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May I have a real talk with you America?

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How about a nice heart to heart on where things really are today?

The Black Lives Matter Movement Inspires Protests In Milan Photo by Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

Welcome to America, land of the free, home of the most slaves. Now some will naturally be alarmed by such a bold gesture. I ask you to be mindful that the 13th amendment in the U.S. Constitution states that slavery wasn’t necessarily abolished but rather deferred to convicted prisoners carrying out their sentences. Now add that along with the fact the United States has the highest prison & jail population (2,193,798 in adult facilities in 2020), & the highest incarceration rate in the world (724 per 100,000 population in 2020), in addition to The New York Times report that misconduct was found in 75% of cases blacks were exonerated of a murder conviction.

In fact, blacks convicted of murder are a staggering 50% more likely than any other race to be innocent of a murder of which they were convicted. The Black race makes up less than 13% of America’s population, yet are convicted of 52% of the nation’s murder convictions. Statistically it’s improbable unless one says that it’s in all black people’s DNA to be murderers (totally ridiculous and not what the author is saying) or blacks are being wrongfully convicted at a vastly disproportionate number. Keep in mind many are being housed in privately-owned prisons. Also remember the nation’s prison system was not in place until 1891, which was after slavery ended and most slaves by then were displaced, without paying jobs, money, assets, or education.

That’s a heck of a sequence of coincidences huh?

You may not like it, but it’s a statistical fact America was not only built on free labor, but still profits from the free labor off the backs of enslaved prisoners. Private prisons also still exist, including in the very own state of your Memphis Grizzlies which technically is Tennessee (although there is a growing crowd of Memphians who now recognize Memphis as its own sovereign state). How can we expect unbiased justice when private prisons can have local lawmakers pass laws that allow them to arrest, convict and sentence people to these private prisons and in turn put these prisoners to work at a wage that is virtually free labor. The average prison labor paycheck isn’t even enough to cover the average cost of essential commissary. Those wages? On average $0.86 an hour, down from the reported average of $0.93 in 2001. The cost of commissary goods have increased, while the average prison labor wage has decreased. Oh by the way, states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, & Georgia, don’t pay prisoners anything in exchange for free labor.

Some will say “Don’t do the crime!”, but how many times have we seen convicted criminals found to be innocent in the wake of current DNA technology? Archie Williams is the latest sensation of the show, America’s Got Talent. He was convicted for the rape of a white woman. Archie was recently found innocent after serving 36 years of a life sentence in Angola State Penitentiary of Louisiana.

Stop what you’re doing for a second and just imagine serving 36 years in one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Not to mention wearing the jacket of a black man who raped a white woman. Yet truthfully, you were actually at home asleep when the assault occurred. This is the pain Archie Williams sang with as he crooned Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

More now than ever in my lifetime, more white people are asking, “What can we do to help? How can we fix this?”

Chicago Area Drag Queens March In Protest Over Police Killing Of George Floyd, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

There are clearly systemic measures in place against black people. So I beg to ask, why shouldn’t there be systemic measures put in place to reverse the clearly intended poverty and oppression of blacks? Specifically the disparity in wealth, health, education and police brutality between black and white people.

Are the white people that have the knowledge and resources of things such as the modern tech industry, finance, real estate, business loans and grants, obtaining service contracts, or economics in general willing to share vitally impactful information and relationships with black people?

Are white people willing to lobby for the government to return funding for things like vocational technology programs in high schools so black kids that have the option of having a licensed trade coming out of high school as a means to earn decent income immediately even if they still attend a four year university for another occupation?

Are white people willing to help more black youth and adults start their own businesses and means of income? Offering not only funding but teaching black people how to develop a business budget, business plan, marketing plan, operations plan, etc.?

Maybe you’re a gatekeeper or decision maker of sorts at a streaming service or record label and can help black artists receive equal budgeting, radio and marketing opportunities as their white counterparts? Or demolish the “urban” title placed on black music that prevents it from receiving an opportunity on mainstream pop culture platforms?

Will white people not only demand an end to police brutality but also prison and education reform of black people?

America was built on the free labor of blacks who were forced into slavery and that free labor is valued today somewhere north of 97 trillion dollars. Those who were enslaved, mostly died so poor they couldn’t afford a decent burial. Their descendants inherited their debts and bondage on top of being discriminated against systemically in every facet of American society. Due to the emotional, mental and financial setbacks this systemic oppression has caused these Black American descendants, shouldn’t they receive some sort of compensation for the 97 trillion dollars of free labor accumulated that the black race is still severely recovering from? Especially considering today’s descendants of those white people still benefit from the free labor of black people forced into over 200 years of slavery while the black descendants still suffer from it?

I also ask, are you willing to sacrifice and in some cases suffer in order to have equality reform? It feels good to say one wants change for the other in the moment but are you passionate enough for a follow through and on a consistent basis? Ending racism requires sacrifice and commitment.

Are you willing to intervene if you witness a cop kneeling his weight on the neck of a black man?

Are you a white cop that is now willing to call out a fellow officer if you witness them doing something to a black person that they wouldn’t do to their own?

Are you in a position of leadership at your place of employment and willing to give that black person an opportunity to move up or make significant progress within the company and thus for their career as well as yours as an equal opportunist?

I dare to ask politicians and those lobbying for black people to vote is there a plan of action in place to systematically address gentrification?

Is there a plan in place to systemically help black people finally access the wealth of America’s banks, so that black people can be approved for more business grants and loans as well as property financing?

Is there a plan of action in place to address the health care crisis of the black race, of which black women have the highest mortality rate of any other races. Black people are at the highest risk of diabetes and dental crisis as well.

Hopefully I get to see the results of real change in ending racism, if not I’m even more glad if my kids do. However there are so many layers of racism to unravel and decipher that it’s not nearly enough room to cover in this article.

Have you ever bothered to wonder how traumatic it must be? Black, brown and non-Christian people have been forced (even to the point of death) to honor the tradition of saluting the American flag, and the national anthem despite black people knowing it was written at a time America recognized black people legally as barnyard animals who could talk and take orders. A time when black people were the furthest from free.

If nothing else, our current President being in office has empowered everyone to candidly reveal which side their views and beliefs truly align in the war of racism and oppression. I don’t believe this all comes to full circle the way it currently is with any other president or candidate in recent history.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

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