Almost half of Black women have a family member in prison – compared to 12% of white women. The numbers may not surprise us considering the weight of mass incarceration on Black America, but there’s an underdiscussed toll it’s taking on our women.
Researchers from Rice, Vanderbilt, and UConn University found that the stress of having an incarcerated family member is impacting women similarly despite their personal circumstances. They argue that this issue has significant impacts on Black women, and how it plays out is important.
According to their research, “sibling incarceration is the most common type of familial incarceration,” and the impact of having incarcerated family members plays a role in why Black people are “less healthy – both physically and psychologically.”
Prisons, policing, and other punitive aspects of white supremacy harm Black people – even if we’re not the ones that are directly affected. Even if Black women aren’t imprisoned, they’re still paying the price! This should encourage a big change.
Thinking beyond prisons is important to Black well-being. Prisons are not conducive to a healthy, empowered Black community. White supremacist models of punishment that are based on racism will not heal us – but moving past these harmful structures can help.