The Black Factor

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a widely known professor at my alma mater, Syracuse University who heads a website & daily newsletter containing issues, both great, good, bad, and unthinkable. I have subscribed to “Your Black World” for more than a few months now and have forwarded the link to a few people. However, with the passing of Dr. Watkin’s brother last night, the issue written about in this piece touches many people here in the U.S. The irony of the “life of a felon” piece he speaks of actually affects me directly with this whole going to Korea bit, but I won’t get into that here.

I thought I would share the link for anyone out there that would like to stay informed of what’s going home back in the U.S. to, for and by the Black community on both a large and small scale. is where you can visit to check out the site and also sign up to receive updates straight to your email. While you may be away physically, spiritually it’s always good to stay connected to what’s REALLY going on.

Quick Note from Dr. Boyce:  I would like to say goodbye to Donald Couch, my older brother who just passed away last night.  Donald was technically my uncle, but I considered him an older brother from the way we were raised.  Donald had a difficult life, stumbling through various challenges in ways that are similar to what millions of other black men go through all over the United States.

I am firmly convinced that going to prison at the age of 18 is what threw my brother off for life.  After experiencing unspeakable atrocities during his incarceration, he was then given the life sentence of a felon who is denied opportunities to find gainful employment, to vote or to do so many other things that would be necessary for a person to get his life together.  I truly believe that going to prison killed him – his mind and spirit died 30 years ago and his body just died last night. 

So, if you want to know why I am the person that I am today, why I do what I do, and why I do it the way I do it, it’s in large part because of men like Donald Couch and the children that are left behind due to the holocaust of mass incarceration that is destroying millions of black families across America.  I dedicated my first book for black college students to Donald (he would try to sell copies of the book to young black men he met during day laborer jobs), and my book, “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” used Donald’s experiences as a consistent talking point. 

When my brother was away at prison, I would write long letters to him during class, accept his collect phone calls, experience severe depression when he was taken away and celebrate on the days he was released.  My development as a man, both good and bad, was heavily influenced by the fact that I am able to deeply empathize with countless numbers of children who cry themselves to sleep at night while their loved ones are locked away.  There are children in pain right now, whose futures are being destroyed by our inaction.  This is why we absolutely cannot wait when it comes to fighting for justice: Mass incarceration, prison torture, and marginalization of formerly incarcerated Americans must be brought to an end.

Take care, god bless and be educated.


Dr. Boyce Watkins

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