Another Project Posted

21Mar07

Hi. My name is Megan. I suffer from what has been called “the plight of the white southerner.” This is not a modern-day white man’s burden but a fascination with inequalities and race. Not to mention, I’m a woman, not a man.

It is safe to say that of the many urban issues raised in contemporary social studies, race is one of the most consistent. There are probably few better places to observe these issues than within our nation’s capitol, the magnificent and ever perplexing Washington, DC. The federal government may dominate the exported image of the city, but long or short term residents will tell you that the Washingtonian appears with many faces. The population of the District is 60% African American, comprising much of the permanent inhabitants and local workforce; this percentage has diminished in recent years thanks to several influences. I speak of a marginalized group operating in the wake of national power, under the dangling of democracy. Racial inequalities are sadly (and explicitly) on display in DC, keeping the awareness of this unfairness on high alert.

And that fits right in with another obsession of mine: the justice system.

The words I will be writing on this website will be looking at a physical place where these two interests intersect: halfway homes. Since the prison population of DC is 90% African American (many of whom are drug offenders) it is assumed that the typical halfway home inhabitant is of the same racial category. There is a 77% chance that their first stay will not be their last encounter with the legal world, appearing as though some aspect of the “rehabilitation” process is failing. This failure affects the African American population disproportionately.

Instead of tackling the large looming question of “why?” I will be investigating specific issues of the halfway home world, combining personal observation with literature research. Though subject to change, I hope to offer a glimpse into issues pertaining to employment, mental health, and credit problems facing released offenders. Let’s throw in a bit of justice system theory and call it a day, eh?

(Disclaimer: The southern bit I speak of is slightly contested. I grew up in Kentucky, a no-man’s land geographically and culturally which neither the Midwest nor the South is quick to claim. Big surprise. So we self-identify and shift as appropriate. I’ve been four years gone and plan to create new footprints rather than backtrack home. My interests are as narrow as the globe, which basically means I have a hard time keeping on track. Feel free to help me with that. Cheers.)

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One Response to “Another Project Posted”

  1. 1 Melissa

    I read this poem last week, shortly after reading this post of yours. Naturally, it reminded me of your project focus, among many other social injustices, and I have been meaning to post the poem as a comment.

    So here you are. I bring you, “The Nobodies” by Eduardo Galeano:

    Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream
    of escaping poverty: that one magical day good luck will
    suddenly rain down on them–will rain down in buckets. But
    good luck doesn’t rain down yesterday, today, tomorrow, or
    ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a fine drizzle, no matter
    how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their left hand is
    tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right foot, or
    start the new year with a change of brooms.
    The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The
    nobodies: the no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits,
    dying through life, screwed every which way.
    Who are not, but could be.
    Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
    Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
    Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
    Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
    Who are not human beings, but human resources.
    Who do not have faces, but arms.
    Who do not have names, but numbers.
    Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the
    police blotter of the local paper.
    The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.

    (since i just made a big deal about citing, that was cited on page I of paul famer’s book: pathologies of power: health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. … university of california press: berkeley. 2005). sorry, no link.


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