Both sides of my family, the white one but especially the Southeast Asian one, are going to freak when they see that title. However, since my mom went to the great Gucci outlet in the sky a few years ago, there is no one here to throw a massage sandal at my head and verbally assault me for an hour in response. And my dad barely does email, let alone read blogs, so let’s continue.
The title of my story is the great unspoken truth for many of us North Americans “of color.” I have heard my mom say, “Send them back!” in various political and casual conversations concerning various ethnic groups — including her own.
With well over two million people in state and federal prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, local jails, detention facilities, and other spaces of confinement, the United States incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country in the world - and it's not close. The harms done by mass incarceration extend to every domain of social life, not least to the bonds between children and their parents. Most often, these parents and kids are people of color.
Andrew and Melissa of EmbraceRace spoke to guests Amani Sawari and Beth Navon on August 27, 2019. Drawing on their extensive experience with the prison and juvenile justice systems, and with the parents and children in them, Amani and Beth offer sobering insights into the impact of prisons on family life - and some ideas about how we can help make things better.
Watch the video, check out all the resources in the tip sheet or continue below to read a lightly edited transcript and to learn more about guests Amani Sawari and Beth Navon.
In 1943 in Manhattan, NY, a 46-year old African- and Native-American man who was a renowned band director and jazz composer marries a 19-year old naive European-American woman of Jewish Ukrainian descent, who wants to sing professionally. I’m the second of five children.
At age four, I overhear Mommy telling her Mom she won’t leave Daddy and me in order to come back home with my whiter looking brother. Every year of our growing up, Mommy takes the whitest looking child to find new housing, and our unwanted family moves in the middle of the night. We’re in new schools, too.