The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some folks say we're in a postracial period...

From an Alternet piece. Read it all here.


Obama’s mere presence in the Oval Office is offered as proof that “the land of the free” has finally made good on its promise of equality. There’s an implicit yet undeniable message embedded in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks like; this is what democracy can do for you. If you are poor, marginalized, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for you. Trust us. Trust our rules, laws, customs, and wars. You, too, can get to the promised land.

Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but they can be counted on one hand. Racial caste is alive and well in America.

Most people don’t like it when I say this. It makes them angry. In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved beyond” race. Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:

*There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste -- permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.


Ken G said...

Most illegal drugs, particularly marijuana and opium were, were outlawed to control minorities that used them. Marijuana, Mexicans and Blacks, Opium the Chinese. Outlawing them gave us tools to keep them in "control".

Wonder why we aren't destroying poppy crops in Afghanistan anymore? Because the heroin produced from them by and large ends up in Russia. Americas heroin mostly comes from South America. Since Russia has been at odds with most U.S. foreign policies as of late, they pay the price in heroin.

Our government doesn't want it's citizens using drugs, but they are used as faux weapons around the world. Our influence in South America has mostly been achieved by our drug war which we required them to fight to join "the club". Club members get millions, if not billions of American taxpayer dollars every year to fight drugs. However it has nothing to do with drugs, it is strictly a tool to wield influence. Fortunately "club" members are starting to flee that madness and many have now decriminalized drug use and offer rehabilitation vs incarceration for their addicted.

I am embarrassed that as an American, our "Land of the Free" has become the worlds largest prison capitol, housing more citizens in our prisons per capita then any other country in the world. Nearly half are in for non-violent drug crimes, mostly minorities. When do we start calling it the "Land of Prisons"?

How much education, do we as a nation, give up to fuel prohibition? Plenty, schools are closing and teachers are being laid off weekly, yet the drug war receives more and more tax dollars each and every year. Our factories are closing, our housing values are tanking, but the prison industry is hiring and opening new prisons and jails every week. As a nation, is this really where we want to go? Less schools, more prisons?

I'll take "learning to live with pot smokers and drug users" vs wasting lives, tax dollars and our children's educations herding them. I like the alcohol and cigarette model of regulation. With it, usage has decreased over the years with honest education and sane regulation.

Donna said...

Absolutely ! Legalize drugs, regulate them, tax them. It is a win-win situation, we save billions, free up prison space, and increase revenue. What else can we do that will achieve so much with one action ? History has shown that prohibition is futile. The "war" on drugs defines insanity- repeating the same action but expecting a different result.