When I tell people that I teach yoga to incarcerated women, I often see a look pass over their faces. To me, there is no greater need than women who are locked into cages, demoralized, deprived of sunlight, nutrition, and physical comforts.
The challenges black men face are real, but I was humbled to learn how unequal justice affects black women. Black women are the fastest growing prison population and their stories must be told if we are going to break this trend. It is open season on all Americans.
President Obama was brave to pick up the issue of reform and put it front and center for all to see, however if the purpose of his visit was to highlight what life is like on the "inside," I think the trip fell short.
Prior to being sent to prison, I knew nothing about incarcerated women and, like most of society, I couldn't have cared less. I assumed that all people in prison belonged there, and that they deserved whatever happened to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Six experts entrenched in the system -- from the executive director of a prison reform organization, to a forensic psychologist, to a prison arts teacher -- were asked this question: What can we do to affect systemic change for women in prison? Here's what they had to say...
I want to watch a show that criticizes our reliance on incarceration, not one that depicts a jumpsuit as an item every woman needs in her closet. That helps viewers see how an unequal social playing field can set women up for failure, not one that highlights women's faulty individual choices.
The thing about septic workplaces is that, like a particularly bad cult, they take over your mind, they destroy your confidence, and thus they have the power to inflict life-long damage on your career, and by extension, your personal life.
When she introduced me, a tough looking inmate (*Tanesha) immediately tried to intimidate me. She scoffed and asked me if I'd ever been an addict. Pretty soon most of the women in the room were smirking at me. Boom -- judged. And I hadn't even said a word yet.