Thursday, May 07, 2009

Passin' It On

I haven't done this for a while, due to the embarrassing limit on my on-line reading level of late. But my "they-need-to-know-about-THIS" list has reached a point that I really must pass a few things on for your information.

First, Michigan is considering doing away with the state's current practice of sending juveniles to prison for life without parole. The bill is presently stalled in committee, though I can't imagine how a human being with any sense at all could waffle on this issue. If passed, the bill would immediately affect the 350 people now serving life without parole for a crime committed when they were seventeen or younger, seven out of ten of which are Black (why am I not surprised?). Even the Director of the state Department of Corrections supports the bill, saying that juveniles should never come into adult prisons at all. Particularly in a state with one of the most under-funded public defender systems in the country, I would add.

Underscoring this is Christopher Robbin's new book on the militarization of schools and how that systematically moves youth of color out of public schools in the interest of maintaining "order" and serving as a cautionary note to other students. Can we say "pathway to prison?" That's what the so-called "zero tolerance" practice has been called elsewhere, given the veeeery particularistic way in which it's applied.

Reading Robbin's book might be helpful to Congress as they review and consider the huge wealth gap in the U.S. related to race. An interesting topic in a nation with an African-American chief executive, it seems to me. According to the Federal Reserve, for every dollar White families had five years ago, Black families had 12 cents. And the numbers are getting worse, not better.

Continuing our magical mystery tour, then, trying to see the logic in a rampantly White supremacist system, we come to a report by the publicly-funded Virginia Fusion Center announcing that the "diversity" at Historically Black Colleges and Universities "affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion." Good. grief.

And finally, lest we think that only African-Americans are taking the racial hit, consider the case of Diane Bukowski, a 5'4" 60-year-old White woman who writes for a Black newspaper in Detroit. This obviously dangerous woman was arrested for committing the heinous crime of being the first journalist on the scene when a police officer's driving resulted in the deaths of two young Black men, one on a motorcycle and the other a pedestrian. Bukowski was trying to take photos, when she was arrested for "obstruction of justice." Uh-huh. By the time the charge got to court, however (yes, to court), it had morphed into two felony counts (down from five!!) of "assaulting, battering, wounding, resisting, obstructing or endangering" the State Troopers who arrested her. Bukowski was convicted! and could serve up to four years in prison. That'll teach of us. But what exactly are we learning?
The graphic featured above is a Ricardo Levins Morales poster and is available at Northland Poster Collective.

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