† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
The War on Black – “Color-blindness” and Criminalization , Part 2
by nancy a heitzeg
Editors Note: As I write this, my Twitter feed is exploding in debate over the NSA/Prism spying program and the attendant leaks. I am seeing the Right decry the same policies they supported — hey voted for — under BushCo because.. well, the President is Black and must be ceaselessly criminalized. I am witnessing liberals defend USA PATRIOT ACT policies that they rejected under Bush because.. well, the President is Black and must be defended for what he “represents”, at least to some. I am seeing the purity left and libertarians in outrage over governmental intrusion, because… well, White Privilege and now it matters since the target is not just people of color via COINTELPRO or NYPD Stop and Frisk.. But never mind, let’s co-opt Rosa Parks and MLK..
This is exactly to the heart of my post: Overt racism v. Color-blind racism, an epic battle between two false choices all played out on a personalized level. No structural analysis, nor attendance to systemic racism/classism, and no ability to draw the straight line to consideration of race class gender in the law and its’ enforcement….There is another way..
Last week in Part 1, CI examined a recent report from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the extrajudicial killing of 313 Black people by police, security guards and vigilantes. The report illustrated, in the extreme, how the criminalizing archetype – as attached to Black Men in particular- becomes the excuse for, quite frankly, Genocide.
MXGM makes it plain that ” the practice of executing Black people without pretense of a trial, jury, or judge is an integral part of the government’s current overall strategy of containing the Black community in a state of perpetual colonial subjugation and exploitation.”
It is a War Against Black People, and certainly, extra-judicial killings represent just one aspect of this criminalizing war:
These killings come on top of other forms of oppression black people face. Mass incarceration of nonwhites is one of them. While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though African-Americans use or sell drugs about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites. Most offenders are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses
And how does this War persist without national outrage? With no declared State of Emergency? With so few proposed remedies?
Short answer: White Supremacy.
The devil, of course, is always in the longer details, and so today we turn to a deeper exploration of “color-blind” racism, the central role of criminalizing archetypes, the complicity of Left, Center and Right, and dare we hope?? – a way out of the color-blind fog..