Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality: A Companion Video to ‘The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration’

Another companion video to the just-published essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates (October's cover story inThe Atlantic), The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

In his upcoming October cover story, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores how mass incarceration has affected African American families. "There's a long history in this country of dealing with problems in the African American community through the criminal justice system," he says in this animated interview. "The enduring view of African Americans in this country is as a race of people who are prone to criminality." You can read the full story on September 15, 2015.

Approximately 3 mins.


Mass Incarceration, Visualized: A Companion Video to ‘The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration’

A companion video to the just-published essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates (October's cover story in The Atlantic), The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

In this animated interview, the sociologist Bruce Western explains the current inevitability of prison for certain demographics of young black men and how it's become a normal life event. "We've chosen the response of the deprivation of liberty for a historically aggrieved group, whose liberty in the United States was never firmly established to begin with," Western says. In The Atlantic's upcoming October cover story, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the impact of mass incarceration on the black family. You can read the full story on September 15, 2015.

(Approximately 2 1/2 mins.)


The Lady Lifers: A moving song from women in prison for life

While prisons may be structured in such a way that suggests an attempt to, they cannot take away the humanity of human beings that have been imprisoned.

They cry.

They reflect.

They ask for forgiveness.

They grow, and they change.

They dream of freedom.

They hope for mercy.

They want to see and spend time with their children, and their families.

They don't want to die alone.

Most importantly... they have faces, voices, histories; and they long to tell their stories.

Below is a very powerful 'TED Talk', filmed in November 2014, at Muncy State Prison.

The ten women in this chorus have all been sentenced to life in prison. They share a moving song about their experiences — one that reveals their hopes, regrets and fears. "I'm not an angel," sings one, "but I'm not the devil." Filmed at an independent TEDx event inside Muncy State Prison, it's a rare and poignant look inside the world of people imprisoned with no hope of parole. (Note: The prison's Office of Victim Advocacy has ensured that victims were treated fairly and respectfully around this TEDx event.)


Carla Shedd, Columbia University Professor, on Race and the Carceral Continuum

Carla Shedd discusses her work on race and the carceral continuum. This interview is part of the Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series which invites prominent researchers to speak about their work on justice issues.

Published on May 1, 2015


Refusing a Pathology Narrative re: Baltimore: Activist Deray McKesson Skillfully Shuts Down Wolf Blitzer

There are at least two major narratives coming out of the Baltimore Uprising. The major media narrative appears to be one that condemns everyone involved in violence, property destruction and confrontations with law enforcement. This narrative includes the frequent references to 'looters', 'vandals' and 'thugs'.

Another narrative is one that acknowledges the decades (centuries even in the greater scheme of time) of domestic terrorism inflicted on African American and other African diaspora communities. This narrative reflects a greater level of understanding and appreciation for the many lives lost to state-sanctioned extra-judicial killings of Black women, men and children, as well as the tremendous trauma endured by the millions of people who witness and endure these and many other forms of racial and structural violence, imposed or otherwise condoned by the government and its law enforcement arms.

With each passing day, however, I am more and more encouraged by the level of awareness and clarity with which we are collectively pushing back against the racist "thug" narrative, and affirming the right of Black folks in this country and beyond to be infuriated by this living condition, and expressing our determination to right these wrongs - to achieve justice and well-being for our families and community.

Below is one such example, featuring Deray McKesson pushing firmly against this pathology narrative, and affirming the dignity and humanity of our people in the face of such terrorizing conditions.


“Drugs Aren’t the Problem”: Neuroscientist Carl Hart on Brain Science & Myths about Addiction

From Democracy Now...

We are joined by the groundbreaking neuropsychopharmacologist Dr. Carl Hart. He is the first tenured African-American professor in the sciences at Columbia University, where he is an associate professor in the psychology and psychiatry departments. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. However, long before he entered the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, Hart gained firsthand knowledge about drug usage while growing up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods. He recently wrote a memoir titled "High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society." In the book, he recalls his journey of self-discovery, how he escaped a life of crime and drugs and avoided becoming one of the crack addicts he now studies.

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Why we need to end the War on Drugs – Ethan Nadelmann

TED Talks Overview:

Is the War on Drugs doing more harm than good? In a bold talk, drug policy reformist Ethan Nadelmann makes an impassioned plea to end the "backward, heartless, disastrous" movement to stamp out the drug trade. He gives two big reasons we should focus on intelligent regulation instead.


“They Couldn’t Take My Soul”: Anthony Ray Hinton on His Exoneration After 30 Years on Death Row

Via Democracy Now, April 6, 2015:

Days after being exonerated and freed from an Alabama prison, Anthony Ray Hinton recounts how he got through nearly 30 years on death row as an innocent man. Hinton was convicted of murdering two fast-food managers in separate robberies in 1985, based on scant evidence that later turned out to be false. Hinton is said to be among the longest-serving death row prisoners ever to be freed after presenting evidence of innocence. Hinton joins us along with his attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, who says race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. "This is a very powerful demonstration of the critique of the American criminal justice system, which we contend treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent," Stevenson says.


Michelle Alexander Discussing Implications of Recent Ferguson Report by the DOJ

From Democracy Now, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Part 1:  Michelle Alexander: Ferguson Shows Why Criminal Justice System of "Racial Control" Should Be Undone

The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the police and city courts in Ferguson, Missouri, routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans. Despite comprising about 66 percent of the local population, African Americans accounted for 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of incidents where force was used, 90 percent of citations and 85 percent of traffic stops. The Justice Department, which launched its report after the police killing of Michael Brown, also uncovered at least three municipal Ferguson emails containing racist language or images. "The report does not give me hope. What gives me hope is that people across America are finally waking up," says Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book,The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. "There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America. … What we see now is that we do have the power to make things change. The question is are we going to transition from protest politics to long-term, strategic movement building?”

Part 2:  Michelle Alexander: Roots of Today’s Mass Incarceration Crisis Date to Slavery, Jim Crow

As the Justice Department sheds new light on the racist criminal justice system in Ferguson, legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the historical roots of what she describes as "the new Jim Crow." From mass incarceration to police killings to the drug war, Alexander explores how the crisis is a nationwide issue facing communities of color. "Today we see millions of poor people and folks of color who are trapped, yet again, in a criminal justice system which are treating them like commodities, like people who are easily disposable," Alexander says. "We are not on the right path. … It’s not about making minor reforms and plodding along in the same direction. No, its about mustering the courage to have a major reassessment of where we are as America, reckon with our racial history as well as our present, and build a broad-based movement rooted in the awareness of the dignity and humanity of us all."


It’s Time To End Solitary Confinement For Minors

From HuffPost Live...

Ian Kysel, a fellow at Georgetown's Human Rights Institute, is calling for an end to solitary confinement for juvenile inmates. He joins us to discuss how solitary inhibits teen rehabilitation and what can be done to bring the practice to an end.

Originally aired on December 30, 2014

Hosted by: Marc Lamont Hill

  • Ian Kysel (New York, NY) Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University; Dash/Muse Fellow
  • Dakem Roberts (Brooklyn, NY) Served Solitary Confinement as a Teen; Secretary General of The Negation; Member of the Jail Action Coalition
  • James Burns (Cape Town, South Africa) Served Solitary Confinement as a Teen; Filmmaker; Poet & Activist