by Dr Boyce Watkins
Rahiem Shabazz is the first to admit that he’s had some nasty run-ins with the law. He is also first to line up to fight for people of color who are constantly battling the damage being done by the school-to-prison pipeline. As a result, Mr. Shabazz created a film called “Elementary Genocide,” which explores the dangers that exist within a system that is wired to send millions of black people to prison.
We know that the prison problem has gotten out of control. According to Policy Mic, the United States government now incarcerates more black people than South Africa did during the height of Apartheid. The result of skyrocketing prison populations is that many families are now broken, and most black children don’t have the luxury of being born with both a mother and a father in the household.
Much of the tragedy of modern day prisons is rooted in the educational system. Studies show that African Americans who are unable to read are far more likely to end up in prison than those who are educated. But in addition to being educated, Shabazz is encouraging parents around the nation to educate their children outside of the public school system. Some parents are homeschooling their kids as an option, and when you do your research, you might be surprised by the number of options that exist for parents who wish to properly educate their kids.
Another interesting point that Shabazz brings up in the interview (below) is that African Americans must also create our own businesses. It is due to a lack of economic opportunity that many of our young people resort to crime. So, the simple idea here is that an individual in an impoverished environment who has no education and no job is far more likely to engage in criminal activity than someone who is positioned for a better future.
The problem is fairly straight forward and the solutions are simple. The hard work comes with implementing these solutions to ensure that our children live better lives than their parents. This is the mandate for this generation. Shabazz is carrying the torch on this issue by not only using the screenings of his film as a way to sustain his business, but also as an opportunity for productive members of the community to gather and build.
He says that these community forums lead to long conversations in the parking lot after the event, where concerned citizens from all walks of life are discussing ways to help black children escape the educational system.
That’s what being a strong black man is all about.
The interview with Rahiem is below: