By Joka Heshima Jinsai, Executive Director, Amend The 13th: Abolish Legal Slavery in Amerika Movement
Working towards the success of the Millions for Prisoners March has been a central theme of the “Amend The 13”’s agenda since the outset. In a movement dedicated to not only abolishing legal slavery in Amerika, but transforming the nature and structure of unequal social, political and economic relationships upon which mass incarceration is based, support for the March is of course obvious – but what is not so obvious is why this march is vital to the very future of progressive social change in Amerika.
Since the inception of this nation, Amerikans have been conditioned to dehumanize certain segments of the population in order to advance a particular economic, social, political, cultural, and in some cases, military agenda of its ruling class. Be it the dehumanization of New Afrikans (Blacks) to profit from the system of chattel slavery, the dehumanization of immigrants and muslims to advance a fascist political agenda, or the dehumanization of those convicted of a ‘crime’ to maintain the profit and political power of an entrenched prison-industrial interest – the process of stripping groups of people of their humanity is always accompanied by both a specific interest of the party(s) promoting that dehumanizing narrative and an uninformed (or misinformed) public receiving that narrative.
As a result of this conditioning, many are apathetic towards some of the most egrerious injustices occurring in our society – many of those injustices being carried out in their name (“The People”) – oblivious to their origins or negative impact until it affects them directly. By that time, most of these social ills have matured into social crises, and overcoming them becomes a much more protracted struggle.
Such a social perspective in a pluralistic society is not only irrational, it is dangerous. The basis of tis irrational action (or in this case, inaction) is ignorance. Many just don’t know the etiology of these social ills, how they impact their lives or those they love, or in many cases that they even exist. What must be understood is, msas incarceration and legal slavery in Amerika is interconnected to so many points of economic, political and social life, and so many aspects of the U.S. government, corporate Amerika and their core institutions, that ensuring that the public is aware of these interconnections is simply not in the state’s interest; maintaining social ignorance of them is. It is within that ignorance that they can maintain dehumanization as a viable tool of social policy, while limiting opposition to their doing so.
This is why the Millions for Prisoners March for Human Rights is so vital to the future of progressive social change in Amerika. The March is not just an opportunity to organize like-minded people to oppose a historic evil, or mobilize the conscious to restructure social relationships to more surely secure freedom, justice and equality for all of us – but even more importantly, it provides the opportunity to educate the unconscious, to inform the unaware and to provide the truth to those who have been fed lies.
The Millions for Prisoners March will force this nation to confront its contradictions; force it to recognize the interconnection of mass incarceration and legal slavery in Amerika to broken homes, to high school drop out rates, voter exclusion, institutional racism, homelessness, drug addiction, gang violence, mental illness, suicide, government corruption, community dysfunction, criminalization of cultures, political repression, hunger, economic desperation and human misery.
As more people become aware of what has occurred in this society (what has always occurred), the origin of these contradictions and how they harm so many, they will be moved to action. There is no area of social progress not directly (or indirectly) impacted by mass incarceration and legal slavery in Amerika. As such, every progressive activist, organization and individual should seek to support or participate in the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March, August 19th, 2017, in Washington, DC and locally.
Continue to build up with us up to and beyond the March at: Amendthe13th.org.
We can transform the nature and structure of this society through our unity. Wherever social cooperation is increased, oppression is weakened.
Think on these things, they are cause for great meditation.