Chris Hedges joins Mansa Musa on Rattling the Bars to debate his new e-book, “Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Jail.”
By Mansa Musa / The Real News Network
Since 2013, Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and host of The Chris Hedges Report, has taught school programs in drama, literature, philosophy, and historical past at East Jersey State Jail (aka “Rahway”) and different New Jersey prisons. In a single such course, after studying performs by Amiri Baraka and August Wilson, amongst others, Hedges’ college students wrote a play of their very own. The play, Caged, would finally be revealed and carried out at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, for a month-long run in 2018 to sold-out audiences. In his newest e-book, Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison, Hedges chronicles the journey he and his class launched into collectively. Becoming a member of Mansa Musa on Rattling the Bars, Hedges speaks about his e-book and the transformations he witnessed among the many males he taught behind jail partitions.
Chris Hedges is the previous Center East bureau chief of The New York Occasions, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a columnist at ScheerPost. He previously hosted this system Days of Revolt, produced by TRNN, and presently hosts The Chris Hedges Report. Hedges is the creator of a number of books, together with America: The Farewell Tour; American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, and Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison.
Pre-Manufacturing/Studio/Submit-Manufacturing: Cameron Granadino
Mansa Musa: Welcome to this version of Rattling the Bars. I’m Mansa Musa, co-hosting with Eddie Conway. Right now, we’ve got a unprecedented visitor. We’ve Chris Hedges, who’s a Pulitzer Prize successful journalist, was a overseas correspondent and bureau chief within the Center East and the Balkans for 15 years. His physique of labor is limitless in a variety of regards. A Grasp of Divinity of Harvard College, and I’m simply scratching the floor. He wrote a e-book entitled Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Jail. We’ll be discussing this e-book amongst different issues at this time. Welcome, Chris.
Chris Hedges: Thanks.
Mansa Musa: Let’s begin by a few of the issues that you just mentioned in your e-book. You ventured into Rahway jail, most safety jail, September the fifth of 2013, and also you mentioned in your e-book that this was a calling. Clarify that.
Chris Hedges: Properly, I had gone to Harvard Divinity College, however I’d lived in Roxbury, which is a depressed city space in Boston, and ran a small church as a result of I needed to be an interior metropolis minister. And I finally left divinity faculty to change into a journalist. However I did spend two and a half years within the interior metropolis, which, as anyone who grew up white, middle-class, was maybe essentially the most formative expertise in my life as a result of it taught me how the interlocking methods of institutional racism and the way they work. The probation officers, the courts, the police, the faculties, the banks, all of them work in live performance to maintain the poor poor. However you don’t actually see it till you reside inside what Malcolm X referred to as, one in every of these inner colonies.
I used to be abroad for 20 years. I got here again. My neighbor, who was the pinnacle of the historical past division on the Faculty of New Jersey – This was earlier than Rutgers had a school program – Was instructing semester-long programs as a result of after individuals bought their GEDs, there wasn’t something for them to proceed their schooling. So she would train like a historical past course, the identical form of course she taught on the Faculty of New Jersey. It didn’t have any educational validity, but when the scholars completed the course, she would print up on her house laptop a certificates. It will go of their file. Once they went earlier than the parole board, it could present constructive exercise that that they had completed whereas they have been incarcerated.
So I started there. After which in 2013, Rutgers started a level program, which has been fairly profitable, initially an affiliate’s diploma, now a full BA diploma, and I began instructing there. However it was returning to my unique calling in a way that I went again to that group that I had labored with and thought I used to be going to spend most of my life working with as a minister, and so it was a form of return. You realize, they are saying, life’s not a line, it’s a circle.
Mansa Musa: Okay. And let’s have a look at the e-book in and of itself, Our Class. This e-book, Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Jail, has a singular approach of unpacking the trauma that almost all of us undergo from mass incarceration. However extra importantly, by way of utilizing drama to get the boys to unpack traumatic experiences. Speak about that. How did you give you this idea? As a result of, as I mentioned, in and of itself, I used to be locked up 48 years within the Maryland jail system, so I’m actual aware of jail exercise, and we sponsor a variety of actions, however this explicit idea and the best way you put it to use to get males to enter areas that have been a variety of instances exhausting to deal with or unpack. How have been you in a position to give you this explicit strategy?
Chris Hedges: It was fully unintentional. Properly, that’s in all probability why it labored. It wasn’t premeditated. So I used to be instructing a course on drama. Properly, not surprisingly, most individuals within the class, had 28 college students, had no firsthand expertise with drama as a result of they don’t have $150 to go purchase a ticket to see one thing in New York. And so I made a decision, as a result of drama, every little thing is conveyed primarily by dialogue – Though in fact nice actors deliver so much to that – However primarily by dialogue. And so simply on a whim, I mentioned, effectively, why don’t you write scenes from your personal life, however in dialogue, in dramatic dialogue, in order that they may change into aware of the type of drama.
However what I didn’t know is that it had gotten round contained in the jail that I used to be a author. One in every of my college students really was fairly aware of my work, and he had recruited the very best writers within the jail. And as , there are all the time inside a jail a bunch of people that take writing very significantly. My college students, they turned their cells into libraries. However I had a few half dozen extraordinarily gifted writers. So after they wrote these scenes, I introduced them house. My spouse is an actor, and I confirmed her these scenes. And after two, three weeks, the standard was nonetheless so exemplary that I made a decision that I’d assist them write a play.
Properly, once more, I didn’t perceive what I used to be doing. As a result of as , in a jail, you don’t ask what persons are in for, individuals don’t even use their authorized names in jail. You must construct these emotional partitions as a result of any signal of weak point, any signal of worry, any signal of vulnerability, even sensitivity, makes you prey, could make you prey for predators in jail. So you retain these partitions up. And by getting them to put in writing out of their very own life, in fact what they have been doing is dredging up these traumatic, emotional experiences, each inside and outdoors jail that many had by no means spoken about ever. Despite the fact that they could have been in a cell with anyone for years, they’d by no means talked about it.
I imply, only one instance, one in every of my college students, I mentioned, we have been attempting to work on a scene with a mom. My job was to form of paste every little thing collectively. And I mentioned, effectively, write only a dialogue together with your mom. And on the finish of the category, one of many college students got here up and mentioned, effectively, what if we’re a product of rape? And I mentioned, effectively, that’s what you need to write. So what he writes is the cellphone name that he makes from the county when, after he’s picked up. He’s from Patterson. He’s picked up in a automotive along with his half-brother. There’s a gun within the automotive. If anyone doesn’t declare it, then all people’s going to get a weapons cost. He says it’s his gun. It wasn’t his gun. It was his half-brother’s gun. However the dialog along with his mom is, it doesn’t matter, Ma, I used to be by no means purported to be right here anyway. And you’ve got the son you’re keen on. He went to jail to basically give his mom the son she beloved.
And, in fact, it was deeply emotional. However that’s what occurred that inadvertently these partitions crumbled in that course of. And there have been issues that individuals wrote that they couldn’t… It was so emotional, they couldn’t even learn it. And it created a form of bonding in that classroom, which, to this present day, I imply, that was 2013. I’m on the gate when these guys get out. I’ve continued relationships with them. They’ve relationships within the jail which might be completely different from different relationships as a result of basically, inside that classroom setting by the method of writing that play – Which was finally revealed and finally carried out by the skilled theater in Trenton, was offered out each night time, was referred to as Caged – They instructed the reality about their lives, their experiences, that simply doesn’t get heard inside a jail setting. Properly, very not often.
Mansa Musa: And that brings me to my subsequent query, as a result of, as you eloquently expressed how by this writing they got this chance. I do know from expertise that a variety of us that come into jail, a variety of us are illiterate. A whole lot of us don’t have the power to articulate ourselves in a literary capability. However on this case, one, you bought the very best writers. However extra importantly, in exposing them to writing, did you sense that that they had one thing in them to speak about and that this writing would give them the outlet to convey what they verbally, usually convey amongst themselves in personal? We discuss so much amongst ourselves. However did you sense that, in some unspecified time in the future, did you sense that this writing, that this mechanism proper right here was going to permit you to have the ability to get them to be extra comfy with what they have been saying, and extra importantly, to alter their interested by themselves and the world round them?
Chris Hedges: I don’t know the way a lot I modified their considering. It was extra that I allowed these inside ideas by that course of to be expressed. You must bear in mind, these are extremely educated individuals. A number of college students in that class went on to graduate summa cum laude from Rutgers College. And they also had completed a variety of considering themselves and a variety of self-reflection. However right here it got here out and it was expressed, and ache, the ache that they carried. It was attention-grabbing how lots of the college students within the class, as a result of they’re large guys, a variety of them, all of them elevate weights. They name it The 400 Membership as a result of all of them bench over 400. However all of them usually talked about bullying, which was a quite common expertise throughout the classroom as youngsters. That they had been bullied. So simply all kinds of ache that that they had endured, loss, grief, that battle to carry collectively a household.
The entire plot line of the play was primarily based on a real story a few man who’d been picked up for against the law he didn’t commit. He was the only real employee within the household, so he took care of the mom who had most cancers and [his] 16-year outdated brother. Properly, in fact he goes into jail and the world collapses. His mom dies, his brother will get evicted, finally ends up on the streets, and he begins to hustle to get cash to get a lawyer for his brother. And it is a very… His lawyer calls it a Halley’s Comet expertise. He really bought his conviction overturned finally after just a few years, however the world had disintegrated due to that, and that was the plot line of the play.
So these individuals, they’re faraway from their communities. They’re faraway from their youngsters. They’re faraway from their households. They’re powerless in some ways to try to assist. I imply, they attempt to be fathers over the cellphone, however there’s a variety of anger that’s expressed by the kids, after which they cease coming. As , they all the time say after about 5 years, then the visits get scarcer and scarcer. And there are a lot of circumstances I had with college students who merely instructed them, as a result of it’s a humiliating course of to undergo a go to, the guards will deal with the households, even the kids, not significantly better than the prisoners. And lots of people simply say, don’t go to, particularly to their moms. The relationships disintegrate, the marriages. I had college students who have been paralegals who wrote basically the divorces for his or her wives, and we neglect about all of that and what that does to individuals on the within. But in addition what that does, as a result of jail impacts not solely those that have been inside, however those that are outdoors in innumerable methods, not least of which is monetary, as a result of prisons are fully predatory.
So it’s International Tel Hyperlink and Aramark and Jpay and the commissary, every little thing is privatized. Plus you bought fines. I imply, you’re extracting cash from the poorest of the poor. It’s simply modern-day slavery. [crosstalk] Prisons are mainly plantations. They’re run like plantations. Even the best way I used to be as soon as at an occasion and I watched the warden, who had been a guard on this jail, come up. And I simply watched all my college students flatter him. I imply, he was even blushing. And I mentioned to them afterwards, I mentioned, as a result of I do know what they consider him and what they… And it jogged my memory precisely of what W.E.B. Du Bois would write about that form of double consciousness, that when you’re Black in a scenario like that, you’ve bought to grasp the white world and perceive your personal world. However in fact, that white hierarchy doesn’t perceive the Black world in any respect, regardless that they’re in bodily shut proximity to it.
However there was an ideal instance. They hate the warden, clearly, however they realized inside that energy construction, as a result of he had whole energy in the identical approach the plantation proprietor has whole energy, they needed to flatter him in such a approach, and which turned a form of type of manipulation, clearly.
All of these issues have been captured within the play. Together with the jail code. So you’ve gotten a form of formal code. If anyone dishonors you or disrespects you, you’re supposed to reply. However as my college students mentioned, that code is in actual fact extra usually violated than adopted. The best way they put it’s, you could have anyone are available who did one thing to a member of your loved ones, and the code could say that you need to search revenge, however of their phrases, you’re a phantom and he’s a phantom, and stroll by. I imply, as a jail is a posh subculture, which clearly higher than I do. However all of that bought wrapped into this wonderful play.
Mansa Musa: And let’s dial down on, let’s discuss the way you have been in a position to like… And to begin with, how lengthy was this course of?
Chris Hedges: 4 months.
Mansa Musa: Okay. So let’s discuss the way you have been in a position to get them to take care of the mission on this emotional rollercoaster. As a result of, as you spoke, the one individual mentioned, effectively, your father was on this cell, or one other individual that’s ready to comply with the code and do one thing. And by the identical token, is talked out of it or the various things that go on within the dialog that you just… How have been you in a position to get them to remain targeted on the mission within the midst of this emotional rollercoaster? As a result of bear in mind, I do know for a truth, I’ve been on this atmosphere that, oh, I’ll go on a diatribe. You realize, one thing comes up in my head and also you say, okay, learn what you wrote. After which in some unspecified time in the future I’m going right into a diatribe. How have been you in a position to get round these kinds of conditions and get all people to remain targeted on the mission?
Chris Hedges: Proper. Properly, that was my job. I used to be the editor, so I’d take the 28 scenes – And I added one other class, so we’re assembly twice every week. You may signal college students up for remedial assist in line with the jail so I simply signed all 28 college students up for remedial assist and bought them for an additional day. However I’d cobble it collectively, typically taking elements of 1 scene with one other scene. Clearly I went again to the category and skim it to them. They needed to approve it. They have been reticent at first, individuals coming in from the skin, particularly when you’re white, there’s that they don’t like do-gooders, they don’t actually wish to, they’re not… It’s that form of exoticism individuals really feel in direction of prisoners like visiting animals in a zoo. I imply they’re conscious of all that stuff, in order that they’re cautious.
I imply, they’ve good antennas. There’s a chapter referred to as “Antennas”. And I do know as a battle correspondent, you want a very good antenna simply to outlive, and when you don’t have it, you don’t survive. That was true in battle, it’s additionally true in jail, additionally true for his or her experiences on the road which have been violent and harmful. So that they have extremely developed antennas to sense individuals out. And they also watched me at first and so they saved their distance, however I don’t fake to be something that I’m not. I don’t fake to grasp the place they arrive from. I’m all the time fully sincere. And I don’t go in there in any approach and fake I’m hip, which might be a catastrophic catastrophe. I really put on a swimsuit. I put on a swimsuit, simply as I’ve taught at Princeton or Columbia, simply as I’d at Princeton or Columbia. And I anticipate the identical decorum and the identical stage, educational stage, which I get, as I’d for college students at Princeton, Columbia, NYU, or some other faculty I’ve taught at.
And I feel that there was that sense that I used to be sincere and I used to be actual and I do care. After which it was watching different college students make that first emotional step that gave them the house to make it. I imply, we have been studying performs. We have been studying August Wilson and Amiri Baraka and James Baldwin, so I needed to train the play. However individuals would get actually stressed if I didn’t maintain room on the finish for them, as a result of all of them needed to stand up. They might stand up in entrance of the category and skim it. It was very transferring, after which everybody would applaud. And so they all needed, with some exceptions when it was simply too emotional, all of them needed to learn what they’d completed. And so it had a… The pressure was built-in, it wasn’t constructed by me essentially, it was constructed throughout the class, that they determined to take these emotional steps, that that they had the braveness to be weak. And some individuals stepped out first after which the remaining adopted.
Mansa Musa: And I wish to enterprise in that space a little bit bit extra as a result of the protected house, you hear this time period so much. And in a reentry group and even in jail, like I used to be in supermax, and one of many tiers I used to be on, that they had a variety of guys who had a variety of open costs. So that you couldn’t come on that tier until anyone sanctioned you to return on that tier, making a protected house that was ensuring that the individual that got here on that tier wouldn’t return and write the state’s lawyer and say, oh, I heard… So when did you notice, or when did you acknowledge that you just had really, that by this course of, you had created a protected house? As a result of when you don’t don’t have any protected house, then you definately going to get a variety of storytelling, and it’s going to be a variety of fabrication, and also you’re not going to get what you really need, and that’s the boys to open up and discuss traumatic occasions of their lives and have the ability to course of that info?
Chris Hedges: Yeah. So a few of the college students tried to put in writing not out of their very own expertise, however like out of a tv script, like The Wire or one thing, or I don’t know what you considered The Wire. I couldn’t watch it. I simply thought it was romanticized crap. However yeah, it was highly regarded, perhaps –
Mansa Musa: Amen. Amen.
Chris Hedges: Okay. I didn’t… Simply wasn’t actual for me. Anyway, however they might attempt to write like that or they’d write out of some gangster movie or one thing, however I may odor it. Despite the fact that I don’t know the road, I may simply odor that it wasn’t actual. And clearly any well-run jail has figures. I’m speaking about prisoners who’re leaders and revered, not solely by the opposite prisoners, by the administration and the guards as effectively. And so they’re form of interlocutors, they’re the individuals the guards will go to. They’re sincere. They will be the tier rep. I don’t know, however they’ve a standing inside.
I had three guys like that within the jail. I imply, actually one in every of them was the pinnacle of the Muslim group, and so they have been actually critical guys. And so they have been those who sat within the again row and so they watched me the closest. However after they stepped ahead, then I feel it opened the door for everybody else. And they might name out that form of writing as a result of it wasn’t actual, it was like… I like Tupac so much. I feel he’s wonderful. However once more, it was that romanticizing gangster life. And that’s why the play is actual, as a result of they made positive it was actual.
I used to be instructing on the supermax jail in Trenton, and one in every of my college students gave me this story he’d written about driving a Lexus and ingesting Cristal champagne, all this sort of stuff. And he made his cash robbing different drug sellers. There’s this complete group of people that will rob. Like, effectively, I’ve had college students who’re large drug sellers. They are saying, I don’t even empty my rubbish until I bought a gun, which isn’t for the cops. It’s as a result of they know there’s a bunch of people that know he’s bought medicine and know he’s bought cash and so they’ll take it from him. And so I gave it to one in every of my college students, Boris, who was out by then. He mentioned, you return and inform him that he by no means made a dime. And I went again, gave it to him and I mentioned, effectively, I don’t know something about it, and the man appeared, he goes, yeah, it’s true.
So we needed to shatter… As a result of mass media is so highly effective, it creates these photographs which might be unreal. And that was shattered. Not a lot by me, as a result of I don’t have the experience to do it, however by different individuals within the classroom who simply referred to as it out for what it was. I imply, I bear in mind as soon as, as a result of there was a query of whether or not a man was going to get shanked or stabbed within the play, as a result of within the play they’d killed his brother, and I used to be asking the category. I mentioned, effectively, when you shank anyone, don’t you may get one other life bid? I imply, you’re not going to flee. They’re going to… And all people goes, oh yeah, they know, they know. And on the finish of the category, one of many guys comes up and he goes, every little thing you heard is crap, as a result of I shanked anyone in one other jail, and let me inform you, I wasn’t interested by something that. The one factor I used to be interested by was taking the man out.
Mansa Musa: Proper. Yeah.
Chris Hedges: Even throughout the jail classroom, there needed to be checks like that.
Mansa Musa: Proper. And, oh, let’s transfer into, I had requested you earlier and also you referenced that you just don’t know whether or not you modified their considering. And in researching this interview, I used to be revisiting an essay that Huey Newton wrote referred to as “Jail, The place Is Thy Victory?” And on this essay, he identifies that how, in some unspecified time in the future in time, the contradiction between within the jail inhabitants turns into to the purpose the place you’ve gotten the illegitimate capitalist, these of us which might be nonetheless striving to get some huge cash, though illegitimately, not saying that capitalism is professional, after which when he talks about prisoners changing into politicized and changing into political prisoners. On this course of, did you see that sort of transition? As a result of I do know you mentioned you cope with them after they’re popping out and also you preserve… Have you ever seen them take a step ahead by way of changing into extra political and advocating for the abolition of jail or advocating for prisoner’s rights or advocating for extra applications or extra actions the place prisoners can have the ability to write our story?
Chris Hedges: Yeah. Properly, to begin with, the those who I cope with are fairly distinctive intellectuals who’ve turned their cells into libraries, who’ve learn voraciously, got here out of failed faculty methods. But when they hadn’t come out of failed faculty methods, they might’ve excelled academically. And so they’re older. I imply, many of the guys I train are in all probability, common age, of their 40s, as a result of they’re in a medium safety jail, however a variety of them began out at Trenton on the supermax after which after a decade they get transferred. So I’d say their political consciousness is fairly excessive, particularly, I discovered, among the many Muslims. I don’t know what your expertise is, however within the prisons that I’ve taught in New Jersey, and I feel largely due to Malcolm X and others, they have been in all probability essentially the most politicized. I imply, I’ve taught 5 Percenters and others. In fact, when you are available and you’ve got a political consciousness, that’s normally a ticket to advert seg.
Mansa Musa: Just about, yeah.
Chris Hedges: Fairly fast. Fairly proper there, you don’t should commit any jail infraction –
Mansa Musa: Your considering is legitimate sufficient.
Chris Hedges: Yeah. Yeah. So I imply, that’s why advert seg was created. It was for the [crosstalk]
Mansa Musa: So true.
Chris Hedges: So like I taught a category the place that they had a sit-down strike. Properly in fact they came upon who the leaders have been. That’s all they cared [about]. All people’s cell was strip searched, and people guys have been despatched to a different jail and put in indefinite solitary confinement. Just like the Free Alabama Motion. They used to name me – I haven’t talked to them for some time – On clandestine cell telephones, however they’re in indefinite solitary. So the purpose is to isolate individuals with any form of consciousness as a result of jail authorities discover that harmful. If you happen to have a look at a handbook, there are manuals held by slaveholders. Kenneth Stampp wrote a e-book on it referred to as The Peculiar Establishment. However there have been, as a result of if you consider a plantation, 98% of individuals on there are enslaved. So how do you divide them?
Properly, you’ve bought individuals working the home, you’ve bought drivers, however there’s an entire methodology. And there are manuals that inform slaveholders how one can maintain an enslaved inhabitants divided in opposition to itself. And that’s precisely how prisons work. It’s the identical. So, all my courses have informants. They name them snitches. Everyone knows who they’re. And when you bought a jail rebellion, they’re all the time the primary to get it, by the best way, just like the Lucasville jail rebellion. [crosstalk].
I had one man, he was within the Black Liberation Military. I didn’t train him, however I do know him, Ojore Lutalo, and he wouldn’t put on the jail uniform. He wouldn’t even put it on. However on his tier, wherever the snitches have been, their cells by some means bought lit on hearth till there weren’t any extra snitches. So that they bought all kinds of methods to determine this out. Like in the event that they bought three individuals they suppose are snitches, they’ll inform one in every of them there’s a shank within the yard. Within the yard, they’ll inform one other one there’s a shank below a desk someplace. They’ll inform one other one – After which they’ll wait and see the place the guards go, after which they know which one was the snitch. So yeah, if there’s any unity throughout the jail, which we noticed in Attica again in, what was Attica, ’73?
Mansa Musa: ’70.
Chris Hedges: ’70, was it? Any form of unity like that’s harmful. They should maintain them divided and so they have numerous soiled methods to do it.
Mansa Musa: Okay, let’s discuss Our Class and the way was Our Class, since you say Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Jail. How was the jail remodeled by Our Class?
Chris Hedges: Properly, I’d say, on this approach, it gave them a voice outdoors of these partitions. So we had it was 100 seat theater the place the play ran for a month. However we had one night time the place it was only for the households, and about 5 minutes into the play I heard individuals starting to sniffle, after which all of the sudden all people simply cried by the entire play. And it was making their voices heard and giving them dignity and respect and honoring their struggling. That was the… And it broke outdoors of these partitions.
It was attention-grabbing, as a result of we needed to increase some cash to assist mount the play, so a good friend of mine did a like… I don’t know what it’s referred to as, GoFundMe or one thing. Anyway, he saved saying all these donations, like $2, $4, effectively, it seems it was the households of my college students who don’t have any cash who have been sending no matter they may to place this plan – I feel that’s the transformation. I feel that there’s transformation. There will be transformation. I don’t wish to be romantic about struggling, as a result of a variety of struggling you don’t get remodeled, you simply get destroyed. I imply, let’s be actual about that. However transformation didn’t come from me. It got here from them. And I feel that what I did by serving to them write that play isn’t a lot change what was inside them, however permit others to see it and permit them to specific it.
Mansa Musa: Proper. And extra importantly, this complete course of humanizes these people. And I feel Conrey George mentioned that within the prison-industrial advanced and mass incarceration, which we already know, we acknowledge it’s the brand new plantation. He mentioned that the purpose is to destroy your individuality, to make you a collective entity, transferring you in a herd method, whereas I don’t have any id so subsequently I don’t have any voice. If I don’t have a voice, I don’t have any individuality, and I’m only a quantity. However with this, I feel my takeaway from this complete course of was that you just have been in a position to give those who individuality, to let individuals see them for who they’re and humanizing them. As a result of all people goes by one thing in society. However I feel you referenced Michelle Alexander within the introduction the place it was speaking about how I say, effectively, we’re essentially the most expendable class of individuals. Prisoners, you get the correct to make use of us as a doormat. Chris, you bought the final phrase on this. What would you like our listeners and our viewers to remove from Our Class?
Chris Hedges: I would like them to see how exceptional these persons are and what integrity they’ve and what brilliance they’ve and the way, not simply they and their households are harm by this technique however we as a group are harm, and we’ve got to destroy the system. We’ve deindustrialized cities like Baltimore and Newark and in every single place else and ruptured what sociologists would name social bonds. And so the types of social management are militarized police who act as inner armies of occupation, and the jail system. That’s why we’ve got the biggest jail system on this planet. And it’s an ethical duty for us to destroy it. And I feel the mechanism by which we are going to destroy it isn’t by writing to our congresspeople who don’t give a rattling, they earn cash from the prison-industrial advanced, they’re instruments of the prison-industrial advanced.
I feel the hope is thru strikes internally throughout the jail, there have been a number of, and people strikes have a core demand which is that individuals should be paid a good wage, a minimal wage for the work. Keep in mind, persons are working 40 hours every week in a jail in New Jersey and making $22 and so they don’t have social safety. But when we pressure the jail system to pay a residing wage for the work that’s completed – And naturally below the thirteenth Modification, prisoners are excluded from a residing wage – Then we will start to cripple the system. However making appeals to conscience or the individuals in energy I feel is ineffective. I imply, that’s what I get from individuals on the within, that we’ve got to assist them. I imply, one of many Free Alabama individuals mentioned, don’t go to the State Home to protest, go in entrance of the jail, particularly once we’re attempting to hold out a strike.
So, it’s, I feel, some of the monstrous… We’ve completed a variety of monstrous issues on this empire from Guantanamo to Iraq to in every single place else, nevertheless it’s simply monstrous what we do to our personal. I imply, my college students inform me after six days in solitary they start to go loopy, which is what solitary is designed to do. We drive by these establishments, however we don’t cease and examine what’s being completed to our fellow residents on the within. And all of us, these of us who’re on the skin I feel have an ethical duty to cease what’s being completed as a result of it’s inhuman, it’s merciless, and it’s unjust.
Mansa Musa: There you’ve gotten it. The true information concerning the prison-industrial advanced and mass incarceration, a brand new type of slavery. The prisoners are the chattel. However within the midst of all this, within the midst of all this degradation and inhumanity and dehumanization, the phoenix rose within the type of Our Class, the place prisoners have been in a position to unpack the traumatic occasions that came about of their lives and provides context to those issues and have the ability to give therapeutic on the identical time. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for this exceptional work that you’ve completed on behalf of these of us that’s disenfranchised and marginalized. Thanks very a lot.
Chris Hedges: No, thanks for doing it. I recognize it