Lack of communication. Silence. Passivity. by Bianca Pierson “We hold the burden of proving our humanity.” In talking with a woman who was formerly in prison, she told me the […]
Lack of communication. Silence. Passivity. by Bianca Pierson
“We hold the burden of proving our humanity.” In talking with a woman who was formerly in prison, she told me the gravity of her situation as a returning citizen. The weight of this realization hit me as I was surrounded in a room full of art work created by incarcerated persons. On an Alternative Spring Break trip from Case Western Reserve University focused on the issue of mass incarceration, I found myself encountering strength and wisdom in the unlikeliest of places.
Almost every human that enters a correctional facility leaves altered, broken, and ill-equipped to be a thriving member of society. The obstacles to success begin before detainment and carry well beyond their release. They are stripped of their humanity and rewritten as statistics, and everything else less than human, to maintain a corrupt system. The root of it all?
Lack of communication. Silence. Passivity.
In this day and age, social justice has become a partisan issue. Where there might have been discussion and debate before, there is much more ignorance and denial instead. Mass incarceration is taboo, and as a result, so are any hopes of brainstorming possible sustainable solutions. The lack of purposeful dialogue around the plague of injustice and oppression of various minorities in our country is inexcusable. Yes, there are more people talking and protesting, but we need to engage more of the experienced and the diverse.
How many returning citizens can find a space to bravely share their story and how they became successful after their time in prison? Not enough to dispel the stereotypes that anyone who has spent time in such a facility is undoubtedly fated to become another recidivism statistic. How many youth and young adults are given the platform to voice their concerns and ideas for change? Not enough to connect the youth of every crime-ridden city to the resources and role models that will plug the school to prison pipeline and pave a road to change. How many people in prison have been given the education and rights to discuss their situation and find proven therapeutic and corrective measures? Not enough to lead to legal reform in the mass incarceration system that would open its arms to restorative justice and dignified assistance to those that need it.
While it is always easier to point out the issues in a society, fortunately there are people and organizations that work to reshape those. My time in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the Prison Creative Arts Project on spring break allowed me to see the perspectives and assets of people in prison by providing them with creative outlets to grow. I have also had the pleasure of immersing myself in the commitment of EYEJ to empower youth and community members through the Discussion Series programs in Cleveland. The dialogue explores social justice topics and allows for youth to grow socially and emotionally. EYEJ is dedicated to dispelling myths and fighting for justice in our country… are you? Check out eyej.org to learn more about how you can be a part of the discussion.
Social Justice is our goal. The conversation starts with everyone.
EYEJ Corporate Intern
Case Western Reserve University Student