For anyone with a bit of a scriptural compass, you know the Beatitudes, and you'll recall "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Surely this has its own spiritual meaning, but over the last couple weeks, famed Philadelphia rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams, known as "Meek Mill" has been living that Beatitude and so much more.
As you may know, Meek was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison for violating his probation in November of 2017. He'd originally be incarcerated on weapons charges, and battled with probation violations for the last 4 years. Despite also struggling with a opioid addiction, Meek did what he knew best in trying to make a life for himself--traveling for work to do shows and appearances. In conjunction with his probation woes, be was under the oversight of Judge Genece Brinkley, who often gave him personal and professional advice, both on and off the record. She even urged him to leave his record label and sign with a friend of hers. Yes, this is way more off the rails than we thought. Pitchfork has all the details--including the shoutout she requested on a song.
While the tea on the Judge's deep, and maybe curious, interest in Meek's case can take us into a whole series, the main point here is the obvious imbalance in probation standards and need for criminal justice reform. In so many instances, men of color find themselves not only in a situation of perpetual probation, but over-criminalized in the first place. These are circumstances where they should actually be referred to services, educational opportunities, and guidance onto the right track. Sure, consistently making the wrong decision must have its consequences, but there is more than enough to be said for the deck being completely stacked against you from the start.
Since Meek's heavy-handed prison sentence was announced, he's received a bevy of support from the music industry, fans, and even sports powerhouses in Philadelphia. Owners of the 76ers have been openly supportive of Meek, along with legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving--all calling out the injustice his line of sentencing has represented. Since being released from prison last week, Meek has taken on criminal justice reform as his mission for change. He's been outspoken about changes needed to level the playing field, and has more than enough credibility to lead on the topic. It was a challenging, unfair and winding road, but it looks like Meek is using his experience and support to evoke progress.
Now that's how the Meek inherit the earth.
|Photo from FACT Magazine's Meek Released from Prison article|
*Catch Dateline this evening at 7/6 CT to hear directly from Meek and those who've been working with him along the way.