Spent Wednesday afternoon with Yohance Lacour at Hastings College in Nebraska. We had the honor & privilege of speaking at their Lecture Series “We All Belong Somewhere”.
Yohance & I spoke on belonging after Incarceration. I opened the conversation by reading an essay I recently wrote entitled “The Spirit of Death: The Predicament of Being Directly Impacted.” I argued that discriminatory reentry practices & policies function as social bondage that are fused together by the competing beliefs and practices of retribution & meritocracy. Consequently, reentry practices become reentry barriers that instigate individual acts of recidivism. In particular, formerly incarcerated people are released from the physical cage of incarceration to the cage of social bondage–reentry barriers.
Building on the argument, Yohance shared his story as a formerly incarcerated entrepreneur, highlighting the impact of mandatory minimums and phenomena of transporting inmates across state lines. In particular, he challenged privileged people to share their privilege by intentionally opening & connecting formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs with their social capital. This challenge is a direct result of his partnership with privileged folks that have opened their networks to him as CEO and Founder of Motif, a luxury handcrafted sneaker collection.
What those of us with privilege can do is share our privilege by partnering with our formerly incarcerated & directly impacted citizens!
- Learn—Read “The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prisons and Punishment in a Divided City by Ryan Lugalia-Hollon & Daniel Cooper
- Reflect—Unpack your implicit bias & savior mentality towards the so-called “criminal” class. They are people with a history and a story, not projects that need saving.
- Get involved—Partner with formerly incarcerated & directly impacted individuals & organizations doing the work. In Chicago, Parole Illinois, Community Renewal Society & A Just Harvest are just a few organizations doing collaborative work towards structural change.
- Be good listeners—seeking ways to share power & social networks.
- Support directly impacted entrepreneurs— patronize their businesses and follow them on social media platforms. Here’s a few to follow and patronize: Yohance Lacour | Aaron Smith | Yaacov Delaney | Breaking Cycle
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I firmly believe that the hope for this nation will not come until justice is served to those individuals & communities directly impacted by mass incarceration.