Synonym for the n-word: criminal

Hating is the in-thing. Hell, the hater-in-chief roams the White House, tweeting his daily venom across the globe.

How much hatred is codified into law? “Three strikes and you’re out,” a signature part of  the 1994 Crime Act touted by President Bill Clinton, has considerably raised mass incarceration. 

Last night I saw the stunning documentary 13th, produced by Netflix. As an old U.S. History teacher I’ve thought a lot about the aftermath of slavery, how it took one hundred years for the Voting Rights Act to become law in 1965.

Supposedly, all black men could then enter a voting booth without getting shot or lynched.  Reconstruction’s failure denied African American men 15th Amendment’s voting rights of 1870. Passage of the 13th Amendment “ended” slavery in 1865, except as punishment for a crime.

Guess who became criminals?

Next came segregation, Jim Crow laws, the hyping of “law & order,” the War on Drugs (mostly on blacks), the fantasy of President Barack Obama’s election inaugurating post-racism instead of an outed racist backlash, and the growing obscenity of mass incarceration for bucks (mostly targeting blacks).

Fact: The United States comprises 5 percent of the world’s population, with more than 20 percent of the world’s incarcerated.

The film 13th reminded me of my New England upbringing (you know, up north). I was taught to fear black men. My mother never used the word “nigger” but she bought the dominant mythology: Black men raped white women. Be wary of black boys in hoodies.

*A higher percentage of white men have been locked up since 2009. It’s about class,

Thanks to the University of Arizona Poetry Center for their free showing of 13th at the Loft Cinema, part of its Art for Justice Film Series (poetry.arizona.edu).

As I left the Loft last night I heard a woman lamenting, “Yeah, but once again, we’re preaching to the choir.”

Exploring history increases awareness. In my view, that can only help. Watch 13th. Or read the YA bestseller The hate u give by Angela Thomas, Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson, or if you have more reading time, The Warmth of Other Suns. The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, or Stamped from the Beginning. The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi.

I know of at least one scary white man I hope to see locked up. The sooner the better.

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in For Love of History, Politics, Visual Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Synonym for the n-word: criminal

  1. Julie Ray says:

    Excellent post. I’ve been wanting to see the documentary for a long time.

  2. sheilawill says:

    Thanks Julie! You can watch !3th on Netflix.

  3. Marge Pell says:

    The Warmth of Other Suns is a great recommendation. I’ll put your others on my to read list. Thanks for this.

  4. Sharon Osborne says:

    Good one, Sheila…. Sharon

  5. sheilawill says:

    Thanks Sharon! I hope you’re enjoying our birthday week!

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