Writing provided by Duck who spent 13 years incarcerated; now finding a home as contributor and facilitator/trainer with 2nd Chance University, a non-profit dedicated to those who have stumbled.
For those who have been (or are currently) justice-involved, being invisible occupies a rather peculiar stance with even more atypical consequence.
For those not justice-involved, imagine a world where eye contact is not allowed, no soul searching or glimpsing into the spirit of the silenced number striding side by side.
Living behind bars means no identity other than 6 or 7 digits surrounding his or her every move. Think ab out how your sense of identity would be without a name and with an objectified history defining your Looking Glass Self theory.
For those without a justice-involved scratch or dent, take a look in the mirror, strip the reflective image of who/what you think you see, and then wipe away all of you with a single stretch. From this day forward, in place of what you thought you saw moments ago, resides a blemished blur.
In accordance to being invisible, for the next 24 hours, there can be no eye contact, there can be no talk without directly being told you have permission to speak, there can be no mobility beyond set geographic boundaries, there can be no choice, no smiles (this will be seen as a sign of weakness), there can be no friends, no companionship, no nothing (sorry for the poor grammar).
Imagine, for these 24 hours, when people looked at you, they saw something less than human, something not worthy of respect, something not deserving of consideration, empathy, or a second chance. Imagine how these emotions and actions will toy with your mind and sense of self-worth not just for the moment, but for your lifetime (and your families).
Imagine that even after this 24-hour experience, time kept on and you were forever defined as less than human.
Truth is, for those who are justice-involved, rightly or wrongly, he or she will never wash their skin of past sins, society won’t let them, lenders won’t let them, employers won’t let them, and, in most cases, YOU won’t let them.
What does it mean to be invisible? There’s no such concept as no matter who you are, others see and define based upon pre-conceived misconceptions supporting personal agendas and deficiencies.
Is America the land of hope, of understanding, of second chances? Do I really need to answer that? Perhaps now is the time for America to be.
2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for our youth as well as our adult population who have stumbled to regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.
I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.