It was only by sheer luck that we ended up being placed in the same cell where I learned Rachael’s story and where I saw what institutionalized racism, ageism and ableism really look like up close and personal.
The deputy, a White woman, hated me because I helped Rachael navigate the insane and unpredictable world that was the OC jail whenever she couldn’t hear the deputies’ garble over the cell’s speaker box.
The deputy was a sporadic figure on our cell block’s rotation, often paired up with a Black male deputy.
We stood there for what felt like centuries while Rachael, the one and only Black woman in our cell block, got chewed out by a White female C.O. because she had forgotten or didn’t have time to don an undergarment, something none of us were expecting to need because none of us were expecting to lower our pants and lift our shirts in front of a bunch of deputies.
When Rachael and I got back to our cell we saw that it had been tossed beyond recognition: every single brown paper bag filled with what little comfort you can purchase from the jail commissary had been overturned, the contents littering the floor.