Kenya Hill

PAINFUL CONVERSATIONS, by Kenya Hill

There aren’t any adequate words to describe the pain African-American have felt at the hands of racism since the moment our ancestors stepped off the slave ship less than 150 years ago. Throughout every generation, torturous, inhuman experiences and abuses have engulfed us as a result of racism: sold and separated from families, beat, maimed and hanged on the basis of half-a-human status segregated, then integrated but still lives were disentgrated because equality was found to not be equal at all…or for all. The black community has never considered the police a friend. They’ve always had a noose, a Billie club, a gun, tear gas, a dog or a knee to use, in the “interest of justice” to come down upon us in a hard, unrelenting and deadly fashion. America has a deplorable history of racism, that’s for certain. So right now as we stand at the precipice of change as a result of Mr. George Floyd’s life being lost along with so many other black and brown people who didn’t deserve to die, people are taking a stand, multitudes and multitudes of people of diverse races and backgrounds screaming with dry and sore throats, tears in their eyes and hurt in their hearts…change must happen and around the world, the same sound is ringing out, change has to happen now. We realize that we need to have painful conversations ones that are honest, to dispell stereotypes, breakdown barriers, involve a willingness to understand how we feel about race relations in America, listening to the very real experiences and palpable issues we face as African-Americans and a desire for white America to put away the sense of inhumanity its ancestors placed on anyone that was not white America and this travesty of indifference was passed down through the blood lines to create the systemic atrocities we still see today so many yeas after slavery. Painful conversations will result in premeditated solutions. So here I am in prison where a painful conversation needs to be had here as well. Prison is a place where officer race-related brutality runs rampant. In Florida, State prisons have the highest brutality rate, higher than police departments. Prison is a very racially divided inter society made up of many people who have carried around with them family taught views of races, mostly negative, heavily premised on stereotypes, misconceptions and ignorance. But that should not be so shocking as prison is considered modern day slavery, older than the institution of slavery itself. It’s not uncommon to hear the crackle of apathy that resounds so loud in the air from white inmates who cannot relate, or don’t even to to relate to the maltreatment of black and brown inmates because their white privilege has enabled them to receive considerable less time in prison than their black and brown counterparts therefore that adds to their air of superiority which is majorly displaced as we are all under the punishing hand of the system. At times, there is acceptance most times there is abjectness. Acceptance that all races have to live with each other in this society within a society and we literally need each other in this environment that is quite adversarial to us all, however, the abjectness that the dispicable ways some white people in prison were taught at an early age to look down on a black and brown person or view black and brown people as an imposition upon American way of life still comes out in their speech and actions. This is very perplexing. Then the racial slurs and the name calling start to fly. Ironically, it’s definitely not a well traversed topic among the masses collectively as it is done in a segregated fashion but those of us black and brown people who are enlightened certainly talk about it and we want it to change. We know in order to do that….a painful conversation needs to be had. No more segregated think tanks. We have to all come together, black, white, Latino, Asian and start the dialogue. Whether in America, France, Israel, Africa, a jail cell or a prison dormitory, the conditions are ripe for change. Once the dialogue starts, it needs to continue until we see the change take root and grow. I am hopeful, as I look at the multiracial protest, that a dialogue has begun and a wave of change is upon us. The sooner we have the painful conversations, everywhere, the sooner we can see the powerful transformations because silence is no longer an option. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, “It’s not the violence of the few that scares me, its the silence of many.”

Kenya Hill
DOC #X40998

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