A vicious truth about the enslavement of African American men in this country has just come to light. The period of slavery we thought ended in 1865 with the 13th amendment has in fact been extended to 2011. The penitentiary is full of involuntary servitude and when it comes to black men, it is overflowing.
According to ColorLines, Ohio State law professor and author Michelle Alexander who wrote “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, told an audience at the Pasadena Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, “More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.”
Now that has got to be one of the most disturbing facts anyone has ever heard. Young black men all over the country should shudder at the thought of this, but unfortunately, the pants will continue to sag and they will continue to slap hands and brace to greet one another in the hallways of the penitentiary as though she never uttered those words.
At this moment there are 40.2% or 846,000 black men behind bars. And while we are disheveled by this information, it is a clear indicator that the mental health counseling disparity in the black community may be part of the reason we can’t break the chains. The black community has long looked at mental health counseling as taboo. But, we also suffer in this area because we don’t have a bevy of psychiatrists that are specialized in African American psychiatry. It is an area that cannot be treated with normal or traditional western strategies. We really need to get to the root of the cycles we are not breaking in the recidivism occuring between us and the penal system.
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