My generation--the tail-end
of X, or early Millennials--grew up in a time of soft racism and racial
inequality; we were also brought up to be tolerant and "color blind." Like most of
my peers, I wouldn't be caught dead using the n-word (despite being a bit of a
The community meal our church hosts--a modest operation that
serves four free meals a week to about 50 guests--has recently lost its main
source of donations. For several years, we've received big boxes of discarded
produce--lettuce, peppers, asparagus, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever was
being gleaned from the store shelves--from our local chain grocery.
In order to write about the inner workings of a private prison, journalist Shane Bauer took a prison guard position at a Louisiana prison for four months, at $9 an hour. The prison is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, whose CEO made $3.4 million in 2015, nearly 19 times the amount paid to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During Bauer’s time as a correctional officer, the federal Department of Corrections temporarily took charge of the prison due to a rash of stabbings among inmates. Thirty-four percent of prison guards suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, a rate higher than that for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Correctional officers commit suicide two and a half times more frequently than the general population (Mother Jones, July/August).