By: Katrina Sivels
African American males are disappearing from society. There is an old saying in the black community, “Black men usually end up one of two places; jail or dead.” It is quite sad but realistic in the black community. It seems that the system is set up for African Americans, especially males, to fail. In a study from Loyola University, it was said that “As of 2001, there were nearly 20,000 more African American males incarcerated in Illinois’ state prison system than were enrolled in the state’s public universities.” More and more, African American males are dying from gang violence around the city of Chicago. It seems the old saying is becoming more true as the years go on.
But just because this is the reality of things as they stand now, does not mean that this has to be our reality. There has to be change. It has to start with the African American men that are currently in jail. Once these men are released from jail, it is unlikely for them to obtain jobs causing them to stick to a life of crime. According to an article by Bill Quigley on the counter punch website, “A study by Professor Devah Pager of the University of Wisconsin found that 17% of white job applicants with criminal records received call backs from employers while only 5% of black job applicants with criminal records received call backs.” There is a very dim outlook for these men and they have very little support. So this is my letter to these men because I care.
Dear Incarcerated Black Men,
I know that it seems like everybody is against you. You do what you have to survive. But you can achieve so much more and do so much more with your life than you are doing now. If you all fight against all that is holding you down, these will radically change and be better for our whole race. You have so much more power than you think. It is true that times are rough and you have yourself and family to take care of. But you don’t have to turn to a life of crime and killing. It brings you nothing but jail or death.
All I’m proposing is that you do better for you (and your family). I understand school is not for everyone. Then, take up a trade or start your own business. It is possible. There is dignity and pride in working a trade. Life and a job do not have to be dead end. Your life does not have to be in the streets, a life of crime, killing people, or selling drugs. It is not worth it. I urge you to think very hard on your life as it stands, all that you have done and where you are at this present time. Was all that you have done worth it? Think about your natural talents and abilities and capitalize on them.
I know you may think that nobody cares about your future or your life. But that is simply not true. I care. Everybody that wants a better community and future for our young ones cares. Our slave ancestors care. They wanted more for us. Now it’s time that you want more for yourself. We have all the opportunities that they did not have and it is time for you to utilize them. Keep your head up.
Someone Who Cares