Many people think the fight for civil rights ended in the 60s, but the sad truth is that America has made precious little progress since the days of ‘whites only’ drinking fountains and segregated schools. Because ‘slavery ended a long time ago’ and ‘we had a black president,’ it is easy to turn a blind eye to the civil and human rights disasters plaguing the black and Latinx communities. The Black Lives Matter movement, which gained traction in the wake of countless murders of black people by law enforcement officials (Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, to name a few), seeks to hold police and the government accountable for these egregious violations of basic American rights.
In addition to these modern-day state-sanctioned lynchings, mass incarceration is another plague on the black and Latinx communities. Per the ACLU, black people are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate 10 times greater than that of white people, despite the fact that they use drugs at roughly the same rates. The phrases ‘tough on crime’ and ‘law and order’ have become dog whistles from the right to signal an even greater focus on harsher punishments for black and Latinx offenders. Unfortunately, our new Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long been an advocate for harsh mandatory minimum drug sentencing, which will only fuel the problem of mass incarceration.
Featured image: Gerry Lauzon