• John & Vivett Dukes

I, Too, Sing Sing America: Wilfredo Laracuente Speaks His Truth

When a man scratches the surface of incarceration, many feelings can and may rise to the surface. Some cope with outer imperfections which hinder one's ability to maximize potential; many possess emotional difficulties stemming from a lack of nurturing; a large amount were influenced by ineffective practitioners who never transposed positive reinforcements synonymous with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development. Whichever hue or shade of discord landed you is a set of State issued greens (mandated attire for inmates), one notion is apparent: the deck was stacked against you from the beginning. The absence of life transitional skills, a positive philosophy of life, and expectations of hard work distorted a true perception of reality. Personal characteristics of warmth and genuineness enmeshed with a viable moral compass were omitted, thus allowing a temperament of destruction and crime to become an acceptable way of life.

The function of this backdrop is not to garner empathy or make any excuses. The goal is to merely non-judgementally shed light on the social injustices occurring today Open your eyes, America! According to the Vera Institute of Justice, two million children in the U.S. Suffer socially, emotionally, and economically as a result of parental incarceration. Disregarding the uphill climb that ex-cons and inmates will face post-incarceration and hindering their abilities to effectively address and resolve said issues impacts their respective families and devalues the overall quality of life in today's society, thus becoming a precursor for many socioeconomic flaws.

If there is but one singular bit of information a reader can take form these words, may it be this: "Men currently incarcerated actually care." Many of the prison populous don a various array of hats that signify the roes we play not only to ourselves, but our loved ones as well: father, husband, son, teacher, educator, and student represent an assortment of "fitted caps and tams" worn by individuals behind these walls. When you give someone the okay to refer to you as "something" it defines, reflects, and becomes a part of your being forever. Whether right or wrong, a connotation and stigma of who you are formulated in the minds of people, granting someone a glimpse of what you are about even before they have the opportunity to get to know you better. Ex-con, convict, and inmate all emit a vibe that sets the parameters of how society depicts and perceives formerly incarcerated men and women. It affects employment opportunities, peer groups, relationships and it hinders networking begin the individual even begins introducing themselves.

Brian Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative once said, "I've come to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet." I value how someone perceives me. I am vigilant when exposing myself to the world. Character, substance, and trustworthiness are attributed guarded with extreme care. Incarceration is no longer a flaw or a hindrance. It is merely another chapter of this epic novel. Judging a book by its cover is one of the biggest travesties know to humankind. Fixed and preconceived ideas of who I am are thwarted with each breath of air that leaves my body.

I am far removed from the lawless individual who possessed an undue distortion of reality. You are reading the truth of a man who truly understands his role and embraces the challenges and adversity that waits post-incarceration. I found the courage to give myself a chance to lead a meaningful life. The horrors of prison life did not consume me; it merely provided and ability to harness my humanity. I really do care about myself! One of the various stages and transitions of humanistic developed that took me almost thirty-five years to uncover, a feat not for the faint of heart. FYI, there are other individuals like myself fighting and scratching to achieve this same understanding. There are two types of people in all of us: The hero and the villain. The one who wins is the person we breath life into the most.

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