Derrick Starks June 10, 2018
Kern Valley State Prison
PO Box 6000
Delano CA 93216
The 13th Amendment reads as follows, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Daze is defined in the Webster Dictionary as- “to stupefy.”
Here’s my view as a modern day 2018 slave, no longer stupefied by oppressive powers. There are multitudes of people who desperately want to believe in something, but are frequently unwilling to see the truth no matter how obvious it is. Centuries of mental programming and propaganda from societies elite leaves the majority of the population acutely hostile to the truth. They’re quick to turn their venomous antagonism on whomever points the truth out to them. Instead of needing truth, they choose to believe the lies they’re programmed to believe. But as I found out the hard way, reality doesn’t indulge wishes. Reality hits hard and doesn’t discriminate between race, gender, or age.
So here’s reality.-Reality is that this nation was formed, built, and is still sustained on the oppression, degradation, humiliation, eradication and suppression of people of color and indigenous people of this land and throughout the world. This is my reality. This is my truth as a modern day 2018 slave, intergenerational trauma is a real thing. I can attest to it. Being born in the deep south. The Bayou’s of Louisiana down the road from a real plantation. I experienced racism and discrimination at a very early age. I’ve seen the elders in my family react submissively when confronted with racism. I was taught and shown that this is how the world works and this is the way to succeed in life, by submission to authority. This was during the 1980s. We lived in extreme poverty and it didn’t make sense to me, even at a very young age. I guess it didn’t make sense to my mother either. That’s why she escaped that life and moved to Los Angeles and took me with her against the wishes of the family.
I could only imagine the culture shock, moving from the backwoods bayou to South Central Los Angeles in the 80s. The city was at the apex of the crack era. I grew up experiencing and witnessing the most outrageous things. Talk about being in a daze. Stupefied is a correct analysis of my state of mind growing up. Sometimes I wonder if I ever had a chance? Who was I to talk to about my problems? Everyone around me seemed to have other personal issues they were dealing with. Almost every teacher I’ve had showed zero interest in my development. Except my 3rd grade teacher Miss Sterling who sparked my continued fascination in science. Who was there to offer guidance? Who was there to counsel me through the traumatic experiences of my childhood? There are countless children and families in similar situations. But culturally, people of color living in urban or rural poverty don’t seek mental health assistance. There’s little access to mental health, mainly due to financial limitations. There are no psychologists at our schools. Therapy is stigmatized amongst the community unfortunately. Something must be wrong with us, or we must be crazy if we’re in therapy. So we’re taught to suppress the trauma we experience on a daily basis. So not much has changed throughout the generations.
Even from slavery days, we continue to remain in a slavery daze. As slaves we were to provide free labor to the upper class and government. We were sold and traded like any other commodity. Our children were routinely conceived as a result of forced sexual abuse with both male slaves and white slave masters. Our families were created being torn apart. That trauma has been passed down from generation to generation. The forces that created that trauma has evolved and still perpetrates it in modern society. Modern day slaves still provide free labor for the government. The prison industry trades stocks on the market to be bought or sold and the commodities are the prisoners which bring profits to the industry. The slave owners needed slaves for their industry to thrive. The prison industry need prisoner in order to thrive. Slaves were cultivated from birth. Modern day slaves are cultivated from birth.
Raised in an environment where the idols we look up to come in the form of degrading caricatures that masquerade as the best of us, when in actuality, they are the worst of our culture put forward. I grew up surrounded by images of actors and rappers glorifying gangbanging and drug dealing. You were considered soft if you didn’t disrespect and degrade women. Laws and authority figures are to be defied and disobeyed. All of this compounded with stress and growing up in a dangerous environment causes a state of mind being rooted in dissatisfaction with yourself. It’s embedded deep within our subconscious. Throughout our actions growing up, we are unaware of the way we outwardly manifest our mind state.
The truth is, our society cultivates slaves. Our society proliferates the destruction of our communities in order to actively keep us mentally and physically enslaved. The truth is, our population remains willfully ignorant. While others remain willfully indifferent. While crime is a part of civilization, having a segment that only represents 12.4% of the total population. Representing almost half of the total prison population and the prison population being the highest in the world, shows that continued use of slave labor to fuel this country’s economy.
The enslavement of our people of color will continue to evolve and expand until we fix the 13th Amendment. Until we fix our education system. Until we fix our mental health system. Until we open our eyes and accept reality for what it actually is. The truth is we’ll remain in a slavery daze.
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