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?

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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.

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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.

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  • 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

A Colombian Orphan Was Adopted By His Host Family And The Video Will Tug At Your Heart Strings

Things That Matter

A Colombian Orphan Was Adopted By His Host Family And The Video Will Tug At Your Heart Strings

Amanda Thiessen Barkey / Facebook

Sebastian is a young boy who was growing up in Colombia with no biological relatives. A program called Kidsave’s Summer Miracles connected Sebastian with the Barkey family for a summer. During that time, the family fell in love with Sebastian and they decided to secretly adopt him after the program ended and he flew back to Colombia.

The Barkey family fell in love with Sebastian after hosting him for a summer so they decided to adopt him.

Orphan Reunited With Family

After spending summer with the Barkey family in the U.S, Colombian orphan Sebastian has become a part of the family…👨‍👩‍👦

Posted by UNILAD on Thursday, January 30, 2020

The adoption was a true family affair. All of the Barkey children and their parents boarded a flight to Colombia to collect the newest member of their family. The reunion was caught on camera and it is a sweet and honest representation of modern families.

The moment Sebastian sees the Barkey family is an emotional experience for everyone in the room.

Credit: UNILAD / Facebook

Sebastian is walked through the hallways of the adoption agency and led into a room with the family he has grown to love. He is immediately surrounded by the Barkey family who smothers him in hugs. The feeling of excitement and love is palpable from the video.

Sebastian even signed the adoption papers using his new last name: Barkey.

Credit: UNILAD / Facebook

Congratulations, Sebastian. And well done, Barkey family. What a touching and sweet moment captured on camera.

READ: In The Middle Of National Adoption Awareness Month, This Movie Is Making A Statement

Camila Cabello’s Performance At The Grammys Made Everyone Cry As They Remembered Kobe Bryant And His Daughter

Entertainment

Camila Cabello’s Performance At The Grammys Made Everyone Cry As They Remembered Kobe Bryant And His Daughter

camila_cabello / Instagram

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards was filled with tributes to Kobe Bryant after his tragic and shocking death in a helicopter crash with his daughter in Calabasas. Artists included tributes to the basketball legend in their performances last night but one performance made everyone think about the father and daughter who died.

Camila Cabello sang her new single “First Man” about the love between and father and daughter and things became very emotional.

Cabello’s song “Frist Man” is a song dedicated to the love between a daughter and father. A special love that cannot be explained to those who have not experienced it. It is a bond filled with trust, safety, protection, and appreciation.

Cabello sang the song to her father, who was sitting in the front row, and he could not contain his emotions.

Latino fathers aren’t known for their public display of emotions. It isn’t because they don’t feel the emotions but it is just a common thing for Latino dads to stay stoic and strong. Seeing Cabello’s father crying while his daughter sings to him is a touching moment.

Her performance was bringing social media users to tears.

Credit: @ashley_dawn31 / Twitter

You can see the emotions in Cabello’s eyes as she sang her sweet song dedicated to the love and sacrifices of her dad. It is a special reminder that our parents have done so much to get us to where we are.

The song had a special meaning since it was the same day that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

Credit: @thekatiestevens / Twitter

On the morning of Jan. 26, 2020, before the Grammys, news broke that Kobe Bryant died when a helicopter crashed in Calabasas. The entertainment world was shocked when TMZ reported the crash. Bryant, who was 41, played for the L.A. Lakers for 20 years. His daughter was following in his footsteps and was part of the basketball community. In their rush to report the story, TMZ reported Bryant’s death before the family could be notified.

A mixture of the days’ events and the connection between fathers and daughters led to an emotional reaction from fans.

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There was a lot of build-up to the performance. Many speculated, based on the kind of hype the performance was getting, that Cabello might be singing a special song to Shawn Mendes. Mendes and Cabello fans are not-so-secretly hoping for the pair to become a couple.

Even parents felt the love in the song.

Credit: @DanLeach971 / Twitter

Who couldn’t text their parents or children after seeing this performance? The love between a child and their parent is something special. It is an unconditional love that comes with heartbreak when the child moves away. It is a bittersweet relationship filled with so many ups and downs but it is beautiful in its longevity.

The performance really hit home for some viewers who recently lost their own parents.

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The loss of a parent is a hard moment in anyone’s life. They are the person who knows you best and has known you your entire life. Losing that kind of connection is tough and painful but a part of life.

So, take some time and call your parents today. They want to hear from you.

*cries in Spanish*

READ: Camila Cabello Has Apologized For Using The N-Word And Fans Are Pretty Messed Up About It