I’ve given a lot of thought about prejudice over the years. I landed in the state of Georgia for 5 months at the age of 14 and was introduced to prejudice in a way that bordered on obsession. The people there were heavily invested in it. I hadn’t considered skin color a factor in anything prior to that. In retrospect, that was likely because the community in which I lived was white. Today, I can draw a conclusion on what that means. At the time, I didn’t know living in a white town was selected, cultivated, controlled.
I live in The St. Louis area. It’s going on two years since Mike Brown’s death. It was a wretched moment in history and I was very concerned for the well being of our community. One thing I believe more with every day is that prejudice is cultivated, perpetuated, encouraged.
In late January of this year, a room full of concerned and thoughtful people had gathered. I was there to document the concerns each had with prejudice and what it meant to them. To be accepted by the community. To be rejected by the community. Or to be accepted or rejected by another race. Rules of engagement had been established. Several people wanted to share the injustice of our community. There were few positive stories. Several were horrifying. But basically, I heard the same verbiage I’ve always heard. The same lament of injustice. The same festering of hurt and anger. The same confusion on how to proceed.
I have a theory on prejudice. It may take me the rest of my life to gather evidence to support it, but on the road to piecing it together. It is this:
Prejudice is the result of the economic machine that benefits from it.
What if I were to suggest that it has been cultivated for monetary benefit? What if we have been manipulated and used to perpetuate the economics of it?
Yesterday, I watched a TedMed talk by Dr. Carl Hart. He is a neuroscientist and professor at Columbia University. He has studied drug addiction and come up with some very interesting conclusions. What grabbed my attention is that he declared some baffling statistics on drug use and the disparity between who is using and who is being incarcerated. The numbers are so oddly weighted, I can’t help but see a purposeful manipulation. Now I want to prove it.
More specifically, I believe African Americans have been targeted to be the commodity that fuels the business of incarceration. I’ve written Dr. Hart in the hope he will consider my theory and give me some mentoring on how to proceed with my research.