Black Men in the Prison System

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“We ain’t thugs for the sake of just bein’ thugs. Nobody do that where we grew at N___, duh! The poverty line we not above. So I come in the mask and gloves ‘cause we ain’t feelin’ the love. We ain’t doin’ crime for the sake of doin’ crimes. We movin’ dimes ‘cause we ain’t doin’ fine. One out of three of us is locked up doin’ time. You know what this could do to a N___ mind? My mind on my money, money on my mind. If you owe me ten dollars you ain’t givin’ me nine! Ya’ll ain’t give me 40 acres and a mule. So I got my glock 40 now I’m cool.” –Jay-Z

Imagine waking up every morning hungry, except rather than just driving down to your local fast food spot, you can not even afford a dollar hamburger from McDonald’s. Imagine falling asleep to the sound of gunfire, rather than the sound of crickets. These conditions sound like the middle of a war zone or third world country, but on the contrary, this is the environment that many black high school students live in. Rap lyrics may not be the formal type of quote to open a paper; however, in order to properly represent the voice of young black males, it is completely appropriate. The fact is that they are angry, and extremely resentful towards white people because of the treatment of their slave ancestors. Seeing successful whites while they are struggling in the slums of America is not fair to the African-American community. Despite the numerous pleas from black support groups like the NAACP, their proposals of fair and equal treatment have seemingly fallen on deaf ears in the world of these students. As a result, a great number of them have turned to crime. The rate at which black males are being trapped in the prison system is alarming Today African Americans comprise 62% of imprisoned drug offenders, though they are only 13 5 of the national population. One out of every 115 black males enters prison each year on a felony drug crime, compared with one of every 1,150 white men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Black youths are admitted to state correctional facilities for drug offenses at 48 times the rate of white youths, according to a report by the Building Blocks for Youth Initiative. (CITATION) There is obviously a problem in the programming of the successful African American youth. If a shortage can be created in the circuit of this problem, then the rate at which these young men are straying can be decreased. In a much simpler time, humans roamed the earth just living and reproducing. The quote, “So easy a caveman can do it” has implied that humans were pretty much illogical at one time. As logic and sheer discovery came into play, we evolved into a purposeful race. “A boat without a paddle” just does not make sense anymore. Would you walk your dog if it did not have accidents inside of your home as a puppy? Would soldiers continue to fight in Iraq if their freedom and liberties were not threatened? From walking a dog to fighting for freedom, the common denominator is motivation. Motivation is defined by the U.S. Army as, “the will to accomplish a mission”. (CITATION) It is safe to assume that throughout our lives, the will, not necessarily the want, is essential for change. With that said, the logical answer to my questions is ‘no’. Without some kind of motivation, whether positive or negative, even the simplest task is meaningless. Psychology teaches that there are four methods to either learning, or to morph an expected conduct into a routine way of acting; positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction, and punishment. Positive reinforcement is adding something to a situation in order to create an increased response. (CITATION) “The most common types of positive reinforcement are praise and rewards...” (CITATION) “Negative reinforcement is taking something negative away in order to increase a response”. (CITATION) An example of negative reinforcement is a child performing chores despite the mother’s nagging. After doing what is asked of him,...
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