Thursday, November 21, 2013

Take the Challenge With Me

The recent arrest and conviction of an active member of the United States House of Representatives for cocaine possession forced me think about how flawed drug laws and their enforcement is in America. The most hypocritical part of this sad scenario is the fact that an elected official was using cocaine while at the same time supporting legislation to demand food stamp recipients submit to random drug tests in order to get benefits. This Politco article outlines what this sitting member of Congress voted to do for those Americans of are food stamp recipients.

There is not a doubt in my mind that if I got caught purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine worth $250 from an undercover agent, there is no way in hell that my punishment would be a $250 fine and one year of probation, while getting to keep my job. If someone who looks like me got caught with something that looks like drug paraphernalia, the same benefit of the doubt would not be given. No favoritism or back door deals, or slaps on the wrist for the average Joe, but a sitting member of Congress gets to blame his cocaine use on alcohol abuse and keep representing the people of Florida like nothing ever happened. Imagine if you can for a moment, that your neighbor or co-worker was arrested for cocaine possession, and got to keep their job. Taking a leave of absence is unacceptable and calling a press conference after 10 pm is not what I call would accountability. His actions should force legislation that would require every elected official to submit to random drug tests because after all; they are government employees who are being paid with tax-payer dollars. If drug tests are good for food stamp and welfare recipients, they should also be good for those voting in favor of these requirements.

I am sympathetic towards people who have drug and alcohol addiction, but I have very little compassion for people like this Congressman who has spent their careers victimizing and demonizing their fellow citizen. I wonder if the Tea Party is going to cancel his membership because of his hypocrisy? I wonder if the same people on right wing talk radio and the news channel that claims to be “fair and balanced” will call for their Tea Party brother to step down like they did when a sitting Congressman sent pictures of his “package” all over the internet.  Of course they won’t because all of that Tea Party, patriotic, family values, limited government, conservative mumbo jumbo rhetoric is nothing more than propoghanda. 

Did he have ulterior motives when he cosponsored H.R. 1695, which would give judges more flexibility on sentencing in cases involving mandatory minimums? While I support abolishing mandatory sentencing, sitting members of Congress who are voting to change laws should not be doing so under the influence of cocaine. I’m sure there are many of you out there who know someone who has been arrested, or is currently serving time behind bars for drug possession. What kind of message does this slap on the wrist send to people currently serving time for committing similar or less harsh crimes? The statistics prove that there is a huge disparity the in sentencing laws that are harsher on crack users than cocaine users and a person’s ethnicity has everything to do with it.

Take the Challenge:
Will you stand with me and reach out to these young people by sending them this letter along with one of following three books for them to read? 1. This Isis Paper; The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing. 2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Melissa Alexander. 3. Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper. As they return to society, they need to know we have not given up on them and we want them to be productive members of society and our community. I have drafted an example of a short letter intended for young men and women who are currently incarcerated. Feel free to copy or modify it as you see fit.

“Dear Young Brother or Sister,
You might not know who I am and I might not know who you are, but I want you to know that there are people out here who still love and care about your physical and mental health while you are incarcerated.  Not all of us have given up on you and when the time comes for you to make the transition back to life outside the walls of jail or prison, I hope and pray that something you read in one of these books will encourage you to help another brother or sister avoid going down the wrong path.  This Isis Paper; The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Melissa Alexander, or Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper are examples of books filled with educational information that will force you to think about some of the following things:

1.  Why respecting your fellow man is important.
2.  Breaks down the system of racism, white supremacy.
3.  Explores the hidden meanings of terminology and symbols. 
4.  Helps you understand who are you as an African American?
5.  Why the system wants you to remain incarcerated.

Please accept this book as a seed from me to you and I pray that you will allow the words to inspire you to be a better man or woman, better husbands and wives to your spouse, and better parents to your children.  I have no doubt that this book will be a blessing to your mind, body, & soul. 

God Bless,

Your Name”

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on November 21, 2013 via