A colorless correctional culture which creates, causes chaos and confusion inside Arizona prisons.
Governor Doug Ducey has ordered a full investigation in the Kingman riots. What this investigation will NOT reveal is the social and political inequities that exist under the direction of a white dominant power group that runs the department of corrections in Arizona. Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a colorless correctional culture within the prisons causing chaos and confusion leading to frustrations and violence.
Is there such a thing as a colorless culture? I doubt it, but on the other hand, it depends on what you mean by culture. If you word is used in the normal sense and set aside from the socio-political ideology and focus on dialects, idiolects, beliefs, symbology, iconography, behavior, ritual, kinship and so forth, the answer is no. However, keep in mind the temptation to maintain political correctness in our thinking.
Rather strange that it does exist but not as described as above but rather based on a complicated amalgam of various perverted and extreme customs and traditions adapted on lessons learned in history and extended to be imposed in political and social influences of those in power, the answer is yes. There is a colorless culture inside our prisons and it influence much of the vitriol in our society.
In prison management, culture is a dominating feature that can work for the system or against the system. Culture can unite or divide the prison population and also draw a hostile line between administrations and populations. The culture is incontestably very powerful and very influential. Ignoring culture would be dangerous and reckless indeed.
Keep in mind, we are not focusing on skin tone or genetic exchange of races. We are talking about the physical aspects of culture that influence body language in communications and management practices. How it impacts daily living and compliance of policies and procedures developed not from state statutes or guidelines but mostly from random and arbitrary ‘lessons learned’ historical data.
It is more broadly expressed as the “us versus them” ideology that exists inside prisons. It can lead from correctional officer’ relationships with prisoners as well as prisoner among prisoner relationships.
The manifestation of a culture within a prison is dynamic and forceful that is very complicated and often misunderstood. It is not a matter of how much whiteness there is, or how much blackness exists but rather color is only a minor element of the product unless it is a matter of discrimination in which case, these colors may override any civility or manners and dominate or negatively impact behaviors if offense is taken or disrespect is shown to one race or the other.
There can be markers of whiteness or blackness in daily interactions if the overall culture demands it be a contributing factor to how the rules are enforced and perceived. One could immediately see how discrimination impact this in an extreme form and manifest dissention or division. One needs to be cautious not to delegate any authority or empowerment and inflict willful or coincidental discriminatory practices that may divide the prison into color lines. It creates tension and resentment that festers over time.
In such a case, the color line -- which is used to divide society into two groups that are by definition exclusive, 'whites' and others’ becomes a point of agitation or aggravating circumstances.
The awkwardness and inadequacy of all existing blanket terms for these others, such as 'minorities' or 'people of color,' stem from the repression and confusion involved in the very notion of whiteness or colorless. To some extent, cultural whiteness in Arizona, may dominate events politically and culturally. It depends on demographics, geographic perception and the associated treatment applied to ‘others’ not white and of color. Thus if the demographics are opposite, a reverse perception may apply.
Arizona whiteness does exist. Arizona whiteness runs the government and the current prison system. It emerged decades ago and never relinquished control of the prison system as it imposes its will freely and clearly with tacit approval of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It has been years since a white person ever directed the largest state agency and no change is expected in this transfer of power any time soon.
Therefore, the Arizona whiteness is in charge of the penal and criminal justice system and is the main provider for the sentencing and punishment of criminals incarcerated and kept there for an extensive amount of time compared to other states suggesting that non-whites are less moral than whites.
One might say, Arizona whiteness is a conservative whiteness leading to an ideology that suppresses the other colors and downgrades them in separate classes by race. Inside prison, this is a dominant event in the classification of housing, jobs, credit or good time and length of sentencing or time served. It extends all the way to the approval of parole and clemency appeals. Today, there is no formal juridical equality for color unless you are a member of the colorless race, the white race.
It is, besides, the ambiance of the modern corporate office, where niceness rules -- or rather, is the means of rule of political correctness. In the white-collar workplace everyone must act white: quiet, polite, cheerful, emotionally masked, sensually numb, perpetually busy, and willing to tolerate any humiliation as long as it's done with a smile. Non-white is all that resists smiling self-adaptation to one's assigned yet ever-changing role as a component in the smooth positive flow of personal relationships.
This obviously creates a fallacy that offensive in nature. Fact is whiteness or colorless people can be equally misunderstood because of these assumptions created and ignoring behavioral norms and power relations, are questionable especially when imposed only on people of color. When applied within major institutions in our society this impacts the workplace, prisons, the school, the mall and other sites.
All these institutions teach possessive individualism; anxious competitiveness; rigid emotional control through 'niceness'; narrow or institutional and instrumental rationality; ready acceptance of isolation, boredom, and meaninglessness; the sacrifice of a lifetime for merchandise and security. Most of them also implicitly associate these qualities and attitudes both with white or light skin, and with success and self-esteem. One can see, when distorted, the facts gets lost and the color plays a big part whether we are united or divided. Now, create this curmudgeon with prison life and you have instant conflict.
Skin privilege is fading in the community but not inside prisons. One would expect the reverse to occur since society’s working class is steadily including more whites than before. Now, a much larger majority of the prison populations inside Arizona are white too. Nearly half of all high-school graduates without college degrees today work in jobs that pay scarcely more than the minimum wage and it is likely this continuum of lack of success applies when they are released from prison as well.
The fact that the prison population now consists at least as much of white as of black and brown people is concealed by the fact that inside prisons, the whites hold better positions of authority and power than the black and brown poor. This is to say that poor whites continue to receive considerably better treatment than poor blacks or brown and are not subject to correctional officials (police) harassment and other subtler forms of prejudice as well. This can be challenged by a document search of the prison disciplinary and inmate employment systems.
What has changed? The appearance of border patriot militiamen and Nazi skinheads in our society and inside our prisons. These groups continue to define whiteness and its privilege on old, skin- and religion-based terms.
The perception inside prison is because the administration is largely white and the majority in power the obvious conclusion of those of color is that if you are white, you are a partner in charge as the administration is mostly white. Strange but strong enough of an influence to cause hate and offensive behaviors to be encouraged and condoned by a colorless culture inside our prisons.
This is a colorless culture cultivated and grown in an obsessive form inside prisons. These types of disruptive individuals group up when incarcerated and draw support from each other better than the other races.
Whether deliberately or coincidental, they [whites] are better-off and unlike those of color who face stronger opposition to programs and work opportunities. Opportunities in the type of job assigned, as these jobs are less sophisticated, hours are longer and less paying work and diminished security as they struggle to maintain their position inside prison.
An underlying influence on riots and prisoner frustration that will never be revealed by any investigation ordered by the Governor of Arizona. The fact is, nobody will touch this subject the way this paper is written because it would reveal a reality that is grossly distorted and covered up by those influencing the criminal justice system in Arizona as well as the contributing factors of private prison organizations soliciting cheap prison labor from the state prisons to sustain their own market and profit making schemes.