Racism & Segregation in Prison | Noah’s Story

Racism & Segregation in Prison | Noah Bergland | construction2style

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Racism is very present in prison today because of the basic structure that they are built on. Segregation is not only present but encouraged.

The first thing I found out when I got on the compound, specifically the inner compound, at Milan was it was run by the blacks and whites were a minority in my unit.

I wasn’t completely surprised as Milan is located within 45 minutes of Detroit. Even though the majority were from Detroit, you still had your Chicago, DC, and Ohio clicks and the primary gang was the Gangster Disciples. The TV rooms in my unit were 90% black, 10% Hispanic, and 0% white.

Racism & Segregation in Prison | Noah Bergland | construction2style  

The outer compound was not quite so lopsided, and each race had at least one TV, then sports and news TVs as well. The chow hall, weight lifting cars, and tables out on the yard were also all segregated. People generally bunked with their races as well.

Milan was low level security, however, so it wasn’t considered forbidden to spend time with people of other races, and if you did choose to bunk with them nothing was going to happen to either of you, other then some banter or teasing in most cases.

Racism & Segregation in Prison | Noah Bergland | construction2style

I think the reason it is still present at lows is because many of the inmates came from higher security facilitates where these rules were mandatory, and they just continued the tradition.

In mediums and highs, you would receive much more resistance for these actions, and you may even be abandoned, and you would receive no support or protection from your race.

I guess the reason for this segregation is the social pressure of this is how things have been done since prisons in America started.

Another thing is when someone gets out of line they are not dealt with by the race they offended or got into a confrontation with, they are dealt with by their own race or car, and that is where the beating will come from.

You might ask what a car is?

And that is the group you run with. Regardless of race. 

If you are from Minnesota, it may be as simple as a group of guys from Minnesota. But it also could be the guys you work out with at specific time slots in the workout room, or simply just the people you hang out with.

In Milan, I hung out with a bunch of white boys from primarily the midwest… Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Dakotas.

But I associated or was at least cool with every race or group in my unit. Which wasn’t always cool with some. 

As you go down through the levels however things ease up, and by the time you are at a camp there is minimal racial tension, but it still exists, specifically in the chow hall, and TV rooms.

In Milan, I had a large group of blacks that I would talk to and joke around with as they thought I was a crazy-ass white boy, and I guess they found my antics entertaining.

Once I got adjusted to Milan it was actually a pretty good place to do time, in which I heard through inmates compared to others. Even though my sister fills you in on not- so- much of a great experience when coming to visit.

It was a life experience for sure. And my experience in the SHU was definitely on the other foot from what I grew up around.

Racism & Segregation in Prison | Noah Bergland | construction2style

I guess I just didn’t receive a lot of experience from different cultures growing up in Roseau. And then when I went to college, I only hung out with other college kids. So much of my experience with other races and cultures came from the drug game, and then Milan.

I’m proud of where I came from. I’m proud of the way I was raised. I’m proud of the fact that I can get along with everyone. And I’m proud that I can help unite. And I hope I can bring together more as time goes on inside these walls… 

Thanks for listening!

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