By Sade Smith, News Editor
Friday February 24, S.P.E.A.K. (Stimulating Practical Engaging Audiences Knowledgeably) held their first event of the semester in Woodland Commons.
In their second season, cofounders Rachelle Edouarzin and Charlemya Erasme introduced “Think Outside the Box” to discuss the prison complex and if the industry was helping solve or simply causing social problems. The commons were set up with tables on opposite sides of the room, so that the audience could discuss questions posed with their peers.
The hosts posed a question that the audience would then formulate an answer with their respective tables and share with the rest of the spectators. “Do prisons help solve social problems or help to produce them? If the latter, then why does the US imprison more people than any country on earth?”
Students engaged quickly with each other and held the belief that there was a system put in place a long time ago where an oppressed set of groups were made and capitalism created a sense of security by putting these people in prison, education and social systems.
In terms of the way that students and people across the country are being treated, faculty from different departments on campus were a part of this conversation and students actively shared their beliefs, where they often agreed with one another.
After each group nominated a speaker to share their answer, the S.P.E.A.K. group welcomed their special guest speaker Dr. Dennis Childs, Associate Professor at University of California San Diego, Director of African American Studies Minor, and author of Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration from the Chain Gang to the Penitentiary.
He gave thanks to the fact that the students who were responsible for the event being organized. From San Diego himself he commented, “I went to a high school where 30 languages were taught, but down the street family households were of $25,000 income or less.”
Being the leader in the world by far by incarcerating human beings behind cages, Childs spoke on the rate of incarceration from after slavery up until now. Criminals and other prison related data was displayed on large projector screens as Childs spoke about the changes from 1980 in terms of in incarceration.
He spoke with the audience on the reasoning for programs such as Affirmative action and how after being released from prison, life becomes harder than it already may have been for former inmates. After his presentation, S.P.E.A.K. called out names of raffle winners, who received prizes such as Childs autographed book and UMass Dartmouth apparel. Look out for S.P.E.A.K.’s second episode happening towards the end of the Spring semester.