Chapter 10A Wakeup

It’s time to understand, go open-eyed into ourselves, into our deepest fears, among our underground youth, into the futureless future, and then rise up.The time of sleeping is over.

—Luis Rodriguez, “The Wanton Life”

Emerging from a childhood seared by poverty and gang violence, poet Luis Rodriguez was incarcerated briefly in 1970. Later, his son spent more than thirteen years in prison. In “The Wanton Life,” Rodriguez writes of the prospect of a cultural awakening—not by way of brilliant innovation, but through the process of connecting, with both ourselves and those we have estranged, with eyes that remain open even as they drink in fear.

Incarceration may provide public reassurance that “dangerous” people have vanished and ...

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