We are all Human
The day has arrived when my nephew walked into the cold embrace of the prison system, becoming yet another cog in the machine of the industrial penal complex. He was stepping into a convoluted labyrinth woven from strands of violence, rage, love, and community - the same labyrinth that his father had once navigated daily. His father's journey had abruptly ended in a tragic car accident when my nephew was a tender seven years old.
I try to comprehend the spectrum of emotions that my departed brother might be experiencing at this moment. The heartbreak, the fury, the pain, the void. My brother, a correctional officer for over a decade and a half, was well-versed with the twin-sided coin of peril and profound respect that resides within the prison walls. His encounters with these imprisoned men and young boys likely included episodes he'd rather forget, but when my mother ventured to Kansas to collect his remains, the testimonies of the inmates, those confined to the solitary cells, revealed a different side.
These men spoke of my brother's empathy, his strong moral compass, his affability, and above all, his recognition of their human dignity. His loving, humanistic approach to his job brought tears of pride to our eyes and served as a healing balm to our grieving hearts, saving us from spiraling into the depths of sorrow.
Today, as my nephew enters this intricate system, I fervently hope that someone, anyone, replicates the kindness and love that my departed brother demonstrated towards those imprisoned souls. I fervently pray that those surrounding him recognize his true essence - that he is the descendant of a lineage of educators, scholars, dedicated laborers, truth-speakers, and also individuals grappling with mental illness and addiction.
Our family, like the prison system, is a tangled web of violence, rage, love, and community. We cherish him immeasurably. Today, I offer prayers that my brother, from his celestial perch, closely watches over his son. May the seeds sown by my brother bear fruit not only for my nephew but also for every family striving to persevere. Please, do not avert your gaze, for we are the system - a convoluted blend of violence, rage, love, and community. Because at the end of the day, we are all human. #navigatingcourage