2021-09-01: Some Things to Think About

“Here are some not-so-fun facts, compiled by the Washington Post:  Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.  We are twice as likely to be abused while in police custody.  Juries give Black defendants sentences that are 20 percent longer than those given to white defendants convicted of the same crimes.  We are imprisoned three times as long for the same drug crimes, even though we use drugs, weed included, less that white folks do.  And when we get out of jail, a chance for decent employment – or, in some states, even the right to vote – doesn’t exist.  We are being warehoused in prisons at such a rate that an entire generation has been scarred.  In some neighborhoods, it’s just women and the elderly and children, with working-age Black men erased from the equation.

“This is the ‘New Jim Crow,’ and it starts so young it will put tears in your eyes.  It begins with the school-to-prison pipeline.  Here are some more less-than-fun facts, according to the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights: 40 percent of all suspended students are Black; 70 percent of in-school arrests happen to Black students; and before you say, ‘They must have done something to deserve it,’ consider that Black preschoolers – we are talking about four-year-olds -make up 18 percent of preschoolers yet are almost half of those suspended. (What do you have to do to get suspended from preschool?)

“To put it plainly, we have no power because we have no wealth.  In greater Boston, as of 2015, the average household wealth (assets, not income) was $247,500 for whites; $8 for Blacks.  That’s not a misprint: eight dollars.  If that doesn’t make you ‘uncomfortable,’ if that doesn’t make you feel like we need to figure out what our world is doing wrong, you might need to check your pulse.”

Quoted from pages 174-175 of Bennett, Michael and Dave Zirin. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable: Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2019

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