We’re All Black Now

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief

Harmful Policies Are Giving All Americans a Black Experience

Whenever you take a look at a bad law that is on the books, or a policy that the government has put into place, you can bet that someone paid for that. And in this most horrid of political seasons, you’d better believe that attached to each deplorable piece of legislation is a sales receipt.

Case in point: the proliferation of guns in our urban centers. It is an irresponsible policy, to be sure. Garry McCarthy, Chicago’s new police superintendent, told some truth-telling that you rarely hear from a public official in his position these days. “So here’s what I want to tell you. See, let’s see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black codes. Jim Crow. What did they all have in common? Anybody gettin’ scared? Government-sponsored racism. I told you I wasn’t afraid [of race]. I told you I wasn’t afraid,” said Chicago’s top cop. He added: “Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country, and tell me if I’m crazy: Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children.”

McCarthy received the predictable criticism from Andrew Breitbart, the gun lobby and others, but that doesn’t change the fact that he spoke the truth. In fact, their response validated the truthfulness of that which he spoke. There is no reason for the sale, distribution and trafficking of these weapons of mass destruction, other than to kill people. Corporate greed on the part of arms manufacturers has turned an obscure and anachronistic amendment dealing with militias into a license to kill, literally, on a massive scale. The result is a gun for every American, with no system of licensing, registration and background checks.

And there is no valid or logical purpose for these guns, which injure nearly 100,000 Americans each year, killing a third of them and costing us $100 billion annually, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Of the large high-income nations, 80 percent of firearm deaths occur right here. Over a million have died since Martin Luther King’s assassination, and they are disproportionately black and brown. In 2007, African Americans accounted for 13 percent of the population, but 49 of all homicide victims. Black juveniles are five times more likely than their white peers to die from firearms. And we export our violence to other countries. The U.S. arms race fuels the Mexico drug war by supplying 70 percent of the weapons used by the drug traffickers in the carnage to our South.

The U.S. war on drugs has been an abysmal failure – primarily a war on poor people and black and brown people who fill the prisons and are separated from their families. A color-coded law enforcement policy hunts for drug activity not in the affluent suburbs, but in the inner cities, where such activity is more conspicuous, out in the open. President Jimmy Carter has called for an end to the global drug war, which was declared 40 years ago. During that time, Carter noted, worldwide consumption of opiates has jumped 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and marijuana 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Our drug policies have created a burgeoning prison population, busting at the seams. With 743 people in prison for every 100,000, America boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world. Government spending on incarceration has skyrocketed. And I don’t see anyone challenging us for bragging rights. Over 3 percent of the U.S. adult population finds itself under the supervision of the criminal justice system, either in prison, on probation or on parole.

pistolsMeanwhile, America’s attempts to craft positive alternatives to incarceration are thwarted by private prison profiteers, who lobby lawmakers, network and contribute handily to political campaigns, according to a new report from the Justice Policy Institute. Private prison companies work hard to put more people behind bars, and their efforts have paid off, for them that is. Last year, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, generated over $2.9 billion in revenue. The three major corporations have given $835,514 to candidates for federal office, over $6 million to state races, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying. In case you believe that the Arizona immigration debate was really about the interests of ordinary Americans and safe and secure borders, keep in mind that 30 of the 36 Arizona lawmakers who sponsored that state’s atrocious anti-immigrant, anti-Latino law received contributions from the private prison lobby. Apparently, in the land of opportunity, if a profit can be made from the suffering of others, that extra buck has been tagged and will be claimed by someone.

And someone seeks to profit from the nation’s failing public schools, which funnel poor, black and brown children into a school-to-prison pipeline. Groups such as the Koch Brothers – financiers to the Tea Party – and the Amway and Blackwater-affiliated DeVos family are pouring resources into radical rightwing schemes to privatize public funds, kill the public schools and pocket the money. When Tea Party types such as the Koch Brothers peddle vouchers and “school choice,” feigning concern about poor children and children of color, it is time to walk the other way.

African-Americans and Latinos are the disproportionate victims of the deregulation craze, which led to predatory lending, the Great Recession, and a foreclosure crisis that decimated homeowners of color and eviscerated billions in private wealth. And at 16 percent, black unemployment has reached Depression-era levels, double that for whites. For black men, it is 17.5 percent, and for black teens, 41 percent. In New York City, 34 percent of black men between 19 and 24 are out of work and out of luck.

But really, Americans as a whole are out of luck – the victims of deceptive policies created in the backrooms and boardrooms, by corporate lobbyists and rightwing think-tanks, and paid for by the fortunate few under a legalized system of bribery called campaign finance. Bad policies gutted Main Street, and facilitated a concept known as the jobless recovery. The wealthy – getting richer by the day and paying less in taxes – are sitting on their money. They only need the rest of us to the extent that they can squeeze more money out of us. Yet, there are no new jobs, and the poor have nothing to spend.

Some of those who are elected to serve the people are really on the take, water carriers for the plutocracy. They are paid by wealthy interests to bring ordinary people down, to strip them down to the bone. Dressed up as shared sacrifice, a regressive regime of trickle-down economics and union-busting has hollowed out working people. Corporate socialism and welfare for the banks has meant austerity and crippling budget cuts for the common folk. The hallmark of such policies is America’s upward income redistribution and rising inequality, the shame of the industrial world. The richest 400 Americans own $1.37 trillion, which is more than bottom 50 percent of all U.S. households combined.

David A. LoveAnd to that extent, everyone is having a black experience now. Get used to it, or do something about it. In boom times and bust, Black folks in America are used to being poor, of living without, and making do with very little or nothing. They always made it through with the help of the church, the blues, and each other. But somewhere in there, there was a movement, too, hint hint.

David A. Love
BlackCommentator

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Comments

  1. Mike Field says

    Aside from the fact that American numbering well into the nine figure take exception to the idea of calling any part of the constitution obscure, Mr. Love’s characterization of the Second Amendment as pertaining solely to militias in in error. What the Second Amendment appears to do is set up a hierarchy of firearms rights which ends where unregulated militias begin. Possibly, the Second Amendment, while it sanctions ad hoc defense, allows restrictions on private militias and private arsenals. But until that boundary is reached, there can be no basic restriction on the private ownership of ordinary firearms.

    I will note, this is a constitutional theory you will hear nothing about from the gun manufacturers and the gun press (yes, there is such a thing) because gun manufacturers make huge amounts of money equipping private militias and private arsenals, not to mention outright criminal gangs. The manufacturers buy the advertising which makes publishing the gun magazines possible.

    One thing should be clear even today. The idea of ad hoc self defense has not gone the way of the dodo quite yet. Consider the people who protected themselves during the Rodney King riots in 1992, when there was no longer any public authority present in their community. What about certain postulated terrorist scenarios? Yes, these things have and can happen. And law enforcement or the National Guard may not be on hand to protect people.

  2. Steve Lamb says

    This is just layer upon layer of bull dookie. The a fore mentioned “Black codes” always made it unlawful for African-Americans to possess guns. This was so African-Americans would be defenseless against abusive government employees like sheriffs and policemen….

    Urban African-Americans face the twin dangers of unemployed people who have no option but a life of crime, and even more dangerous, militarized occupying police forces full of evil intent that has been well demonstrated over time.

    The day that abusive government can remove from every American firearms will indeed be the day we are all black and all slaves. Power to the People!

  3. hwood007 says

    This article is full of opinions but facts are a little loose. The 70% claim is not true. All weapons found in Mexico are not susbmitted for checking, just a small percent. Of that small percent, 70 percent of those weapons came from the US. Most weapons are not US made. The question should be what happened to the hundreds of weapons supplied by the US AG to Mexico, and who is tracking them?

    Guess how the county north of me determines how many new jail cells it will need in the future? It uses the 8th grade school drop out rate to predict the number of new cells needed in four years. The cost of a jail cell for one year is more than putting a young man in a boys home, my grandpa was a teacher at one and sent young boys back into the population with a skill that allowed them to support themselves, and this in more important to our country than the gun thing.

    We need to not only get the guns off the streets, we need to get the kids off the street. I have guns, they are tools like any other, and mine are not on the street. Having said that, I am a retired combat vet so guns are a normal thing to have.

    Using google, the numbers used in the article do not wash, but guess what, more children are killed by surgery each year in this country than people killed by guns, but those children are unwanted.

    amount

  4. RonF says

    When Tea Party types such as the Koch Brothers peddle vouchers and “school choice,” feigning concern about poor children and children of color, it is time to walk the other way.

    Black parents and families are the biggest proponents of school choice. They understand that “public education” does not equal “public schools”. It’s they who want to pull their kids away out of the public schools. In Chicago the teachers claim that they are doing what they do for the children. If so, why did they negotiate the shortest school day and one of the shortest school years in the entire nation? If children go to a school where public funds pay for their education, they are getting a public education. But in those schools the parents have a lot more control over what happens in the school, as opposed to a public school where the teachers and administration control it. This is why blacks protested against the NAACP’s opposition to vouchers. You don’t need a teachers’ union to get a public education.

    • hwood007 says

      What is happening to the black children in the county north of mine is awful and their “parent” does not really care enough to do something good about it.

  5. RonF says

    African-Americans and Latinos are the disproportionate victims of the deregulation craze, which led to predatory lending, the Great Recession, and a foreclosure crisis that decimated homeowners of color and eviscerated billions in private wealth.

    When a couple buys a house that they can barely make the payments on, betting that their income will keep going up and that the house’s value will keep going up and that when the balloon payments come due in a few years they’ll be able to refinance or that they’ll be making so much money that it won’t matter, they’re victims of their own greed.

    They’re also guilty of not having listening during their American History course in high school, where – unless it’s been pulled out of the curriculum so that there’s more time to talk about “diversity” – they were told time and time again about the various recessions that have occurred throughout our history.

    Oh, and those billions in private wealth? It didn’t go away. It didn’t exist in the first place. A house is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it, and not a penny more, regardless of what it cost to build or what you paid for it initially. If you overpaid that didn’t mean that there was wealth there.

  6. RonF says

    The U.S. arms race fuels the Mexico drug war by supplying 70 percent of the weapons used by the drug traffickers in the carnage to our South.

    This is from a Congressional report that states:

    “More than 70% of 29,284 firearms submitted to the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for tracing by the Mexican government during 2009 and 2010 originated in the United States, according to the report.”

    Note that it says “submitted .. for tracing by the Mexican government”. Do you think that the Mexican government hands over every single gun they get from these animals to us? Or just those that look as if they may have come from the U.S. and not Columbia, China, Russia, etc.? According to reliable sources the true fraction of “the weapons used by drug traffickers” is 18%. And of those, the vast majority are not the kinds of guns that you and I can buy. They are automatic weapons that cannot be sold on the legal market and have been stolen in the first place – or sold to these traffickers by our very own government under the ATF’s “Gunrunner” program. Keeping you and I from buying rifles, shotguns and handguns will make exactly zero difference to this number.

    “Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children.”

    What Federal gun laws are these? There are plenty of gun laws that restrict the sale of guns to people who cannot legally own them. They’re not enforced.

    There is no reason for the sale, distribution and trafficking of these weapons of mass destruction,

    Rifles, handguns and shotguns are not weapons of mass destruction.

    other than to kill people.

    To defend the lives and property of yourself and your family. To hunt to put food on the table. To engage in recreation in hunting, at the rifle range or the trap shooting range. To act as a check on tyranny so that the government will not be tempted to proceed in that direction (the actual meaning of the militia phrase).

    “Corporate greed on the part of arms manufacturers”

    The demand of law-abiding citizens across the country.

    has turned an obscure and anachronistic amendment

    The second amendment ever passed is hardly obscure.

    dealing with militias

    Noting that the necessity of militias – a device by which the people of a State can be oppressed by their own government – means that individuals must have the freedom to own and carry arms.

    into a license to kill, literally, on a massive scale.

    If people have a license to kill, why do we have laws against murder?

    The result is a gun for every American, with no system of licensing, registration and background checks.

    Nonsense. There are systems of licensing, registration and background checks all over the country.

    And there is no valid or logical purpose for these guns, which injure nearly 100,000 Americans each year, killing a third of them and costing us $100 billion annually,

    Ah, the “guns kill people” fallacy. Guns do not jump up and fire themselves. People do that. And 99.99% of shots fired from guns put holes in paper or clay. Probably 99% of the rest are used in hunting. A vanishingly small proportion of shots are fired at people. There are numerous valid and logical purpose for guns – which is why they exist.

    Black juveniles are five times more likely than their white peers to die from firearms.

    Black juveniles are probably 5 times more likely to have one or both of their parents absent from the family. They are more likely to have been born out of wedlock, to have been born to a mother that’s a child herself, to be born into poverty. They are more likely to have a parent or close relative destroying their lives with drugs. They are more likely to spend their formative years trying to excel in sports than academics. The illegal use of guns to the point that these kids are getting killed is a symptom, not a cause.

    Name juristictions where increased restrictions on gun ownership have dropped homicides using guns. Name juristictions where relaxation of restrictions on gun ownership have seen an increased homicide rate. You will fail. Spinning wild conspiracy theories may be good media fodder, but the actual facts are that highly restrictive gun laws tend to keep guns away from law abiding citizens but not from those intent on criminal behavior. Study after study shows that they simply don’t work. What works is to make sure that criminals don’t know if their possible victims are armed or not.

  7. Will says

    This is such a poorly written article….

    “The result is a gun for every American, with no system of licensing, registration and background checks.”

    What about the NCIS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)? There is also gun licensing for concealed carry permits.

    “And there is no valid or logical purpose for these guns, which injure nearly 100,000 Americans each year,”

    Self defense maybe?

    “nearly 100,000 Americans each year, killing a third of them and costing us $100 billion annually, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.”

    An unbiased organization that is focused on presenting the cold hard facts, not promoting an anti gun agenda.

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