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Emancipatory Knowing

Trigger warning: This post mentions potential trigger topics; this is a complex topic to write about due to my own beliefs; I attempted to use facts and statistics and be unbiased when discussing this sensitive topic.

Identify some situation you believe is unjust or unfair to a group of persons.

African Americans in the United States are treated unjustly and unfairly in many aspects of their daily lives, including in the healthcare system. This paper will focus on African Americans Males and the different marginalization faced in America, concentrating on the imprisonment of African American men.

African American males account for 13 percent of the male population in the United States; however, 35 percent of that population is incarcerated, which is about one and three black males; this is alarming when compared to other races, 1 in 6 Hispanics and 1 in 17 white males will be incarcerated at some point in their lives (Hinton, 2018). The statistics are alarming, and the consequences of African American males being incarcerated are even more alarming. The constitution states that Americans will receive equal protection under the law and the right to due process. Unfortunately, for many African Americans, this is untrue. Systemic racism is engrained in the judicial system, which has prevented many African Americans from receiving fair due process and protection or a longer prison center term (Tucker, 2014). Various terms acknowledge this matter "Color of mass incarceration," "The School to Prison Pipeline," and "Institutional racism."

African American males have a higher imprisonment rate across all age groups, and the incarceration of African American Males with nonviolent crimes is higher than whites with violent crimes (Tucker, 2014). Furthermore, it is noted that when the implementation of the "War on Drugs" was introduced and law enforcement cracked down on drug dealers and users, the disparities against African Americans were higher even though their usage of drug use was higher for whites accounting for 14 million. In contrast, black account for 2.6 million, noting that for every white person sent to jail or prison, ten black people were sent to jail (Tucker, 2014). This is consequential not only for the African American male in prison but for the African American family and community. Moreover, incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders incurs a higher cost for society, and the benefit of the individual in jail does not outweigh the cost associated with incarceration; furthermore, it can be a burden to the family if they are evicted, and higher debt, also it can damage social networks, emotional harm to the family (McLaughlin et al., 2016). With recent light shed on policing in the United States, there have been publicized incidents that show African Americans being killed or injured, i.e., Mike Brown, George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Daunte Wright, as well as others who have been killed at the hands of police for nonviolent crimes. In contrast, you have white males, i.e., Payton Gendron and Dylan Roof, who are safely detained after targeting and assassinating African Americans in hate crimes. One research study suggests that White people excuse police brutality against Blacks because of their ill-feeling toward blacks (Chaney & Robertson, 2013).

When prisoners are released from prison, they have to overcome additional barriers. For example, when prisoners are released, depending on their charge, they may be barred from receiving federal benefits, have difficulties finding adequate housing (between 25% and 50% of homeless people have been incarcerated in the past), have poor mental health, PTSD (McLaughlin, 2016). Additionally, once released from prison, African American males have limited social capital, education, and minimal employment skills that will help them reenter society; additionally, one study notes that employers are less likely to hire former inmates, especially if they are black which makes it extremely difficult for African American Males to reenter society which increases the probability that they will be incarcerated again (William et al., 2019). In America, structural inequities and economic disparities have created conditions in black communities that often favor crime; furthermore, the inability to find work can lead them to sell drugs, steal, or break laws to make money to support themselves and their family (William et al., 2019).

Who or what is benefiting from this situation?

Many corporations benefit from the incarceration of people. The United States economy and United states citizens benefit from prison labor (Dunn, 2021). The majority of states in the United States benefits from penal labor where inmates make goods for consumers; some examples are chairs, desk, and license plates. Furthermore, it is noted that universities are required by law in some states to purchase goods manufactured by prisoners (Dunn, 2021). UNICOR has profited approximately half a billion dollars per year through penal labor; however, inmates who manufacture the supplies receive less than minimum wage (Dunn, 2021).

Do you benefit, and how?

Yes, not only am I a consumer of the products that are made, but I am also currently in the process of working at a prison. Nurses in prisons are given healthcare benefits, pensions, and salaries (McLaughlin, 2016). Working at this prison will allow me to purchase a house, go on vacation and provide for my children without financial stress.

Emancipatory Knowledge

Emancipatory Knowing involves recognizing injustices and inequalities embedded in a social and political system and bringing awareness to the injustices and inequities that call for action (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). Emancipatory knowing requires individuals' utilization of praxis to change the inequities and injustices. This is done by continuously assessing the circumstance and making sure that there is change, and the change should be beneficial where there is social justice for all (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). Emancipatory knowing requires that we ask critical questions who benefits, what is wrong with this picture, what are the barriers to freedom, and what needs to change. Enactment of abolitionism obligates nurses to politicize outside of the prison health system and the health system to engage in emancipatory praxis in marginalized communities affected by inequities and injustices (Paytner et al., 2022). Asking these questions, pointing out disparities, and recognizing that African American men face injustices is necessary for emancipatory knowing to be effective.

Ethical Knowing

Ethical knowing asks essential questions is this right, and is this responsible. Teleology refers to what is right will produce good and is referred to as the action of goodness and is considered what is suitable for the greater good of people, whereas deontology is what is right might not necessitate good; it is noted that deontology might not have a desirable outcome however right was done (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). With the statistics mentioned above, is teleology and deontology implemented in the judicial system regarding African American men?

Personal Knowing

Personal knowing is complex; it is focused on the inner experience of becoming whole and aware of self; Carper indicates that one does not know about self; however one simply strives to know self (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). I believe that I can be beneficial to inmates. I can use my voice to advocate for the prisoner, educate patients and be a resource for inmates. I also have to recognize that I pose certain biases towards African American inmates who commit murder, my father was murdered, and I know that I will be around inmates convicted of murder; realizing this, I have to make sure that I treat all inmates with respect regardless of their conviction. I know that I can utilize my voice for African American inmates, and knowing that I cannot bring my father back is something that I have accepted and want to be a change for African American males. I also recognize that I have five sons who are black, and recognizing the statistics, the probability of one of them being incarcerated is likely; however, this does not have to be their outcome. Praxis is the expression of emancipatory knowing and utilizes all forms of knowing; one cant have emancipatory knowing without all forms of knowing. If knowing is not implemented, it causes patterns gone wild. Patterns gone wild is a distortion of understanding that occurs when one or more knowing is not examined and integrated with the entire knowing (Chinn & Kramer, 2017). Taking action against the injustices and inequities that African American Males face may be challenging; however, if a change is to be made, I have to use my voice for the greater good.


Chaney, C., & Robertson, R. V. (2013). Racism and police brutality in America. Journal of

African American Studies, 17(4), 480-505.

Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. K. (2017). Knowledge development in nursing: Theory and

process (10th ed.). Mosby.

Dunn, J. (2021). Jailed with a Job: An Overview of Penal Labor in the American Criminal

Justice System.

Hinton, E. (2018, May). An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in

the Criminal Justice System. Vera Institute of Justice.

McLaughlin M., Pettus-Davis, C., Brown, D., Veeh, C., & Renn, T. (2016, July). The Economic

Burden of Incarceration in The United States. Institute for Justice Research and Development.

Paynter, M., Jefferies, K., Carrier, L., & Goshin, L. (2022). Feminist Abolitionist Nursing. ANS.

Advances in nursing science, 45(1), 53–68.

Tucker Sr, R. B. (2014). The color of mass incarceration. Ethnic Studies Review, 37(1), 135-


Williams, J. M., Wilson, S. K., & Bergeson, C. (2019). "It's hard out here if you're a Black felon": A

critical examination of Black male reentry. The Prison Journal, 99(4), 437-

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