Have you ever saw something on social media that makes you stop in your tracks and make you say, “Wait, hold up!”? Then the longer you think about it the more upset you get? The post below did just that.
Getting right to it, what rapper Common erroneously did was place blame on children and their parents instead of legal policies and procedures such as mandatory minimums, “three-strikes” and “stop and frisk.” Try telling that to the young men in Chicago, where Common grew up, who travel to and from school with their home girls so they don’t look suspicious to avoid being stopped and harassed by police. Try telling that to the people who have been exonerated for wrongful convictions. In this sociopolitical climate if it doesn’t take much to murder a minority, how much is needed to make an arrest? How does the love and compassion our kids pan out when there are quotas to be filled? This is not to say that our kids should not be taught love and compassion, especially in these times, I just don’t think it is the best ways to stop mass incarceration.
Moreover, the rhetoric of our kids and mass incarceration is similar to when former first lady Hillary Clinton who lobbied for her husband’s crime bill in 1994 and used the term “super-predators” which defined kids have “no conscious or empathy.” The same way Clinton said “we can talk about how they got there,” but never did, Common doesn’t acknowledge the racial and economic structures which mass incarceration is built upon, but raps about them throughout his 20 plus years of being an emcee.
In the rapper’s defense, there is no date of when he said spoke on the matter, but considering his song, “Letter to the Free” which was released late last year about mass incarceration, Common may be rapping a different tune…I hope.
This was posted by #SchoolsNotPrisons Instagram account, a public educational campaign created by The Californians for Safety and Justice. The fact that #SchoolsNotPrisons posted this boggles my mind. On their website, they have a video of a multicultural classroom with the students saying what they want to be when they grow up. Then they drop statistics such as since 1980, California has built 22 state prisons and only one university, then you hear a child say, “I wonder what they imagine what we will be when we grow up?” In California the annual spending on education per student in grades K-12 is $9,200 compared to $62,300 per incarcerated person. The video concludes with “What you invest in grows. Invest in schools, not more prisons.” What can be inferred is that prisons are big business. This has nothing to do with a child’s love and compassion, however, the child’s race, neighborhood, and parents socioeconomic status are key indicators of whether the child will become part of the mass incarceration.
The biggest problem with this post is that some people are accepting the quote as truth in the age of “alternative facts.” This is mainly because the media plays a huge role in how we are socialized. Common being a considered a conscious rapper, only adds a false validity to the statement. Moreover, reading posts with comments like “Facts!” or “100,” the post is then believed to be true and with time, may become common knowledge.
Peace and love to Common and #SchoolsNotPrisons, but we have to be aware of the messages we are sending out in the media…myself included!
Updated: April 18, 2017