Jay Z’s recent advocacy for Prop. 47 in California — an initiative that if passed would reduce penalties for non-violent crimes, including certain drug possession offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors — doesn’t come by chance. The rapper’s words actually tie into a movement sweeping the web titled #SchoolsNotPrisons.
Spearheaded by cultural figures like activist, actor, and all-around renaissance man, Harry Belafonte, Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, and author dream hampton, who co-authored Jay Z’s Decoded, this is a call to action against prison-industrial complex — a billion dollar industry that incarcerates outstanding amounts of Blacks and Latinos, as opposed to any other race, especially for drug offenses.
Meanwhile, the United States’ faltering education system allows schools to be closed down and funding for extracurricular programs to be cut at an alarming rate, while prisons are erected solely for profit. And this is the root of the cause.
Yesterday (August 5), the collective called a Twitter town hall meeting to create a dialogue using the aforementioned hashtag. Participates posed and answered inquiries in a question and answer format, which made for a great, informative conversation. But in the end, Belafonte and company acknowledged that action is required to push their movement forward.
Follow Belafonte, Simmons, hampton, and the many others supporting #SchoolsNotPrisons for information on how to get involved. Read some of what was said during the Twitter town hall on the following pages.