Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Capitalist Circle of Life

“The average Black male
Will live a third of his life in a jail cell
Cause the world is controlled by the white male”

“Police State” -Dead Prez

This blog orginally appeared in the Hilltop, Howard University student newspaper

Earlier this year, Wachovia Bank, now Wells Fargo, was fined by the U.S. government for laundering $378 billion in drug money from 2004-2007 to Mexican drug lords. This raises the question: How do other US institutions benefit from the drug trade? The answer to this question has important ramifications for Blacks in the US.

In 1998, Congressman John Conyers submitted A Tangled Web: A History of CIA Complicity in Drug International Trafficking into the Congressional record. Furthermore, according to the Dark Alliance series published in San Jose Mercury News by Gary Webb, in order to fund covert operations in Nicaragua, the CIA assisted the Contras in selling cocaine to street organizations in South Central Los Angeles in the 1980’s.

At the same time, the U.S. passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 & 1988 that established mandatory minimum sentences (MMS), statues that require judges to set a sentence no lower than a predetermined number of years, establishing automatic punishment for drug offenders. Although there is no substantive chemical difference between crack and powder cocaine, in the 1980’s, a mass hysteria developed regarding crack and violence that contributed to the passage of harsher drug laws for the possession of crack than for the possession of cocaine. Because Blacks disproportionately use crack and whites disproportionately use powder cocaine, these drug laws were a major contributor to the explosion in the number of Black people trapped in the clutches of the prison industrial complex (PIC).

As Eric Schlosser asserts, “the PIC is a set of bureaucratic, political, and economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment.” This includes prison management companies such as Corrections Corporation of America and companies that pay prisoners as little as $.25/hour for their labor. Of course, this is all legal because the 13th amendment, which allegedly abolished enslavement, states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States.” In other words, contradicting article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which outlaws slavery, enslavement is still legal in US prisons.

The passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced sentencing disparities for the possession of crack versus powder cocaine, is a step in the right direction, but it is still inadequate.

Once released from prison, returning citizens face numerous obstacles. They can legally face employment discrimination, be denied public housing, and lose access to student loans and voting rights. In her book, The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander argues that returning citizens can legally be treated like a Black person in Alabama in the 1940’s.

The U.S. government helped to introduce drugs into society, passed harsh drug laws, set up a prison industry to profit, over-policed Black communities, and, to top it all off, US banks laundered the drug money. It’s a parasitic, capitalist circle of life.


  1. An Open Letter about the idea, or Illusion of the “New Jim Crow.”
    I received a letter about this so call new idea of “New Jim Crow.” I never did believe we were living in a age of being “Colorblindness.” That’s some Liberal shit. It's been hard talking to young people about this who are not that politically conscious. Who still look forward to the illusion of American dream. I never did believe racism had ended because of the civil rights movement, just because we can get some “Bus,” or because racist whites people have taken down their “No Negros Aloud” signs, and the KKK don’t where their robes doing the day. As far as I'm concern it don't.
    I never deluded myself believing racism was dead, I see it every time look at a movie, we see it daily on TV programs, I see it when I talking to people etc., racism is totally intertwine in America Political, Social, Economic and Religious culture. What I'm seeing is not any “New Jim Crow” laws or acts, but a continuation of the “Old Jim Crow” culture i.e., it racist laws, ideas and practices of white supremacy America. The same racist society I grew up in!
    White America is not only still incarcerating masses of African American people high level, the economic, political and social gap between middle class whites and African people continue to get worst! Yes, in the so call age of being Colorblind, America is still Not Colorblind, and is Still Racist To It’s Enslaving Soul!
    In Struggle and Development
    Kenny Snodgrass Author of “From Victimization to Empowerment - The Challenge Of African American Leadership - The Need of Real Power” website:
    eBook available at

    KennySnod, 223 Video’s on YouTube at,

  2. What was/what is Jim Crow?
    Jim Crow Laws were more that a series of rigid anti-Black racist laws,it created a caste system in America of white supremacy!

    Ferris Stat University
    Museum Of Racist Memorabilia
    What Was Jim Crow?

    Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology Ferris State University.

    Posted by Kenneth Snodgrass -
    Author of “From Victimization to Empowerment
    The Challenge Of African American Leadership
    The Need of Real Power” website:
    eBook available at

    KennySnod 223 Video’s on YouTube at,