AFRICAN AMERICANS' DRIFT TOWARD GENOCIDE By Uriah J. Fields
Many are the afflictions plauging African Americans in the twenty-first century that are not experienced by other Americans. And while some non-African Americans face similar problems they are miniscule when compared with those experienced by African Americans, usually lasting for a short period of time. For African Americans this is a chronic or perpetual condition - a downward spiral way of life with possible geocide at the end of the tunnel. Systemically, African Americans are the only despicable ethnic group in America.
A word on terminology is in order. In this discourse the capitalized term "Black" will be used when appropriate instead of African American, primarily because it is the correct term to use when addresing African Americans' encounter with "white racism." The
capitalized term "White" will be used instead of Caucasian, primarily because it is synonymous with the "white supremacy" doctrine, that promotes "white racism." "Hispanic" will be used interchangeably with "Latino." "Genocide" is another term that will be used in this discourse. "Webster's Dictionary" defines genocide as the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. In this discussion genocide applies to that racial group whose ancestors were brought from Africa to America and made slaves beginning nearly 400 years ago and continued for nearly two and one-half centuries. Since slavery, members of this group have been known by various names that include Negroes, Afro-Americans, African Americans and Blacks.
Although there are many things plaguing Black Americans such as economic strangulation, mal-eduaction, diseases, and exclusionism, that created these conditions, "incarceration of Blacks" and "immigration" are the major causes that propel the "drift of Blacks toward genocide."
Incarceration of Blacks in America
There are 2,310,984 (million) people of all races in prisons and jails in the United States, on any given day. That is a 50% increase over the past thirty years. The United States has the infamous distinction of being the "world's number one jailer." The United states with a population of 300 million people has a prison population that is greater than China with a population of 1.3 billion people. The United States correctional population - people in jail, prison, or on parole - total 7.3 million, with 1 in every 31 adults according to Pew Center that compiled the information from Justice Department and Census Bureau Statistics. This is estimated to be 1 in every 12 Blacks.
In 2008 Japan with a population of 128 million people had a prison population of 71,000. If the United states incarcerated people at the same rate as Japan whose population is about 42.5% of the United States, there woud be less than 200,000 people in U.S. prisons, not 2.3 million.
Who are the people in prison? Race matters. Race is a major factor in the incarceration of people. At midyear 2008, there were 4,777 Black male inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents in prisons or jails compared with 1,760 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents and 727 White male inmates U.S. residents per 100,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Prison Statistics. Of the three major races, the rate of incarceration of Black males is 6.5 times that of White males and 2.5 times that of Hispanic males. About 10.4% of the entire Black male population of the United States aged 25 to 29 are incarcerated. Of the approximately 207,000 incarcerated females Black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is 1 in 100, compared with 1 in 355 for White females in the same age group. Black females are incarcerated at four times the rate of White females and at nearly double that of Hispanic females. The prison population is aging primarily because prisoners are being given longer sentences. Blacks accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. One of every 23 inmates today is age 55 or older. What a difference it would make in the prison population if Black men and Hispanic men were incarcerated at 727 per 100,000, the same rate as White men.
Racism and economics are the main causes that account for the high percentage of Blacks being incarcerated. Even while racism drives Blacks toward genocide, economics remains the key factor, just as slavery was about race and economics. Later we will show how during the last fifty years the influx of Hispanics and other foriegners have adversely impacted Blacks, making them less necessary as laborers, and how incarcerated Blacks are creating wealth. Contrary to the rhetoric, Blacks are not merely warehoused in prisons, they are productive laborers in prison.
The Prison Industrial Complex is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. It consists of Government-owned and private prisons. Private prisons house roughly 50% Blacks, 35% Latinos and 15% Whites. Since 1980s, the national spending on jails and prisons stands at $60 billion annually. It cost $55,09 on average per day or $20,108 per year to keep an inmate in prison. However, there are sources that indicates it cost as much as $40,000 a year to keep a person incarcerated. The operation of prison's investors are on Wall Street. This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail order/interest catalogs, direct advertising companies, architectural companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies and security and padded cells in a large variety of colors.
Benefiting from the huge annual financial appropriation made to the Criminal Justice System are judges, prosecutors, lawyers, prison security guards and the list goes on and on. I talked with a businessman in California who told me how he became a millionaire while providing salad dressing for prisoners. The Angola Prison to be discussed in some detail later has a staff of 1,800 peope who serve approximately 5,000 prisoners. That means nearly 3 staff people for every prisoner. Suppose our schools and college had a similar teacher-sudent ratio. I am certain that more students would be learning and fewer of them would be drop-outs. Some sources have compared the cost of keeping a person in prison with the cost of matriculating at Harvard University which has a student-teacher ratio of about 1 to 10.
The recidivism rate of discharged prisoners who return to prison is high. One study showed that during a three-year period 15 states found that 70% of those released were returned to prison. It should not be difficult to undedstand that when we recognize that many discharged prisoners have no place to live, no job, and no assistance. They are likely to be denied jobs because they are ex-convicts, black or both. About 16% of prisoners suffer from mental illness. Currently 48 state restrict the rights of felons to vote.
What a poitive difference it would make if ex-convicts were instructed in citizenship beginning with granting them the right to vote. Some 13 percent of Black men are denied the right to vote but not denied the right to pay taxes.
In 1921 the government introduced the National Origins Act. The quota limited the number of legal immigrants to 3% of their current makeup in the United States.This quota system was altered three years later and the percentage was lowed to 2%. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (also known as the McCarran-Walter Act) restricted immigration into the United States. Currently, under the act, effective from December 24, 1952 to present, the definition of the "United States" for nationality purposes was expanded to add Guam; and effective November 3,1986, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (in addition to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States.) Persons born in these territories on or after December 24, 1952 acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same basis as persons born in other parts of the United States. Also in 1965 Congress transformed the National Origins Act and gave immigration preference to families so that they could be united in the United States. In the past, the majority of immigration visa applicants were of European descent. Today that is no longer true and the majority of immigration applications are received from Asia and Latin America. The availability of immigration visas annually continues to be limited by the goverment.
In 1980 the Congress enacted a Refuge Act that made provision for asylum and refugees. One year after legally being granted asylum or refuge status in the United States, the applicant may apply for a Green Card and eventually for United States citizenship. The goverment issues 55,000 permanent resident cards (Green Card) every year. A Green Card Lottery is held. Winning the lottery does not necesarily guarantee that the applicant will be approved as a resident in the United States. A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as United States citizens in 2008. According to the Urban Institute, from 1990 to 2006, the number of immigrants rose from 20 million to 37 million.
So-called illegal or undocumented immigrants in the United States are estimated to be between 11 and 13 milion people. Some sources report that the number is thirty percent greater than that and growing. The Pew Hispanic Center report of 2005, reveals that 57% of the illegal immigrants are from Mexico, about 9% are from Asia and 6% are from Europe and Canada. Since many people believe that all or nearly all illegal immigrants are from Mexco it is important for this writer to emphasize that 43% of the illegal immigrants are NOT from Mexico.
The Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959 defeated Fulgenico Batista who had ruled Cuba since 1934. In 1958 the United States backed Batista with the aid of the CIA, planes, ships, tanks and the latest technology in his battle against the insurgency. The United States' failed invasion known as the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba was a plan that had been porposed by Richard Nixon, planned by Dwight D. Eisenhower an executed by John F. Kennedy in 1961. Some 1,197 invaders were captured, 4 Americans pilots and over 100 Cuban invaders were killed in battle. Before the Revolution and especially after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and Castro's rise to power, Cubans were encouraged by the United States to leave Cuba and come to the United States. Between 1951 and 1960 some 7,900 Cubans came to the United States. Later that number increased substaintally. In 1966, by special authorization, President Jimmy Carter allowed for Cuban refugees to come to the United States. From 1971 to 1979, 249,700 Cubans came to the United States. This was the beginning of the neo-immigration to the United States. Cheap labor was the rationale for permitting and wooing large number of immigrants to come to the United States. Today there are about 1.5 million person of Cuban citizens in the United States. Most of these Cubans should have remained in Cuba where they were needed to build even a greater Cuba. Despite the U. S. blockade Cuba remains a viable nation.
The United States government has been for more willing towards the Cubans than to any other immigrants from Latin America. This has been done to prove that Castro could not win against the hegemonic policy of the most powerful nation in the world. Virtually all Cuban immigrants have been admitted under a special parole power extending by the U.S. Attorney General that immediately grants them full legal status and puts them on a path of United States citizenship. All Cubans who are able to reach United States soil are allowed to stay in America. This does not apply to Haitians who are returned to Haiti when they try to illegally enter the United States. Miami is the Havana or Mecca for Cubans living in the United States.
In January 2008, there were 12.6 million legal permanent residents living in the United States. One-half had obtained legal permanent resident status in 2000 to 2004 and one-half between 2005 and July 2008. Green Card holders. There are four main ways to obtain a Green Card which officially and legally puts a person on the path to becoming a citizen of the United States. They are (1) Green Card employment & sponsorship, (2) Green Card lottery, (3) Green Card through a family member and (4) Green Card by marriage. In addition, there are Green Cards for specialists such as foreign medical graduates who have been in the United States since 1978 and religious workers for legitimate religious orgnizations.
Since 2000, approximately 1 millon immigrants enter the United States legally each year. Without immigration the estimated population in 1980 was 204.9 million and with immigration it was 226.5 million. In recent years that proportional trend has increased. This citing does not include illegal or undocumented immigrants who in recent years are estimated to be as great or greater than legal immigrants.
Impact of Incarceration and Immigration on Black America
The facts are in. No more surveys or studies are needed to ascertain the facts. Not even the Commissioin is needed that earlier this year Senator Webb (D-VA) led the effort to establish to get more facts on the high incarceration rate in the United States. Although this writer sent him a communication, that expressed approval of his effort mainly because no other member of the Senate had the sensitivity or courage to so much as admit the that there is a problem with the Criminal Justice System that locks up more prisoners than any other nation in the world. Prison reform is urgently needed.
As we are about to end the first decade of the twenty-first century, the precarious condition of black people in America is well-known. Blacks are on the brink of jeopardy. What this portends for the future strongly suggests that Blacks are drifting toward genocide. That probability seems more likely today than at ny other time during the nearly 400-year sojourn of Blacks in America. To repeat, there is a litany of ills that infect the very souls of Blacks and threaten their existence. Their economic condition - the hghest unemployment and underemployment of any ethnic groujp. In October, 2009 the national unemployment was 10.2%, highest in over 25 years, but for Blacks it is twice that number. Even before the present recession Blacks were unemployed at a much higher rate than Whites. The official numbers which do not include many unemployed people indicate that black unemployment is 15.3% compared with white unemployment at 8.7%. For Black men over 20 it is 16.5% compared with White men over 20 it is 8.8%. Even for college-educated Blacks unemployment is 7.2% as compared with college-educated Whites at 3.8%. One out of every three Blacks, 24.7%, live in povety and 46.1% of Black children live in poverty, compared to 8.7% White children. The life expectancy of Blacks is 7 years less than White Americans. For Black men it is 9 years less than for White men. In 2007 the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Black Americans accounted for 51% of the estimated 35,692 cases in the United States. There are 465,636 people living with AIDS in the United States. Blacks are a greater risk group for all major diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. The death rate for Black children two years of age and under, including prenatal, is eight times greater than for White children of the same age. On any given night there are 700,000 to 1.5 million homeless people in Amerca. Half of them are Black. About 55% of the 2000,000 homeless veterans are Blacks.
The fact that there are some successful, even a few wealthy, Blacks in America does not lessen the precariousness of the condition of the Black masses, hence, even those who are advantaged. These things do not change the overall condition of Blacks, particularly with regard to the survival of Blacks as a viable people in America.
The "Forbes" magazine lists three black billionaires; Oprah Winfrey $3.5 billioin, Robert Johnson $1.8 billion and Sheila Johnson $1.0 billion. And Magic Johnson $910 million, Tiger Woods $730 million. One might inquire as to what has happened to the millions of dollars that some Blacks in sports and entertainment have earned? Who got their money?" We do know that some of them who made tens of millon of dollars died broke. Additional facts cited by "Forbes" magazine shoud help put black wealth in perspective: Bill Gates has $43 billion, Warren Buffet $36 billion and Paul Allen $21 billion. In 1982 the wealthiest 400 individuals in the "Forbes 400" owned $92 billion. By 2000 their wealth increased to over 1.2 trillion. Bill Gates alone has as much wealth as the bottom 40% of U.S. households. The United States with over 300 billionaires have three times as many billionaires as Germany, the second highest billionaire country. For Germany, that lost a couple of wars during the twentieth century, that's not too bad. Of course, Japan having lost World War II has the world's second largest economy. It is true that a small percentage of Blacks are economically successful, but for Blacks as a group, they lag far beind any other ethnic group in America. Significantly, the income gap, as well as other gaps, between Blacks and Whites are widening.
The incarceration of Blacks and immigration are the two major factors propelling the drift of Blacks toward genocide. Barring one or more miraculous occurences this drift will not be abated or prevented. The incarceration of Blacks has and will continue to devatate black life. In any society that survives men are the preservers. Many Black men who shoud be the chief wage earners are laboring in prisons for pennies where they are enriching their masters just as their ancestors did during slavery, as will be discussed later in more detail.
Immigration, whether legal or illegal, adversely impacts Blacks. The truth is: there is no illegal immigration in the United States. So-called illegal immigrants were allowed and wooed into coming to America to enrich some White Americans. Admittedly, somewhere along the way, immigration increased beyond what the controllers could get by with without and outcry from Whites, some of whom were being adversely effected by the employment of immigrant carpenters and builders at or near minimum wages who, in some instances left them unemployed or underemployed. Thus immigrants coming to and in some instances being brought by employers to America became a Frankenstein - the genie had been let out of the bottle. She's out! Now it's like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.
Both legal and so-called illegal immigrants are employed on jobs and hold positions that rightly belong to Blacks. But the United States' exclusioin of Blacks from state universities in the South where most Blacks lived and some universities outside of the South prior to and more than a decade after the 1954 Supreme Court's decision "Brown v. the Board of Education" deprived them of education to prepare for these jobs. But even when Blacks were qualified for positions they were given to others, including immigrants who had Green Cards or no card at all.
When Senator John McCain was a candidate for President in 2008 he said, "the jobs immigrants are taking are jobs that Americans do not want." I wonder what is he saying as he listen to people today when unemployment is officially 10.2% and unofficially 13.1%. McCain and other people of the similar political persuasion should be informed, if they do not already know, that many of the jobs held by immigrants holding Green Cards are high-paying jobs. Think about how many Blacks would be employed in these positions today if slavery, racial discrimination, segregation and disfranchisement were not America's legacy and Blacks's albatross.
At the same time there is full employment for incarcerated Blacks just as it was during slavery. Allow the facts to make the point. The Louisiana State Penitentiary known as Angola is the largest maximum security prison in the United States with 5,000 inmates and 1,800 staff members. It is located on an 18,000 acre property that was purchased by Isaac Franklin during the 1830s with the profit from slave trading. Angola is still run as a working farm. It is America's plantation prison. The prisoners pick cotton, wheat and soybeans just as their ancestor slaves did. They wrok for pennies. Armed guards, mostly who move down the rows on horseback, keep watch. At the end of the workweek, a bad disciplinary report from a guard - whether true or not - means a weekend toiling in the fields. The farm is after the homeland of the slaves who first worked its soil. A large percentage of Lousiana prisoners perform farm labor. This practice also hapens in17 other states, including Arkansas where 40% of the prisoners perform farm labor.
Rodeo is also a money making enterprise at Angola. More than 10,000 people purchased $10.00 tickets to attend the 41st Annual Angola Prison Rodeo. Among other things coffins are made by prisoners. About 95% of the inmates will die there in prison. It is difficult to know just how much money is derived from the labor of prisoners at Angola. It is pretty much kept a secret, including names of those who profit financially from the labor of these prisoners. To repeat, at the Angola prison in Louisiana Blacks work on the Angola plantation much in the same way that Blacks did during slavery when that land was owned by a slave master.
Accordig to the "Left Business Observer," "The federal prison industry produces 100% of military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-poof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Also with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes, 92% of stove assembly, 46% of body armor, 36% of home appliances, 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; 21% of office furniture, airplane parts, medical supplies and much more. Prisoners are even raising seeing eye dogs for blind people." Let us acknowledge that prisoners are making a contribution to the war efforts greater than most Americans, excluding soldiers fighting wars.
During the last thirty years the drift of Blacks toward genocide has been accelerated with all deliberate speed. Can this trend be reversed? While this writer is not prepared to answer this question and ramains hopeful that the genocide of Blacks will be prevented, there is a preponderance of evidence that speaks to the contrary. The incarceration of Black men at such huge number, especially doing the last twenty years, is unprecedented. The adverse impact is not limited to this generation but generation to come. Immigration continues to deprive Blacks of employment and contributes to lowering their educational achievement. It is likely that a remnant of Blacks will survive; a portion of that class of Blacks at the top, but even they will remain more as members of a caste than of a class. They will cease to have benefits they now recieve from less productive Blacks. There is power in numbers.
There is a certainty that the political power of Blacks will decrease. During the last thirty-five years Blacks have acquired political power they had not had before. There are 43 elected Black Representatives to the 111th Congress 2007-2009 (42 in the House and 1 in the Senate). This number will decrease considerably in the foreseeable future. Before the1965 Voting Rights Act there were 3 Black Reprsentatives in Congress. Beginning with Carl Stokes the Mayor of Cleveland in 1967; later in Los Angeles Tom Bradley was elected mayor (1973 to 1993), Mayor Harold Washington in Chicago 1983 to 1987, until his death; Mayor David Norman Dinkins of New York 1990 to 1993. Today there is only one black mayor of a city with a population over 500,000. He is Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia.
Currently in the 111th Congress there are 24 Hispanic members in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate. A Hispanic, Antonio Villaraigosa, is the Mayor of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States. Nationwide Latinos have 66 State Senators and 177 representatives in the state lower houses.
The Latino population as of July 2009 is estimated to be 46.9 million and is expected to increase to become 29% of the population by 2020. The Black population now stands at 12% and is estimated to be 13% by 2020. Just as Blacks are no longer representing mayors of large cities, with one exception, the same will happen in medium-size cities as Latinos and Asians, another group that are growing in America, represent these cities. Blacks will also have fewer representatives in Congress. Blacks may never again have as many representatives in Congress as they have in the 111th Congess. The one black Senator, Roland Burr, who was appointed to fill out the term that was held by Barack Obama before he became President of the United States will in all probability, after the next Senatorial election in Illinois, be held by a white person. Again, there will not be a single black Senator in the 100-person Senate. As stated earlier, currently there are 3 Latino Senators in the 111th Congress. It does make a difference, racially speaking, who represents you in Congress.
Although incarceation of Blacks and immigration are the major factors adversely effecting Blacks it is diffiuclt for me to oppose immigration. When this writer considers the "Blacks experience in America" - the suffeing and misery Whites have inflicted on them that included lynching. The Tuskegee Institute figures show that between1892-1951, 4,730 people were lynched in the United States: 3,437 were Black. The disfanchisement of Blacks until the mid-1960s, the denial of them access to frequent public places such as restaurants, libraries and state universities, excluding them from jobs that were designated for "white only," and the list of white abuses that worked havoc on and brought death to Blacks. The legacy of slavery and the era of racial segregation and discrimination is evident today in the disparity in the wealth of Blacks and Whites and things that are exchanged for money or promissory notes.
Despite he negative impact of immigration on Blacks this writer cannot oppose immigration because he recognizes that the positives out-weigh, by far, the negatives. It is a good thing that Latinos are shifting or sharing significantly in the power and the wealth of America. Already they have demonstrated that they can access, even create, and use power effectively. A for instance: to repeat, at present they have 24 members in the House of Representatoive and 3 Senators. I will not offer any suggestion aimed at limiting or curtailing immigration - "immigrants comig to America."
Hopefully, Blacks will find ways to work with Latinos that will be more effective with them than they were able to work with Whites prior to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s when Whites enforced laws that denied them their constitutional rights. It appears that Blacks will benefit from the rise of Latino power in the United States but it may not be enough to rescue Blacks who paid a great price to achieve rights that Latinos now enjoy, including the right to vote in many Southern States where they now wield real power.
With the incarceration of Blacks I am indignant and aggrieved. Unlike my stance regarding immigration, I am vehemently opposed to the huge number of Blacks being incarcerated. Blacks are incarcerated at higher rate than people anywhere in the world. To reiterate, there are 4,777 Black male inmates per 100,000 compared with Hispanic male inmates 1,760 per 100,000 and 727 White male inmates per 100,000. The incarceration of Black males is 6.5 times that of White males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males, with 1 of every Black males in the age group 25-29 incarcerated on any given day. Black females are incarcerated at the rate of four times that of White females. In some states 77% of its prison population is Black, including some states where the black population is 30% or less. South Carolina's black population is 30% but its black prison population is 69%. Some states that have high incarceration of Blacks are not in the South. Among them are Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota that has only a 3% black population but a 37% black prison population. The assault on Blacks is not now, nor has it ever been, solely an assault confined to the South. The practice of black exclusion, hence humiliation and denial of Blacks equality and justice is as "American as apple pie" America-wide.
The incarceration of Blacks is the chief factor contributing to the drift of Blacks toward genocide. A few years ago during the question and answer period following a lecture John Hope Franklin gave at the University of Virgina during the Virginia Festival of the Book I asked him a question that focused on the incarceration of Black men and wanted to know what it portend for the future for Black Americans. Franklin responded, literally with tears in his voice, reflecting the tears in his eyes and more -so those in his heart, said that this pains him more than anything...to see what is happening to our young black men who are incarcerated. He spoke about this with more of a depth passion than anything he had said during his lecture. He called upon the Government to launch a Marshal Plan-like program to address this problem.
This writer considers the incarceration of Black men as cruel and raw castation, no less than the castration that he observed as a boy when he watched his father castrate oxen. What will Black women do without productive and reproductive-equipped Black men? Will they be without men and eventually without children, as presently many of them are without husbands and in-house fathers of their children? Will Black women again return to the cohabitation practice of slavery where their sexual activities and fathering of their children depend on White men?
In the matter of incarceration Blacks can and must make a serious attempt to change the manner and extent to which Black men are incarcerated. But it will take an organized and radical effort that will engage the support of White liberals no less than was the case during the Civil Rights Movement. This effort will have to be propelled by direct action. One component of this endavor will be restoring ex-prisoners their voting rights. Society would benefit from allowing some prisoners the right to vote while they are still in prison. Another component addresses the right of ex-prisoners to get a job. Many prisoners have jobs before they are released from prison. Why not have a job after being released from prison? The overrall challenge is to acheive equalitry for Blacks in the Criminal Justice System. That alone is tantamount to prison reform.
Questions for the reader: "Can the Drift of Blacks Toward Genocide be Prevented?" "If so, How?" "If not, Why not?"
Copyright 2009 by Uriah J. Fields
Uriah J. Fields invite readers to read two of his books that are germane to this article:
1. "THE FIELDS SCHOOL: An African American School Without Failures in Rural Alabama 1933-1949. The author first eight years of schooling was at the Fields School. (Published 2009) His paternal Gandfather, born during slavery, is the chief founder of the Fields School.
2. "INSIDE THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT: My Personal Story." The author was original secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association that provided strategic leadership for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. (Published 2002). A true witness. I was there.