Guest post: The racist status quo

Originally part of a comment by kagekiri on “A predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric.”

Stop and frisk just harasses the vast, vast majority of people stopped (according to the NYPD, 9 out of 10 are innocent), as they aren’t committing crimes, and the vast majority of people stopped are black people. In areas that are 24% black or latino, they make up 75% of stops, and given only 11% of stops are ones where police actually have a suspect they’re looking for, that means 89% are just “random” (read: racist as fuck), so it’s not even mostly explained by having more black and latino suspects they’re looking for. It’s just plainly racist and authoritarian, and not even particularly effective for it: it doesn’t catch many illegal guns, gun murder rates haven’t gone down, and you’re fucking over innocent black people who get harassed disproportionately.

Our drug laws literally require 18 times (until recently, it was 100 times) the prison sentence for crack use versus cocaine powder use. Guess who smokes crack most? Poor black people. Who sniffs cocaine powder most? White people. Why the difference? It’s two forms of the same drug, but racism is fucking enshrined in our laws and practiced by our lawkeepers.

Drug use rates among different races are fairly similar, differing a few percentage points at most (12% of white people used marijuana in the past year, around 14% of black people). Black people are convicted almost 4 times more often of those crimes than white people. This is NOT in proportion to crimes committed by any stretch of the imagination.

Again, even if there were significantly different crime committing rates, Black people are convicted at higher rates for the same crimes than white people. Black people receive harsher sentencing than white people for the exact same crimes, and are more likely to end up on death rows for the same crimes. Black people who are convicts have worse wages in the long term than white convicts, controlling for all other factors but race. The justice system fucks over black people disproportionately to the actual crimes they commit, regardless of the rates they commit them at.

And it fucking rolls over to each new generation, even if we were to suddenly stop being as racist in our arrest habits and sentencing habits. Convicts aren’t there to raise their kids, kids with parents in jail are more likely to have less supervision and care, less likely to succeed in school, and are then more likely to end up in jail themselves. It’s a fucking rolling disaster fucking over black communities generation by generation, where 1 in 3 black men will be jailed in their lifetimes, and still we stoke it with ridiculous drug wars that we primarily wage on the poor, where people of color are overly represented, and then even with that, we target them more than white people in the same communities committing the same crimes.

The justice system’s failure obviously doesn’t excuse crimes that actually hurt people, but nor does this mean we should want to continue this bullshit, racist status quo.


  1. lorn says

    The situation is worse than you think.

    Answer the following questions the way most Americans would:
    You have two million dollars to spend opening a small business. Recent events cause you to (increase/decrease/does not change) the chances you will open a small business in Furgison Mo.

    You are in charge of hiring people for a middle management position. Long term success of the candidate will be a feather in your cap, failure will be a black mark. Recent events (increase/decrease/does not change) the odds black male candidates will be selected.

    Is this fair; no. Is this racist; possibly. Is this adversity to risk; possibly. Is this real; yes.

  2. Anne Marie says

    I read a fascinating book back in college about Cocaine (click for Amazon page). One thing I learned was that the sentencing disparity was pushed by politicians who insisted that since crack cocaine was 100 times worse than powder cocaine (citation needed), the sentences for it should be 100 times greater. There was absolutely no basis for this claim but it was essentially unquestioned and the laws went into effect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *