I wake up this morning thinking about prisons, about charter schools, about people I’ve known, battles I’ve been involved in and invisible struggles I’ve yet to consider. My mind is being stirred in lots of ways..two weekends ago by the funeral of my uncle, who had served as a corrections office at the Attica prison during much of my childhood, along with several of my mother’s and father’s brothers, the last two weekends by college essays my son was writing on economic systems of oppression and how they contribute to and/or construct divisions of class and race and economic disparity, this week by an episode of On Being with Ruby Sales, a civil rights advocate who sings of love in her heart for everyone, last week by the men in our sharing circle who have experience of prison life as those who were formerly incarcerated and family members of those who are in prison, this week by a Facebook article talking about the benefits of charter schools in urban areas of Massachusetts where they are shown to better serve the needs of children of color, ELL kids, and I believe kids with special needs and kids of lower income and the arguments in response to the sharing of that article against the support of charter school by a group of people, mainly white and mainly middle class, many of whom have found options outside the district schools when their children needed them, who oppose charter schools and who opposed the Somerville Progressive Charter School I tried to help found.

My daughter has left Sudbury Valley for Cambridge Rindge and Latin, another way a white middle class family has found options, as her father lives in Cambridge, where my daughter worked out yesterday with the novice crew team in a workout space full of fancy workout equipment I’m sure no school in a poor district could afford. Again we take advantage of white privilege, as my daughter finds her way, and I am aware not all of us have this.

Meanwhile, my cat Frances has chosen to live in the basement and I think again about her situation, choosing solitary confinement down below versus the freedom of living outdoors, now I have given up trying to share my home with her and the habits that made my life too difficult to bear, regular poop and pee on furniture, tearing of the upholstery, cat hair everywhere every day. But why not go outside, I wonder? Why does she, why do any of us see confinement as solution?

All this is in my mind, bubbling around. This morning I found an article in The Atlantic with an interview about Attica and how the uprising/riot there set the tone for prison conditions ever since. My family’s farms were up the road and up the hill from Attica. Looking down from the farm where my mom grew up the view is over the walls of the prison, which my daughter or son once wondered about because it looks so much like a castle. I realized this morning, I never have had an image of the inside of those walls, never considered all the black and brown and white faces in captivity, not in any real detail. I had sympathy for my uncles. I knew they did not want to talk about their work, that they looked forward to retirement, that in the life we shared they were kind and loving men who had taken options available to them to support their families, to earn a living wage and to have benefits. I’m going to read the article. I may read a recent book published which looks closely at the Attica riot/rebellion with fresh eyes.

We all have pieces of our history we’d be better to explore than to deny. For some of us, we are called again and again to explore the themes that draw us. For me, I am thinking a lot about confinement and captivity, freedom and liberation, trying to notice how those themes have shaped my life, wondering what they are calling me to do.

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