I often wonder how differently

Ingram, Shariff



In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the bestower of mercy. All praise is due to Allah, prayers & peace be upon the messenger of Allah. As for what follows... Aug. 16, 2017 I often wonder how differently many view the world we live in today. Those in here from one inside looking out, verses those who are out there caught up in the many different struggles in life. I heard someone tell a guard the other day, a white man "yall enslaved us. And yall continue to enslave us." The guard stated "you in prison for committing a crime & you claim this is slavery"? If only it was that simple. When you study the history of this country where we went threw 3 stages, slavery for over 200 years, racial segregation - jim crow - for over another 100 years, and then reconstruction. However black America has never rebuilt itself since being enslaved, and white America tries everything in their power to prevent the rebuilding of black society. After slavery, we still were enslaved really. We were free to go, but go where? We had no land, no money. Go back to Africa? That was not that simple either. We owned no ships, nothing! So the slave owners kept us enslaved by "paying us" to work the same land that we were forced to while enslaved. However we own no equipment, no tools, so what did they do? They "loaned" us this equipment that we needed to work on their land, and we had to pay it back from the money we made. Simple right? Not so. See they kept us in debt so that we never seen a dime! What ever money we "made" it went to them for our debt. So they found another way to keep us enslaved, even after slavery was made illegal. They have always found ways to keep us enslaved by labeling it something else. They adapt to the times and always find a way to modernize it. When you look to the reconstruction period, which we still are currently in, after going threw slavery, jim crow, black people found wealth threw the under world. The Italian mob bosses, many who early on did not want drugs in their community, had no problem putting it in the black communities "let them kill each other" was their motto. During this early period, the prison population began to grow in the south (remember the first prison in America was right there in Philadelphia "Eastern State Penitentiary" which was built in the 1800's), while the prison population in the northern states remained low. Why is this? Many of the blacks were in the south still, and after slavery white America looked to the prison system as another way to oppress, enslave, and keep black America from ever truly escaping the chains of slavery. Instead of being shipped on boats or ships in chains & shackles, we were now being transported to different prisons in chains & shackles. A slave ship on dry land! So then, many blacks started hearing about there being more opportunities for blacks up north. They, we, "free" up there. So many blacks began migrating to places like PA., NY., ect. Looking for better opportunities. Hoping to finally escape the chains of slavery. Make a better way for their family, their children. When white America seen this, the prison population in the north then began to explode as well. In the 80's, crack hit. White America initially paid it no mind, until young white girls began to get hooked on it. It began to reach their communities, their children. At the time President Reagan seen this as an opportunity to again use crack to attack, enslave, and oppress the black communities. Though many white people were using crack, selling crack, he placed his focus on the black community. So he had to come up with a plan on how to get this war on drugs started. So he came up with a plan. He had the FBI set up a sting. They contacted a local black drug dealer. They wanted to purchase two kilos of cocaine. The dealer agreed. They said to meet them in Lafayette Park. He ask "where is Lafayette Park"? They stated across the street from the White House. He said ok, "where is the White House"? This stuff is on tape, recorded, documented & exposed to the world later. So they gave the dealer the directions, he came with the two kilo's & they locked him up. Right after President Reagan held a news conference, in front of him sat two kilos of cocaine on the table. He stated that the crack cocaine problem has become such a problem in our society that people are selling crack across the street from the White House. The war on drugs were then declared. Even his wife, Nancy Regan, you find pictures & videos of her riding shot gun with local police in California on what they called the "The Bater Ram" they would drive straight threw your home & rip the wall out your house. Kicking your door down during a raid was no longer sufficient. When you look to this era in the 1980's, the prison population across the country was around 500,000. In PA., there were only 7 state penitentiaries. 7. Today, there are around 2 million in prisons & jails across this country, Pennsylvania has about 27 or 28 state prisons, with a combined population of over 50,000. About 200 Female Lifers, another 7,000 male lifers, with a very distinct group amongst them "child lifers". PA. has over 500 Juvenile Lifers, those who committed crimes as children. This is more than any where in the world! Inside this country or outside. I am one of these child lifers. Having been confined in almost half of the prisons in this state over the past 20 years. I was only 15 years old at the time of my crime. I was among the many who got caught up in the "crack era" not truly understanding at the time what exactly I was getting involved in. Drugs have ruined the black community in many of the same ways that slavery has. It has taken children away from their mothers, fathers away from their children. Deprived many black women of a husband, a father to help raise her children. Many have killed or been killed, all casualties of the crack cocaine era. The C.I.A. allow drugs to be flown into this country. They allow it in the black communities, as has been proven by senators such as Maxine Walters & others. The sentencing ratio for crack cocaine to powder cocaine were enhanced 100 to 1! Why? Because the war on drugs was focused on crack cocaine, and the focus was on urban black areas. So more blacks were getting arrested for crack cocaine. Low level dealing could get you more time than if you got caught with a kilo of pure cocaine. Even though studies have shown the number of white people who use crack cocaine, to be higher than blacks back then. The Obama administration changed this racist 100 to 1 ratio, however it still remains high around 30 to 1 now. With the rise of prisons there has increased the number of cheap, slave like wages of prisoners. When I came to prison in 1998 we were paid .19 an hour. Today in 2017? Still .19 an hour! The most you can make threw raises and if you promise to be a "good boy" is .42. That is top pay in prison! Prisoners make everything from the uniforms we wear, furniture, T-shirts, boxers, socks, soap, even license plates. Nowhere else would these slave like wages be acceptable. However when slavery was abolished in the constitution, it made an exception: "Except those convicted of a crime and sent to prison." So this statement that was made to the guard the other day, is not as strange as he makes it to be. Along with the cheap labor, these prisons are built in rural areas. Counties & townships I never heard of until I was confined there. Rural white America benefits every time a prison is built in their communities. It provides the type of jobs & benefits like no other place around. Doctors, nurses, kitchen steward, maintenance workers for plumbing, electrical, H.V.A.C., carpentry, the shops. All that. And don't forget those who benefit the most, the guards who run the prisons. No education is required, no real training, many who are psychologically not fit to work here yet find jobs here any way. Some brag about making $100,000 or more from overtime. For a person who finds himself incarcerated under their care, you will find they do everything they can to break you physically, mentally. Try to destroy your mind. Snatch away your sanity. Your dignity. Self worth as a man. You are treated as though you are less than human. Abused verbally, physically. So either you become the wolf or the sheep. Either you bow down & submit, or you resist & rise up. You choose to resist, they have other tactics. Isolation, solitary confinement, the hole. Where they treat you even worst. May not feed you, allow you to shower, ect. Prison has become a business. How else can you explain "private prisons" who before they open up one in a state, the state has to agree to keep the prison 96-98% filled! How can you guarantee this? By placing more & more black & brown people in prison. Then you have the million dollar companies who have become rich off of all of this. Companies like Keefe who supply commissary to prisons all across America. From Texas to PA & in between. Companies like GTL, Securus, who provide phone services to around 90% of all prisons & county jails threw out this country. I first came to prison it cost $15.00 to place a 15 min. phone call to my mother! $15.00! Then it went down to $5.35 per call. Now after years of fighting, we got in down to .06 per min. A little over .90 per call. However many states are still being charged $8.00 - $10.00 - $12.00 a call to call their love ones. Even at .6 per minute, the company we have "Securus" they only pay 1/3 of a penny for each min. they charge us .06 for! So for every penny they pay, they making .18. That's an 1800% profit off each min.!!! Check out "Explorer" on National Geographic & their investigation into this company. So slavery has not ended, different tactics are just being employed. They are finding more ways to incarcerate the poor, mainly black & brown people. And for longer periods of time. The focus is not on deterring crime, nor rehabilitation. That is not the desire. If a person is able to find some rehabilitation, he has beat the odds. And it is something you have to do despite those odds, and despite the lack of help. Instead of help, there will be every attempt made to circumvent your efforts & destroy your mind so that if you do leave here, they hope you come back so they can continue to get rich off you. So black America, have a lot to be angry for. However I've learned you can't allow that anger to consume you. Malcolm X said it best "Black people can never be blamed for their racial animosity towards white America. They are only reacting to almost 400 years of racial animosity from white America." The sooner this is understood, the better off we will be as a society. I thought of all of this upon reading the article I have enclosed, which I hope you will add to your website along with my letter. I must say before closing, in all fairness there are some great people within white America. One who I have always respected, and who showed me that not all while people are racist and oppressors, was the late "Robert Kennedy". I was not born when he was around, but I have read enough about him, heard enough of his talks, and watched enough documentaries about him to believe he was sincere in his efforts to help solve the racism and oppression that continues to consume black America. He was killed because of his efforts to help the advancement of black people. When I see young white kids marching with "black lives matter" protesters, I am hopeful. However I can not understand how in 2017 we can live in a society that would vote to elect Donald Trump as president. Racist groups have become emboldened, and he seems to enjoy their support. If a Muslim commits a violent act, even if he attempts to & and is not successful, he's a terrorist of the highest degree. However a white man who is not Muslim kills someone in an act of terrorism, he is hesitant to label it as such. The only thing that I believe will ever truly unite both black, brown & white America, and truly make this country great, is to understand who our creator is. That we were all created by the same God, and no person is deemed better than the next just based on the color of our skin. Not until we come to understand this, and unite upon this, will we ever truly be a great nation. Greatness is exemplified by more than just wealth & title. This is not true greatness, Shariff Ingram

Author: Ingram, Shariff

Author Location: Pennsylvania

Date: November 8, 2017

Genre: Essay

Extent: 8 pages

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