Friday, February 06, 2009

More Cops -- THAT'S the Ticket!

The other day, I wrote about the fence, the net, and the ambulance as metaphors for different approaches to solving social problems. In today's New York Times, there's a graphic example of the "ambulance" approach: the possibility that the economic "stimulus" package being touted in Washington just now may carry a billion dollars worth of funding to hire more police officers on the local level.

On the surface, this looks like a great idea: more jobs (yay!), safer communities (yay!) -- I mean, what could be bad, right?

Except that, of course, if you happen to be Black or poor (and don't even think about being Black AND poor), the idea of 100,000 new cops in communities all over the United States doesn't immediately make you want to stand up and cheer. More police will mean more arrests. And we all know who is disproportionately likely to be arrested, right? More arrests will mean more African-Americans charged, tried, sentenced, and sent to prison -- regardless of innocence or circumstances. And that means more prisons. Which means more jobs (yay?). But also more tax dollars spent on corrections instead of on education and jobs programs.

The aftermath, then, will look like more Black women visiting their husbands and sons behind bars, more Black children without available fathers, more Black families losing incomes, increased Black community destabilization over both the short term and the long term (since Black men with felony convictions are virtually locked out of the employment market), and an even broader commitment to the perspective among the mainstream population that Black men in general, in fact, belong behind bars -- at all costs.

So there you have it. All in the name of "stimulating" our "economy." Slapping Black men into prison, then, becomes -- once again -- an "answer" to one of our social problems. And the African-American community makes the usual sacrifice. Funny how that keeps happening, isn't it?


Sorrow said...

Well you know
Unicorp needs more slaves.
did i just say that?
or more importantly

Changeseeker said...

I'm afraid so, Sorrow. The question is: is anybody listening?

Slayerized said...

Too bad the cops won't be white cops anyway, so blacks won't have too much to worry about. considering Robert Reich Has let everyone know Whites need not apply for any benefits of this "stimulus" package.

nathan said...

Not only will they go to jail, they will go deservingly; until someone steps up in the black community to stop the violence, drug use, single motherhood, and complete disregard for the law, in some cases.

Changeseeker said...

If every White man that deserved to be in jail was there and every Black man that DIDN'T deserve to be in jail was not, you might have a point. But when the justice system itself admits that discrimination based on racial oppression is rife at every level of the process in this country, then your point is not well taken. In the United States, poverty is socially-constructed, by which I mean that education and social services in African-American communities (both rural and urban) are typically so lacking and of such poor quality, jobs so nonexistent, and hope so minimal that the result is guaranteed. You're skipping over the root causes and blaming the victim here, Nathan. You need to learn a little sociology. ;^)