We’re All Living in a Future Created by Slavery
For centuries, we’ve had our freedoms ripped from us. But like our ancestors, we resist.
This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, composed of 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.
When I was 19 years old, I was arrested.
Instead of a dungeon, I was held in an overcrowded holding cell. Instead of being shackled and transported across the ocean on a floating prison, I was handcuffed, sitting shoulder to shoulder with another young Black male being hauled across the county on a prison bus.
During intake, I was stripped of my clothes, forced to stand naked as officers stripped me of both my pride and my dignity. I tried to cover my genitals. It was my last grasp at holding onto my humanity. I was commanded by officers to remove my hands. They had guns. I had nothing. I complied. The officer barked, “Lift up your nut sack.” I had no choice. I was ordered to “squat down and cough.” When I was finally handed a pair of state-issued boxer shorts, I was so desperate to have on anything to cover my exposed body that I did not give a damn that the underwear had been passed down, circulated among others who had been stripped naked before me.
Author and scholar Saidiya Hartman once wrote, “I, too, live in the time of slavery, by which I mean I am living in the future created by it. It is the ongoing crisis of citizenship.” I echo her pain as I think about — and live through — the ongoing crisis of carcerality and those affected most by its existence.
I think about the African diaspora. I think about my family. I think about myself.
In the summer of 2017, I visited the continent of Africa. While there, I basked in the beauty of the lively Ramadan nights in Morocco. I stood in the searing sun of…