MLK Day 2014: A Call To Action
How are you celebrating America’s modern civil rights hero? I am celebrating this Martin Luther King Jr. Day by joining my voice with the chorus who recognize the “War on Drugs” is a racist construct that must be concluded for the sake of our nation’s conscience and our continued freedom. Many are recognizing the decades-old war on drugs as a racist conspiracy designed to unfairly incarcerate African American men, to profit government agencies via a silent and secret tax, and to funnel blood money to corporate America. In an article in the Huffington Post, Dylan Ratigan and Russell Simmons wrote,
“A Federal law passed in 1986 allowed law enforcement agencies to seize drug money, and use it to supplement their budgets. Grabbing cash connected to drugs meant that police departments could buy more tools and training. Like the fee-for-service model in medicine, that pays doctors for performing procedures, not for making people healthier, the “forfeiture laws” effectively pay the police departments for making busts – not for reducing the drug trade.”
- Since 1971, there have been more than 40 million arrests for drug-related offenses. Even though blacks and whites have similar levels of drug use, blacks are ten times as likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes.
- “There are more blacks under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”
- “As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race. In 2005, 4 out of 5 drug arrests were for possession not trafficking, and 80% of the increase in drug arrests in the 1990s was for marijuana.
- There are 50,000 arrests for low-level pot possession a year in New York City, representing one out of every seven cases that turn up in criminal courts. Most of these arrested are black and hispanic men.
While we can, and should, celebrate how far we have come, we should also use the memory of Dr. King to take a stand against injustice wherever we find it. I urge you to join me in opposing the “War on Drugs” the privatization of our prisons for the profit of Wall Street traded corporations, and the over-incarceration of our citizens.
- 5 Reasons The War on Drugs is The New Jim Crow (atlantablackstar.com)
- Keeping it Real: Noam Chomsky Says War on Drugs is Nothing but a Race War (clutchmagonline.com)
- Bill Moyers and Michelle Alexander on the Racist Plague of Mass Incarceration and America’s Future (alternet.org)