The book A Place To Stand, by Jimmy Santiago Baca, is a powerful memoir about a hispanic child growing up though poverty, racism and prison, to become a successful poet and writer. At least at a surface glance it is. Powerful positive and negative reactions are evoked throughout the book. For me the most powerful came at the end of Jimmy’s sentence in prison. “‘You’re going home.’ ‘It’s not a set-up? I’m really leaving?’ ‘You’re really leaving Jimmy. I’ll be back.’ (Baca 256)
For me, this honestly caught me off guard. Not the part that Jimmy was going home but the whirlwind of emotions displayed in Jimmy’s two questions. I, in my life, had never thought about the complete range of emotional trauma a con goes through. In the two questions Jimmy and he displays three different emotions hope, mistrust and despair. He had zero trust in the guards. He always thought that they were going to do something to harm him. He also shows joyus hope in the fact that he so badly wants to get out of jail to restart his own life. And lastly, he shows the despair he had. He believed he was never going to get out of that prison. He believed he was stuck there forever.
I think I reacted this way because of the way our media portrays cons and the lack of thought I have put into the subject. Our media takes cons and treats them like scum and never displays the true torture they go through. We are lead to believe that they are treated fairly and nicely and are where they belong. But, as Jimmy shows that’s not the truth. Not all cons are where they belong, and they sure as hell aren’t treated fairly. They experience heavy emotional trauma that destroys their emotions and thought process. Instead of rehabilitating our cons we are destroying them. Now for my own thought I had also never done much research on the subject. This is part of the reason I reacted so strongly. Due to my negligence, I had never put serious thought into finding the truth of the subject.
Now with my newfound knowledge and intuition, I need to decide what i’m going to do going forward. I can take this and stand up for cons in my community and beyond help cons and spread awareness. I can spend money and time by volunteering or donating for organizations that assist with the rehabilitation of cons. Of course, I can be kind and listen. That would probably be the best help I could offer for anyone.
I really enjoyed the book A Place To Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca. The book shows the harsh realities of growing up in a poor hispanic community that is dominated by white society. It also shows the great struggles a person can go through spending years in prison. It’s wonderfully written and evokes tons of emotions towards subjects that I had never previously given much thought to.