Slavery In America, from the end of the Civil Rights Movement to TodayNeither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
13th Amendment to the ConstitutionFrom now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
This was how Kevin Phillips, chief campaign strategist for Richard Nixon*, explained the "Southern Strategy" for taking over control of the white voting bloc of the deep South in 1970. (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/books/phillips-southern.pdf
In the late 60s, Nixon met with Senator Strom Thurmond and other "Dixiecrats", those formerly southern Democrats who had left the Democratic Party after the integration of both the military and the party national convention. Determined to capture the South as an entire voting bloc and capture the Presidency in a nation torn by the Vietnam War and racism, Nixon didn't hesitate to use the very same men who had defended Jim Crow through not even subtly coded dog whistles.
Today we try and pretend it was a lot more subtle. It wasn't. Nixon didn't try and hide the Southern Strategy one iota. In fact, he depended on it. The more obviously his party abused people of color, especially African-Americans, the more traditional southern Democrats changed parties to follow their racist hearts.
As payback for his election, Nixon rewarded the Southern Republicans with exactly what they wanted. A clear cut way to continue the economic benefits of their slave system. Civil Rights had made it hard to abuse people of color without good excuse. Nixon was about to give it to them.
It only took him until June 17, 1971. On that day, Nixon began the ultimate war on people of color. The "War on Drugs".
His special message to Congress in which he unveiled it started off with an obvious appeal to Southern racists. By identifying New York City (often seen and used as the antithesis of Southern identity) as the #1 problem city full of drug-addicted people (people of color goes quietly without saying), Nixon made it clear to Southerners that he was fully on their side.
Now minor possessions of drugs of any sort were immediately criminalized, beginning (and continuing) with especially harsh and draconian punishments throughout the South. Possession of a a single "joint" of marijuana, which might get a white Vietnam veteran at most admonished by a policeman became an easy conviction for white prosecutors with black defendants.
And the US prison slave system continued to grow. And grow.
In the 80s, we became familiar with "crack". Crack became synonymous for many racists as the drug of choice for people of color. Punishments for possession of crack skyrocketed, while laws dealing with equal amounts of cocaine, seen as a wealthy white person drug of choice did not.
Even after reform of the obviously racist drug penalties, we still can say today: Possession of 28 grams of crack cocaine yields a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first offense; it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine to prompt the same sentence.
President Reagan continued and heavily increased funding for the War on Drugs, still secretly and obviously a war on people of color.
Then came the final demonization of black men by the GOP. Willie Horton.
In 1986, a man who had been convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in 1974 (despite no evidence involving him in the actual murder) was given a weekend pass. Desperate for some freedom, he fled and did not return. Nearly a year later, he broke into a home. He tied up the white male occupant to a beam in the basement, and when his white fiancee returned home, raped her several times.
Both victims were alive. But Horton had committed the single unthinkable crime in the South: a man of color raping a white woman.
President George Herbert Walker Bush was Vice-President under Reagan when it occurred. The nation was at best very bored with him, and he trailed Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election by a considerable margin. President Bush had as his political strategist a man named Lee Atwater.You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger:.
Dukakis was leading by an astonishing 17 points early in the summer. Atwater held a series of focus groups in NJ, where he told the story of Willie Horton raping this white woman (and cutting her fiancee) to white voters. He found that not only did blaming Dukakis for the rape work, but that by making Horton look as dangerous as possible, he could turn around the entire election.
Atwater told President Bush: We’re 17 points back and they’ll pick up 10 more points at their convention and we won’t win. Even with a good campaign, we won’t win. You can get so far behind that even a good campaign won’t win it for you.
President G H W Bush obviously agreed. He won the election after the Willie Horton ads turned it completely around for him. And the damage was permanently done.
Now not only were black men to be seen as dangerous violent drug-fueled rapists/murderers, they could not even be trusted to be freed. So began mandatory sentencing for crimes, and "3 Strikes" laws. Of course the most lobby money towards those comes always from the prison lobby. Private prisons and slave labor contract companies like CCA and Unicor have too much money to ever see a reason to end racism and slavery.
Its time. Its time to end the phony "War on Drugs", time to call it what it is: racism and hate that have no future in our nation. Stand up and demand that we end this here and now.
Not one more generation of children in our
slave system. Not one more.
*One will note that while at all times I recognize the importance of the title of President, I refuse to apply it to a disgraced bigot like Nixon.
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