ASPCC Member Creates Shocking Display

By Joe Riedl|May 19, 2017Humans of PCC, Student Writing|

Ben Nzowo’s (pronounced n-zoh-woh)  first experienced racial profiling last year, after coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the U.S. to study.

He and his friends, all black, were driving to an ATM in Seattle, when they were pulled over. Soon more police officers showed up and swarmed the car. “They were all around us,” the second year student explained. “Even after they let us go, we could see them watching us. I always thought racism was just a joke, until I came to the U.S.”

This past Spring Break Nzowo traveled to Washington D.C. with fellow ASPCC members to represent PCC in their discussion with Senators and other politicians. The topic to be discussed: black education in America and prison reform.

“The intent was to start a conversation and that’s what it’s been doing.”

Nzowo did his research and what he found was astounding. Although Black Americans make up less than 13% of the population, nearly half of the 3000 inmates on death row are Black.

This, and other statistics, spurred Nzowo to create an eye-catching display that would be shared throughout PCC campuses. Facts, along with bright orange jumpsuits are littered across neatly landscaped lawns and in front of colorful garden beds.

Some, including first year student Jack, found the display misleading. “[The display] portrays it as if there’s injustice to Blacks. It’s grabbing quotes without context. [They fail to mention] that over 50% of crimes are committed by African Americans. This is adolescent; in my eyes, they’ve lost credibility”

Others praise the display, explaining that while terribly sad, these are statistics that need to be spoken. It even prompted an hours-long discussion at Cascade.

As Nzowo sees it, the project has been a success. “We knew there would be negative and positive reactions. The intent was to start a conversation and that’s what it’s been doing.”

The display will continue to travel between campuses. It will be at the Southeast Campus between the 21st and the 27th.

prison jumpsuit with infographic prison jumpsuit with infographic

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