Nkechi Taifa's memoir, Social Justice in Action, and the Impact of COVID on Prisons
Nkechi Taifa is a civil rights lawyer and founder of The Taifa Group LLC in Washington, D.C. Her work and firm's mission is to advance justice for those incarcerated and suffering injustices at the hands of the criminal justice system. Nkechi has recently published her memoir "Black Power, Black Lawyer: My Audacious Quest for Justice" where she discusses her journey in becoming a lawyer and her fight for justice.
In discussing about her memoir, Nkechi highlights the influence of the Black Power era on her youth and how it led her to becoming a social justice lawyer. One moment during her youth that really stood out to her involved the overtaking of a prison. She explained how these African American men who took over the prison were simply fighting for the rights of those incarcerated who did not have access to health care and sanitary food. On top of seeing the injustices within the prison system, she also saw the lack of African American lawyers representing African Americans in prison. These experiences motivated her to want to become a lawyer where she could represent the Black people and fight for justice in the prisons.
Nkechi also explains how she believes those involved in social justice movements today should learn about past movements and the failures and triumphs that occurred. In her memoir, she talks about some of the triumphs and failures of the anti-apartheid justice movement that she was a part of growing up in Washington, D.C. The anti-apartheid movement made a great impact in South Africa and helped desegregating the country and getting Nelsen Mandela and other Freedom Fighters released from prison. While change was reached in South Africa, Nkechi noted that many of the same injustices in the prisons continued here in the United States. She explains how there is still a long way to go in the fight for justice which is a motivating force for her.
Ms. Taifa also addressed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the prisons and how action needs to be taken to protect those who are incarcerated. Specifically, she highlighted the lack of precautions that are being taken in prisons which has led to them being one of the biggest hotbeds for the virus to spread. She describes how the prisoners are not socially distanced and the prisoners have not had access to hand sanitizer and masks to keep them safe. These unsanitary conditions among the prisons has resulted in a public health concern that needs to be adequately addressed.