Thoughts written about my experience as a member of a class which meets within a prison with inmates (inside students):
As the outside students walked out of the jail, we breathed deeply. The air inside the jail is dirty, thick. The cool air seemed to refresh us all, even cleanse us. Some of us spoke about the inside students asking us about the weather. What seems to be a trivial conversation topic is in fact a fascinating discussion. Sadly, this is only because they don’t feel the weather. Rain is interesting. The rise and drop of temperatures is a novelty. I think I understood freedom just a little more. Freedom seems to be not noticing what you don’t have. I’m not sure this makes sense. They are so aware of all the things they are missing. They are not free. I simply have those things. I have touch. I have the weather. I have friends, internet, television, parents, a future, dreams, and clothes. I have freedom. I’m free to feel the weather and free to not take notice. This is so convoluted. But, isn’t that what this is all supposed to be? They committed crimes. I shouldn’t feel bad. But, then, they ask me about the weather and I do. I don’t feel guilty, only guilty that if I were in their position I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. That’s disturbing.
I walk out of the jail and I hate the system that’s given me so much. I’m white. I’m straight. I’m male. I’m educated. My family has money. I’m always going to be on the upside. And, I hate it. Breathing in that deep air, I hate it. I want so badly to become black and woman and poor and see if I’d still be who I am. I hate it. I hate that people aren’t people in this system. I hate that no one cares that those women are breathing thick dirty air. I hate that I love that I only have to breathe that thick dirty air for two hours a week. And, I hate that I’m not sure any of it has much to do with me.