I visited a friend in jail today.

I had not seen him in over nine months

And it was so very wonderful

To see his face

Even through such thick glass

To see him smile

Despite the underlying sadness

His many piercings removed

The standard orange outfit

So impersonal

Because he is just a number

Just another black man behind bars

Another criminal

Who apparently deserves no respect

No empathy

His crime?

Being human in a fucked up system

Being black and tattooed

Oh, he broke a law at some point

But what does that even mean

When our laws are designed to oppress

The enforcers trained at brutality

Racism rampant in all parts

Of our laughably named Justice System

And how does breaking a law

Justify inhumane treatment?

We hold other countries to such high standards

But dehumanize our own people

The only thing harder than not being able to hug him

Was having to leave

To leave him there

Alone in a cell block full of others

Watched over by people who don’t care

Knowing all I can do is keep showing up

Keep reminding him someone gives a shit

Meanwhile, when I raise my voice to others

People tell me punishment is deserved

Crimes are crimes

Our system protects us

What other options are there?

Well I don’t want to be a part of it

A part of a system that dehumanizes

As punishment for simple mistakes

Or alternative choices

Made due to lack of opportunity

Or lack of everything

Punishment for skin color

Or just fucking trying to exist

I refuse to be a part of it

I cannot be a part of it

It isn’t a choice

It is simply empathy

I will not be a part of humanity’s continued downfall

Instead I will fight for those who cannot

I will do what I can

To be a voice for those in that system

To be a hand they can hold

If they’re allowed the ‘luxury’ of touch

To be eyes that actually see them

A voice that tells them they ARE human

And they deserve love and respect

Even if all I can offer is acknolwedgment

That they exist

And are not forgotten

I will continue to strive to be that

Which my God tells me humanity is capable of being


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