How I’m Listening and Taking Action

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My interest in welfare inside prison began when I realized that what I believe is the purpose of prisons, which is to punish criminals for their mistakes, yet at the same time to rehabilitate them so that they can eventually come back to the society without committing a second offense, is not a belief many people share in South Korea. I say this because I believe even people in prison should be provided with basic rights and necessities, like being able to take hot showers. But that’s really not the point of this writing.

When I shared my frustrations with my high school friends I still keep in contact with, one of them shared with me a book titled Just Mercy, which deals with mass incarceration in the US and poor conditions within prisons. I started reading this book but realized through the case stories the main character shares, this is more than about the faulty prison system in the US, but fundamentally it is about the discrimination Black people are facing under the justice system in the US, and how Black people are more likely than any others to be incarcerated and given unfair sentences.

As I’ve lived in Asia all my life, I am only exposed to stories of racism through the internet, movies, and books. Of course, I’m not saying Asians are not racist against Black people because some of them definitely are. To clarify, I have never heard of these stories from Black people personally. But this book in particular has brought a certain level of realness to the situation, at least for me.

Thanks to many of my friends living in the US actively sharing posts on the BLM Movement, I’m shared with great information as to how people can contribute to the movement. I’m still learning about everything, and I’m still listening. As for how I will stand in solidarity and how I will speak up, I decided to share the Instagram account of Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org). This is a nonprofit that aims to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality. I think participating in the movement starts with a simple step like this. Following an account that aligns with your views, learn from them, and eventually branch out to different organizations that share the same big picture.

Hear their voice, and keep the movement strong. Because there shouldn’t be another movement ten or twenty years later that cries for the same goal.

Police brutality is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, and I wholeheartedly agree. But I decided today to bring attention to discriminatory sentencing against Black people, very mush pervasive and ongoing in the US.

If there’s a cause you’re interested in, read about it, get educated, and use your voice to speak out. As a Korean, my attention would eventually come back to prison system within South Korea, and I have much to learn about it. But for today, my whole attention will be given to Equal Justice Initiative (@eji_org), and the BLM Movement. This is my way of acting.

Also, I have seen people say online on how voting seems like an indirect way of making a change, and I cannot disagree more. I cannot emphasize enough how voting matters, and how direct the method is to exercise your rights and make your voice known. I have personally seen how powerful voting is in South Korea, and how much senior powers are held accountable through votes.

So please, if you want to get your point across, vote. Vote for change, vote to end injustice, and vote to end oppression.

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