It was Constitution Day at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). It was an evening for art with a twist. MICA joined with the Baltimore wing of the ACLU, to focus attention on human rights violations perpetrated on people of color. The subject was themed BARS AND STRIPES FOREVER. It is the 50th anniversary since the March on Washington; preceded by the Supreme Court decision of “you have the right to remain silent…must have a lawyer”. Have we expanded the constitutional fulfillment of all men being equal?
The three person panel DAVID SIMON (HBO, The Wire), SUSA BURTON (CNN Top ten Hero, 2010), and ASHLEY HUNT (The Corrections Documentary Project), bellowed no!
“I’m not gonna play by the rules anymore”, said an animated Simon, “the game is rigged!” What game, you may enquire. The argument is that America has the largest inmate population in the world; from 1971(the Nixon administration) to 2013, the total rose from 2 million to 2.3 million, and counting; that “JIM Crow” has been replaced by a war on “brown” people for minor substance abuses. That population will never be rehabbed, for it cannot vote, is limited to poor housing, and can only get minimum wage jobs, and for the most part only part time; no hope of rising to and beyond the poverty level, let alone the middle class.
The attending audience was urged to boycott the jury system, by refusing to convict persons arrested for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs. We were told that private prisons are trading on Wall Street, hence the CEO’s of these prisons make more money for their shareholders, if their prisons are full.
There was much talk about “existentialism” (the demand to make people behave a certain way), and why the proliferation is rampant in the Southern States. What will we, the 13th jury member, do about all this?