It’s painful to think that they choose to throw away people like myself instead of trying to find a solution. But, I guess, why find solutions to a problem they created to oppress people like myself? The system that was designed to help me was a system based on a foundation of oppression. The only thing it helped was to make me a better criminal. I can’t say I can point out any one thing to change or any one thing we can do to create change. The system, as a whole, just needs to go.
I can’t count how many times the system failed a young, lost boy like me. I remember being incarcerated for the dumbest things, like missing school or riding the bus. Since I was a youth on probation, it made things a lot different for me. Every little thing I did was a punishable offense. I remember feeling as though the world was against me, and feeling as though I couldn’t be myself. I never realized until later that the oppressive system I thought was helping me caused me trauma and more pain. I never realized the school-to-prison pipeline existed. I never realized that I was just another statistic in the eyes of that system.
As defeated as I was, the system continued to try and break me. Honestly, it almost did. I made it to adult jail a few times, actually. I almost committed to a lifestyle I knew would land me in prison. The only things that helped guide me to a better life were the countless nonprofits that entered my life while I was incarcerated. The people who chose to see me for me, gave me their time, and invested in me with their hearts were the ones who helped me out. I don’t think I would have ever changed if it wasn’t for these people. Organizations, like InsideOUT Writers and Coalition for Engaged Education, are and were truly the deciding factor to whether or not I’d be a statistic or break free from the pipeline. They showed me everything, from how to shave properly to expressing myself through acting and music. They gave me guiding adults to look up to. So, if you truly want change, look to those people — the nonprofits, the advocates, and social workers laying the foundation for change.
Change takes time and steps. Why fight over how to change a system that isn’t really broken? It was created to oppress individuals like us. Why constantly fight an uphill battle when we can throw out what exists and fill it with the nonprofits and workers who truly care? If we can change something, what would it be? You cannot change something that works perfectly. So, why not create something that works for us instead of the oppressive system that was built on a foundation of racism and capitalism? Throw out this system and replace it with the countless organizations that are doing exactly what we thought the system would do for us.