Who are we?

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

My name is Cam and I am currently a college student. Where? Doesn’t matter. School is hard and that is all you need to know. I grew up in a rural city where everyone knew everyone and their third cousin. Did I like that? For a while. My hometown was a great place to be a child, but I was trapped in a bubble…a bubble that was a beautiful bliss. I was privileged in many ways. Everything I needed was at my fingertips. My parents were married, I had a beautiful home, a mother that made dinner every night, clean water, and a decent education. Life was easy in many ways. Then I moved to the city, a city bigger than my hometown, but by no means someplace like Chicago or New York. Still, it was large for me. There, I was hit with a few hard realities.

First, the entire world is not a blissful bubble. People face struggles every day, but not the ones that I actually understood even existed. Access to fresh produce, clean drinking water, shelter, protection under the law, and so many others are basic human rights*. I add an asterisk here because when when you’re born, I guess no one reads the terms and conditions, which apparently states that depending on the color of your skin, the amount of money your family makes, or which gender you identify with determines which human rights you are given. Crazy right?! It’s a HUMAN right, yet it is not given equally to all humans. This might not be news to you, and if its not, congrats! That’s amazing! You’re more knowledgeable than I was before I left my small hometown, because it WAS news to me. Not anymore. That is why I am here.

I am passionate about social justice as a whole, but specifically creating justice in a system that already has “justice” in its name, yet should really be called the “Criminal Unjust System”. It is an entity that not many people are questioning. Why? I guess it has always been that way? Well why aren’t we questioning it further? Maybe it’s because we aren’t knowledgeable of the harm that prisons do to people and the lack of resources for those who currently are or have been incarcerated. Our goal is to create a space where stories of those who have been affected by the criminal justice system can be shared, a space where new ideas, understandings, and possible solutions can blossom. We hope this to be an interactive safe space where voices can be heard and goals can be achieved.

My name is Joseph. I have been incarcerated for 12 years. I grew up in the inner city of Detroit in a single parent home. Growing up in the “hood” I was exposed to drugs, crime, injustice, inequality and racism on a daily. So often that I became desensitized to it. I watched my mother battle heavy drug addiction as a youth. So heavy that my mother rented our home out to dealers. Many times my siblings and I went to bed without eating. At one point we were almost put in the foster system however that pivotal moment did something for my mother. She got clean and tried to provide us with a better life. Being exposed to this lifestyle did something to me. I wanted better but unfortunately I tried to attain it the only way I seen growing up which was selling drugs. I thought I could be better then those who did it before me. To cover my tracks I kept legal employment. Upon attaining my GED and nursing trade I decided that I had to change my life. I had seen enough death, drugs and crime. I wanted more for my life. So I enrolled myself into college to pursue a nursing career.
Unfortunately I was falsely accused and later convicted of a murder I did not do.

Since being in prison I have seen so much injustice and inequality. I want to share my voice and give a voice to voiceless. If it wasn’t for my darkest moments I would have never found the strength to shine my light. Sometimes it takes our darkest moments to birth our greatest change. #C.H.A.N.G.E

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