BLACK MEN CAN'T BREATHE
America’s numerous acute socio-economic problems have not been this apparent since the Confederacy was ground into the dust at the end of the Civil War.
Systemic racism is rampant, police violence continues unabated and income inequality of the most grotesque kind continues intensify under Trump’s presidency.
Black men are for the overwhelming part both economically disenfranchised and disproportionately singled out by the police and punished by the courts.
Take a pause to cast your mind back to 2014 and the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD – the first time, sadly, the phrase “I can’t breathe” echoed around the country and then the world. Five years later and, astonishingly, we heard George Floyd cry out the same at the hands of vicious police killers.
Looking back at Eric once more, his “crime” was selling loose cigarettes. Crucially, we must ponder as to why Eric was selling loose cigarettes in the first place. The primary reason? To survive and to provide for his family.
Like millions of black men in America, Eric had a police record for petty offenses. As far as post-crime employment opportunities go, the odds are already stacked up against them. A criminal record, even for crimes that were necessary to feed and clothe your family, effectively shut you out of the jobs market.
This is why mass incarceration of African-American men is so unjust and incendiary because it not only punishes the individual with time behind bars, it also robs them of any opportunity to change their ways after they are released through employment. They also have limited housing and educational opportunities.
Jail sentences for minor infractions and misdemeanors limit subsequent opportunities to be the breadwinner for the family and a citizen who fully contributes to society. While a few have excelled after being released from prison, that’s the exception not the norm.
Then there is the issue of totally disproportionate sentences for minor crimes. Take the case of Michigan’s Michael Thompson, jailed in 1994 for selling weed to an undercover agent. His sentence? 60 years. He has served over 25 years and still has close on 35 years incarceration before him. To add insult to injury, cannabis has since been legalized in Michigan.
Michael’s case is simply an outrage and should be rectified without delay.
Cory Booker wants prisoners’ sentences to get a “Second Look” after ten years. However, after ten years of being locked up in this automated world, what would they return home to?
Bernie Sanders is proposing a criminal justice overhaul that aims to cut the nation’s prison population in half, end mandatory minimum sentencing, ban private prisons and legalize marijuana. Sanders correctly identifies that the current system does not fairly treat people of color, substance misusers or the mentally ill. “We have a system that imprisons and destroys the lives of millions of people”, Sanders has declared. “It’s racist in disproportionately affecting the African American and Latino communities, and it’s a system that needs fundamental change.”
We whole-heartedly agree the system needs fundamental change at the front end when people are released from prison. However, nowhere in Sanders’ plan does he address how millions of newly released prisoners will be successfully re- integrated into society.
If Eric Garner and Michael Thompson had been receiving Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $2,000.00 a month as previously proposed, then neither men would have had the need to sell tobacco and weed. Further, when people are released from prison, UBI would be their lifeline back into society.
Let’s throw our weight behind UBI and finally end the prison system’s revolving door policy for predominantly male African-Americans. By doing so, this is how we can safely reintegrate 1.2 million fellow Americans currently doing time for non-violent drug offenses and other low-level crimes back into society.
This is how we can return millions of parents, millions of key family members, back to their families and back into society as a person of potential as opposed to a person of persecution.
It is no secret that cannabis cultivation has the potential to become the fastest growing agricultural industry in the world. Today, Black Americans are still being imprisoned at record rates for non-violent drug-offenses. On top of that,
America was built on the backs of black slaves toiling in the fields for their white masters. With cannabis being legalized at the national level, across all 50 states, Black Americans will have the opportunity to legally join the fastest growing industry in the country.
Consequently, we must become Afro-futurist architects and show our fellow Americans our blueprint for the shared economy and what Black America demands, not requests, in order to usher in the Blazin20s for all Americans.
As we know, the DNC are paper tigers and cannot win without the Black vote.
Unbridled capitalism and Donald Trump have shattered the American dream and made America a quasi-pariah state when it comes to its international reputation and travel.
UBI for all Americans is required to start the healing process post Corvid-19 and Trump. To not do so is to dishonor the names of Eric Garner, Michael Thompson, George Floyd and countless others.