Last week the Justice Department announced plans to phase out its use of privately run prisons and we cheered. Private prisons, after all, are the devil. The industry profits from incarcerating people; that profit motive has led the industry to lobby state legislatures to pass laws that keep prison beds full–disproportionately with black and brown people. But the real issue isn’t private prisons. Mass incarceration would not end if they disappeared, nor would black and brown communities be made whole. The real issue is that black and brown people are unnecessary in the eyes of corporate America. The economy of today is getting along just fine without the incarcerated and until that changes mass incarceration will remain a viable option, with or without private prisons.
This past Saturday Harambee, a 400-pound silverback gorilla, was killed at the Cincinnati zoo. Over the same weekend 27 people were shot, within walking distance from where I’m currently staying on Chicago’s westside. I knew all about Harambee but absolutely nothing of those 27 shootings because they occurred across an imaginary line of gentrification, where even the city streets appear to be maintained radically different. I’ve heard much about how Harambee’s life could have been spared, even as he violently dragged a child around his enclosure. But not much has been said about how we could have saved 27 of my neighbors and that’s the discussion which should be prioritized. I guess they and their shooters are just considered, ironically, “animals.”
I hope you aren’t raped or shot today. There’s a good chance the police won’t have your back. Fifty years ago there was a likelihood of over 90 percent that a murder would lead to an arrest and despite tremendous advances in technology, today there’s a one in three chance that your case will go unsolved (and much worse in communities of color). The police are no better at solving rapes than in the 1970’s: there’s only a 24 percent chance that an arrest will be made. We spend more than $100 billion annually on police and this is the return. More alarming, in the month of March 2015, American police killed more citizens than police in the UK have since 1900. Cops aren’t solving crimes and making us safe but they are chasing nonsense and doing plenty of shooting. This is what the War on Drugs has wrought.
Forty-three percent of the country believes discrimination against whites is as large a problem as discrimination against blacks. This is likely the same crowd incapable of discerning “white privilege.” White privilege is the freedom to f#*k up and still be seen as human. It is manifested when a sitting president can devise public policy to “criminalize” and “disrupt those communities” of blacks, have your aide admit to it years later
Megyn Kelly of Fox News recently demanded Cornel West explain why #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t protest “black on black” violence. After all, far more blacks kill each other than police do. Megyn is not alone. Many others, including several black “leaders” have raised the same battle cry. The real issue is not police violence but that Negroes are simply pathological killers, determined to do harm to each other…right?