The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are bringing millions of people out to protest white supremacy and police brutality around the world.
The country has been divided in the various responses to the killings. However, all can parties can agree their murders are a grim reminder that racism is an important issue and something that needs to be uprooted as the Black community and their allies have had enough.
Systemic racism in the United States prison system is something activists have been fighting to reform for years now. Swedish music producer David Jassy got a first-hand look at this form of racism from his cell at the dreaded San Quentin State Prison when he was sentenced 15 years to life for a 2008 incident that left one man dead.
During his time at San Quentin, Jassy was inspired to make a mixtape with participating inmates to not only tell their stories but a way for them to deal with the injustices that were happening inside the prison. That project would become the San Quentin Mixtapes, Vol. 1, a unique piece of work by a group of talented individuals.
In a recent conversation with GroovyTracks, David Jassy gave his thoughts on the recent protests and the effects of racism on the prison system here in the United States, saying its time for real change to come.
“Systemic racism starts in the streets, it starts in the schools, it’s everywhere. Everybody that’s silent plays a part in this. Everybody that votes for a right extremist is guilty of this, the media is guilty of this,” says Jassy.
“Even after Ferguson, we felt like people were going to stop. It feels like it’s open season on a black person. I also look at all the guys that’s in prison for less, and then you just see these cops, they just walk. I know guys that’s in prison for so much less and they’re suffering the worst of it when they shouldn’t even be doing that.”
With protesting, Jassy says the people need to be firm on their cause because any form of weakness can halt the movement. He praises the people making their voices heard in the streets but stresses the need for a fix on legislations.
“We need some real change. We can’t just have protested and then everybody goes back to work. Look at the bad economy, we just want to vote somebody in because it’s good for business. Then you wonder why the country is at a mess.”
Various celebrities have given their opinions on how to demand change in America in regards to racism and police brutality. We’ve seen people protest in several cities, while others have been using their platform behind the scenes to find other ways to demand change. For Jassy, the only way he sees change is through continuous action and knowledge on the topics.
“Raise awareness in schools, raise awareness in the communities, and in the future leaders. You have to vote and be more tactical in how you do it too because with the electoral college system we already saw what happened the last election,” says Jassy. “It didn’t matter that the majority vote won because it was gerrymandering where they tamper with all the different regions and districts voting and stuff.”
However, Jassy feels none of that can happen unless there’s organizing at a grassroots level. The more people that come together under one cause, the bigger the effect can be on the much-needed reform this country needs. Jassy hopes the mixtape and the unity amongst the inmates on the project is a source of inspiration for those protesting and fighting to come together and get these laws changed.
“I think San Quentin Mixtapes, Vol. 1 is a perfect example where you can see guys that are from different gangs in California prisons coming together. Anyone who’s been to a California prison knows that is not the norm,” says Jassy. “If they can get along, they can change their life around, they can also be forgiven. I think that’s what we need right now.”
“We have a big problem with police brutality, but we also have a big problem with black on black crime. I think the mixtape works on that part a little bit because this mixtape shows the unifying factor that we should really come together,” Jassy explains. “In a time like this, we need to stay strong. We need to be unified more than ever.”
Check back with GroovyTracks for the full interview with David Jassy coming soon. In the meantime, you can follow him on his Instagram page @dawda.