The Politics section welcomes 2018 with a focus this year on mass incarceration, police brutality and surveillance, in addition to the many other events and activities that may happen in our community that require our response. Being Black and Muslim intersects these issues in a variety of ways.
We start with selections from an article by Rachel Turk that explores the challenges of love and loss with incarceration. She openly shares that, against the advice of her wali (marriage helper), she married a man who was involved in criminal activity, fell quickly in love and bore him two children. The long arm of the law was not far behind and he goes to jail. Many will read this and shake their head as just another case of “you’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it,” which is true. But, the author is now part of a growing segment of our community: the families of the mass incarcerated. Although it may be easy to blame and shame, the harder task is to provide the support they need to make the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years just a little easier to bear, insha’Allah. That is the responsibility of our ummah.
I wanted to tell my story for any who has ever wondered about the reality of a family who had a husband and father who is then suddenly stripped away to the prison system. It’s such a taboo topic. I am here to shed light on it.
I start by saying that it is probably one of the most painful and traumatic experiences for a family to endure aside from death. But it is so similar to death (dare I say), that I compare the two often. I knew he was doing the crime before I married him. But I fell in love quickly and was tired of working full time (as a single mother with two children prior to marriage). So in my mind I thought, “I can work with him and help him to build a legit business. He won’t do this forever.”
So fast forward almost five years.
Hopefully when he comes home in three more years, he will use his creativity and intelligence in ways that can be profitable legally. But back to my point. The point of this article is that when you’re married to someone in prison, it feels like everyone judges you. I won’t say everyone. I’ll say 97.3% of people. I’m a very transparent person so I don’t hold back the location of my husband when I deem it best for someone I’m talking to, to know.
I know of a person who had everyone thinking her husband had gone overseas for educational purposes instead of telling people that he was in prison. I would never dare. And I’m asking all of you who read this to take in the knowledge of someone’s loved one in prison with no judgment. Because you don’t know their circumstances. You don’t know their life. And like I say often, there may be someone sitting right next to you [who is] involved in criminal activity and just hasn’t been caught.
So treat people as you would want to be treated. It has been 14 months so far for us. 32 more months to go. My husband is almost dead if you asked me. Understand that. We now have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter who cannot even see their father because the feds moved him to a facility 10 hours away from our home.
After he was first arrested, our son used to run to the door screaming “Daddy!” if he ever heard movement near the knob. Imagine that. Take note that I am very clear on the fact that my husband did something illegal. But just like I told the judge at his sentencing, removing him from his family for the past nine months that we’ve been waiting for this hearing has been pure torture.
So I walk this path pretty much alone. I’ve met other prison wives via social media. None that I’ve met in person yet. But I still have 32 months left of being a prison wife. Then, I’ll have six months of being a halfway house wife. Then, I’ll have a few years of being the wife of the man [who is] on probation. Then, maybe we can finally have our dream of living in a secret bubble away from all of those who don’t understand.
To read the entire article visit Losing Your Husband to the Prison System
Rachel Turk is a 36-year-old mother of four. Her husband is in prison. She works dead-end temporary jobs that do not interest her and she loves to write. “Just trying to survive out here in this crazy, crazy world we live in and make it to Paradise.”