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America is like a beautiful, ornate mansion with pristine gardens and well manicured lawns on the outside, however, once you enter through the front door, the stench of the filth that lurks within arrests the human senses like that of a powerful and intoxicating gas, and can render one unconscious; and once you’ve awakened you find that you are enslaved within the walls of an ominous and sinister dungeon; shackled by Capitalistic greed and chained with link, after link, after link of social injustice that leads to dehumanization.” La Royce  

“America the Beautiful”, doesn’t sound so beautiful anymore, does it? Whether you choose to agree with the above statement or not, unfortunately, it has become our reality. This is, “The House WE Live In”, all of us, save for a small percentage that viciously hold grip to the magical key that opens the door of liberation to a just society for all. Please make sure you are grasping what I am saying when I state, “a small percentage that hold the key to the door of a just society for all”; notice I did not say that they hold the key to our shackles and chains. We’ll ponder this later; right now let’s discuss the small percentage of the American population who are purposely in the business of handling human lives for their monetary greed.

Monetary greed of money changers: the business of buying and selling human lives for one’s own profits…this takes my mind to the movie Django: Unchained; the dinner scene, in particular, where they were discussing (or having a business dinner, if you will) the transaction of Mandingo wrestlers. The fascinating point of discussion for me came when Massa was explaining his perverted synopsis of why he believed people of African descent weren’t able to think, reason, and/or comprehend as those who were “privileged” to live in the comforts of Caucasian skin. As ignorant as his biological explanation was, he did pose a question that we need to argue. He stated that while he was growing up, as the prince, on his immaculate plantation, seeing nothing but black faces, everyday of his life, and how these black faces were mistreated day in and day out; he could never understand, “Why the black faces wouldn’t rise up and overtake Candy Land and kill all of the oppressors?”. Was the answer to this question fear? Fear of being whipped, sold, mutilated, castrated, burned, lynched, drug by horses, fed to dogs and whatever other wicked and degrading punishment those in power could conger up in their sick, demonic minds. Or was it really due to the enslaved developing a slave mentality because of the structure that they were forced to conform to for many generations?

It’s very sad, but even today in the year of 2015, after over a century and a half of the abolishment of slavery, the same question remains; “Why the oppressed won’t rise up against the oppressors?”

Even as we examine the Civil Rights era; there were many of our brothers and sisters that chose to just go along with the program of being dehumanized and not making a ruckus, and just going about minding their own business of staying on their side of town, using their water fountains and public restrooms, riding on the back of the bus, entering through the back door of business establishments while being expected to pay the same or more for the necessities of everyday living. I pose the same question; why did we, as a people, conform to the unjust Jim Crow laws? Was the answer to this question fear? Fear of being spit on, beaten, drug by cars, shot, lynched, decapitated, homes burned down, churches burned down, bombed and whatever other wicked and degrading punishment those in power would come up with in their sick and demonic minds. Or was it the mentality of returning to a slaves’ existence, due to the structure that they were forced to conform to for many decades? {Along with some remnants of wounds that hadn’t healed, and had even become infected, from the previous generations’ enslavement?}.

It’s very heartbreaking, that even today in the year 2015, after nearly five decades of the abolishment of Jim Crow laws, the same question remains; “Why the oppressed won’t rise up against the oppressors?”

Now let’s look at the evil and wicked social injustice of today’s issue known as Mass Incarceration that Eugene Jarecki so bravely brings awareness to in his film, “The House I Live In”. In my opinion, this is the present day form of enslavement of our people, while a small percentage of those in power continue to purposely buy and sell human lives for their monetary gain. The difference is it’s not as blatant and obvious on the surface as the previous two forms of enslavement that we’ve endured. Yet, one can argue that it is silently killing us as a people, and we could very well end up with a multitude of casualties; more so than the previous two enslavements combined, if we do not immediately take a stand against this issue of Mass Incarceration.

As we know, not all of our people, conformed to the unjust laws of Pre Civil War Slavery and the Jim Crow era, this is why today we are so very blessed to enjoy the harvest of their very intense labor. There were some such as Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass and the brave brothers who fought in the Civil War; as well as, Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and countless other brothers and sisters that stood brave and fought, boycotted and marched to get laws changed for the betterment of our people; and I am so very grateful to our Father for empowering these leaders with courage to stand at their designated times.

So, from our history and the lessons learned from the previous demons that we faced, there is hope of conquering this demon of Mass Incarceration, and hopefully of annihilating once and for all the slave mentality that keeps lurking its ugly head amongst our people. But, in order to conquer, we must first get in the battle to fight; and in order to battle, we must have a workable strategy; and in order to work our strategy, we must have a structure of leadership; and in order to have leaders, we must have followers. In other words, no one can handle this alone; we must put aside our differences and come together, as a people, to save our people. Again, I will repeat, we must work together and we all have a job to do. My brothers and sisters, let me make it very clear, this is a life or death issue for our people, so again, each and every one of us has a job to do, meaning those of us who don’t like to get involved, and don’t like to make a ruckus and just go along with, and accept whatever is thrown our way; it’s time out for that nonsense. When you sit back and do nothing, you are just as guilty as the oppressors. I call this “paving the way to hell”!

We’ve learned that for things to get better, ultimately, we must fight to have our current laws changed. This is where our structure of leadership must stand and guide us. If we need to march, then our leaders need to organize; if we need to sign petitions, then our leaders need to make sure signatures are gathered; if we need to vote on specific laws and specific candidates that will aide in our struggle against injustice, our leaders need to make sure we are informed. Leaders we need you to stand up and lead by organization, information and awareness, and, if necessary, mass meetings. It’s absolutely amazing to me that we have leaders that organize, delegate and get the word out about concerts, and new clubs on the scene, and party cruises, and annual music festivals; but when it comes to something as important as saving our people, some of our leaders turn a blind eye. Turning a blind eye to our issues of a broken people makes you just as guilty as the oppressor. I call this “paving the way to hell”!

My mother used to say to me when I was growing up, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I use to wrestle with this “old wives tale” because I thought it meant she desired our home to be cleaned at all times because God didn’t like filth. Well as I’ve ripened, I’ve come to understand that it means exactly that, God does not like filth! So guess what, we need to get to the business of getting, “The House WE Live In” cleaned up and presentable in the sight of our Heavenly Father. Also, as I was becoming a young woman and learning the art of wearing make-up, my mother would say, “Baby, make-up should enhance your God given beauty, and never be worn to hide who you really are, it’s not a mask”. As I ponder back over these life lessons, they can both be applied to our issue at hand. Yes, we must get our house cleaned up and in order, and we must cease hiding behind the mask of society’s make-up. We have to change our mindset, as a people, and come to the understanding that we have the power to loosen our chains and remove society’s blindfold. Yes, we as a people hold the key to freeing ourselves from the shackles and chains that we find ourselves presently locked up in from being hoaxed into the deception that feeds into Mass Incarceration. As my pastor, the Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes, III, always reminds us of, “We have wings, but we are refusing to fly”. Brothers and sisters it is so time that we become liberated in our minds by removing society’s blindfold, so that we can get our house clean and save our people from the destruction of Mass Incarceration.

“So every bondman in his own hand bears the power to cancel his captivity.” – Shakespeare

Please do not misunderstand me, I recognize more than anyone, that we live amongst, and are hindered by the “small percentage” of Americans that lustfully desire to keep us locked behind the trapped door of a society of injustice, so that they can continue to be the money changers profiting from their evilness and wickedness of monetary greed. However, we as a people can limit their power by becoming more aware, by voting in every election, by not evading jury duty, by following our leadership that has our best interests at hand, by standing up and understanding that this is our problem that we all face together and we all have a part to do; and mostly by cleaning up your area of, “The House WE Live In”!

God bless you my brothers and sisters as we move forward!

La Royce