Bernie Hayes

While watching demonstrators in major U.S. cities protest President-elect Donald Trump, I looked back on the many times we have protested before, but somehow this is different.

Marches took place in St. Louis, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Olympia, Washington, D.C., Iowa City, and several others municipalities.

But what frightens me more is that stock prices for the country’s two largest private prison contractors skyrocketed after Donald Trump claimed victory in the U.S. presidential election.

The largest private prison contractor, Core Civic, which recently changed its name from Corrections Corporation of America, saw its stock shoot up by more than 58 percent, and stocks for the second largest contractor, GEO Group, rose by more than 28 percent.

This is disturbing because of a detailed report by the Justice Department’s Officer of the Inspector General, which found that privatized prison facilities led to more security problems without necessarily saving money. Another review discloses Trump’s election will directly impact the kindergarten-to-prison pipeline.

Given his campaign promises to restrict immigration and register Muslims, as well as allegations that he had sexually abused women, what disturbs me is observing how culturally unaware Donald Trump is. I do not believe he has ever looked into the roots of indifference and racial intolerance, therefore putting perhaps millions of young African-American children and other minorities at risk.

Each year, thousands of American preschoolers are suspended from public schools, a trend that disproportionately impacts black children and sends many of them on a fast track to dropping out or into the criminal justice system later in life.

Black students are four times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. The U.S. Department of Education has rightly called on public schools to end racially disparate practices of suspensions that lead to the school to prison pipeline. Federally funded charter schools should be held to the same standards.

Often when I am troubled by issues such as the Michael Brown Jr. killing and the other police executions around the country, I turn to songs of the Civil Rights Movement such as “Can’t Turn Me Around,” “Oh Freedom,” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “We Shall Overcome,” “I Wish I Knew How It Feel To Be Free” and “A Change is Gonna Come.”

But today, I am remembering the late Jimmy Ruffin’s song “I’ve Passed This Way Before.” It kinds of sums up the feelings of the millions of Americans who are wondering what a Donald Trump presidency will bring.

The word are “Life lands a hurting blow. And once again our heart is broken. And as history repeats itself. These few words are sadly spoken. I've passed this way before. I've felt this pain before. A hurt that took so long to end. Has found my poor heart again.”

Yes, we have passed this way before, and we must take the necessary precautions and remain vigilant so we won’t be headed back to the way things were in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday night at 10 p.m. and Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. on KNLC-TV Ch. 24. I can be reached by fax at 314-837-3369, e-mail at berhay@swbell.net or on Twitter @berhay.

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