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Congresswoman Karen Bass and Black Girls In Prisons

Updated on August 26, 2015

The Cries of Black Women for Prison Reform

Girls in Prison Pipelines-A Congresswoman Karen Bass Event

August 22, 2015, which was on a Saturday, I headed down into the heart of South Central Los Angeles. The first thing that struck me about South Central L.A., was the lack of young black males that I didn't see hanging out in front of their parent's homes, going to work or even standing around on the street. It reminded me of an article that I read in a NY Times Affiliate online publication about how black males are missing from every aspect of American Life.

In the tech world, even with qualified black and Latino students, that have an education to fit many of the occupations in Silicon Valley; we still have a less than 2% work-force of black tech workers. And of course we have the prison injustice industrial complex, which is basically a billion dollar for-profit industry. Indeed, blacks have once again become an endangered species and a sociology project to be studied, like a rat in a lab.

I arrived at the Crenshaw Christian Center, which ironically is located on Vermont Ave and not Crenshaw Ave, and of course I was early, as usual, because I wanted to mingle and engage people for my own social research.

As the event started, after check in, I noticed that Congress-woman Karen Bass was actually quite beautiful and much younger appearing in real life; than what she looks like in her official photos.

She spoke about her desire to work with Republicans, in an effort to stop the pipeline of young black and brown girls, being shoved into prison-like facilities, for simple things like having an argument with their mother as a teen-ager, trying to get away from an abusive boyfriend or being locked away simply for missing too many days of school.

There were four young black women, all now adults, on the panel and all of them had gone through some form of juvenile detention facility. Some of these black women spoke of being abused as youth while being locked away, many were forced onto toxic pharmaceutical drugs with no regards for their age or symptoms but were simply being experimented on and even the ones that ended up being locked away for prostitution; often described how the juvenile criminal system itself, was more traumatizing than being 'turned out' on the streets by a pimp.

I looked around the auditorium and noticed about eighty African Americans, a few Asians and there were about four white people. I talk about the racial make-up because we are not in a post-racial America.

Of course, out of all of these people at this event, the probation officer was a white lady and the judge was yet another white lady. This summed up the problem, in a least in my mind. Out of all of the people that were in Congress-woman Karen Bass' event, the white people were the decision makers and the ones that decided on which black girl got locked up and which ones stayed locked up because they didn't make probation.

When the event was nearing its end, after some very emotional testimony about the abuses that happened to these black women & black girls, in and outside of these prison facilities; I noticed that the white judge, was one of the first to leave..... I made a point to try and engage her in a conversation.

She (the judge) had previously gotten up and spoke about a need for facilities and even mentioned the word 'locks'. So, what these girls were telling her about the need for prison reform simply wasn't sinking into her lilly white head.

Of course, I am very cheerful and friendly in real life and when I attempted to ask her, outside the Christian Center, to clarify what she meant, by needing more locked-down facilities, she brushed me off and said, "I have a train to catch back to Pasadena." And there it was! The disconnect of having white over-seers being in charge of locking away young black and brown girls of color.

Having to hear a Congressional Staffer and non-profit heads, describe their experience with hearing the horror stories of being a young black woman; locked away in a facility and even stories about prison guards shackling black females in chains, as they gave birth, was very brutal. Why does a pregnant woman, in a locked down facility or prison, need to be shackled while giving birth?

In conclusion, nothing surprises me and being from Louisiana and even living in California, which has a huge private prison and over-crowding incarceration problem; I already knew where the social disconnect was happening and how racial disparities in our government; creates injustices.

I talked with Congress-woman Karen Bass' assistant about the racial inequality of climate issues and I left impressed with Congress-woman Bass' efforts but not surprised by the racist situation of the prison industrial complex.


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