American Laws, Policies and the People Who Make, Enforce and Apply Them Need A Bias and Discrimination Review
I woke up this morning after sleeping a little better, but when I read this:
I was hurt, confused and frustrated. What message is this sending? As a parent and educator I think everyone involved from the police to the judge who basically gave this girl a slap on the wrist for stealing Nancy Pelosi’s laptop (government property) and plotting a treasonous act should be reviewed.
Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi — calling out this blatantly biased criminal justice system? Riley Williams’ case is an insult victims, and the millions of Black and brown people who aren’t shown the same compassion or leniency for lesser crimes. Don’t believe me -
I instantly thought about all the students I taught over the years who’s lives were ruined by a bias system that gives passes to white children and adults and harshly, punishes Black, Latin and Hispanic people for the smallest offense or self defense. There is undeniable bias and “differential treatment” according to an Oxford study of our juvenile justice system. The Sentencing Project reported that although there was a decrease in juvenile crimes, the racial disparities in arrests and “youth commitments” — (i.e. incarcerations or lock-ups to make it plain) increased.
These finding show that laws like mandatory minimums mostly hurt Black and brown people because they are more likely to be arrested and charged due to police discretion and biased judges and sentencing guidelines.
A simple marijuana charge can literally ruin a young person’s future if the police officer decides to arrest versus using their discretion to reprimand or letting the parent handle the youth — which is mostly likely the case with white youth (see Chelsea Handler’s documentary).I’ve seen too many young Black and brown people are unable to go to college or get financial aid because of a juvenile drug arrest that was upgraded to adult charges.
Having a marijuana conviction on your record can make it difficult to secure and maintain employment, housing, or secure government assistance for the rest of your life. This is why clearing people’s records of marijuana convictions is a necessary addition to any legalization measure. ACLU.org
Black and brown youth go to jail, while white youth go to rehab and college. This needs to change.
The criminal justice system needs a bias review to answer why are so many Black and brown youth and adults STILL are in jail or prison after the Cares Act’s release mandate and in States where marijuana is not only legal — but 99% of the new, licensed “dealers” are white or white owned corporations.
White people and white owned companies are literally making billions of dollars off a plant that has carried mandatory federal sentences of 5–10+ years. Our former — tough on drugs Republican Speaker of The House, John Boehner made $20 million dollars off his investment in marijuana. While he’s now preaching and lobbying for legalization, he has yet to address or accept responsibility for his role in the past and current laws that keep Black and brown people in prison and out of the new marijuana boom.
Every law, policy and every politician, law enforcement officer and judge need to be reviewed to determine IF they are biased. For example:
You can’t get a license to legally sell marijuana if you have federal drug charge.
Other policies or groups that need review
- The criminal justice system needs a complete reset with an emphasis on accountability, equity and restorative justice. Too many people are getting rich from arresting and jailing poor, Black and brown people.
- Minimum wage — minimum wage only works if it requires equal pay for women, Black and POC’s. Companies should be required to fully disclose past and present salaries and policies should mandate equal pay adjustments and compliance by the next fiscal year
- Police, judges and prosecutors need real oversight and DEI performance reviews by an actual diverse, independent group with sanctions that impact contract and term renewals.
- Lifelong terms need to be eliminated and term limits should be on all political and judicial appointments — a lifetime is too long to cause irreparable and costly damage that can’t be or expensive to change like court orders and judgements against, poor POCs including women and children, abuse victims, people with physical and mental disabilities, etc.
- Affordable housing and rental assistance policies and programs need to stop penalizing working poor and especially poor families and align requirements with actual income data instead of what developers or property owners want. The income requirements have kept poor, minority families fragmented. Single mothers are forced to choose housing over a loving, supportive partner or spouse. If market rent is $1200–$1400, but income limits are less than $12,490- $31,000 a year/ $1,040–$2583 monthly pretax income; this policy is actually causing more housing insecurity than helping
- Close the digital divide by making internet service a public utility, accessible to poor people in urban and rural areas, and /e-establish net neutrality. The biggest way to make this happen is to stop allowing companies like Comcast to become a monopoly or sue municipalities that want to provide affordable service.
Regardless of the issue area or group in power — the leaders and gatekeepers have proven that they’re biased and they’re prejudice and it’s not all their fault. Racism in part of America’s origin story and embedded in the culture and the systems it’s created to maintain, sustain and expand its power. Our country and laws were built on racial, gender and class inequality. Therefore, all three branches of government and every business sector, public and private education from pre school to 12th grade and colleges, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, faith based and social organizations play some part of this intricate, oppressive system. Not to mention, how bias, and discrimination is rampant in and out of our cultural and racial groups, and professional, political and religious belief systems. Consequently, the mostly white men and women can’t and won’t hold each other responsible because they don’t see their flaws, sins and crimes because that would be an admission of guilt and white Americans hate being wrong.
Without systems of accountability that include transparency, full disclosures, and real consequences, sanctions and permanent removal from positions of power and influence -nothing is going to change. That’s why the second impeachment was important. It sent a clear message that:
- No one is above the law or untouchable
- There are actual checks and balances
- They can no longer turn a blind eye to the dangerous actions of the powerful and privileged and they will no longer be allowed to stay in power or run for a political office again to terrorize Americans
Black and brown people can help, but without a system of accountability for the powerful and privileged — nothing is going to change. White brothers and sisters, I’m afraid this requires deep reflection and hard work on your part.
If we want to change poverty and lower crime — stop creating biased systems that create and perpetuate them. We need strong role models in our communities, but they’re absent because they’re either working multiple jobs to fill the wage gap, incarcerated or forced to take low paying or illegal jobs due to racial and economic injustice. It’s a vicious cycle and far too many are spinning their wheels on a track that was designed for them to fail…
Americans needs a lesson in diversity, equity and inclusion — because we’ve never had it. Therefore, we need everyone to all learn together — one person, politician, business or organization at a time, but we need a crash course because justice can no longer wait (thank you Allison Gaines).
Thank you for reading.