Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Support Your Incarcerated Family Members If You Don’t Know How

Talking about our primos in prison is taboo. If you ever had a family member in prison, you may avoid talking about it outside your family circle. The incarcerated family member then becomes a ghost, a cautionary tale, or a source of shame. We forget how they arrived in this situation and hesitate to offer support. Looking closely at issues that contribute to mass incarceration in this country can offer insights into the matter. It’s time we take a new approach to incarcerated family, and offer help in ways the correctional system refuses. It’s time to humanize our imprisoned primos and primas, showing love and empathy that we would want to see if we were behind bars.

Considering the U.S. census shows Hispanics make up 18.3 percent of the population, it is bewildering how they come to make up 32 percent of the Federal inmate population.

However, looking at social issues that plague the Latinx community, it is no surprise that low levels of education, poverty, and structural discrimination lead to incarceration. With the latest instances of aggression toward the Latinx community at the presidential level, it will be no surprise if acts of discrimination and targeting of Latinos continues to rise.

What other factors contribute to the incarceration of Latinos?

Credit: Bill Oxford / Unsplash

The Pew Research Center reports that in 1991, 60 percent of Latinos were sentenced in federal court for drug-related offenses, and 20 percent for immigration crimes. Yet, these figures changed dramatically, with 48 percent of sentences for immigration crimes, and 37 percent of sentences for drug-related crimes in 2007.

The incarceration of Latinos is feeding into the conversation around the school to prison pipeline.

Credit: @LatinoPPF / Twitter

What is the prison experience really like? Netflix series like Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” and “Orange is the New Black” help pull back the curtain on the harsh realities of prison life. More than just TV shows, these depictions exposed micro and macro ways the U.S., home to the largest prison population in the world, focuses not on prisoner rehabilitation, but recidivism instead.

When we think about our family members in prison, we need to remember that they could be facing sexual violence, lack of access to mental health services, solitary confinement, and denial of their reproductive rights.

Credit: Mitch Lensink / Unsplash

It may be the case that an incarcerated family member’s situation is shrouded in mystery and whispers, but this need not be the case. It is not only time to confront these matters at the family level, but to address them at the social level as well. The first step may begin with actually accepting that inmate call. Ask what your family member is going through and share that with the family if he or she permits. You may feel a sense of hopelessness, but there is so much you can do to help not only your own family members but the greater incarcerated Latino community too.

Moving beyond thoughts and prayers—although they’re good too—here are substantive ways you can help incarcerated family members.

Credit: @Art4JusticeFund / Twitter
  • Visit if you can. Even if it is only a few times a year, the impact of human contact cannot be overstated. Ensure you are on the approved visitor’s list before you go. Bring identification and arrive early. Be a good listener and most importantly, show that family love.
  • The experience of visiting prison can be inconvenient or even traumatic, so if you feel you cannot commit this fully then try a virtual visit. Apps like JPay offer inmate services like email, video visitation, and secure payment transfers. Send pictures of the family or a video of a holiday gathering.
  • If apps prove to be intimidating, try sending a letter. Have picture printed out—old school style—and include them in your letters. Families are full of births, marriages, and so many other beautiful life events. Share them with your primos and primas who can’t be there with you. If you feel like you simply don’t want to communicate with your incarcerated family member, but you still want to contribute to the cause in some way, join a prison pen pal organization and bring a sense of human connection to others.
  • Another way to help the family behind bars is to send books. The organization, NYC books through bars, understands how much books can help with the rehabilitation and the education process in prison.
  • With vulnerable peoples such as the trans community,  women in prison, those with mental health needs, simply raising awareness on their behalf can be a radical act of kindness.
  • Another act of solidarity with your incarcerated family member is to donate to the ACLU Prisons Project. “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we work to ensure that conditions of confinement are consistent with health, safety, and human dignity and that prisoners retain all rights of free persons that are not inconsistent with incarceration.”

If you have a family member in prison, it is important to their own recovery and reformation to know they have people who love and support them.

Credit: aclu_nationwide / Instagram

With an array of opportunities to help our family members in prison, it is important to note that reintroduction to society can pose a major challenge for former inmates. These are areas where you can help too. Our imprisoned family members may have been victims of the system, they may have survived the only way they know how, or maybe they just made a mistake. Whatever the circumstance, the key is to remember they are human, and most importantly, they are familia. So ask yourself, for their sake and the sake of our community, what can you do to help?

READ: Cyntoia Brown Was Finally Released From Prison After 15 Years– This Is What Resistance Looks Like

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

An Abuelo Got A Hurtful Note From Bad Neighbors About His Decorations And Latino Twitter Came Into Comfort Him

Things That Matter

An Abuelo Got A Hurtful Note From Bad Neighbors About His Decorations And Latino Twitter Came Into Comfort Him

@goldenstef / Twitter

We are rarely more defensive than we are for our abuelos. The viejitos have always been there for us and seeing them treated unkindly is just heartbreaking. That is what one Twitter user experienced after her abuelo got a wretched note about his decorations outside his home.

This is the horrid letter left for @goldenstef’s abuelo by undesirable neighbors.

The letter, which is filled with misspelled words, calls the abuelo’s house an example of a “low class Mexican family.” The letter was written anonymously by neighbors and delivered to the abuelo in an attempt to shame him into changing his decorations. One of the most bizarre moments in the letter is when the angry author criticized the homeowner for having too many American flags claiming he isn’t patriotic and can’t fool the neighbors. Like, which one is it people?

The Twitter user followed up with photos of the house to show the decorations their abuelo has out front.

People flooded the Twitter post with comments supporting and sending love to the abuelo. Fellow Latinos are ready to stand with the abuelo and some just want the names of the people behind the letter so they can talk to them. Some people are stunned at how far the author was willing to go out of their way to be mean to an old man who just wants to decorate his home and front yard.

Latino Twitter wants to come together to let the abuelo know that his decorations are adorbs.

We need to come together to give her abuelo all of the wonderful decoration we love. Let’s turn his house and front yard into a showcase of all of the greatness that Latin America has to offer.

People are falling in love with this viejitos yard.

Honestly, this is a great yard. Who wouldn’t want a yard like this? This yard is original and adorable and worth all of the praise that we can muster. Thank you to people like this for making their yards something unique and worth seeing.

@goldenstef wants everyone to know just how much they appreciate the sweet messages about their abuelo’s yard.

It costs nothing to be kind. It is even better when you can be kind about something someone clearly cares so much about. Who cares if someone decorates their lawn a little too much. At least they are having fun with their lives and that is something we all need more of right now.

READ: Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Fierce

Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Buda Mendes / Getty

When it comes to celebrating our Latinidad, there’s no denying that Latinos need much more than a month to celebrate our accomplishments, cultures, and contributions. Still, since 1988, people across the country have used Hispanic Heritage Month to commemorate the contributions of Latin Americans in the United States. This month, just like every other month, we’re recognizing and celebrating our Latinidad by sharing stories and moments from our followers.

Recently we asked Latinas on FIERCE to share their memories of some of the most influential Latinos in their lives: their abuelos.

Check out their sweet stories below.

“Ayy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita.” –melannram

“My abuelito passed away almost 10 years ago now, he was sick ever since I could remember so I was never able to make memories with him. Earlier this year I got to visit the rancho in MX where he raised my dad and tios. A little back story, I have this belief and connection to white butterflies. Whenever I see them or they cross my path I am convinced it’s my abuelito telling me that he’s near or watching over me🤎 anyways, on our way to the ranchito which I had only visited once before when I was about 4, we were guided by these hand sized white butterflies, it was absolutely beautiful. My abuelito really lead us to his casita in the rancho. I could feel his presence and happiness that his grandchildren had the opportunity to visit his home 🤎 this is my favorite memory, this is the memory that I cherish,
– a memory that brings me joy.” –sandra_larios

“Seeing my grandpa make my grandma a cocktail when she came home from a long day at work. He would leave her cocktail for her on the kitchen counter, so it was the first thing she’d see when she walked through the door. They taught me it isn’t always grand gestures, but a lot of the small ones that count.allimae2011

“My abuela started losing her memory early on but she always remembered the story of how she met our Abo until the day she passed. I was the type of kid that kind of resisted learning spanish, but hearing her tell those stories in her beautiful Puerto Rican accent made me fall in love with the language in a way I had never before. I owe my love of spanish and story telling to her. She was a wonderful story teller and I’ll always hold the fondest memories of sitting in her terraza with her 70s furniture, drinking cafecito, and talking about the man who made her fall head over heels in love.” –
alfonsina_mj

“Hearing them talk in the kitchen, drinking their coffee while listening to boleros.”- mel_aguirre1

“Making homemade tortillas with my ama.” – alwaysdulcee

“My Cuban 🇨🇺 Abuelitos riding in the back seat of their Mercedes and watching Abuelo open the door for Abuela every time. My Mexican 🇲🇽 side was making tortillas with Abuela and Abuelo teaching me to drive his truck. At 7 years old!” – brigittecasaus

“Making tamales for us just because.” – angierivera4265

“Cruising with my grandpa, building a studio with grandpa, changing the oil, tire, battery and learning to pump gas with grandpa. But my favorite one, him teaching me to read a clock with a song.” – 2ev37

“Meeting my grandma for the first time when she came to visit us in the US. I was 4 years old! It was so exciting because I would only speak to her in the phone and to finally meet her was a blessing. She was such an amazing lady ! She passed away 7 years ago. I wished she and I could of seen each other more often.” –_lizzylivvy28

“I would sit down on the little old sofa in our living room with my abuelito. He would tell me stories about him when we was younger. I always loved it when he would tell me the story about how he met my abuelita.” –
emigandar

“My grandparents weren’t together anymore, but they we’re 2 special people. My grandpa would always call at the crack of dawn on my birthday. I hated it as a kid, but loved it as an adult. And I’ve missed them the last few years of his life. My grandma would make our birthday cards and send them via mail. When we’d get them they would always be different. I miss those A LOT. They were always personalized and she knew details about the things I was going through so she made them specific to that. It was so special the little things they did for us. We lost my grandma 7 years ago and my grandpa a year ago in July.” –e_bonita89

“They raised me so having coffee with both of them. Eating watermelon with my grandpa and then reading together. Watching old movies together then taking naps. My grandma and I love watching novelas and then talk about them. I still walk with her to 26th street (little Village) or to our nearest aldi.” –melyssa.1997

“Mi abuela used to wake me up on weekends. She would enter the room singing “buenos días su señoría mantantirulirula”. She used to give me a hair brush, and while she was opening the window she would say “brush your hair hija, so the sleep will go away. I opened the window for it to go”. I would brush my hair and convince myself that I got rid of my sleepiness. My grandma is 90 now, and she’s still magic like this.” – iamevyi

“In 7th grade I missed the bus, and I hated missing school, and I cried the entire day because I was scared my parents were going to yell at me, and my grandma stopped my dad before he came in and told him what happened and how it was her fault I missed the bus, because she accidentally unplugged my alarm, even though it wasn’t true.”-
tinnaafaceee

“When my daughter was 6, I took her to visit my grandparents in Mexico. We arrived to the airport at night. It was crowded, a little disoriented, my baby seemed nervous as we were going through customs & she asked me “what if Grandpa can’t find us?”, Just then I saw movement through the large window ahead of us, it was my Abuelito, elbowing his way through the crowd, waving and smiling at us. He was always there when I needed him.” –magpieinaz

“Abuelos? Don’t have them. (Bad joke) They passed before I ever got to meet them. My parents never really talk about them, I think it’s too painful. I often wonder if there are any traits I have from them or if I do anything that my parents might say, oh she got that from my mom/dad. I’m happy my son has all 4 grandparents; I take a billion pictures of him with them.” –_nancysalto

melannramAyy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita ❤️

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com