I’m writing a book about my love and great respect for “the little guy.” I’m not sure it will ever get published, and if it does, I’m not sure anyone will ever read it.
This all came to mind as I watched the news from New Hampshire last night. As a veteran broadcast newsman, I was touched once again by the strong voice of the little guy. Political pundits at all levels have been flabbergasted by people turning out in support of an old Jewish man who unashamedly admits he’s a socialist, or a TV showman who has no experience in politics at all and who bad-mouths everyone who doesn’t agree with him. I’ve seen the little guy stand tall when I was a working newsman, and I still see it now.
What I cannot see is why anyone is surprised! With the terrible performance of our government at both the national and state levels in recent years, guess what? With the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, guess what? The little guy has had enough! No wonder cars were still waiting in line last night to get to the polling place when the polls closed! No wonder there have been record turnouts in Iowa and New Hampshire.
My heart was touched recently when 100 poor, black people from Flint rode in buses all the way to Washington, DC, to be present for government hearings regarding the bad water situation in their city. Water was poisoning their little kids!
In the last national election, despite efforts by some conservatives to make voting more difficult, African American citizens stood in line, sometimes for hours, to cast their ballots. Just let someone try to deny them the right to vote.
I use all of this to preface my position on the overcrowded conditions at Michigan’s one and only prison for women: Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It is simply this: It’s time to listen to the little guy!
HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS has tried to focus attention on our shameful treatment of women behind bars. The same is true for the AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITEE (The Quakers). The same is true for the ACLU. Our state’s major newspapers have focused on the issue. But no one is listening. As I’ve said before, it’s no different than the Flint water crisis. It doesn’t personally affect our Governor. It doesn’t personally affect our state legislators. So it gets ignored.
An 8-page letter signed by 15 of us---individuals and organizations---hasn’t had the dignity of a response yet, several weeks later.
I say it’s time for our legislature to hold hearings in Lansing on the problem, and to demand answers. Someone must be held accountable!
And I say it’s time for the little guy to speak: the loved ones, the friends and family members of those women in prison whose rights are being violated on a daily basis. Let’s bus them to Lansing if necessary.
It’s time to do more than pray. It’s time to act.