THORNTON: Aramark profiting from imprisoning black Americans

“The prison industrial complex is perhaps, at least domestically, the most striking example of US putting profit before people. It all stems from one basic misunderstanding: that the public good can be shepherded by private interests.” – Eugene Jarecki

   The ability to question one’s consumerism is important in controlling who has the economic power in society. This is why it is so important to know that Aramark services private prisons in addition to Grambling State University.

   Aramark is one of the largest food servicing companies in the world: Aramark serves over 19 countries in food, uniform and facility services. These services range from schools, like GSU, to stadiums, and even private prisons. Aramark proudly boasts themselves on servicing the corrections industry stating, “Aramark has been a valued partner to the corrections industry for nearly 40 years, helping 500 correctional facilities around the country maintain safe, stable environments for millions of offenders, officers and staff every day”.

   The prison industry historically profits from the incarceration of black Americans, which some refer to as modern day slavery. While the private prison industry itself is not causing the mass incarceration of black people, it profits from an ever-growing market. The private prison industry is commonly referred to as “for profit prisons”. They receive stipends from the government for each prisoner housed in their facilities. Many of these prisoners are young black Americans filling the private prison sector at significantly higher rates than white people, which is unsettling, since they are the majority in the nation. So, one would think they would be placed in prisons proportionately.

   According to the Color of Corporate Corrections, in Arizona, 65% of the inmates are people of color, in California, 89% of the inmates are people of color, in Georgia, 68% of the inmates are people of color, and in Mississippi, 75% of the inmates are people of color. The study concluded that the major plausible reason was because they were cheaper prisoners to house due to their age and race making them more profitable for private prisons.

   Why does the food servicing company, Aramark, service a historical black institution where the large majority of their students are black American, while also servicing a private prison where another majority of their inmates are people of color and specifically black Americans?

   Although the school to prison pipeline is heavily infiltrated into our nation, schools and prisons are recognized as completely different entities. It is notable to see them intertwine in something as necessary as food. Especially at historically black institutions. How does an HBCU (Historically Black College/University), like GSU, become intertwined with a corporation that supports and provides for the private prison industry?

   As a black American student at GSU, I believe that it is the responsibility of our administration to only support and finance companies that are for the betterment of the black community. Any company that aids, supports, finances, or thrives upon the enslavement of black bodies through our judicial system should be barred from our wallets. It is our responsibility as students to hold our administration responsible for whom they choose in partnership and alliance with our university. Since we do not have the luxury to stage a food strike, we do have the ability to ask for a better vendor when it is time to get one. We are not prisoners and we do not deserve prison food. Our administration should know better and should do better.