I know it’s sort of morbid, but I feel that every once in a while, it’s important to think about how you’d like to be remembered when you die. Maybe it’s that mentality that makes people think I’m an old soul; but I think that really considering how you want people to think of you when you’re 6 feet under is the only thing that’s going to ensure that you make meaningful decisions in your work.
I could easily sit here and only churn out Top-10 Buzzfeed-style lists for click bait. I could; but I won’t.
Because when I’m dead and gone, I will be damned if that’s the only mark I’ve left on the world/the internet… Which brings us here. To a piece about mortality, social injustice, mass incarceration, and systemic racism – you know, mom stuff.
It may come as a surprise to some that once a woman has a couple kids, her brain is somehow able to simultaneously worry about whether or not she’s chosen the right sleep sack AND how incredibly fucked up is it that the American prison system is home to 2,220,300 inmates, 60% of which are minorities (40% being black).
To be fair, 39% of inmates are white; HOWEVER (and that’s HOWEVER in big, bold letters), black people only account for 13% of the overall population of the country, whereas white people account for 64% of the population, which means that black people are going to jail at a seriously disproportionately high rate in comparison to their white counterparts.
Now, that’s messed up in and of itself, but it’s also important to seriously sit and consider: How the hell is it that a country that is responsible for 5% of the world’s population is simultaneously responsible for 25% of the world’s prisoners?
After the kids have gone to bed, and our heavy-handed red wine pour has landed safely in our glasses, mothers don’t just log onto to Pinterest to learn how to make flower crowns and outfits for stuffed animals out of their baby’s newborn onesies (both very cute ideas though); we educate ourselves about the condition of the world we live in, because it’s the world we now hold an even higher stake in because when we go, we’re leaving a piece of us behind to navigate this shit storm.
And that’s why I wrote this post. Because there are injustices happening in our world that I believe that we, as mothers, need to make it our business to be acutely aware of.
We need to be talking about the fact that just south of us, in the United States of America, in “the land of the free”, people’s rights are being stripped from them because of a clause in the 13th Amendment that allows people’s rights to be revoked if they are labelled a “criminal”; the implication of which is that due to disproportionately high arrest rates amongst African Americans, black people are having their rights legally revoked due a loophole in The Constitution that allows people to be treated as slaves as long as it’s as a punishment for committing a crime.
That means that a charge for a minor, petty crime changes the trajectory of a person’s life, limiting the jobs he can apply for, the places he can live, where he can travel to, how much money he can make, how much time he can spend with his children, and so on and so forth.
We need to be talking about the fact that corporations are allowed to use incarcerated persons for profit – hiring them for extremely low wages; forcing them into a labour trade that looks a hell of a lot like slave labour when you actually take a minute to really look at it.
And that’s what I’m urging you to do today. LOOK AT IT. Please do yourself a favour and educate yourself as to what is happening right before your eyes, yet just far away enough for you to ignore it because of all the other shit on your plate right now.
A movie recently came out on NetFlix that I am willing to beg you to watch. It’s called 13th and it will blow your fucking mind, over and over again until you understand why a mom-blogger felt the need to tell you to watch it.
Knowledge is power and we, as mothers, have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the world we’re raising our kids in.
This is the reason why the tagline of this site is, “Don’t Call It A Mom Blog”. It’s about so much more than peonies and selfies because the world is just so much bigger than that. I believe that this matter in particular is so important that anyone who has any type of captive audience has a responsibility to start a conversation about it, and that’s why you’re reading this right now.
Institutionalized racism, mass incarceration, social injustice – maybe these things don’t affect your day-to-day life at all; but there are mothers out there whose entire lives are dictated by these things. Mothers who have to teach their kids how to interact with law enforcement so that they don’t become a statistic.
1 in 3 black men in the states will be arrested in his lifetime. ONE IN THREE. The facts are right in front of us and they are horrifying.
Ok, Nikita. Hang on a second. Don’t you realize that you’re a Canadian blogger, writing a post that highlights the problems of a nation that you don’t even live in, when there are social injustices running rampant right here in the Great White North – most importantly the deplorable treatment of our very own indigenous population?
It’s true. Canada is not perfect (we somehow never seem to be able to break out of second place for “Best Country to Live In” designations). We also don’t have the money that America does and therefore we don’t have the production capabilities that America has; as a result, I have not physically SEEN and FELT what I saw and felt when I watched “The 13th” when I’ve watched news features or read about issues on home turf.
I’m also probably disproportionately concerned because of selfish reasons; namely that I’m black. And my family is black. And I have friends, and uncles, and cousins who are black men in America who have to live with the implications of being black men in America every day.
And how unbelievably fucked up is it that it’s 2016 and I STILL just had to type that out?
Now, for me, it’s personal. And I’m urging you to make it personal for yourself too.
Everything out there that’s directed toward women, and especially mothers, is so below our capacity for understanding that it’s actually sickening. It’s time for that to change.
This is mom stuff because this is human stuff. We have to do better. There is too much at stake and believe me, our influence is stronger than we think it is.