By Kayla Maroon
Lately, there has been much discussion of white privilege. This term describes the social privileges that are only given to those who are white, or those who look white.
White privilege can appear in many different ways. It can be the white guy who gets away with rape in comparison to the black guy who gets 20 years for having marijuana. It can be seen in history books in which the main focus is on white historical figures who have contributed to western societies.
It can also be seen in the way different races are portrayed. White stereotypes aren’t as negative and detrimental as black stereotypes. A black person is seen as angry and bad, so the consequences of our actions can be exaggerated to make a statement. It can appear very subtle, yet have a huge effect on the people who aren’t so privileged.
Now, there have been many people who have brought this privilege to light. Unfortunately, the main enforcer of white privilege is the government. Every branch of government has played its part. People seem to think that the government is our biggest ally, but we know better. As a result, we’ve decided to create a list that shows exactly the role that the American government has played to create white privilege.
Slavery didn’t just give white people power over blacks, it gave white people a head start to establish income for future generations. Some of the richest people in the world inherited their income from ancestors who were slave owners.
For generations, black people couldn’t read, so they couldn’t obtain an education. Laws were created to prohibit blacks from attending the same schools to learn how to read. As a result, various generations of black people were illiterate, thus prolonging the inferior experience of the black race.
Nearly a decade after slavery was abolished, the South found it difficult to accept black people as equal. As a result, they denied former slaves their constitutional rights. As a result, black people were not permitted to access opportunities to an education that could further their income. This also led to a lack of opportunities to obtain jobs that could feed their families, and as well as a lack representation in the government to change these circumstances. The law ended in the mid-20th century, but the effects left remnants that still affect the U.S. today.
Earlier this year, Harper magazine dropped a huge bomb on the world. They got John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s advisor, to admit that the War on Drugs was a means to imprison blacks and hippies. The world thought that it was a method to prevent drug addictions, but in truth, it became a means to issue harsher sentences on black men for possession crimes.
Proof of this came in many different ways. For example, crack possession, a commonly-used drug in urban areas, issued longer sentences than cocaine, a drug used by rich white people. Blacks were incarcerated five times more than whites for possession of marijuana. The stop-and-frisk law was only enforced in neighborhoods filled with Latino and black men. The list goes on. As a result, children were left without fathers and family were broken. The War on Drugs created an image as if blacks were more likely to use drugs.
In 1996, Gary Webb, a Californian journalist discovered that the CIA was an accomplice to the Nicaragua drug cartel. They were helping the cartel bring drugs into poor L.A. neighborhoods to help finance war. They used one of the most notable drug dealers, Freeway Rick, to distribute this product to other gangs throughout the country. As a result, the crack epidemic began.
The crack epidemic took a huge toll on black people in the urban areas. Crack was extremely cheap, and more people became addicted to it. As a result, the inner city became a dangerous place. Addiction was killing black families by the thousands. Children were being born with disabilities. Black youth were turning against each other in order to make money off of this evil force. They were also being thrown in jail for decades. If we had a chance at changing our circumstances, this was pushing us further and further away from having a stable community to do so. As a result, the epidemic harmed our community long term.
It was only 30 years ago that we lost a lot of our people during that era. It has left a residue of gang violence and poverty in the neighborhoods affected by this epidemic. Now we have changed our agenda to fight racism onto an agenda to save our people from violence against each other.