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Slavery in the U.S. 2017

Bethany Arnold, Editor

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The most widely known form of slavery in America was ended by the 13th amendment, or so many thought, but that would not stop the racial bias of many political leaders at the time.

The enslavement of African Americans only continues through mass incarceration, sparked by the War on Drugs. Ronald Reagan declared the War on Drugs that diagnosed drug addiction as a crime rather than a health issue. This war was incredibly racially biased as well as sent hundreds of thousands to jail over minor possessions, skyrocketing the prisons’ populations. As the War on Drugs was beginning to ensue, the drug crack had begun to take over inner cities, whereas cocaine resided in the suburbs. Crack was easily attainable as the doses were small and much less expensive than cocaine, therefore residing in the more impoverished areas.

Coincidentally, these impoverished areas were composed of a large percentage of African Americans. Criminalization for narcotics increased unporportionally as a result of this War. Although crack remained a subset of cocaine, the punishment for crack was much harsher than that of cocaine. A black man caught with crack would receive a life sentence, whereas a white man caught with cocaine would get a slap on the wrist. This unfair punishment coupled with the drug services; focus on impoverished areas, African Americans had almost no chance of escaping imprisonment.

The question is: why do leaders want African Americans imprisoned? The answer is quite simple. It’s more than a personal racist vendetta of political leaders, it is the means to please an industry. Other than being a place to lock up criminals, prisons are an extremely large industry who receive more profit the more inmates they get. African Americans are representative of close to 40% of federal prisons’ population. Needless to say, African Americans make up no where near 40% of the American population. African Americans have become an easy target to become victim to the continuation of this growing industry.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization composed of companies who have a say in legislation. These companies, such as Walmart, push for policies that condemn more to be put in jail, pleasing both the operators and vendors of prisons nationally. The policies they pushed for directly affected the change in status of diversity in prisons.

Surprisingly, not only companies, but news stations, support the unproportional incarceration of African Americans. The term “super-predator” was used in the news to describe animalistic people who raped, stole, and committed acts of violence. Seemingly a nationwide epidemic, these “super-predators” were solely portrayed as African Americans. This over representation solidified the fear in the general population of African Americans, allowing more to become imprisoned without protest.

Even those falsely accused became enslaved, regardless of imprisonment. Awaiting trial, those accused must temporarily stay in cells for years, losing their jobs in the process. If falsely accused and found guilty, even for a short amount of time, has much harsher consequences. After being set free, they find they are not free at all. They have no job, no home, no car, haven’t seen their families in years, and have the inability to get a job with their new criminal record. This slavery is not only overlooked, but completely inescapable.

News stations have the ability to end over representation by viewing more diverse and accurate stories, but as for mass incarceration, even if not racially biased it will continue to take the hope and lives of everyone in its path.

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Slavery in the U.S. 2017