Monday, September 12, 2016

BOBBEE BEE: BECTON THE BARBER: The Life of Rudolph Becton

You are cordially invited to attend the (Red-carpet viewing) of BECTON THE BARBER: The Life of Rudolph Becton on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18TH 2016 at 5PM at the Lori G. Britt
Agricultural Service Center (Duplin Co. Commons Building) 165 Agriculture Drive Kenansville, NC 28349-These Are Magnolia Memories-ADMISSIONS $10 Adults, $5 Children-

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

BOBBEE BEE: IT’S ALL FOOL’S GOLD

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN)-As my mother and I were watching 100m Olympic Track & Field event, which featured the electrifying Usain Bolt from Jamaica, she asked me the price of the  medals that adorned the necks of all of those decorated Olympic athletes.

Now, I politely told her they were all fool’s gold. And, that they were basically worthless.
Yes, they were simply just gold plated medallions.



But, we, as poor people, unfortunately, like shiny things and cheap trinkets from the so…-called wealthy, which convince us valueless things, are valuable. Sadly, these gold plated medallion handed out during the Olympics award’s ceremony are as worthless as those Purple Hearts, which are giving to our brave soldiers, who risked their lives on the battlefield. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that Retired Lt. Col Louis Dorfman, who was reportedly wounded in action in Iraq in 2007, gave his medal to Donald Trump during a presidential rally in Ashburn, VA.

Even a young Olympic boxer named Cassius Clay after winning a gold medal in 1960 in Rome, found out how worthless his medal was when he was refused service in a Louisville restaurant, which was governed by those Jim Crows laws of the South. As a result, according to urban legend, the young boxer, who eventually would change his name to Muhammad Ali, tossed his medal in the Ohio River. All of this, of course, made my mother highly upset. But, I was telling the truth.

Matter of fact, the gold medal, itself, is only worth $600, the silver $300 and the bronze maybe $180. So, don’t be surprised to see these medals in your local pawn shop after the Olympic Games are over. According to the USA Today, however, Olympic athletes who do bring home medals do have opportunity to make some cash-$25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze, which is paid by the US Olympic Committee.

Unfortunately, Uncle Sam wants his slice of the pie as well.
And, according to the Americans for Tax Reform, using the top tax rate of 39.6%, gold medal winners are hit with a $9,900 deduction. For silver, $5,940, and bronze, it’s about $3,960. This is why athletes work so hard to land endorsement deals in order to help sell everything from cereal, cars, insurance, candy, cameras, and shoes in order to make a living after the games are over.

Hey, nobody said Life was fair.
But, we still love playing the game.
Even though, there is cheating involved.

Eric D.Graham , a graduate from Winston-Salem State University, where he received a BA in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio & Television and a minor in History with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is a sports columnist at Black Athlete Sports Network, where his thought-provoking articles and controversial cartoon Here Comes “The Hater” appear on a weekly basis.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

BOBBEE BEE: Wrestling With Politics: The Sinister Seeds of a Trumped Up Presidential Candidate pt.2


NORTH CAROLINA (BASN)-According to Peter Wehner’s article in Time Magazine entitled The Party’s Over..”Republicans became uncreative and intellectually lazy. They placed themselves in an ideological straitjacket, trying to be more Reagan than Reagan. As a result, too many Republicans lost touch with ordinary Americans. They had almost nothing to say about wage stagnation, the struggle of working-class Americans, the lack of social mobility, soaring tuition and health care costs, and how to extend health insurance to the uninsured. They were unable to explain, let alone address, huge structural changes caused by globalization, advances in technology and automation, which had harsh effects on low-skill workers. Blue collar Americans, in particular, felt unheard, ignored, and abandoned,” which, unfortunately, led to the presidential demise of Mitt Romney in 2008, after is 47% comment went viral.

As a result, the Tea-Party was born, which bred political candidates like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin.  But, Donald Trump, has piggybacked off their alleged anti-establishment rhetoric, conservative Constitution politics and “high jacked” their voters and  turned the American political process into a Vince McMahon inspired WWE wrestling match. Unfortunately, the only thing missing are the colorful costumes, brake away tables and a few flying elbows. (Read my article Wrestling With Politics: Playing the Trump Card on BASN)

Playing the Trump Card

Well, I ‘ll take that back…Because, now, Donald Trump’s political rallies are filled with fist fights, sucker punches, and name-calling-WORST THAN any wrestling match…
Hell, it’s  a DAMN shame legendary Hulk Hogan was stripped from WWE for using the N-word, especially after all of the foolishness coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth on his way to the White House in 2016.
Because, with no teleprompter, to guide his speeches, the reality show star and former beauty pageant promoter  has questioned the veracity of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, called Ted Cruz, “lying Ted” while  arguing that the Canadian-born Texas Senator, along with Cuban-American Florida Senator Marco Rubio, whom he calls “little Marco”  were ineligible to occupy the Oval Office.

The Jewish Factor

He also has claimed, without any evidence, to have seen televised footage of  Muslims celebrating in New Jersey after planes crushed in the World Trade Center on Sept.11.
Unfortunately, according to BlackAgendaReport managing editor Bruce A.Dixon, “the people doing the cheering weren’t Muslims: they were five young Israelis in a white moving van, who were observed in Liberty Park ecstatically taking pictures of themselves framed against the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers. As ABC News reported, the five were later arrested at gunpoint near the New Jersey Giants football stadium. Most U.S. intelligence sources believed the men were Israeli spies, and that their “moving company” was an Israeli intelligence cover.”
With that said, with every election, every politicians must prove, or better yet, pledge their love to Israel, which Trump, in the beginning, seemed to be going against the grain when he said, he would  be “neutral” in dealing with stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiation on an independent Palestinian state as well as his refusal to denounce the support of former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, who believes that Zionist influence every part of  American politics, during a recent interview with CNN.

Now, however, according to the USA Today report Shira Rubin, the GOP is encouraging American citizens who live in Israel-especially those from pivotal swing states like Florida-to vote for Trump.
Michal Adar, who originally from Atlanta and now lives in Raanana, Israel- is quoted as saying “We trust Trump, because we know he shares our values and that he has the right kind of worldview-that maybe not every Muslim is a terrorist, but that every terrorist is in fact a Muslim.”
Yes, this was the Frankenstein monster that the Republican Party had made and feared that they might have to destroy if he continued his destructive path throughout the American political arena.

Leading By Example


But, was Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the best leadership America had to offer?-
According to Suzy Kassem in her book – Rise Up and Salute the Sun, the American people should… “Pick a leader who will not only bail out banks and airlines, but also families from losing their homes — or jobs due to their companies moving to other countries. Pick a leader who will fund schools, not limit spending on education and allow libraries to close. Pick a leader who chooses diplomacy over war. An honest broker in foreign relations. A leader with integrity, one who says what they mean, keeps their word and does not lie to their people. Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble. Intelligent, but not sly. A leader who encourages diversity, not racism. One who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the doctor, and the environmentalist — not only the banker, the oil tycoon, the weapons developer, or the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyist.”
Unfortunately, the camera-loving Trump fails to meet many of Kassem’s qualifications. But, a large segment of the American pollution seems to love what he says and what he stands for.
Blaming Obama
But, the question remains-Is this all President Obama’s fault for creating this cult of personality, which “made” him President in 2008?
Did his eight years in office really destroy the fabric of American society?
Hell, white America has to blame somebody for their problems and short-comings?
But, seriously, was Obama’s MLK utopian dream  …or should  I say. His Audacity of HOPE for a better America  too much for the Washington insider’s to handle?
Shockingly, former President Bill Clinton, thinks President Obama does bear some of the blame for this years “wacky” election. Because, according to him, ” Millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it.”
Boy, Slick Willie is back at again, saxophone and all….
Now, let’s analyze those words, “Million of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves…..
Who could Clinton be talking about?-Especially, after this year’s Oscars, which comedian and host Chris Rock called “the white people’s choice awards,” where two sports-themed movies, lead by African-American actors, Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Will Smith (Concussion) were overlooked.


The Silent Majority

Well, it seems, like that silent majority, is no other than the “white working class,” who are frustrated and angry because their jobs have been moved overseas to countries like Mexico, China, India, Vietnam and Thailand in exchange for cheap labor and larger wages for US corporations.
As a result, Trump’s has been ‘trumpin’ up his racial rhetoric, while feeding on the primal fears of the nation and  claiming he is going to make “America better again”by bragging boldly about  building a giant Wall and deporting all  illegal aliens and closing the borders to prevent all Muslims from entering the country and registering their names in a database.
He even, shamefully, stated that he could shoot someone in the Middle of Time’s Square and not loses voters in the poll, which was extremely foolish. Especially, when Black men, in seemed, were being shot and killed by the police on a weekly bases.
Matter of fact, after the shootings in Baton Rogue, Minnesota and Dallas, Trump, in rare form, tried to utilize those incidents to draw an even further widget between voters by using  Republican race-baiting code words like ‘law and order,’ which was reminiscent of the 1988 Willie Horton ad used by then- Republican candidate George H.W. Bush.

White Supremacy Theology


Not surprisingly, to many political scientists, Trump was simply displaying America’s greatest religion, which is not Christianity, which it confesses, but “White Supremacy….
Trump proved this when he went to Liberty University misquoting scripture when he said that “Christianity, it’s under siege…(and) We’re going to protect Christianity – and I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct….Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame…Where the spirit of the Lord … right? Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
Despite that, he still was able to gain the political endorsement of the president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr as well as televangelist Paula White, who has been his spiritual advisor for 14 years, the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson in 1988, who ran for President in and Dallas mega-church minister Joel Osteen along with other foolish “Negro ministers and leaders (Ben Carson, included),who wished to sit a his table and eat the bread crumbs off of his golden plate.
But, despite Trump’s constant bumbling remarks, his supporters continue to support him and his brand, while rallying behind his divisive message.

Worldwide View

Unfortunately, those who didn’t support Trump’s brand of bigotry, which include The Bloombergs, The Bushes, The Romneys, The McCains, The Cruzes, and The Grahams, continued to feel that his poisonous rhetoric was a threat to America’s democracy worldwide.
Greg Guma, of Toward Freedom magazine, in this in an article wrote in July 2000, summed up most people thinking about the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary, in article published in July 2000 when he wrote “around the world, the message received is that, whoever wins {the U.S. election}, expect only more of the same-national narcissism disguised as altruism, corporate appeasement, and the arbitrary use of U.S. military and economic might.”
Sadly, I was agree.
The evil empire stands, whether woman or man.

Eric D.Graham , a graduate from Winston-Salem State University, where he received a BA in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio & Television and a minor in History with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is a sports columnist at Black Athlete Sports Network, where his thought-provoking articles and controversial cartoon Here Comes “The Hater” appear on a weekly basis.

BOBBEE BEE: Wrestling with politics: Playing the Trump Card

by Eric D.Graham
(BASN) North Carolina-Race has always been a factor in America.
We can’t deny that fact.
The election of America’s first African-American president showed us the ugliest part of some people’s psyche as well as  the hidden hatred dwelling in some of their hearts. As a result, we saw the rise of white supremacy theology, confederate flags, and the shouts of angry white men proclaiming that they “wanted to take their country back” become the norm.
With the world, seemingly, divided along racial and political lines, African-American voters continued to play plantation politics by pledging their allegiance not to the United of States of America but to the Clintons, who they were instructed to vote for regardless, who else ran-out of fear not strategy.
As a result, seemingly, out of nowhere, Donald Trump, who through his speeches and twitter feeds, became the anti-establishment boogeyman, while pretending to be a Constitutional Conservative Christian, fed off the fear of African-Americans and the anger of white men with promises of building a bigger and better wall to keep the Mexicans out, banning all Muslims, and bombing the hell out of Isis.
Matter of fact, Trump, it seemed, was speaking out of the Pat Buchanan’s playbook (Suicide of a Super Power), while mixing politics with professional wrestling as he offered insult after insult until he eliminated all of his opponents in Republican primaries.
Yes, in the age of the Kardashians, Fox News and Reality TV, Donald Trump’s “brand” of counterfeit politics was being applauded and cheered like one of Vince McMahon’s Monday night Raw wrestling matches on pay-per-view.
It was the “politics of fear” (Clinton) versus the “politics of Hate”(Trump).
So, I guess, former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura was correct when he said that politics was no different than Vince McMahon’s WWE professional wrestling. Why? Because, “they provide you with two opposites, who pretend to be adversaries in front of the public-one playing the GOOD COP, the other plays the BAD COP, depending on whether you’re sitting in the high-priced seats or the bleachers-until ultimately, they’re both working for the same things; maintaining their power, getting richer and making sure their wealthy backers keep their control of their stakes in the government.”
But, was this political riff between Trump and Hilary real or fake? Or, simply entertainment.
Everyone seemed confused. Because, no matter what came out of Trump’s mouth, it seemed, as if, he couldn’t lose.
Sadly, Trump had successfully turned the political process into a circus, a clown show, or, simply another espoide of his reality TV program.
But, despite Trump’s tough New York trash talking demeanor and Taylor-made suits,  “it’s still was the economic stupid…”
Yes. This was the real driving force behind the anger of all these white men, who were bankrupted, jobless, homeless after foreclosures, while they found themselves swimming in debt and drowning in red ink due to stagnant wages.
So, in their desperation, they clung to their Bibles and their guns, a prayed to their Charles Manson looking saviour, that this rich, slick talking businessman, whose wealth and riches were proof enough for them that he could fix  their financial problems and political woes-swiftly and quickly and fly away in his helicopter.
Yes.
He was just like them.
So, they thought.
He wanted to make America Great Again or White Again-depending on who you were talking to.
Because, no matter what he said, he was still better than that “crooked Hilliary or lying Ted.”
Besides, they could tolerate a Black man being President named Barack Hussein Obama, who Trump claimed was from Kenya and the leader of Isis.
But, not a white woman in a pantsuit named Hillary Clinton.
Why? Because,, this is a “white man’s world” and a woman should know her place.
Eric D.Graham , a graduate from Winston-Salem State University, where he received a BA in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio & Television and a minor in History with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is a sports columnist at Black Athlete Sports Network, where his thought-provoking articles and controversial cartoon Here Comes “The Hater” appear on a weekly basis.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BOBBEE BEE: THE 5 STAGES OF GRIEF

5 STAGES OF GRIEF-by (Eric D.Graham)-With all the murder and mayhem in the Nation, overseas, in our neighborhoods, where within a 60-hour period during the Memorial Day Weekend 59 people were shot, 13 fatally in Chicago and within our family during these troubling times, we must admit that, we are all trying to copy with all the death and destruction on the nightly news. Especially, with the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile that sparked righteous outrage, which led to the assassination of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rogue. As a result, I offer the 5 STAGE OF GRIEF, which we all are going through- in order to cope with this- seemingly- endless pain-Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems-

1. Denial – It is really the first of our reactions to any form of sudden loss. Depending on the relationship we share to the subject of our loss, the more our lives may be uprooted or altered. It is very common for people to try and initially deny the event in order to subconsciously avoid sadness, or the thought of pending mental struggles. People in denial often withdraw from their normal social behavior and become isolated. Denial has no set time frame, or may never be felt at all. However, it is considered the first stage of grief.

2. Anger – People that are grieving often become upset with the person or situation which put them in their grief state. After all, their life could now be in complete disarray. The path of least resistance is anger as opposed to facing the consequences of a loss head on. In the case of death, the anger is often focused toward the deceased for leaving that person behind and unable to cope. Other times people become angry at themselves if they feel they could have done something more to stop the loss from happening.



3. Bargaining – This is when those who are grieving are reaching out to the universe to make the pain go away. It is actually very normal, and largely considered to be a sign that they are beginning to comprehend their situation. People will often try to make a deal, or promise to do anything, if the pain will be taken away.



 4. Depression – Contrary to popular belief, depression is something that may take some time to develop. We often think we are depressed when a grief event first occurs, but there is usually a lot of shock and other emotions present before any real depression can set in. The signs of depression due to grief usually appear when a sense of finality is realized. This is not to be confused with clinical depression, which may be chronic. Depression due to grief is technically episodic, even though it may last for a lengthy period of time.


5. Acceptance – This is the point where the person experiencing grief no longer is looking backward to try and recover the life they once had with the deceased, or other cause of their grief episode. It is not to say that they no longer feel the vast array of emotions brought on by their grief, but they are ready to embrace the idea that they are reaching a new point in there lives. At this point, they are beginning to understand that there is a new beginning on the horizon.
Acceptance should not be confused with healing or recovering from the loss, since that would put an enormous amount of pressure on people experiencing grief. Acceptance is really the beginning of the real healing process. It is the point where recovery becomes about the person left behind, and not about the person being mourned.

www.bobbeethehater.blogspot.com

BOBBEE BEE: COPING WITH BEING A COP

by Eric D.Graham-During this critical time in history, many police officers have become paranoid, fearful for their lives, stressed out, overworked, underpaid, and undiagnosed. As a result, many of them are walking around like ticking time-bombs, abusing their power and authority with a lethal weapon on their hips, while unknowingly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


For this reason, some of them feel a sense of worthlessness, even though they are perceived to be heroes, which can lead to alcoholism, marital problems, depression and even suicide.

Unfortunately, these “protectors of justice" have difficulties sleeping, due to nightmares- that may involve crime scenes that they have witnessed while on duty like: the death of children, horrible car crashes, victims of sexual abuse, bloody murders and even, the death of a partner in the line of duty, while constantly questioning whether they have made the right decisions to shot or not to shot, which could lead to the death of another human being.
With this in consideration, law enforcement leaders should take personal interest in the MENTAL HEALTH OF THEIR OFFICERS by checking on them after a critical incident, keeping an open door policy, and instructing command staff and supervisors to look after their well-being. This, could, come in the form of, workers support groups, education and training workshops- on how to handle stress, death and grief as well as anger management classes along with annual psychologically evaluations. –Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems-


Thursday, April 21, 2016

FEEL THE SURGE!!! THE JROMELLE MORNING SHOW LIVE!!!

FEEL THE SURGE!!! THE JROMELLE MORNING SHOW LIVE!!! featuring Eric D.Graham (Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems: The Making of a Hip-Hop Classic

Thursday, April 14, 2016

POCKET FULL OF GHETTO POEMS: SURGE RADIO 100.5 FM

ARE WE ON THE AIR: THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 16, at 11:00 am, Eric Graham will be making a guest appearance on Surge Radio 100.5 FM in order to discuss his latest CD Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems: The Making of a Hip-Hop Classic as well as addressing other topics on The J. Romelle Morning Show, which is a youth-oriented talk program, that features interviews with individuals working to make a positive difference for young people in the community.

So, don't forget to tune in this weekend at 11:00 am!!!!

-More than Music-Streaming live on surgeradio.org
Download the surge Radio app for Android and iPhone devices


BOBBEE BEE: PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX


by Chris Hedges  

Neo-slavery is an integral part of the prison industrial complex.”

If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.
Bonnie Kerness and Ojore Lutalo, both of whom I met in Newark, N.J., a few days ago at the office of American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch, have fought longer and harder than perhaps any others in the country against the expanding abuse of prisoners, especially the use of solitary confinement.

Lutalo, once a member of the Black Liberation Army, an offshoot of the Black Panthers, first wrote Kerness in 1986 while he was a prisoner at Trenton State Prison, now called New Jersey State Prison. He described to her the bleak and degrading world of solitary confinement, the world of the prisoners like him held in the so-called management control unit, which he called “a prison within a prison.”

 Before being released in 2009, Lutalo was in the management control unit for 22 of the 28 years he served for the second of two convictions – the first for a bank robbery and the second for a gun battle with a drug dealer. He kept his sanity, he told me, by following a strict regime of exercising in his tiny cell, writing, meditating and tearing up newspapers to make collages that portrayed his prison conditions.
 
“The guards in riot gear would suddenly wake you up at 1 a.m., force you to strip and make you grab all your things and move you to another cell just to harass you,” he said when we spoke in Newark.

 “They had attack dogs with them that were trained to go for your genitals. You spent 24 hours alone one day in your cell and 22 the next. If you do not have a strong sense of purpose you don’t survive psychologically. Isolation is designed to defeat prisoners mentally, and I saw a lot of prisoners defeated.” 


Lutalo’s letter was Kerness’ first indication that the U.S. prison system was creating something new – special detention facilities that under international law are a form of torture. He wrote to her: “How does one go about articulating desperation to another who is not desperate? How does one go about articulating the psychological stress of knowing that people are waiting for me to self-destruct?”
 
The techniques of sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation were pioneered by the Central Intelligence Agency to break prisoners during the Cold War. Alfred McCoy, the author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror,” wrote in his book that “interrogators had found that mere physical pain, no matter how extreme, often produced heightened resistance.”

So the intelligence agency turned to the more effective mechanisms of “sensory disorientation” and “self-inflicted pain,” McCoy noted. [One example of causing self-inflicted pain is to force a prisoner to stand without moving or to hold some other stressful bodily position for a long period.] The combination, government psychologists argued, would cause victims to feel responsible for their own suffering and accelerate psychological disintegration. 

Sensory disorientation combines extreme sensory overload with extreme sensory deprivation.  

Prolonged isolation is followed by intense interrogation.
 Extreme heat is followed by extreme cold.
Glaring light is followed by total darkness. Loud and sustained noise is followed by silence.

 “The fusion of these two techniques, sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain, creates a synergy of physical and psychological trauma whose sum is a hammer-blow to the existential platforms of personal identity,” McCoy wrote.

After hearing from Lutalo, Kerness became a fierce advocate for him and other prisoners held in isolation units. She published through her office a survivor’s manual for those held in isolation as well as a booklet titled “Torture in United States Prisons.” And she began to collect the stories of prisoners held in isolation.

 “My food trays have been sprayed with mace or cleaning agents, … human feces and urine put into them by guards who deliver trays to my breakfast, lunch, and dinner… ,” a prisoner in isolation in the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility at Carlisle, Indiana, was quoted as saying in “Torture in United States Prisons.”
 "I ave witnessed sane men of character become self-mutilators, suffer paranoia, panic attacks, hostile fantasies about revenge.


One prisoner would swallow packs of AA batteries, and stick a pencil in his penis. They would cut on themselves to gain contact with staff nurses or just to draw attention to themselves. These men made slinging human feces ‘body waste’ daily like it was a recognized sport. Some would eat it or rub it all over themselves as if it was body lotion. ... Prisoncrats use a form of restraint, a bed crafted to strap men in four point Velcro straps.

Both hands to the wrist and both feet to the ankles and secured. Prisoners have been kept like this for 3-6 hours at a time.

 
Most times they would remove all their clothes. The Special Confinement Unit used [water hoses] on these men also. ... When prisons become overcrowded, prisoncrats will do forced double bunking.

 Over-crowding issues present an assortment of problems many of which results in violence. ... Prisoncrats will purposely house a ‘sex offender’ in a cell with prisoners with sole intentions of having him beaten up or even killed.”

In 1913 Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, discontinued its isolation cages.
 
Prisoners within the U.S. prison system would not be held in isolation again in large numbers until the turmoil of the 1960s and the rise of the anti-war and civil rights movements along with the emergence of radical groups such as the Black Panthers.  

Trenton State Prison established a management control unit, or isolation unit, in 1975 for political prisoners, mostly black radicals such as Lutalo whom the state wanted to segregate from the wider prison population.

Those held in the isolation unit were rarely there because they had violated prison rules; they were there because of their revolutionary beliefs – beliefs the prison authorities feared might resonate with other prisoners.

In 1983 the federal prison in Marion, Illinois, instituted a permanent lockdown, creating, in essence, a prisonwide “control unit.”  


By 1994 the Federal Bureau of Prisons, using the Marion model, built its maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo. 

The use of prolonged isolation and sensory deprivation exploded. “Special housing units” were formed for the mentally ill. 
 
“Security threat group management units” were formed for those accused of gang activity. “Communications management units” were formed to isolate Muslims labeled as terrorists. Voluntary and involuntary protective custody units were formed. Administrative segregation punishment units were formed to isolate prisoners said to be psychologically troubled. All were established in open violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Kerness calls it “the war at home.” And she says it is only the latest variation of the long assault on the poor, especially people of color.

 “There are no former Jim Crow systems,” Kerness said. “The transition from slavery to Black Codes to convict leasing to the Jim Crow laws to the wars on poverty, veterans, youth and political activism in the 1960s has been a seamless evolution of political and social incapacitation of poor people of color. The sophisticated fascism of the practices of stop and frisk, charging people in inner cities with ‘wandering,’ driving and walking while black, ZIP code racism—these and many other de facto practices all serve to keep our prisons full.
 
In a system where 60 percent of those who are imprisoned are people of color, where students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, where 58 percent of African [American] youth … are sent to adult prisons, where women of color are 69 percent more likely to be imprisoned and where offenders of color receive longer sentences, the concept of colorblindness doesn’t exist.

The racism around me is palpable.”

“The 1960s, when the last of the Jim Crow laws were reversed, this whole new set of practices accepted by law enforcement was designed to continue to feed the money-generating prison system, which has neo-slavery at its core,” she said.  

“Until we deeply recognize that the system’s bottom line is social control and creating a business from bodies of color and the poor, nothing can change.”

She noted that more than half of those in the prison system have never physically harmed another person but that “just about all of these people have been harmed themselves.” And not only does the criminal justice sweep up the poor and people of color, but slavery within the prison system is permitted by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …”
 
This, Kerness said, “is at the core how the labor of slaves was transformed into what people in prison call neo-slavery.” Neo-slavery is an integral part of the prison industrial complex, in which hundreds of thousands of the nation’s prisoners, primarily people of color, are forced to work at involuntary labor for a dollar or less an hour. “If you call the New Jersey Bureau of Tourism you are most likely talking to a prisoner at the Edna Mahan Correctional Institution for Women who is earning 23 cents an hour who has no ability to negotiate working hours or working conditions,” she said. 

The bodies of poor, unemployed youths are worth little on the streets but become valuable commodities once they are behind bars.


“People have said to me that the criminal justice system doesn’t work,” Kerness said. “I’ve come to believe exactly the opposite – that it works perfectly, just as slavery did, as a matter of economic and political policy.

How is it that a 15-year-old in Newark who the country labels worthless to the economy, who has no hope of getting a job or affording college, can suddenly generate 20,000 to 30,000 dollars a year once trapped in the criminal justice system?

The expansion of prisons, parole, probation, the court and police systems has resulted in an enormous bureaucracy which has been a boon to everyone from architects to food vendors – all with one thing in common, a paycheck earned by keeping human beings in cages. The criminalization of poverty is a lucrative business, and we have replaced the social safety net with a dragnet.” 

Prisons are at once hugely expensive – the country has spent some $300 billion on them since 1980 – and, as Kerness pointed out, hugely profitable. Prisons function in the same way the military-industrial complex functions.

The money is public and the profits are private.

“Privatization in the prison industrial complex includes companies, which run prisons for profit while at the same time gleaning profits from forced labor,” she said. “In the state of New Jersey, food and medical services are provided by corporations, which have a profit motive.

One recent explosion of private industry is the partnering of Corrections Corporation of America with the federal government to detain close to 1 million undocumented people.

Using public monies to enrich private citizens is the history of capitalism at its most exploitive.”
Those released from prison are woefully unprepared for re-entry. 
They carry with them the years of trauma they endured.
They often suffer from the endemic health problems that come with long incarceration, including hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV. 
They often do not have access to medications upon release to treat their physical and mental illnesses. Finding work is difficult. They feel alienated and are often estranged from friends and family. 
More than 60 percent end up back in prison. 

“How do you teach someone to rid themselves of degradation?” Kerness asked. “How long does it take to teach people to feel safe, a sense of empowerment in a world where they often come home emotionally and physically damaged and unemployable?  

There are many reasons that ex-prisoners do not make it – paramount among them is that they are not supposed to succeed.”

Kerness has long been a crusader.  

In 1961 at the age of 19 she left New York to work for a decade in Tennessee in the civil rights struggle, including a year at Tennessee’s Highlander Research and Education Center, where Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. trained. 

By the 1970s she was involved in housing campaigns for the poor in New Jersey. She kept running into families that included incarcerated members. This led her to found Prison Watch.

The letters that pour into her office are disturbing. Female prisoners routinely complain of being sexually abused by guards. One prisoner wrote to her office: “That was not part of my sentence to perform oral sex with officers.”  

Other prisoners write on behalf of the mentally ill who have been left to deteriorate in the prison system. One California prisoner told of a mentally ill man spreading feces over himself and the guards then dumping him into a scalding bath that took skin off 30 percent of his body. 


Kerness said the letters she receives from prisoners collectively present a litany of “inhumane conditions including cold, filth, callous medical care, extended isolation often lasting years, use of devices of torture, harassment, brutality and racism.”  

Prisoners send her drawings of “four- and five-point restraints, restraint hoods, restraint belts, restraint beds, stun grenades, stun guns, stun belts, spit hoods, tethers, and waist and leg chains.” But the worst torment, prisoners tell her, is the psychological pain caused by “no touch torture” that included “humiliation, sleep deprivation, sensory disorientation, extreme light or dark, extreme cold or heat” and “extended solitary confinement.”

These techniques, she said, are consciously designed to carry out “a systematic attack on all human stimuli.”

The use of sensory deprivation was applied by the government to imprisoned radicals in the 1960s including members of the Black Panthers, the Black Liberation Army, the Puerto Rican independence movement and the American Indian Movement, along with environmentalists, anti-imperialists and civil rights activists.
 
It is now used extensively against Islamic militants, jailhouse lawyers and political prisoners. Many of those political prisoners were part of radical black underground movements in the 1960s that advocated violence.

A few, such as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal, are well known, but most have little public visibility—among them Sundiata Acoli, Mutulu Shakur, Imam Jamil Al-Amin (known as H. Rap Brown when in the 1960s he was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Jalil Bottom, Sekou Odinga, Abdul Majid, Tom Manning and Bill Dunne.
 
Those within the system who attempt to resist the abuse and mistreatment are dealt with severely. Prisoners in the overcrowded Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Lucasville, Ohio, staged a revolt in 1993 after years of routine beatings, degrading rituals of public humiliation and the alleged murders of prisoners by guards.

 

The some 450 prisoners, who were able to unite antagonistic prison factions including the Aryan Brotherhood and the black Gangster Disciples, held out for 11 days.  

It was one of the longest prison rebellions in U.S. history. Nine prisoners and a guard were killed by the prisoners during the revolt.  


The state responded with characteristic fury. It singled out some 40 prisoners and eventually shipped them to Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), a supermax facility outside Youngstown that was constructed in 1998.  

There prisoners are held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in 7-by-11-foot cells.  

Prisoners at OSP almost never see the sun or have human contact. Those charged with participating in the uprising have, in some cases, been held in these punitive conditions at OSP or other facilities since the 1993 revolt. Five prisoners – Bomani Shakur, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb, George Skatzes and Namir Abdul Mateen – involved in the uprising were charged with murder. 

They are being held in isolation on death row. 

Kerness says the for-profit prison companies have created an entrepreneurial class like that of the Southern slaveholders, one “dependent on the poor, and on bodies of color as a source for income,” and she describes federal and state departments of corrections as “a state of mind.”  

This state of mind, she said in the interview, “led to Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo and what is going on in U.S. prisons right this moment.” 

As long as profit remains an incentive to incarcerate human beings and our corporate state abounds in surplus, redundant labor, there is little chance that the prison system will be reformed. It is making our corporate overlords wealthy.  

Our prisons serve the engine of corporate capitalism, transferring state money to private corporations.  


These corporations will continue to stymie rational prison reform because the system, however inhumane and unjust, feeds corporate bank accounts. At its bottom the problem is not race – although race plays a huge part in incarceration rates – nor is it finally poverty; it is the predatory nature of corporate capitalism itself.  

And until we slay the beast of corporate capitalism, until we wrest power back from corporations, until we build social institutions and a system of governance designed not to profit the few but foster the common good, our prison industry and the horror it perpetuates will only expand. 

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.

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