Today is the last day of my 30 Day Poetry Challenge! I can’t believe I am done. Today I am in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Children’s Defense Fund National Conference
which is convening thousands of child advocates, faith leaders, Social Workers, community organizers and activist to build a movement to protect children in our country. This morning at 6:00am young leaders convened outside the convention center for a time of silent reflection on African-Americans, especially young men in the prison system. What many may not know is that the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world and it is overwhelming inhabited Black men. Author Michelle Alexander calls this phenomena the New Jim because many of these men were led to prison due to economic and racial circumstances. After getting out of prison most ex-offenders lose voting rights and can’t get jobs which means they are basically a separate class. The poem below was inspired by poems I read this morning that were written by young people in prison, their poems touched me and reminded me that I was born and raised in one of the 12 communities in NYC that sends the most people in the state to prison. To read my poetic reflection:
My name is 40892-422.
I am three-fifths of a man.
A post racial society is also a post truth.
Men missing; we are living in wartime.
The war on drugs is a new way
to make slavery last one more day.
Trips Upstate he’ll be gone to
November and November and another
Missing sons, invisible husbands and
A society that is painfully separate and
Children born into captivity for captivity.
Schools built by the same hands that
build prisons, a cruel coincidence.
A cheap labor force is needed to
vampire communities, feeding blood to
a system that won’t die but mutates
A Queen sits alone waiting for a King
who won’t come home because he is
locked in a tower that we won’t see.
My name is 40772-422.
My name is 50331-437.
I am a corporate commodity wearing
I am a sharecropper on a global
plantation and this reality is the
New Jim Crow.
- Marian Wright Edelman: Ending the Cradle to Prison PipelineTM and Mass Incarceration — the New American Jim Crow (huffingtonpost.com)
- End the Prison-Industrial Complex, Now! (counterpunch.org)
- “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” [Paperback] By Michelle Alexander | t r u t h o u t | Members (aboriginalpress.wordpress.com)