Image courtesy of John Hain / Pixabay

This article was featured in the June 24 digital-only edition of Street Sense. Until it is safe to resume person-to-person sales, you’ll always be able to find the current digital-only edition at streetsensemedia.org/Digital Thank you for reading! Please continue to support our vendors through our mobile app (streetsensemedia.org/App).


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s a Black Baby Boomer and mother who constantly worries about my own son and grandson,  cousins and friends, I have always shared the concerns of the Black Lives Matter protesters marching in the streets these past few weeks.

Systemic oppression does indeed exacerbate homelessness and mental health problems in our community. I myself have been near the point of going crazy while homeless in the streets of Chicago and Washington, D.C.

When Black folks come out of incarceration, their past should not stop them from finding a job and housing. We all make mistakes and we all learn from those mistakes. It’s unfair that a white person can commit the same crime as a Black man, get less time in prison, and still get a job and housing. Once a Black person comes out of prison, their record haunts them for the rest of their life.  

Then you have Black people being stopped needlessly by white police officers over bogus stuff, like a busted headlight in the middle of the day. They end up in jail or dead, like Sandra Bland in Texas. Police reports omit crucial details and juries can’t make fair assessments, having to go by witness testimony that a Black person happened to be on the scene.

I feel that the news media hasn’t talked enough about the systemic oppression of Black people in America. People’s lives have been ruined, mental health problems have been made worse, and families have broken up. It has to stop! 

Aida Peery is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.