Home > Editorial, The Industry Cosign > How Obama and Black Politicians Have Reinvented the Negro

How Obama and Black Politicians Have Reinvented the Negro


 By Torrance Stephens
Politicians of African descent in America, in concert with the non-concern of their voting constituency have reinvented the Negro, or better yet made the Negro retro chic. What do I mean by this? Well from an etymological perspective, the word Negro is Spanish for black. The Spanish language comes from Latin, which has its origins in Classical Greek. The word Negro is derived from the Greek root word necro, meaning dead. It was a reference to the state of mind for millions of Africans. Politicians thrive and live on the fact that folk are negro as opposed to self determined individuals with the ability to reason and problem solve, thus ensuring their hold in politics. But what they fail to understand that if they truly want to deal with the economic plight of African Americans, they need to face the fact that economic improvement cannot be accomplished within the context of mass incarceration and the environment of the criminal justice arena that foster incessant Jim Crow-like practices. For the same dynamic that led to Jim Crow after the Civil war and emancipation proclamation has led to the present day mass incarceration of African Americans.

Just as slavery, Jim Crow and today’s focus on mass incarceration operates within the context of a system of institutions, policies and laws that function in concert to subordinate and disenfranchise a select group of folk defined mostly on race. Until our political figure heads address this and make this connection, nothing economically will improve in areas with high concentrations of African Americans. Only difference is the type of laws. There used to be “vagrancy laws,” “eye rape,” or “insulting gestures,” that could serve to keep newly freed African American men and former slaves in check. Now they have new names under the war on drugs such as “stop and frisk.” Even the way in which we were incarcerated during the era of the Jim Crow period are similar – to date all white jury’s convict black men for crimes that whites would never be take to trial for. Could you imagine white folks being prosecuted for marijuana possession offenses at the rate young African Americans are today? No because white politicians would change the laws.

More clearly defined, the way the prison and justice industrial complex operates is merely a continuation of the maintained of Eurocentric power and hegemony by changing the rules and names of those rules. In theory the 13th amendment abolished slavery, but it was always accepted by law that slavery still was an acceptable punishment for crime. As it is today, for the way in which law and order is mandated politically today, the only sure result is the arbitrary arrest of African Americans disproportionately to their numbers in the nation and according to the crimes.

If our elected officials from the Executive branch to or local level truly are interested in addressing the economic woes of our community, then they must deal and address mass incarceration and the disparate manner in which the criminal justice system is designed to race-neutrally target African Americans. If they do not, not only do they ignore the math involved in economic revitalization, but are equal in action to a George Wallace who stood in front of Schools in the segregated south blocking the entry of African Americans. We have to have our elected figures address the unconstitutionality of the obviation of our collective 4th amendment rights and fight “stop and frisk” laws and court sanctioned “race-neutral” racial profiling.

Prison is used to force African Americans into a system and existence of oppression and control today as Jim Crow and slavery were employed centuries ago. It is a direct result of the conservative position observed in the Jim Crow period in which they perceived that special laws (abolition of slavery) moved blacks ahead of them in position and standing. This was unacceptable so Jim Craw laws and the black codes were developed and designed to keep poor and uneducated blacks in a permanent subordinate political and economic position for it is their argument, from Goldwater, to Nixon to Regan to Santorum that poverty is caused by black culture.

Our present coteries of African American politicians hide behind the illusion of progress, especially economic progress in terms of the idolatry of having an African America President. Unfortunately their delusional states prevent them from comprehending that there cannot be any real economic progress in our communities if those locked up behind bars and ostracized from the community are not included in the poverty or unemployment statistics. To do so is saying our political representatives are no better than the slave masters and house Negroes and Klansman who maintained hegemony via legal and violent subjugation and marginalization. Thus what we confront via this legal mode of operandi is a caste system equal to that propounded by the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, for what we faced then in practice and outcome is no different than what we encounter today through our extant criminal justice system’s convention of mass incarceration.

Why? Well first, after the assassinations of King and Malcolm, the civil rights movement stagnated. This was during a period of a rise in conservatism that centered on animosity of the recent and quick gains of Africa Americans. In addition, it was a time in which African American, especially males were not need to sharecrop the fields and technology was replacing low wage jobs unskilled and uneducated African Americans typically received. It was the start in the disproportionate rise in black unemployment, which conveniently happened on the heels of Regan and Clinton’s war on drugs, which made unemployment even worse.

The simple reality is that there is no such thing as a color blind society and that nothing is race neutral as the Justice system would like for us to accept. Please explain to me the difference between hiding behind a white sheet and a badge? To assert such is like asking me to view the world as green, when I see blue skies and black asphalt. I could prove and state that I only see green but the reality is that I see more. Yes the Negro has been reinvented by our present power hungry corpus of black elitist politicians. Before we had poll tax, literacy test and felon disenfranchisement – these were staples of the Jim Crow legal system. However then, we had warrior activist and scholar politicians who were not afraid to voice support for the people if it meant losing their political clout. Today we have marijuana possession laws, stop and frisk, and felon disenfranchisement – staples of mass incarceration under the auspice of fighting a war on drugs. Only thing different is that we have a lot more cowards in leadership lining their pockets than before. Strange, Obama and black politicians quick to say Republicans are at “WAR WITH WOMEN” over the contraception issue, but run like scared dogs with their tails between their legs before they will say there is a “WAR ON BLACK MEN.” Strange, President Obama can call to comfort a Georgetown Law Student who was called a slut but not the parents of Travon Martin.

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