The Adverse Effects of Mass Incarceration and Fatalities on Black Families and Communities

The families of victims are often overlooked when examining the financial, emotional and psychological damage of pervasive incarceration and fatalities on Black families and their community. Seldom do reports look at the overall cost and long-term damage.

#Blackfamilies #Blackcommunities #racism #psychologicaldamage #massincarceration #Blackfatality

Mom of man killed in Hoover mall shooting hospitalized after collapsing during Birmingham town hall

The Tragic Death of Sandra Parks

Sandra Parks (13) Killed by a stay bullet in her home

My heart goes out the family of this young girl. Sadly, this story is one of the countless others taking place all over the country. Soon her short life will become part of the landscape of the numerous Black lives lost to the senseless violence that has become routine in many segregated, predominantly Black communities. Her story like so many others will get little attention before fading away. What is certain is that there will be many more Sandra Parks. In her award-winning essay, parks only 13 years old wrote about the crime in her neighborhood only to be shot dead in her room. Parks wrote: 
“Little children are victims of senseless gun violence,” she wrote. ” … I sit back, and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. When I do; I come to the same conclusion … we are in a state of chaos.”

If Parks’ essay wasn’t a plea for closer examination and adequate address of the existing violence through a macro level lens to understand the root cause of the problem and come up with a viable, sustainable solution, what will it take? Extensive research has identified several contributing factors to high crime neighborhoods including but not limited to the fact that these incidents occur disparately in predominantly segregated Black neighborhoods lacking the necessary resources to address community needs. The high poverty rate is a result of unemployment, underemployment and shattered family structures in which one or both parents may be incarcerated, on drugs and have succumbed to other hardships.

The version of the story that America would have us believe is that hopelessness, lack of ambition, laziness, and criminal behavior to name a few are inherent qualities of Black people and that the victims choose the oppressive conditions in which they live. But that’s just the story used to deflect responsibility from those responsible for creating the problem. The fact is enduring systemic structures around racism has segregated and trapped many in the harsh conditions that do not provide the resources for many to escape. This same system is responsible for the mass incarceration and senseless killings of countless Black men that leaves many Black women without husbands and children without fathers. Racism is a factor as to why upward of 68 percent of households are headed by Black women many of whom work multiple jobs and still do not make a livable income – leaving their children to raised by the streets.

In Notes of a Native Son (1995) James Baldwin wrote, “I don’t think the negro problem can be discussed coherently without bearing in mind its context; its context being the history, traditions, customs, the moral assumptions and preoccupations of the country; in short, the general social fabric. Appearances to the contrary, no one in America escapes its effects, and everyone in America bears some responsibility for it.”

It cannot be said often enough that if we are to address the issues that exist in the Black communities adequately, we must first understand the formulation of the problems from a macro-level perspective. And to do so, our systemic structures must be scrutinized and ultimately dismantled. Ms. Parks life and death is a symptom of a more significant problem. As a society, we must identify the elephant in the room – and demand accountability.

Reference: 
Williams, Walter (2014) Black female head of households number is 68 percent
Baldwin, James (1995) Notes of a Native Son

Education: Unlearning Racial Biases

The article, Unreasonable Fear Blocks Our View of Black Humanity Natalie Moore (2018) presents a poignant view that embodies the harsh realities of how starkly devalued Black people remains in life and death. Time and again we see how deftly a Black man’s innocence can be distorted into one that paints him as the perpetual flawed character prone to criminality – one deserving of the brutality committed against him. Indeed, if there is no outward reason that one can use to justify his abuse – something will materialize. Whether it is the blunt that he was caught smoking in high school or a minor brush with the law at some point in his life – the story of him as a flawed character becomes a justification for his demise. The fact that he was unlawfully gunned down, arrested, beaten, convicted and a plethora of other abuses that many Blacks encounter on a routine basis becomes the background story.

The distorted narratives are influential contributions in desensitizing barbaric acts against Blacks on several fronts. For one, they invoke the dehumanizing ideologies that already exists. As such it is not difficult to convince many that Black men/ women and other minority groups deserve the cruelty they receive and are guilty of the crimes for which they have been accused no matter evidence to the contrary.

It is essential that history, as it happened, is taught across disciplines (in classrooms, homes, organizations, government.) Racism is a sickness stitched in the fabrics, cracks, and crevices of our psyches. It is imperative that as a nation, we unlearn all that history has taught us about ourselves and each other. Education is crucial in this regard. If we do not know ourselves – how can we know others?

Unreasonable Fear Blocks Our View of Black Humanity

The Masculinization of Black Women

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GQ cover placed “woman” in quotation mark on its cover featuring Serena Williams as Woman of the Year. With the barrage of racist, sexist criticism of her appearance as masculine, it is baffling that GQ’s editorial team did not find this problematic. Or did they? The publication is undoubtedly getting a lot of attention.
The backlash is not surprising. The stereotypical manlike association is an enduring and pervasive assault on many Black women’s image that dates back to the antebellum period. Placing ‘woman’ in quotation mark about a Black woman/ group subjected to a plethora of criticism about our womanhood, can and should be perceived as an overt microaggression. These actions cannot be downplayed as ‘someone who uses quotation marks in his work about an issue that has serious adverse psychological and emotional effect on individuals and target groups.

Serena Williams named GQ Woman of the Year

Mystery at 100 Forest Pl. Apt. 1305

100 Forest Place apt. 1305 city removed

I do not now live, nor have I lived at 100 Forest Place. Apt. 1305 since December 30, 2018. However, per my request for an early lease termination, I officially moved out and turned in the keys on April 4th 2018. I repeat…

In the last month – I find myself having to explain several times over that I do not live at 100 Forest Place. Apt. 1305 – forcing me to explain my very short marriage and divorce that started and ended in an apartment on the the 13th floor.

Things took a mysterious turn when my PhD. diploma was mailed to 100 Forest Place Apt. 1305. and a month later it was still not delivered. I filed a report with the post office. The first person with whom I spoke first verified that I had a Change of Address (COA) form was on file and informed me that the carrier would be notified to keep watch for my diploma. In the meantime, I picked up a copy from the university – but was concerned that the mailed copy was still out there. It wasn’t the first time that my mail had gone missing. It was happening when I lived at 100 Forest Place. Apt. 1305.

I received an email response from the post office regarding the report I filed on my lost diploma. The email stated that a Change of Address (COA) form could not be located in the system – which was odd because the post office have been forwarding mail to my new address for months. I called and spoke with the person who sent the email. He said that it was sent in error and that my COA form was in the system. I asked him to send me an email confirmation. He refused.

I reported the incident again and requested that a copy of the COA form be provide to me. A second postal worker sent me an email that a ‘forward was on file for me until 2019’ and asked if I could submit another form. A forward of what? I responded to her vague email specifically detailing that she provide me with information of the change of address form that I submitted on April 4, 2018. She responded that she ‘could not see the form in their system.’ I emailed her a copy of the ‘official Change of Address confirmation letter’ that I received from the post office when I moved out of 100 Forest Place. Apt. 1305 – coffee stains and all. I also requested a formal investigation into the matter to determine what the hell is going on.

Many people I know would not have moved into an apartment on the 13th Floor. But being of a free-spirited, nature-loving, adventurous kind – I cared more about the breath-taking view of the Chicago city skyline and watching the sunrise that would most mornings, paint the sky in the most pristine blend of colors. In Spring of 2016, I gave up my suburban apartment – my absolute freedom and independence from poor relationship decisions that had adversely impacted my life for many years. I moved into 100 Forest Place. Apt. 1305 high-rise with my new boyfriend. I thought that what we had was love. We marry in April of 2017 and by December 30th of that same year, life in apt. 1305 had turned into a grim and terrifying reality. I packed a bag and left. That was the last time I called Apt. 1305 home – and that was the last time I saw my now, ex-husband. I gave notice to terminate our lease early and filed for divorce. By end of March 2018, I moved into a new apartment on a street named, Pleasant (that turned out to be everything but) and on April 4th, I surrendered my keys and concluded life in Apt. 1305 – or so I thought. I am still not a superstitious person – but I doubt that I will ever move into another 13th floor apartment.

White Privilege and Black Struggles

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In a discussion in which I argued that racial discrimination is preserved and perpetuated in the cultivation of societal patriarchy – one opposing argument made by a white person is that too much emphasis is placed on race. “Everyone experience struggles in their lives. All lives matter,” she said.

The response is not uncommon among whites who take offense when Blacks speak against racism, challenge racial biases and assert their ethnic value. That Blacks – in demanding fair treatment, dignity and respect is perceived as an attack on white people’s value is perplexing. Blacks have been fighting against a white ideology of superiority throughout history, yet nowhere is it documented -past or present – that Blacks have argued for a position of superiority over whites.

One cannot help but wonder when confronted with these surface-level responses just how vast is our disconnect that many whites do not understand why Blacks fight against racial injustice? And are we even talking about the same struggles?  It is hard to conceive that one can remain ignorant in a climate so thick with racial discord. But conceptually speaking, can whites truly relate to the intersectional factors around race, sex, and class issues with which Blacks struggle? How many whites have ever ventured far enough outside the safe space that white privilege allows them to conceive of a reality in which Black boys and men are gunned in droves like animals – or locked away behind bars – sometimes-  for years for the same infraction for which a white man will walk free? Can whites whose world of privilege protect them from having a life in which their children do not have access to decent education understand the scant resources available to many inner-city Black kids?  Or being confined on a large scale in neighborhoods that are stripped of resources that are crucial to improving their lives – trapping them in a perpetual state of oppression one generation after the next?

The disconnect is real and it is vast. One can argue that while many whites will claim that they are not racist – few will acknowledge that their whiteness has for generations provided them with privileges that many Blacks cannot conceive. Understanding this element is essential in the way researchers, scholars and race theorists approach addressing  racism. To move forward as an equal and just society requires a collective mindset that we are strengthened by our diversity – that all men, women, and nationalities no matter their ethnic background deserve equal rights, justice, opportunities and fair representation. Fundamentally, what fraction of whites are willing to acknowledge that their white skin has provided them with privileges that many Blacks are denied? And what fraction of that group cares enough about the collective advancement to venture out of their safe space and get involved in bridging the vast racial divide?

There is profound hope that a large enough segment of the white population does care – and there is profound hope that those individuals will begin to ask questions that will allow for a more expansive and inclusive discourse. But there will also be – as James Baldwin alludes in his work –  those who will choose and will insist on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead.

But as a starkly under-represented group – Blacks must continue to invest in advancing the population. And no – white and Blacks do not face the same struggles particularly around socio-economic, race, class, sex and gender issues.

 

 

Achievement

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Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. wasn’t a difficult decision. I consider myself a student of life. In every situation, be it personal, professional, social and otherwise – I commit to learn and grow into the person that I desire – and so that I may acquire the credentials, expertise and insights necessary to help others live their highest potential.

On Monday, May 7th, I successfully defended my dissertation and earned the title, Dr. Patricia Luckoo, Ph.D. My dissertation, “Deconstructing Negative Stereotypes, Myths and Microaggressions: Reconstructing Black Women’s NARRATIVE, Identity and the Empowering Nature of Ethnic Identity” explores enduring intersectional challenges with racial discrimination that remain a significant aspect of many Black women’s everyday experience. The research argues that a strong ethnic identity in self and group membership serves as a buffer against microaggressions.

Even though my study focuses on Black women, all are welcome to join the discussion irrespective of their ethnicity. A better understanding of each other is essential to our collective growth.

“I think the more we know the better we are. I mean not just facts. The more we know about each other, the closer we are to learn something about ourselves.”  -Maya Angelou-

The Motive

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Writing about my experience with cyber-crime and what might have been an attempt at identity theft – has been a strange experience. I was focused on my dissertation being destroyed because that was such a traumatic experience. But the real question is why? I learned a long time ago that if we ask enough why’s eventually, we’ll get to the source of any issue. And as more pieces of the puzzle comes into view, I am beginning to think that the motive behind this cyber attack was far more complex than I had originally thought. And now, I’m left to ponder, how does one prepare for the unknown? This question takes me to a fundamental commitment that I made to myself a long time ago – that in this life, I will have a say in how my life story is written. There may be different versions, but one will be mine.

When I packed my bags on New year’s day and left 100 Forest Place, 13th-floor apartment – where the Chicago city skyline marks the backdrop of life that until December 30th I still shared with my husband, KB (aka) Leo – the need to get a bird’s eye view perspective of my life felt critical. I had spent the last three years working full time while enrolled in an accelerated PhD. program. And it was clear that I had stopped paying attention to areas of my life necessary to maintain the level of independence and self-efficacy that I implemented as a young divorcee.

I hadn’t seen my friends in years; leisure was non-existent, I worked and even studied through time with my boys. Leo was long retired and had all the time in the world to do whatever he wanted. Still…because of specific conditions that existed – it was a relationship that needed far more time, attention and professional expertise than I could provide. I did the best I could trying to manage an impossible situation. After a few days away, far enough to examine our lives – I saw my marriage through lens that forced me to accept that I was not qualified to deal with my husband’s mental illness. It took me longer than it should to come to that conclusion- but that’s because I was not paying attention. But leaving changed that. A closer look at my husband led me to lies, secrets, debts, bankruptcy…and other shocking discoveries that had me asking, who am I married to? And which resulted in me terminating of our apartment lease and filing for divorce.

My decision to call out racial discrimination at work in September 2017 was not a difficult decision. As a Black person, I cannot be silent when racial remarks the likes of (monkey references and dumb nigger bitch) are made that negatively affects us particularly in a space that should be protected. I did not think that the situation would have led to my firing – but even if I did know, I would’ve still spoken out. If we are ever going to end the racial strife in this country, we cannot afford to stay silent about race-issues that perpetuates destructive mindsets. Silence does not create the space to have the conversations necessary to learn about ourselves and each other. Sustainable change will require collective effort. These situations can be a learning, growing experience for everyone – if handled properly.

October 2017 rolled around, and it was clear that I was in the eye of a category 6 hurricane that I didn’t see coming. I realized that I was hacked before I discovered that my dissertation was being destroyed. I have struggled to convey the depth of violation that comes from not being able to access my bank accounts; maxed out credit cards, my passwords hijacked no matter how many times I changed them. My personal, and family photos were sorted through and organized as if someone was creating a map of my life. My phone was accessed, and the contents copied, my private thoughts, emails, social media accounts, websites, the boys SSN …everything was out there. And then issues with my mail became evident…, credits cards and important mail doesn’t arrive. I later realized that my address was being removed from my bank account, credit cards, school account… and my phone numbers on these accounts were being replaced with numbers that did not belong to me. And then one day, I discovered a mysterious file in the recycle bin on one of our computers labeled Elisa Lapine. And even though the file was in the recycle bin – I could not delete it. Leo joked that someone was watching and collecting information on us – I said if that were true, they would be bored to death. I got up every day and studied. That was my life. Leo painted and wrote and whatever else he felt like doing – but it was clear that no one was hacking him – I was the target. But why and who was Elisa Lapine?

It is because I still do not have an answer to these questions or fully understand the scope of the situation or what long-term damage may result from this situation that I have decided that this experience is not one to keep silent about. Someone out there has my SSN, bank accounts info, pictures, my writings, everything…and I have no idea what they plan to do with the information. And so, I do the thing I promised myself I would – I write my life story.

Using Cross-Cultural Communications Theory to Improve Discrimination and Oppression Among Dominant & Marginalized Groups  

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Co-cultural Communication Theory is defined by (Mark Orb and Regina Spellers, 2005) as tools that help us understand the lived experiences of marginalized groups and how they function in dominant societal structures. The marginalized co-cultural group includes people of color, women, persons with disabilities, gays/lesbians/bisexuals, as well as those from the lower socioeconomic background. Among some of the challenges often faced by the minority groups are racial, religious, sexual orientation, and class discrimination. Co-Cultural Communication Theory is often discussed from the perspective of non-dominant groups and helps us understand how they communicate in their everyday lives.

This article explores ways in which Co-Cultural Communications Theory can be applied to get rid of or lessen discrimination and oppression among dominant and non-dominant groups in society. In this paper, discrimination is determined as the denial of opportunities, rights and or freedoms to one or more groups that other groups in the society enjoy.

Being a Co-Cultural competent community is vital, especially in a country with a continuous influx of immigrants each year from all over the world. Immigrants come here from diverse faiths, languages, economic, ethnic and ethnic groups. This vast cultural diversity has appropriated such terms as ‘a nation of immigrants’ and the ‘melting pot’ to describe the construct of the United States. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that some of the social and cultural conflicts that we confront today are not related solely to immigrants. Some of the most disadvantaged population are citizens of this country. For instance, black people are among one of the most marginalized groups in America. A large segment of the population has been living under a systematic cycle of oppressed conditions one generation to the next for over 400 years. Unemployment and underemployment are common in predominantly segregated black communities. Crime rates and incarceration are high, so is a lack of quality education and equal employment opportunities. Black people on a broad scale are stereotyped as lazy, intellectually inferior, criminalized and ranked on the lowest ethnic hierarchy in society despite one’s achievement. This is a minuscule list of the plethora of destructive stereotypes that has marked the lived experiences of a segment of the black population in the United States. A solid case can be established that the devastating history of blacks in America has contributed to continued systematic racial discrimination.

Mark Orb and Regina Spellers, (2005) From the Margins to the Center: Utilizing Co-Cultural Theory in Diverse Context, discussed five epistemological assumptions in which Co-Cultural Theory is rooted, and the relational conflicts that may arise among society’s dominant and marginalized groups.

1) Hierarchy exists in each society that gives privilege to certain groups of people, resulting in an unfair and unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunities for those deemed society’s prominent class. For example, in comparing the lived experiences of blacks to white people, the social, educational, political, and financial status explicitly reveals that white people enjoy privileges that are not given to blacks. Many researchers believe that the ‘better than’ mindset and attitudes of the dominant group (whites) towards the marginalized class (black), contributes to the creation of many of the social conflicts that we face today. For example, a large segment of the black population feels like an outsider disadvantaged and oppressed in America.

2) The privileged group adopts the spatial relation of power, and use that power to influence societal norms and shape the way society communicates. The pervasive representation of black adult males as criminals and drug dealers in print and media is a gross illustration of how the dominant narrative perpetuates negative stereotypes. The negative story applied to the entire group has seeped into the psyche of our culture and deem as factual.

3) The dominant communication structures, directly and indirectly, obstruct the forward movement of the underrepresented people.

4) Even though co-cultural group members’ experiences may vary, many shares similar societal positions that render them marginalized and underrepresented within dominant societal structures.

5) Co-cultural members often devise various communicative strategies to counteract the oppressive power of the primary structure. The dominant culture whose language has been deemed the norm also uses their ability to diminish the language of the co-cultural group. In this epistemology, it would be hard-pressed to argue that blacks have a communication style that is distinct to the community, and which the dominant group has linked with lack of education and low intelligence.

It is because of social problems like these that living in a co-cultural competent society is not merely necessary; it is critical to our outcome. Geertz, 1973, 49) Geertz, C. (1973) wrote, “. . . There is no such thing as human nature independent of culture.”

Living in a diverse society, it’s important that we understand that culture shapes our lives in many ways. It determines the efficiency with which we navigate through life, learn about the world, our attitude, and how we relate to others. Some of the people we encounter in our daily life may have different fundamental philosophies, different worldviews, and belief patterns, but they have a right to their point of views, the same way we have a right to ours. Co-Cultural Communication Theory teaches us to respect other people’s differences even if they are not congruent with ours.

References:

Orbe, M., and Spellers, R. E. (2005). From the margins to the center: utilizing co-cultural theory in diverse contexts. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 173–191). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.