Women in America who are free, educated, working-class, and earning low to upper middle income wages still have much to lament over when it comes to many issues, which arise from the lack of gender equality.
Gender-based wage inequality is a prevalent reality despite the fact that an incremental amount of financial progress is being made by women in some industries. However, free black women in America largely have had to fend for themselves in this area as a growing number of them are striking out on their own to become entrepreneurs.
It’s not a myth that free women currently face a sizable number of social barriers in American society. Black women bear the brunt of all obstacles, which are caused by those social barriers. But when the conversation switches toward the pervasive injustice that is committed against women who are incarcerated, the adversities increase tenfold.
The hidden nightmares that face women who have been unjustly abandoned in the prison system are largely overshadowed by the loud voices and acts of protest exercised by free women over issues that are indeed valid. However, what about the plight of women who are being violated in every way by a prison-industrial complex that has buried them alive?
A Voice for the Voiceless
Monique W. Morris Ed. D. (pictured above), is the Founder and President of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and author of PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. She has been a guest commentator on CNN News and has over 20 years of credible experience as an American black woman advocating for social justice.
Morris also wrote a sobering editorial for News One, which was recently published online. Her piece is titled Incarcerated Black Women Face Immeasurable Human & Civil Rights Violations. This substantive editorial reports facts about the outright dehumanization that is being unleashed against black women in America’s prisons.
“[Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary film 13th] focuses primarily on black men who have been funneled into a system of mass incarceration, but it also important to note that black women are also disproportionately impacted by criminalization,” Morris wrote.
Morris is very correct to point out that black women are indeed being increasingly criminalized by the American judicial system. One could also argue that the plight of black women who are being incarcerated in mass is being overshadowed by the plight of black men who are experiencing the very same fate.
Not only that, things seem to be getting more worse for incarcerated black women than they are for incarcerated white women. “The incarceration rate for Black women is more than twice that of White women—a racial disparity that has remained even as the overall rate of incarceration has declined,” Morris wrote.
“Incarcerated women face a host of human and civil rights concerns, including labor exploitation, $exual victimization, overmedication, and assault on reproductive rights,” she continued.
These human and civil rights violations are also affecting black women at an unprecedented rate now that they are reportedly the fastest-growing demographic of the overall inmate population in American jails and prisons.
Professional research studies have consistently proven that a majority of the growing number of black female inmates are serving time for low-level, nonviolent offenses, including minor drug possession charges.
Morris accurately pointed these facts out in her in-depth editorial, which also revealed how the privatized prison-industrial complex has financially thrived off these historical deeds of societal misfortune.
“Though warehousing is an ineffective and morally deficient approach to address structural, social and medical issues such as poverty, violence, and addiction, the vigor with which Black female trauma has been criminalized–fueled by the War On Drugs, has helped to lay the foundation for a robust economic interest in incarceration, exceeding $180 billion,” Morris also wrote.
“Between 1980 and 2014, the incarceration rate for women increased by more than 700 percent, a rate of growth that outpaced men by more than 50 percent during that time,” she added.
Thankfully, a free black American woman like Morris is using her voice to raise awareness about the forgotten black women who have been robbed by this society of the chance to live a productive life like hers, which is neither a financial or social burden on the public.
The adage “Freedom is not free” may indeed be true. However, the cost of people not being free in America also comes at a very high cost, which is a growing burden for the average taxpayer. Black women are becoming a bigger part of that burden. In the end, it will not bode well for society as a whole if nothing is done to decrease this burden.
About the Author
Victor Trammell (pictured above) is a contributor to HealthyBlackWoman.com, a division of NOMA UNlimited Media. He is also a staff writer and reporter for TheBlackHomeSchool.com, which is part of the Your Black World online news and business network. Mr. Trammell has been a member of the Your Black World/NOMA UNlimited writing team since July of 2012 and has covered news stories on politics, education, entertainment, as well as economics. You can view a sample of his professional writing portfolio at victortrammell.contently.com.