Category Archives: Social justice

Prisoners are 1 in 100 adults

I’d never realized this fact. It’s striking, to say the least.

Additionally, 1 out of 9 young black men is locked up.
The Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project counted 2,319,258 adults behind bars at the beginning of this year. That was 25,000 more than the previous year.
Ohio was one of the three large states whose prison populations rose last year. The number of prisoners in state institutions topped 50,000 recently for the first time.
One in 30 men between 20 and 34 is locked up, the study showed.
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Cinci roundup

A few items, in between watching the candidates speak to medical marijuana and decriminalization.

At The Nation, Engaging Youth, For Real. Originally published by Wiretap, a national magazine for a new generation of progressive ideas and action. (Lori Roddy).

T]he last of a ten-part series produced by the All Ages Movement Project, in which the leaders of community-based youth organizations share tips and tricks of their trade. All stories are researched and written by members of organizations using independent music–punk, hip-hop, rock, noise, electronic and more–as a vehicle for social change.

The summer of 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the year of its infamous race riots. (April 2001, a police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas; explosive riots ensued.):

In a community called Over-the-Rhine–a largely marginalized, poverty-stricken neighborhood–several leaders including Life Allah, Islord Allah, Dureka Bonds, and Gavin Leonard decided to take what had been their regular discussions in a barbershop about housing, drugs and police issues and turn them into a community organizing effort.

That summer, a mix of community folks who cared about police accountability founded CopWatch, a neighborhood organization charged to monitor police-citizen interactions. In 2003, volunteer-driven CopWatch became a nonprofit called Citizens Organizing Neighborhoods to Regain Our Liberation (CONTROL). CONTROL decided to found Elementz, a hip-hop youth center, as a way to ensure the young people in Over-the-Rhine were provided with the necessary resources to gather, build community, and promote change.

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The local paper publishes a DUI checkpoint planned for tonight? Well, thanks and all, but doesn’t that sort of miss the point?

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UrbanCincy laments the in/famous Mark Twain quote about Cincinnati, i.e. “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” (Which, by the way, is attributed to Twain, but not ever verified, as far as my uninspired Google search takes me.) But, come on, Uncle Rando, think about it, at the same time, we’ve got the paper publishing a story on the Go Green Challenge. “Save-the-Earth fervor spreads in businesses, governments,” is the story’s name. Fervor? Fervor! This is 2008, and these few places are just now talking about how to recycle?

I think if Twain (or whoever’s responsible for the quote) were around today, he would perhaps rethink this. (While undergoing chemo for pancreatic cancer or dragging his oxygen tank along.)

The breast pad thing

Hard to imagine anyone who likes a mammogram. At best, there must be those who don’t mind it. It’s not that it’s particularly painful, for me, because it’s not, really — it’s, just as they describe it, more uncomfortable than anything — but I have bad feelings about it. Deeply bad. I resent it: that I have to do it; that there’s controversy surrounding it’s usefulness especially in the face of the procedure itself, the radiation, as harmful to the human body; that there is the disease of breast cancer that is directly attributable to our toxic environment and as such, preventable, and nobody is doing a thing about that. Resentful and fear. Will I, despite my best efforts, going out of my way to avoid the foods, the cosmetics, the g-d water of  rustbelt, not quite post-industrial cities, be one of the ones struck down?

But I do my best with this resentment and fear; you know, all the right things to manage the stress (because stress is a killer, too! you know). Yoga. Deep breathing. Etc and so on.

So I go to the hospital at the appointed time, which actually includes an extra fifteen minutes pre-appointment time to run through another registration cycle. I mean that this on-site physical registration is on top of an earlier pre-registration by phone that took about thirty minutes of my time one afternoon.  After it is clear that today’s registration is stretching well beyond my appointment time, I get annoyed. I point out to the person on the other side of the desk that I’m late for my appointment and that I hope this doesn’t mean that I will then be kept waiting further for my service. Nothing. More clicking on the keyboard keys, more scrutinizing the screen at data I can’t see, then the helper/clerk gets up and goes out of the space, no comment. She returns with another clerk, who after much pointing at the screen and further key-clacking, confirms that, yes, all is as it should be. “Pardon me,” I say, “but what was the purpose of my having spent thirty minutes pre-registering by phone only to come here and go through another lengthy process that causes me to miss my appointment time?” No good answers, the consulted clerk scurries off, my clerk gives (at least) a tepid “I’m sorry” and wan smile. This is something to take up with those powers who be who have enacted processes that are not working as they should. Will I do that? Probably not. Throw more of my time away. Unlikely. And so it goes.

Back in the Breast Health Center, I have indeed missed my appointment time. It turns out that I will wait. But first, more papers to fill out. The chipper clerk behind this counter hands me a pamphlet and wants to know if I would like the breast pads, which cost $5, just check the box here yes or no.  Meanwhile, there are other women coming through, and asked again verbally by the clerk who I must assume just does not bother to look at how each women has checked her form — surely she can read yes or no. Many of the women answer affirmatively. I sit waiting. And think, why? Why if this is now understood as a standard of comfort, a little foam pad to put on the machine to ease the cold, the discomfort of the surface, why put the burden on the patient? What does it mean to decline? (I don’t care about myself? My breasts can take it?) Where in the hell are all these used pads going? Consider there is no “away.” What a gimmick!

A cold and broken Hallelujah

Dutton, who is, (according to the bio — see the link) , a professor in Miami University’s Department of Architecture and Interior Design, and is director of the university’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, gets it right with his guest column, which I was really pleased to read. It’s not just that he is spot-on with the Drop Inn’s contribution and value but that he points out the terrible problem with the Enquirer’s previous approach to its earlier, Jan. 12, “story” on the Drop Inn in terms of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood’s current and ongoing gentrification.

The front-page headline of The Enquirer on Jan. 12 read “Will Drop Inn Center be pushed out?” bolstered by the subhead “Some wonder if homeless shelter hurts Over-the-Rhine development.” If those questions weren’t bold enough, readers were encouraged to register their opinions to the question “Should the Drop Inn Center move?”

The prejudicial character of these questions should be obvious. People say that to really solve a problem, the question that frames that problem is crucial. These questions are no example of a decent framing. They are sly and specious, harboring assumptions that in no way reveal what the Drop Inn Center is and does. Example? The questions presuppose incompatibility, and worse, that such incompatibility rests with the Drop Inn Center. The questions place you too far down the road to recognize a more fundamental question: What is our society’s capacity for empathy?

Read the rest of the column here: The Enquirer – Drop Inn Centers power is capacity for love