Nearing the end of my freshmen year of college I was incarcerated for the first and last time.
I was with an older “friend” who could pass for white. She was a kleptomaniac, something I knew nothing about at the time. Long story short, I was accused of shop lifting by the local security guard and was threatened intimidated and physically accosted by the Latah County Police in Moscow, Idaho.
The judge was furious with me for getting character references but the women of the local YWCA took his ass to task. He sentenced me to a weekend behind bars and to this day I can not shake what happened to me.
My cousin is currently serving time behind bars for a parole violation. And by time I mean she has more than year.
Being a black woman, a black girl, is not easy. You get used to black men being placed behind bars and it’s easier to deal with…but when the shoe is on the other foot, the horror is too much to bear at times.
I remember the case of Marissa Alexander, a black woman in Florida who fired a warning shot at her abusive husband. During the same years as the death of Trayvon Martin she was penalized for standing her ground, sentenced to 60 years. She is doing better now, but the system is past fucked up.
As the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown reignite the movement for real change in the U.S. criminal-justice system, black women’s experience of state-sanctioned anti-black violence must be included. That means demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Oklahoma judge who granted and reduced bail in the Holtzclaw case, in addition to demanding that the DOJ bring charges against Darren Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department.
It also means rewriting the laws so that it isn’t nearly impossible to indict police officers who kill unarmed civilians, and rewriting laws that allow battered women to serve decades in prison for attempting to defend themselves.
Now is the time to examine and readjust the focus of black women behind bars. When does it start? How did we get here? What are the solutions? And what can we do in the mean time. I wish to explore this topic further in my upcoming posts…
To the Future — Vhonda