This starts off a bit left but stay with me.
I was having a conversation this morning about the last time I took a picture with my mother and I realized, it was a long time ago. Actually, too long ago considering how often I see her but thats besides the point. The picture in question was taken on my sister’s cell phone 3 years ago at a party that my aunt had thrown for a cousin who was just recently released from prison.
The picture of my mother and myself isn’t the area of interest here.
Why the fuck did my aunt deem it necessary or even remotely logical to celebrate someone getting released from prison? How was this even normal to me? I’ve been to a few of these in my lifetime, actually I’ve been to two this year so far, and at no point did I think to myself “how is this even a thing?”
For the sake of my argument, I’m going to leave out the part where generational, systematic racism, and the socioeconomic climate we’re from breeds black males, such as my cousin, to fall prey to procedural roadblocks and traps. That shit is a given.
So, let’s think about this for a second. Person “A”, my cousin in this instance, does some criminal shit, gets locked up, serves the term, gets out, and THEN we party? Wouldn’t it be apropos if we threw parties for the black men who’ve never gone instead?
Let’s use me as an example. I’ve never been to prison, don’t have a gaggle of illegitimate kids, went to college, graduated, and I’ve done some pretty notable shit in my life. I’ve been able to tour many times, made my hero’s peers, and have been apart of critically acclaimed art that’s received multiple Grammy nominations. I’ve done movies and television, all while carving a life out for myself strictly off of my passions.
Why not throw a party for that nigga ? No cake and wings for me huh? Total bullshit.
Also, don’t confuse this with any sort of “whens my moment coming?” sort of thing. This ain’t that at all. Furthermore, I’ve never been the type of guy who needs recognition to exist. The questions I’m posing are when did that become a “nigga, we made it moment”? More importantly, why is this momentous at all?
When Chris Brown got out of jail in 2014 he got a party as well, and this shit was WAY flyer then the Colt 45 and chicken wing shit I attended at my aunt’s house. Breezy had a liquor sponsorship (wtf??), bad bitches (dont get sensitive), copious amounts of weed, a big ass pool; the works. I realized that with how our countries prison industrial complex is set up, there’s a steady revolving door of people who enter, then leave as convicts, only to return again in many cases. This process in turn opens itself up for new industries. Shit that I didn’t even know existed. There are various companies nationwide who manufacture signs, tee-shirts, even cakes to commemorate the institutional release of loved ones.
I’m reminded of the biblical story about the prodigal son. If you’re not familiar with this allegory then i’ll truncate it for you. A father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheiratence before his father dies and he gets it. After he receives it he leaves, squanders it all, then goes hungry and homeless. He then plans on going home with thoughts of begging to work for his father if possible. Long story short, the father finds him begging on the road and brings him home for a celebration and beautiful feast with a fat goat and the whole nine. All while the older son is extra salty becuase he stuck around and did everything right. So he’s all ,”what fucking part of the game is this? Fuck this party, and why didn’t i get a fat goat?” and his dad says “You’ve been here nigga, so everything I have belongs to you anyway. Stop being a bitch and celebrate your brother’s homecoming”. Im loosely describing the conversation but you get it.
So like the parable, I celebrated. I forgot everything and enjoyed seeing my cousin for the first time since we were kids, even though he’s prison weird now. Fuck the reasons why, I was willing to entertain the very shit that vexed me so.
In the end, I think overall we’re a bit too over celebratory as a country. Moreover, as a black man, I’d be remised if I didn’t mention that we celebrate really stupid things. MLK birthday parties that double as a twerk contest at the strip club. “Just beat the case”parties for men or women who narrowly escape legal woes by hook or crook. Baby showers for females who have no business procreating. Even the aforementioned “welcome home from jail” party serve as distractions. I’m no idiot so I recognize that starting off. Honestly, we all need pockets of release. A time or two to be able to celebrate the family we have while they’re still in the land of the living, even if the reason why they were gone in the first place is dumb as shit.
I’m not saying i’ll never go to another one, because chances are i’ll have to. Who the hell am I kidding, I know damn well they’ll be more in my family. Nonetheless, it’d be way more beneficial overall to society if we didn’t have to have them at all.
Now THAT would be a cause for celebration.
article by Jamal Miller