Tag Archives: massincarceration

Review of a book worth buying: Separate and Unequal

Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American LiberalismSeparate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism by Steven M. Gillon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How sad that the contents and conclusions of this report are still relevant, and still ignored, today, 50 years after it was released in response to the riots in Newark and Detroit of the “long hot” summer of 1967. I found this book after seeing Dr. King’s response to the question, during the Memphis garbage workers’ strike, of what it would take to prevent or call off his Poor People’s March on Washington: the answer was to implement the recommendations in this report.

The report was commissioned to find out what caused the rioting, not how to prevent further riots. The clearest distinctions between those who actively participated in the rioting and their neighbors who did not, at least at the start of each riot, was the trigger of having witnessed or experienced police brutality. But what primed that trigger for action was the underlying anger, poverty, constant discrimination, and despair to which the Black community in particular was subjected over a very long period of time.

The report called for various measures to be taken which would have improved the lives not only of members of the Black community, but also everyone else in the nation. Measures like the elimination of sub-standard housing in inner-cities, building new schools, health centers, and community facilities, and introducing a guaranteed minimum income would help all citizens, not only those bereft of resources and hope when they were freed with only the clothing on their backs, unable to melt into White American society. From the disrespect by police, to the lack of garbage collection in inner-city neighborhoods, Black Americans were fed up with White America’s deliberate disregard for “the realities of life for many poor blacks” in the United States. This anger, combined with the criminalization of poverty (which was just beginning to kick off the era of Mass Incarceration), the lack of Black faces in [the media, police, highly paid professions and other areas of potential] power, led to a sense of hopelessness and fear that non-violent resistance would never break down a system which was inherently designed to break down the Black community. Ideas like the War on Drugs, brought back by Reagan after the Carter years, and Law and Order, parroted by both right and left, muddied the discourse around solving the problems that led to the riots, instead creating a cloud of convenient reasons to blame inner-city Black communities for their problems while ignoring the structural issues that had created and perpetuated the problems since the slavery era.

The conclusion drawn by the report, above all, was that the entire nation needed education and “a richer portrait of life in urban areas” and to hire many many more Black police officers.

I think that many of the issues of perspective mentioned in the book by the author in his analysis of the report and its time are now beginning to be looked at again, as the discussion around White Privilege becomes louder and more mainstream. That discussion is a necessary but insufficient part of the solution to our current problems, which go back to pre-existing problems pointed out by the report. Please read this book on the Commission report (and also see Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin), and then, write your reps!

Pages I found especially relevant included:

P. 6: 1966 result of creation of ghettos by the 1930s-50s urban renewal aka Negro Removal all across the USA
** P. 12: What a contrast: only 1/100 white people thought that blacks were poorly treated in the USA…
***Ribicoff P. 37: recos…
P. 100: “in the ghetto” last garbage collection (if at all), police disrespectful, school & housing dilapidated
P. 228 (and the answer to that boot-straps baloney:) discrimination and segregation prevented many blacks from following the same patterns which had been followed by immigrant groups, and limited blacks to all but the lowest … jobs

Let’s #EndPoverty & #EndMoneyBail by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4:
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting for ALL!!!!, Walk !


March, 12019 HE

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Connâitre ses Droits et éviter les Proces… Free Legal Education and Pre-Trial Diversion…

Click here for English…

“ -C’est quoi ça?
-Votre côte sur le marché de l’art: 11.000 euros”

Mais si Driss n’avait-t-il pas d’argent ? Et s’ils lui avaient arrêtaient dans la misère ? Aux États-Unis il y à une moyen d’éviter les procès mais qui coute cher, selon l’état dans on aura le procès. C’est mon espoir qu’on peut avoir des changements de cette politique, avec l’aide des citoyens Américains, et aussi ce de nos amis.

“ -What’s this?
-That’s what you’re worth on the art market: 11,000 Euros.”

But what about before Driss had that money? What if he’d been arrested utterly poor?

In many states, programs exist to help first time offenders avoid trial and charges. But, Pre-trial Diversion or Intervention programs, as they are known, are often unfair to the poor, as in MD and many other states: perpetrating the cruelty of charging money that some people simply do not have in order to avoid jail. My emphatic immediate-term policy recommendation is that all States emulate “Cook County … in Chicago, where defendants are not charged a fee ” for Pre-Trial service programs. And my long-term policy recommendation is that we strengthen our freely available legal services and Pro-Bono Legal Aide availability drastically, perhaps requiring ALL lawyers and law firms to offer 20% of their time or services free to lower income people, and that states and counties offer free continuing education in financial and consumer education, including the all too rarely taught rights in each state regarding debt, housing, health care and also criminal law. Both short-term and long-term approaches are needed, immediately.

Toward “…justice for all.”

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !


11 April, 12018 HE