Have you seen “13th” yet? The amazing documentary about our prison system, racial tensions, and modern day slavery. This documentary is poignant and relevant to our present times of Black Lives Matter and the counter All Lives Matter. It speaks to our preconceived notions of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong.
I’m a Mexican-Samoan American which just means I’m a tanned American but the true question is, what does being an American mean? Its suppose to mean truth and justice or at least that’s what we’re taught by 1950’s white Superman, things I want to but can’t.
Being a minority, one begins life with a distrust of their government and police but it took the internet for me to realize I’m not alone or have a voice that should be equally heard in a court of law which sometimes is the court of popular opinion. Now this statement may seem bizarre to you but let me explain, I grew up in a Mexican-American family with my single mother and brother, when I was 10 we moved away from California to New Jersey, it was culture shock from being surrounded by a diversified group of people in my school to being the only Mexican-Samoan in a whole town, if not State.
No faith in a government that has the past and present history of knowingly hurting its own people. People make excuses while other people sit behind bars, excuses for a system that was meant to protect me. Watching people sit behind bars while other people live fruitful lives based off the same activities with the same impact (none) on society is like watching a rape while doing nothing.
The drug war has turned from targeting black people as acknowledged by John Ehrlichman to a targeting the poor and legally inept. As explained in the Documentary “13th” the white southern hierarchy found a way to legally end slavery that as a nation was frowned upon by the rest of the nation and create a new legal slave under the term “criminal”. A “criminal” no matter how petty the crime is no longer a citizen, no longer a human being, no longer an American Citizen but an asset of the State.
Once you have a prison full of petty criminals, than you have a building full of revenue because each person represents a dollar amount from the government, and each person represents a cheap laborer. This is something you can ask long time life for pot prisoner Craig Cesal, who has made uniforms and utilized his professional skills for the benefit of the penitentiary.
As a youth, I never participated in any minority based programs because none were oriented towards a non-white half breed but that doesn’t mean problems didn’t exist. I’ve always told myself I just had to work harder than the others which should never be the case in the Land of the “free”, racism and hate exists on many levels, it’s not just black vs. white. In New Jersey where I went to middle to High School, Puerto Ricans are the predominant latino culture, it was here I learned brown people could hate brown people, just like with the black community where shades of black have been known issues among groups, the point is that ignorance exists in all groups.
As an adult I’ve been accidentally involved with minority based groups, my son is academically inclined and has been picked up by a very good group here in Washington known as the Rainier Scholars. This group helps underprivileged kids with a path to college and has helped my son develop opportunities that would have never been there before. From personal experience I know my son’s life is scholastically better thanks to groups like Rainier Scholars while I work on the social injustice that could affect his adult life.
Last week a friend called me and asked me to join a meeting for the Latino ERG (Employee Resource Group) here in the Pacific NorthWest. I saw this as an opportunity for networking and seeing what kind of positive things for equality this groups is doing. I was impressed by the people who showed up for this meeting, Hispanics from Starbucks, Boeing, and Microsoft showed, all well established and productive members in the workplace and community. The focus of the meeting was how does one add value to their company and to their product via their non-anglo perspective, this is something many minorities deal with, the issue being how to use your voice without compromising your own personal values; this is something that always comes to mind, especially with marijuana since I grew up with it, marijuana is a part of my culture.
There were some pretty important keynote and panel speakers; Melvin Flowers gave an inspirational speech of how he learn to conform to the world of work and this is something the Rainier Scholars emphasize, we conduct ourselves a certain way around our friends but to get the job one needs to wear the appropriate uniform of the job you’re looking for. Among the panel was the head of recruitment and policy for Microsoft. He emphasized how we all add value to our companies with our own perspective, it was here that I was inspired to ask him a question. Out of fear I didn’t want to ask this question in the forum but on a sidebar because I wanted the one on one consideration. I asked him his opinion on the drug war and does he feel it changing policy could make a difference? He agreed but part of the problem is how do you change policy? We didn’t have much of a conversation since there was a lot of people there trying to bend the ear of a man that is part of the hiring and firing policy at one of the biggest corporations in the world but I would like to share with you my thoughts on how corporate policies can change minority communities and America as a whole.
Employers worry about legalization, thinking that once marijuana is legal there will be a rash of accidents at the workplace but to think people who aren’t doing it now is pure ignorance. I propose that if companies like Microsoft and Amazon create a policy that drug testing is not policy than little black, brown, yellow, and white boys and girls will seek to excel in certain categories like computer sciences or what ever six figure dreams they have that don’t include guns for killing.
Drug testing is not only bad for companies but also employers. Each day good people are passed up for employment or don’t try, out of the reasonable thought that doing so could be a waste of time, this is practical thinking, the thinking of someone I want working for me.
The reason why prohibition is failed and has failed is because it’s geared toward segregating one group based off a particular vice because supposedly doing that thing makes you a good or bad person but truth is assholes exist in all colors, shapes and sizes, beautiful and ugly, evil doesn’t wear a neon sign. Prohibition has failed because prohibition is not about justice or accountability.
If you get a chance, watch 13th. It took me 3 days but it was worth it.