The Tight-Knit Relationship Between Drugs, Poverty and Racism

I have recently dedicated much of my free time into extensively researching systemic institutional racism. However, my passion was inspired by an unfortunate situation. Two years ago my brother was bogusly arrested. The police claim my brother matched the description of a suspect (a classic I just racially profiled you line) as he was leaving the Cal State University of Northridge campus; my brother, a college student at the time, was wrongfully searched by the police. Long story short, the police found drugs in my brother’s possession and he is now incarcerated.

And so, the statistic proves itself once again, that one in three black men will go to prison at some point during their life. Today, I am searching for a solution that will end the cycle my brother has been sucked into, that left his fate unchangeable.

Mass incarceration illustrates black subjugation in America since disproportionate numbers of African Americans live marginalized in impoverished communities where crime serves as means of survival and the racial ostracism that extends to jobs, housing, and education prevents individuals from escaping their environmental enslavement. In other words, black men and women legally become targets of discriminatory, tyrannical political arrangements – especially when trying to make progress. This resembles a modernized and industrialized caste system.

Much of my generation remains unaware that America’s political spectrum ignited such a subordinate status of an entire group of people. Meanwhile, criminalizing their appearance with fabricated propaganda, bias, manufactured news items, and one-sided depictions of blacks in every aspect of this white-controlled society. Let’s get into it…

The end of slavery aroused extreme dilemmas for Southern white society. Without free labor of slaves, the economy collapsed and there was no formal mechanism of instituting racial hierarchy. In simpler words, there was a call for an order of superiority that white skin would always dominate the most skilled, intelligent, and qualified African American. The stringent laws implemented to govern black Americans do not coincidentally coincide with white America. They were capitalized. Over time, prison inmates have gotten younger and blacker due to environmental imbalances.

Mass incarceration became an outrage when human beings were thrown into cages like animals for non-violent offenses. For example, the 1980s crack epidemic destroyed black neighborhoods. Crack is chemically equivalent to cocaine, however, the two differ in quantity and intensity. Because solidifying cocaine is cost efficient, crack tends to be predominantly distributed in poor black areas. The redundant emphasis on poverty is to stretch the issue that black Americans have the highest poverty rate with 45.8% of black children living in impoverished communities. Selling drugs puts food on the table.

The National Recovery Act (NRA) of 1933 set American wages at twelve dollars a week, but the jobs blacks had were not covered by the law and this only opened doors for whites as they lowered the wages given to blacks to generate more money for white workers. Some called the NRA the “Negro Removal Act.”The 1938 Minimum Wage Law excluded workers in laundries, hotels, hairdressing shops, restaurants, domestic service or farm work, where, you guessed it, blacks worked. By 1943 the average black family made only a third of what POOR white families made. Blacks made approximately $635 a year while whites made $2,019 a year. Keep in mind the basic cost of living was $1,200…

Despite the fact that white Americans are more likely than black Americans to use and distribute illegal drugs, the crack epidemic proposed justification to our nation’s drug sentencing disparity. The War on Drugs was pronounced in response to the crack epidemic and translated to a war on the black community, the United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world – largely due to the war on drugs. Misguided drug laws and absurd sentencing requirements have produced profoundly unequal outcomes for communities of color.

Crack cocaine should have been addressed as a health issue; perhaps Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign was solely intended to reach out to white suburban kids. Political disfranchisement left black communities to suffer; as a nation, we approached the situation brutally. In comparison, Portugal’s crime rates had risen, and so, their government invested in drug treatment, prevention, education, and economics. Around this time, President Clinton endorsed the federal “three strikes, you’re out” law. Ninety percent of those sent to prison for drug offenses were black or brown.

To this day, police officers are more likely to stop black drivers for investigative reasons. Once pulled over, people of color are more likely than whites to be searched, and blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested. Also, prosecutors and judges often treat blacks more harshly in their charging and sentencing decisions. Crime is a major issue in the black community, that is not what’s up for debate, however, the ways in which our government handles issues that concern blacks are suspiciously inefficient.

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Khadeejah Christian
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18 year old social justice activist, hoping to raise awareness of societal issues that pertain to blacks and generate acceptance through understanding and knowledge.

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