A summary of my notes from the documentary 13th, The House I Live In, and some other movies that focus on the continued oppression of black people in the United States.
P.S. Michelle Alexander seems like a boss.read more
* Slavery ends, 13th amendment, which says it's not constitutional unless for "punishment", which is kind of a loophole. Then "Birth of a Nation" comes out and it starts this portrayal of black men as criminals and threats to white women and is very widely supported because it sort of glorifies the confederates in the Civil War and gives a real resurgence to the KKK because of its glorification. * So then you have black people being incarcerated for very minor crimes in the south (like loitering), and being put into labor camps in prisons, to help revive the southern economy. * Then this, Jim Crow, etc. continues for a while, although the prison system wasn't exploding. Then Nixon hits and he starts to make sure the Civil Rights people are seen as public enemies so he can try to hinder their efforts. * Then Raegan really takes the "war on drugs" and that's when black people start to really be arrested in huge numbers. Same drug: crack vs cocaine, 1 ounce of former was the same penalty as 100 of the later. * 5g gets you 5 years for crack. 500g gets you 5 years for cocaine. The difference? You add baking soda, water, and heat to turn powder cocaine into crack. Obama reduced it to 18 to 1, with congress it seems. * Nixon was the one who first coined the term, but he actually was rather forward thinking. He 2/3 of the budget for the war was to treat addiction, 1/3 for law enforcement. Reminds me of his dialysis bill. Basically, when you have dialysis, you get medicare (regardless of your age), and it fully covers it. * It went from the war on crime (black improsonment with Nixon) to war on drugs (black improsonment with Raegan), to now a populous that sees this. Clinton was really responsible for militarizing the police departments at all levels, passing billions of dollars of funding. Mandatory minimums, 3 strikes you're out, etc. * Fred Hampton was murdered by police while he slept. He was a Black Panther in the late 60's and really was incredible at bringing together all races, he could have been an amazing leader. * Nearly 30% of the black male population in Alabama has permanently lost the right to vote due to criminal conviction. * Slavery still exists in the form of prison labor, and jim crow still exists in the form of not being able to vote after a felony. * 1 in 3 black men are expected to be in prison at some point of their life. They make up 6.5% of US pop, 40% of prison pop. * There are more black americans in prison/jail/parole than were enslaved in 1850 * Starting in the 1950's there was a crackdown on Heroin and Cocaine. It was always biracial, but the issue was that poverty pushed black americans to use and deal on the streets, rather than in homes. Making them a greater target for police. * For a lot of people, selling drugs is like going to work for the only company in town. There just aren't other options. * Moreover, the drug dealers also were sometimes the people that they looked up to growing up. They were the ones who were successful, who didn't struggle. * The guy who wrote The Wire seems really good. Talks about how officers are paid overtime and make a lot more based on how many arrests they do, and that encourages getting more arrests and stopping more people for drugs, rather than going after harder to catch violent crimes. * Civil forfeiture in the United States, also called civil asset forfeiture or civil judicial forfeiture, is a process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement with crime or illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing. * In the 1800's, drugs like cocaine and heroin were common, an opium was used by middle class whites. When someone became addicted, it was treated as a health issue and viewed sympathetically. What changed was in California, when smoking opium was made illegal. It wasn't because of an increase or concern, it was because the Chinese immigrated to the mines, and they smoked opium. They were taking jobs away from white Americans, so politicians criminalized smoking opiom. Same thing with cocaine in the south, but then around 1900 it started to become associated with blacks, specifically they were thought that they could "withstand police bullets" on cocaine, and could work all day and night on it, threatening the jobs of whites. Same thing in the 1930s with hemp, which became known as marijuana. It was a habit associated with Mexican workers. * As a result of the New Deal under FDR, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), democratic organization, that was trying to start home ownership to help get people out of the depression, would basically red line areas where it wouldn't give out these loans. These areas were always black, labeled "hazardous". Then in 1950, these people were poor but had jobs. By 1960 the companies started moving out of the cities, leaving behind people who didn't have home ownership, didn't have jobs, and were communities of color. That's what created the ghettos. These people were susceptible to drug use. * Congress passed laws introducing mandatory minimums, and Raegan is the president who signed it into law. * 13% of crack users are black, the same proportion of U.S. population. 90% of crack defendants are black. * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_massacre * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosewood_massacre * Pigford settlement: apparently in the 80s and 90s, the USDA gave grants to farmers, and was discriminatory in who they were given to whites vs blacks, and this stems from a long history of discrimination based on blacks not having as good of credit due to southern laws that made it difficult, etc. They would often just intentionally lose the black farmers applications. The USDA officials were often white southern people. The settlement was the biggest civil settlement regarding civil rights, more than 1 billion has been paid to black farmers.