By Robert Stitt
Everybody knows one of the major pathways to prison is poor education. Those who have a lack of education are exponentially more likely to end up in prison than those who are highly educated. This is even more true if you are an uneducated black male. For years, the government, media, even Hollywood has been calling for an increase in educational programs aimed at helping black youth get out of poverty and into college in order to break the cycle of poverty.
Apparently, several University of California universities have been playing for both teams. It seems that the universities are happy to take the money from black students who qualify to get in and become students. And what of those that did end up in prison, instead?
According to the Black Student Unions of nine undergraduate University of California campuses, the UC system has been investing its money in private prisons to make money off of the black youth that end up there, as well. They have filed a petition that demands the universities divest from these private prisons and asks for a ban on any future investments. They are also calling for a UC divestiture from Wells Fargo who receives profits from the prisons. The UC system is said to have nearly $23 million invested in private prisons.
According to the Atlanta Black Star, the Afrikan Black Coalition said, “If we truly believe that #BlackLivesMatter from the hood to the academy, we must stand with our brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family members who are currently incarcerated or are at a higher risk of incarceration because of their very Blackness.”
The students spoke out after a report from the Office of the Inspector General of California, High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California, was released and detailed a number of failures at the prison. Among the “culture of indifference” among the guards, and an acceptance of gang activity within the prison walls, there is also a “culture of racism” that is pervasive in the prisons.
The guards are said to use the “N” word without even thinking about it. The black inmates were deprived of equal access to food and canteen privileges. The report noted that the blacks were the last to enter the dining area and the first to be sent out. They were the last to enter the canteen and sometimes it would be closed prior to their “turn” so they could not make purchases.
The guards were reported as being racist to other guards as well. “The white staff were very racist and bigoted, not just toward inmates but also toward officers that were of a different race.”
The prisons are a money-making business, but the money is being made off of the mistreatment of black inmates. The students are asking that the universities make the decision to stop making money in this way. The Atlanta Black Star sums up the students’ plea like this, “We must ask how this country can continue to point its finger at other nations for their human rights violations and inhumane practices when America wrote the book on exploitation of Black people for profit.”
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