America’s Blight African American’s Plight
Nov 11, 2023
Picture Source Wix Unsplash British Library Photo
Reconstruction, then what happened?
Slavery ended in 1863 with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and was abolished entirely in 1865. The Civil War put a concrete punctuation mark on that chapter of that depraved part of American history in April of 1865; or did it? During the period after
the start of the Reconstruction Period, formerly enslaved people enjoyed entry into the economic, political, and mainstream social systems of the relatively newly formed country. Black men voted even before white women, who didn’t get the right to vote until 1919; it was ratified in 1920. Ten to twelve years after reconstruction, the white power structure had enough. Slavery was the primary industry that made the wealth of the South. Fueled by greed and seasoned with hatred, white supremacists took things into their own hands.
By 1873-1874, White southerners were pushing for the “Redemption.” This Redemption was to redeem the wealth that was lost during the war and subsequent abolishment of slavery, and frankly, to restore the “natural” order of things and put black folks back in their place. They were pushing for the return of white supremacy and to remove all rights that black folks were enjoying. They were calling for the deconstruction of the reconstruction. They went on a crusade of terror, and the KKK, the Red Shirts, and other white supremacist organizations emerged. They literally drove black citizens off their rightfully owned lands by sheer terror. Black Americans were fleeing in the middle of the night to preserve the lives of their families. The lands were stolen and returned to white ownership for pennies.
Those Black Americans that remained were killed, raped, and terrorized into submission. However, that was done to put Black folks in their place, but how do they rebuild the wealth of the South without slavery? Ah, they would use the judicial system. Black Americans were imprisoned for extremely small infractions ranging from vagrancy to foolishness. Here’s how it worked: there were crimes called the Black Code. These were laws enacted in the South that would limit the freedoms of African Americans and would force them to work for little or no wages. Rape violations were life in prison or, depending on one’s physical prowess, a life sentence in servitude. You can imagine that rape allegations were rampant against African Americans. They weren’t legally permitted to carry any weapons of any kind. You can only imagine how many so-called weapons were planted on innocent black bodies. Black folks were convicted of petty crimes at alarming rates, and once convicted, a “convict” was leased to private companies and plantations to serve out their sentences. Jim Crow furthered this initiative drastically, and this leased servitude took on the form of chain gangs and the like. Slavery by a different name is still slavery.
Present Day Redemption
Lyndon Johnson declared a war on crime in 1965. A Crime Commission was established in 1965 following increasing crime rates and riots. The 1960s was a very tumultuous era, especially regarding racial unrest. There were myriad reasons for this, but racial dynamics were at the forefront. There were many reasons given for this so-called “war on crime” by President Johnson. Still, it certainly empowered police and the judicial system to act aggressively toward whatever they deemed as a crime. Antigovernment sentiment plagued the country. Guess which group was more actively involved with reform in the 1960s than any other group? The Black Panther Movement, The Nation of Islam, and Malcolm X, though he left the nation in 1964, his seeds were planted. Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights Movement, and many other splinter groups. LBJ gave the judicial system and its soldiers a clear path to converge on Black America.
In 1971, Nixon declared a War on Drugs and declared drugs as “public enemy number one”.
John Ehrlichman, Nixon Council, revealed in 1994 that the real war back then was not waged on drugs but on “Blacks.” There is little wonder why there were “rumors” that the government poured drugs into the inner city. The ultimate aim was to incarcerate as many black people as they could. Why, you ask? Read on. The Redemption initiative of the 1870s just changed tactics. African Americans are incarcerated much more consistently than their white counterparts. African American males make up approximately 13.6% of the population, yet makeup almost 30% of those incarcerated males. If someone is convicted in the U.S.A., it is tough to get a job. Thus leading to a high recidivism rate, and the cycle continues. If a man can’t get a job, he will do what he must to survive. The need to survive is what the Redeemers are relying on. If a person is convicted of a felony, it is a give or take if they can vote. There was a time when the right to vote was not permitted for a convicted felon; over the last few decades, some states have begun to restore the right to vote for ex-offenders. Is this just a coincidence? The right to vote was snatched away after the Reconstruction Period via the Redeemers. The right to vote was snatched away in modern America for convicted felons. The Redeemers of the late 1800s did not permit the right to hold many jobs for felons. The right to hold many positions by offenders is forbidden in modern America. A simple example and question must be asked: if a person committed a burglary 25 years ago in which no one was harmed, do their time, why can’t one be a security guard at an amusement park? Why can’t one drive a bus? There are thousands of examples of overreach tactics to keep someone from making an honest living—just something to think about.
Mass incarceration of African Americans is not due to a higher predisposition to commit crimes. It’s not only due to a failure in the homes. There is a plethora of reasons that may converge to ignite one giant bomb to destroy the Black family. Economics, lack of educational opportunities, lack of societal opportunities, and, yes, systemic racism are only a few. But let us not forget the contributions of that age-old tactic, which began in 1865 and was enacted in 1877. Let us not forget to acknowledge that the system is a chameleon; it changes its colors to hide, but if one looks close enough, you’ll see it very clearly. Please see “The Tale of Two Gospels” by The Echo. Perhaps you’ll see that slithering chameleon sneakily try to hang on.
Picture source: Michael Held Wix Unsplash Photos