Letter from Donald

I am a 52 year old African-American man who has been incarcerated for going on three (3) decades.  I recently read Professor Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  By no means is this paper intended to be a synopsis nor a critique of Professor Alexander’s splendidly written book.  I would be remiss not to commend her for a job well done.  She said a lot of the same things that myself and a lot of brothers have conversed about throughout the years as we wandered around the prison yards or partook in group discussions in regards to our plights of being black men in America’s criminal justice system.  I’m glad that she afforded and provided me with the necessary research information to substantiate her claims.

As can be told by my age, I was born and raised during a very vital timeframe of the civil rights era.  In fact, I can remember when I was around 8 years old, a time when I asked my mother why was she crying and she told me because some man by the name of Dr. King had just been killed.  Me, being a naïve 8 years old, I just cried along with my mother, unaware of the impact of what had just happened.  Unbeknownst to me, at the time, that was my introduction to this fellow named “Jim Crow” who would have an impact on my life in approximately three (3) years later at the age of eleven (11) years old when myself and a white friend the same age decided to get involved in some criminal activity.  Even though we were both found guilty of the same offenses, I was the only one who was committed to a juvenile facility.

I’m in total agreement with Professor Alexander in regards to mass incarceration of people of color is the new Jim Crow caste system because even though we’re given choice of whether or not we break the law our options of getting out of a lower class lifestyle are limited to accepting the crumbs that are offered or going out and trying to eat as a man should be able to eat and provide for his family.

It is not only by choice that people of color make up the majority of America’s prison population.  It’s by design, because the laws and rules are made to directly target African-Americans and other people of color and to punish us far more severely than white people whom are convicted of the same offenses.  The U.S. criminal “JUST US” system is nothing more than a systematic racist machine as slavery was.  It’s just been modified and modernized to appear to give us a fair deal.  “Crime does pay” in the form of the prison industrial complex.  There was once this single entity called State Use Industries (SUI) that sub-contracted prisoners from the commissioner of corrections to do work at a price many times less, but of better quality than civilians in the free world.

Once the “Powers that be” realized and recognized the potentiality of what could be, they collaborated and formed Maryland Correctional Enterprise (MCE) and the same machines exist in other states, by different names.  One provides the work, and the other provides the work force.

A brilliant plan, so brilliant that private funded prisons are being built (modern day plantations) and filled to capacity to accommodate the workload request just as the laws are made to make certain that the accommodations are met.


Eloquentia perfecta

In the 1599 Ratio Studiorum of the Society of Jesus- the official edition of the Ratio throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries- the First Rule of the Professor of Rhetoric specified the goal to be pursued in the final year of pre-university studies: Eloquentia perfecta. Seeking to clarify this succinct phrase the drafters indicated in the same First Rule that the three elements were included: praecepta dicendi, stylus et erudition, which might be paraphrased as “rules of persuasion, skill in Latin, and humanistic learning.” For a full understanding of these expressions one must review the historical roots from which this educational ideal slowly grew.

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Hopkins as Jubilarian

In life Gerard Manley Hopkins did not live even to celebrate his golden jubilee of existence. He died on June 8, 1889, before his 45th birthday, unknown, unprized, unlamented even within the comparatively small circle of his acquaintance. Not one of his poems had been published; and apart from his poems he left nothing to his contemporaries worthy of note or record. All things considered, he was left at death- as he complains in one of his last poems, whose only reader was his friend Robert Bridges- “a lonely began.” And so he died, as he seemed to have lived, a sad failure in everything he had attempted, or what he calls in the same poem “time’s eunuch.”

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The University and the Church

Timothy S. Healy, S.J.

When I first came to Georgetown twelve years ago, the most frequent comment I heard was, “It must be a great change from City University.” I responded easily at first by citing City University’s 250,000 students and 18,000 faculty members and adding that I was responsible for the care and feeding of twenty college presidents (which incidently gave me a less than adoring fix on the breed). It took me some years before I realized that the honest answer was “Yes, and Georgetown is more complicated.”

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Frank E. Case, S.J. Seeking God’s Presence

Seeking God’s Presence
They should practice the seeking of God’s presence in all things, in their conversations, their walks, in all that they see, taste, hear, understand, in all their actions, since His Divine Majesty is truly in all things by His presence, power, and essence.
Letters of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
In this Easter season the above passage from the letters of St. Ignatius holds a particular importance. He calls on us to practice being alert to God’s presence in and around us – God’s creative love in creation, God’s grace working in and for me, God’s Spirit filling the emptiness of the universe, God’s gift of self in it all. But God appears to us in the risen Christ in many small ways as well – in our sisters and brothers, in the rich diversity of them all.  God only asks that we recognize that presence and respect the dignity of all.
We are reminded of this past Sunday’s gospel (John 20:19-31) in which Thomas does not accept that Jesus came to the disciples in his absence saying, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finder in the mark of the nail, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Jesus came once again to the disciples and said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Jesus will not appear to each of us in the same way he did to the disciples; but the Lord does become apparent in our lives in ways that respond to our own particular needs.  The Lord is there with us and for us, with all our own doubts and confusions.
The visual image of the wounds in the hands and side of the risen Lord remind us of the more current wounds we all share in the Catholic Church as members of the Body of Christ. Christ’s Spirit holds this Body together and sustains it even with its warts and disfigurements, its wounds.  Christ asks us to recognize his presence and that of the Spirit in this all too human Body of Christ we call our Church.

The Art of Jesuit Teaching: Some Personal Reflections

James R. Kelly

I was late in discovering that Ed Cuffe was my favorite teacher. For more than a decade he was my unfavorite teaching, someone a clumsy sociologist might call a “negative role model.” In and out of class he was nervous and twitchy, he did not cover the “discipline” (literature), and he gave odd assignments. He dressed like and e.e. cummings poem.

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Consider how all good things and gifts descend from above; for example, my limited power from the Supreme and infinite Power above, and so of justive, goodness, piety, mercy, and so forth – just as the rays come down from the sun.