going above and beyond
- Feb 7, 2004
What Blacks Owe to Each Other
As a follow-up to The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Randall Robinson makes the compelling case that at the same time that African Americans push for reparations, they must simultaneously fight another equally important battle against the growing prison industrial system that is as ominous a development for black and brown Americans as the slave trade was for the people of Africa between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Tragically, African Americans have been and continue to be overwhelmingly thrown into new prisons-for-profit, increasingly built and run by corporations. Robinson argues that blacks owe it to each other to expose and dismantle this phenomenon because the repercussions, not only to those actually imprisoned, but for the entire black community, are frighteningly multidimensional and intergenerational.
The Reckoning grew out of Robinson’s work with gang members, ex-convicts, and others profoundly scarred by environments of extreme poverty. It pays homage to the residents of these neighborhoods waging heroic struggles to save their communities, and holds up for public examination America’s elected officials joining with corporate America to make private-sector prisons a twenty-first-century growth industry.
Willets Photo Studio, St. Kitts
About the Author
Randall Robinson is the author of MAKEDA, An Unbroken Agony and the national best sellers The Debt, The Reckoning, Quitting America, and Defending the Spirit, as well as the novel The Emancipation of Wakefield Clay. He is a professor of law at Penn State Law School and is the creator, co-producer, and host of the public television human rights series World on Trial. Robinson lives with his wife Hazel in St. Kitts, West Indies.
Here's the tragic part. I personally know of Black people who have invested in prison privatization. What does this mean? It means that we already have black politicians and so called leaders who are and have invested in the death of who we are as a people. I personally came up with a program that would merge the youth and the elders of our community together in a learning process whereby the gap between the old and young would be bridged in terms of them passing what skills they had down to the youth. When I went to the city council meeting about it, they told me,"Oh, we already had 20 million in funding for such a project". I asked them; "what happened to it"? They replied; They sat on it until the grant time ran out and sent it back".
I was never so pissed in my life!!!! I knew then that there was never going to be any intent to clean up anything in our communities because to do so was to take money out of the pockets of the people who had invested in the prison systems....and yes, there's a whole lot of our own people invested in it! Our youth and other black people ain't nothing but a dollar bill in somebody's pocket and you'd be surprised by how many of them are black that are lining their pockets with the blood of our people! All the gun violence, the drugs, the gangs, the school dropouts and all else is something that no one invested in that system wants to stop. It's on Wallstreet and yes, once again...our own BLACK people are invested in it!! In the words of Sister Souljah: "I got eyes so I can see, and my eyes don't play tricks on me!"