Two powerful black leaders stand out when talking about education and crime; Ta-Nehisi Coates and Carter G. Woodson. Coates is a modern day writer, while Woodson’s work extends from the early 1900s. The massive incarceration of blacks (for something as minor or as traffic tickets), and the speaking out angrily of it, as well as railing against crime in minority communities, points to a larger problem. Those that are complaining that we don’t have enough jails and need to build more, and arrest more criminals fail to put the bigger problem up front.
Some folks have even bought into the racist ravings of Donald Trump and his “Wall.” Some even want to do away with the civil liberty amendments to the Constitution.
In the opinion of Coates and Woodson, this attitude and philosophy is poison and self-destructive, the kind of foolish thoughts that brought fascism to Germany and enforces white supremacy in America. According to Ta-Nehisi Coates, it is but a continuation of the destruction of black and brown bodies. One must remember that the moral decay in black ghettos is but the extension of the morality that blacks borrowed from slave masters, and nowadays from the racist law enforcement system. One must see crime as the ultimate extension of the education system. Carter G. Woodson’s analysis stands the test of time when he wrote “The Mis-Education of the Negro” in 1933. The rich get away with genocide, murder, political control, while the poor fill up the prisons.
Woodson believed that the educational system failed the black population by teaching the idea that blacks were inferior. This concept relates to today as we still subjected to false historical information, across all disciplines, which belittles blacks and teaches a false history. A review of modern university text books reveals that this is still the case, as skimpy mentions are made of black contributions to the United States. All of the political science and history books mention Martin Luther King, and hardly anyone else, and if they do so it is often in short references, while at the same time saying nothing about the power of white supremacy that still controls American political thought. The power of white supremacy is still the main problem and Trump’s racist followers know it as they are trying to preserve it.
Safety concerns are rooted in the safety of whites from a black presence, and the idea that blacks were not entitled to safety from whites or from each other. Even now, many white police officers, and black ones as well, view blacks and black communities with the same condescension as the society that sends them into these neighborhoods. The lack of safety in a ghetto is real, but its violence obscures one’s sense of the bigger picture. The police and their jail system reflect America and its white supremacist foundations imposed on all of us. Despite the end of segregation, white supremacy still rules in a society represented by complete falsehoods.
Our country is ruled by majoritarian elites. According to dictionary definitions: “Majoritarian rule is an established political philosophy that proclaims that a specific majority (in this case from those that still believe they are white) are authorized to exercise dominance in a society, and has the privilege to make decisions that affect the whole of society.” You can’t have a racist society that built the ghettos and not expect poverty and crime to be a problem! This is the bigger picture that calls for more than locking up people. “Safety” has become a kill solution that allows police officers to destroy the lives of people carrying cell phones, claiming they were guns.
This does not mean that criminals ought to be allowed to escape justice, but remember justice carries a heavy burden. Coates has said “that raging against crime in the community tells a deeper story in that those who do so are powerless before the great crime of racism that brought the criminals to the neighborhood in the first place.” When I lived in neighborhoods like this my position was the same as it is now; the bigger picture is where efforts ought to fall. Don’t stop fighting against crime, but know that the bigger picture must be addressed with greater vigor.
According to the authors, fighting crime instead of the society that created it is but self-destruction. Building a wall on the border is a continuation of white power just as red-lining, refusal of bank loans, selling land to blacks and poor people in flood zones or in polluted places, slum dwellings, and more. However infantile it may be, wearing a hoodie or sagging pants, for some, is but a victim’s way of rebellion, but it is also a way to die under the boot of a racist white supremacist society.