they didn’t prepare for the future while they were incarcerated, and still don’t care to do so after their release. How do I know this? Because, like I said earlier, I work with this demographic on a daily basis and it doesn’t take me but a few days to determine which one of these returnees is going to succeed, and which one is going to wind up on their momma’s couch watching soap operas, or back in the joint staring up at the fly shit on the ceiling of the cell. How flies manage to do this is one of the great mysteries of prison life.
I know dudes that have been home three or four years now and are married, raising families, driving new cars, voting, and are working, taxpaying citizens. Hell, most convicts come out of prison with something we all would die for: An excellent credit score.
The ones that just don’t get it need to go back to the joint until they get rid of their “stinkin’ thinkin’. When they’re ready to come out here and man up, there are some men — like me — who are willing to help them … but we don’t do “hug-a-thug” and we ain’t got no holla for dudes who don’t want to grow up. Damn, I’m glad I finally got that out of my system.
From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com