Historically, Blacks have repeatedly been discriminated against by their White counterparts, whether it be through slavery, denial of education, or through simple prejudice and cultural nullification. However, many do not realize the true extent of Black oppression within the United States because many believe that the racist past of America has been paved over and that we have truly come to live up to the moniker “the melting pot.” While it’s true that the United States is home to thousands of different races, cultures, and ethnicities, we do not always treat them fairly when those cultures happen to be of African origin. The book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson details some of the most astonishing facts and statistics about how the United States has continued its racist agenda against people of African descent in a more subliminal and deceptive way.
Stevenson’s book reports that the United States, a country that is supposedly the epitome of freedom and grace, incarcerates more people annually than any other country in the world, including China — the country with the largest population. And, despite the blatant fact that Blacks only make up an underwhelming 13.1 percent of the population, Blacks are still found to maintain a constant 42 percent of the prison space. This has caused many to speculate that the concept of slavery that was supposedly abolished in the 19th century may not have actually been erased, but transformed. Statistics show that in the year 2008, there were 846,000 African Americans imprisoned. In fact, Stevenson presents the argument that there are currently more men of African descent in prison now than there were slaves in the 1850s.
With these realities in mind, we need to ask ourselves many important questions. Are we truly free? Is this an elaborate way to ensure that the African American race does not have proper representation in businesses, jobs, or free enterprise? And when will the American people truly realize that Black lives do matter?
Stone Erickson is one of the youngest authors in the country. His debut novel, Black Angel, received the 2013 Sci-Fi author of the year award from the African American Literary Awards Show. He is currently preparing to attend Bard College at Simon’s Rock and plans to release his sophomore novel in summer of 2016.