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Racism by Design
Clearing up Misunderstandings in Popular media
In the US, many of the policies have been designed to systematically disenfranchise, and impoverish people who are descendants of slaves (ADOS). Here are the most outrageous legal ways we have racial discrimination:
Before the 1930s, prospective homebuyers needed 30-50% cash as a down payment to purchase a home. Most people did not have that kind of money during the Great Depression. But, in 1934, FHA became the guarantor of home loans for the burgeoning middle class.
The FHA and HOLC made every effort to exclude would-be Black homeowners. They would not back loans for developers if they plans to sell homes to Black people.
For instance, if a single Black family moved into a White neighborhood the FHA would no longer guarantee insurance or loans for the rest of the community. This policy compelled White homeowners to push out or block potential Black homeowners to protect their investment. The government incentivized increased racial animus, imposing de nude segregation that appeared de facto.
Since many schools were funded through property taxes. Schools where housing values were high had more funding. Even nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, we are still separate but equal.
Instead of trying to equalize funding, the Federal courts have undermined any measures for equality. While 165 countries around the world recognize education education as fundamental right. The United States does not recognize education as a fundamental right.
According to a US Supreme Court case, San Antonio Independent Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez the SCOTUS held that there is no fundamental right to education. Furthermore, the Supreme Court also held that students had no right to “equal school funding as long as schools were adequate." In Milliken v. Bradley, SCOTUS held that it is unconstitutional to bus children across school districts as a way of addressing unequal funding.
The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that the importance of a good or service "does not determine whether it must be regarded as fundamental." Finally, last year, a federal court in Detroit ruled that "literacy is not a fundamental right”
In 2019, public education in ADOS communities reflect the decay and abandonment. Which is actually an assault on the right of self-determination, as well as any possibility of self-actualization. For example, the once-thriving city of Detroit, first suburbanization (government-subsidized white flight), followed by deindustrialization stripped the city of nearly all privately held wealth and devastated tax revenues. The result is that public schools more resemble a post-apocalyptic landscape than a modern education system in the richest country in the world. Things are so appalling that last year, Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti was “shocked and horrified” at the state of the system when he arrived in 2017. He went on to say “this would never happen” in White suburban schools and Detroit students were being treated as “second-class citizens.”
Conditions of Schools in Detroit
Condition of Schools in nearby Grosse Pointe
Criminal Justice System
Law enforcement now serves as a covert containment force for Black lives. Serving the same purposes that terrorist lynch mobs did in the not so distant past. The draw societal boundaries in blood and pain.
For example, in 2016, the United States Police forces killed at least 1,058 people (we cannot be sure since there is no national database that tracks these incidents). In contrast, the UK police killed 4 people in 2016. The most disturbing aspect is that there is impunity.
Historically, ADOS have always been targeted by criminal laws. Many states in the South established Vagrancy laws post-slavery. Vagrancy laws required ADOS to prove that they were employed by a white employer. If they were not employed by a white employer, they would be incarcerated. These states also provided convict leasing to private individuals, which established a system of feudalism. However, in between the 1930-1970s much the civil rights movements helped repeal many of these laws targeting ADOS.
Despite the overwhelming instances of police brutality caught on video, the federal government nor any state governments maintain any database or records of the total incidents of police brutality directed at citizens. However, the Guardian kept a private database, it appears that regularly over 1000 citizens are killed by police.
Despite, these flagrant violations, police operate with impunity. They are rarely tried, and if they are tried, they cannot sustain a conviction. Often, these very same officers are hired at another department, so they face no consequences. Furthermore, supreme court precedent makes it so that just about any act of violence can be justified by invoking "I feared for my life."
A federal government and state governments established a new wave of laws that had the impact of targeting ADOS without explicitly writing it into the code. Some of these targeted policies include:
1. Drug-Free Zones: These laws prohibit using and selling drugs within certain areas like schools, parks and public housing projects and provide for increased sentences on offenders. However, since ADOS populations are concentrated in urban areas, ADOS are disproportionately impacted.
2. Three-Strikes Law: This law imprisons people who commit three or more felonies with life in prison. Since ADOS tend to be policed and targeted more, it impacts ADOS much more than it does other races.
3. Criminalizing Poverty: Requiring individuals to pay fines for minor violations followed by imprisoning these individuals for failure to pay fines.
4. Denial of meaningful appeal or review: In 1996, Federal statutes were enacted to prevent repeated appeals on collateral claims.
5. 4-5-20: Black people, especially Black men, are 4x more likely to be arrested, 5x more likely to be imprisoned, and receive 20% more time when sentenced.
In the United States, most prosecutors have ultimate discretion on who they try and who they get into a plea bargain and the terms and conditions of the plea bargain. According to a Vera Project Study, "federal prosecutors are more likely to charge black people than similarly situated white people with offenses that carry higher mandatory minimum 4 sentences." Prosecutors are also more likely to charge black teenagers as adults.
If you ask any American jurist, they often find reasons to justify the way the law is and even insist that these laws are ideologically neutral. However, it is far from the truth. The reasons are numerous and it is something we can fix, but we must first understand how the current system is not ideologically neutral!