Racefiles: Slavery by Another Name
Having made enemies of African Americans, how were whites to continue exploiting African Americans if not through coercion? Hence the establishment of criminal codes throughout the South specifically targeting African Americans. Through these laws, thousands were arrested for petty offenses like “selling cotton after sunset,” or changing employers without permission. Many were simply arrested because they were not protected by a white employer.
The incarcerated were consigned to forced labor camps where they worked on chain gangs. Many were leased to private enterprises such as U.S. Steel Corporation, the first billion dollar business and once the largest corporation in the world. U.S. Steel used convicts in coal mines under horrific conditions.
I guess that’s why we call them job creators, right?
And the system didn’t only result in the exploitation of those in labor camps. In Georgia in 1930, “In excess of 8,000 men – nearly all of them Black – worked in chain gangs in 116 counties. Of 1.1 million African Americans in the state that year, approximately half lived under the direct control and force of whites – unable to move or seek employment elsewhere under threat that doing so would lead to the dreaded chain gang.”
Anyone who has read ANY ounce of our history ought to know that laws have rarely been neutral and applied equally, but rather, more often, developed specifically as tools of oppression under the most flimsiest of masks.
When we talk about voter registration laws that suddenly disenrolls people, when we talk about disparate sentencing laws, when we talk about Stand Your Ground laws, when we talk about stop-and-frisk laws, when we talk about searches without warrants on “probable cause”, when we talk about immigration laws of any type, when we talk about terrorist charges that seem to only apply to brown people, when we talk about “reasonable threat” and right to shoot unarmed children…
The question still remains: 2012 or 1812?
And people have the never to cry about “reverse racism” or someone said something mean to them on the internet.
The audacity of white supremacy is unparalleled.
Let’s also talk about how unemployment numbers would be lower if companies weren’t allowed to use prisoners as employees. Ostensibly it’s a win/win. Prisoners get work experience & slightly higher wages (sometimes as much as $1.50 an hour!) & corporate funds go into prison coffers to alleviate the burden on taxpayers. Except what actually happens is the corporations who employ convict labor don’t have to pay for health insurance or unemployment insurance & with so many prisons being privatized the money they do pay just goes into another corporation’s pockets. Unless the company employing prisoners also holds the contract for the prison in which case they’re just moving profits around for further tax breaks. Meanwhile there’s a lot of talk about job creation & lowering unemployment numbers by getting rid of undocumented workers so that the shell game of exploiting disenfranchised bodies under the guise of the War on Drugs can continue.
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