10

Kinda seems like a one sided conversation, doesn’t it? I’m tired of “conversations on race” whenever another innocent, unarmed black person is executed by the police. They’re as perfunctory as they are repetitive.

We need justice, not another hollow conversation that doesn’t change anything and does nothing to prevent the next shooting.

(original image credit: Clay Bennett)

The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, who have defied the odds and risen to power, fame, and fortune. For those left behind, especially those within prison walls, the celebration of racial triumph in America must seem a tad premature. More black men are imprisoned today than at any other moment in our nation’s history. More are disenfranchised today than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race. Young black men today may be just as likely to suffer discrimination in employment, housing, public benefits, and jury service as a black man in the Jim Crow era–discrimination that is perfectly legal, because it is based on one’s criminal record.
—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

sry the prison industry as a whole, even state and federal prisons are just cheap ways to get slave labor, out of people society largely doesn’t give a shit about, and should be abolished. 

They aren’t about reformation, they aren’t about justice, they aren’t even about punishment, they’re about profit.

6

“History is not just stuff that happens by accident. We are the products of history that our ancestors choose, if we’re white. If we are black, we are the products of the history that our ancestors mostly likely did not choose. Yet here we are all together, the products of that set of choices. And we have to understand that in order to escape from it. -Kevin Gannon; Professor of History at Grandview University [From the film "13th” on Netflix]

So this guy said to Professor Hunk, ‘White privilege is nonsense. How can I be privileged I grew up fucking poor in West Virginia. I’m an Appalachian hick. My family is on welfare.’ Right. But privilege is always relative to something else. Now imagine someone like him, as poor and as fucked up, and then make that person black. If both are caught for drug possession, say, the white guy is more likely to be sent to treatment and the black guy is more likely to be sent to jail. Everything else the same except for race. Check the stats. The Appalachian hick guy is fucked up, which is not cool, but if he were black he’d be fucked up plus. He also said to Professor Hunk: Why must we always talk about race anyway? Can’t we just be human beings? And Professor Hunk replied – that is exactly what white privilege is, that you can say that. Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice. The black guy on the street in New York doesn’t want to think about race, until he tries to hail a cab, and he doesn’t want to think about race when he’s driving his Mercedes under the speed limit, until a cop pulls him over. So Appalachian hick guy doesn’t have class privilege but he sure as hell has race privilege.
—  Americanah Ch. 38, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie​

Academics have developed complicated theories and obscure jargon in an effort to describe what is now referred to as structural racism, yet the concept is fairly straightforward. One theorist, Iris Marion Young, relying on a famous “birdcage” metaphor, explains it this way: If one thinks about racism by examining only one wire of the cage, or one form of disadvantage, it is difficult to understand how and why the bird is trapped. Only a large number of wires arranged in a specific way, and connected with one another, serve to enclose the bird and ensure it cannot escape.

What is particularly important to keep in mind is that any given wire of the cage may or may not be specifically developed for the purpose of trapping the bird, yet it still operates (together with other wires) to restrict its freedom.

—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

I think people are missing the point of why a lot of people are angry over the “prisoner to slave” issue.  I would recommend learning about Black Codes, vagrancy laws, the criminalization of black people after slavery was “outlawed”, and Jim Crow.   They should also research the political and racial climate around the 60s, the racist holdovers who employed the Southern Strategy and how ingrained anti-black racism has always been in both major parties.  Also look at how important anti-black racism has been to class consciousness in the U.S.

The reason why a lot of people are focused on the Clintons, is because Hilary was the one running against Donald Trump and they both  have shamelessly used black voting power while knowingly passing laws they knew would further marginalize black communities, and they used slavery loopholes.  So this revelation proves to a lot of people that Hilary would have *never* kept her promises when it came to racial justice and a lot of people wonder why this is justifiable when we’d never offer the same excuses to Donald and Melania Trump.

The fact that this practice was not challenged by someone who felt so entitled to the black vote, because it was “tradition”, is an indictment of how both Democrats and Liberals have supported racist policy as long as it is a part of an established status quo, while they refuse to have enough self-awareness to explore why this style of “pragmatism” hurts them every election cycle.  So far it looks like Liberals and Dems are okay with exploitation and enslavement as long as they can use the law to dehumanize black people first (they were criminals anyways).  And instead of rushing to justify this or decenter the issue, Hilary supporters and other Liberals/Dems should give this issue the empathy it deserves and learn their own damn history. 

Prison vs. Harvard in an Unlikely Debate

Inmate debate team is part of Bard College program helping give prisoners a chance for a better life.

On one side of the stage at a maximum-security prison here sat three men incarcerated for violent crimes.

On the other were three undergraduates from Harvard College.

After an hour of fast-moving debate on Friday, the judges rendered their verdict.

The inmates won.

The audience burst into applause. That included about 75 of the prisoners’ fellow students at the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rigorous college experience to men at Eastern New York Correctional Facility, in the Catskills.

The debaters on both sides aimed to highlight the academic power of a program, part of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., that seeks to give a second chance to inmates hoping to build a better life.

Ironically, the inmates had to promote an argument with which they fiercely disagreed. Resolved: “Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students.”

Carlos Polanco, a 31-year-old from Queens in prison for manslaughter, said after the debate that he would never want to bar a child from school and he felt forever grateful he could pursue a Bard diploma. “We have been graced with opportunity,” he said. “They make us believe in ourselves.” 

Read more…

The “whites only” signs may be gone, but new signs have gone up - notices placed in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, forms for welfare benefits, school applications, and petitions for licenses, informing the general public that “felons” are not wanted here. A criminal record today authorizes precisely the forms of discrimination we supposedly left behind - discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service. Those labeled criminals can even be denied the right to vote.
—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
The War on Drugs needs to end.
  • Over the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has cost more than $1 trillion and accounted for more than 45 million arrests.
  • In 2009 nearly 1.7 million people were arrested in the U.S. for nonviolent drug charges – more than half of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone. Less than 20% was for the sale or manufacture of a drug.
  • Even though White and Black people use drugs at approximately equal rates, Black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses. Today, Black Americans represent 56% of those incarcerated for drug crimes, even though they comprise only 13% of the U.S. population.
  •  Between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent, resulting in more than 1 in 100 adults behind bars today. In 1980, the total U.S. prison and jail population was about 500,000 – today, it is more than 2.3 million.
  • The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world – both per capita and in terms of total people behind bars. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it has almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.
  •  It costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up, more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation.

I urge everyone to watch the documentary The House I Live In. I had no idea about the class and race war that is happening in our country at this very moment. Something needs to be done, and it begins with education.