Racism is measurable, quantifiable, toxic

Poverty, discrimination and injustice are the planned, intended consequences of racism, a system of beliefs sustained by fake assertions. Joe Madison, host of the Sirius talk radio show “The Black Eagle,” spoke at the Peoria NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet at the Par-A-Dice Hotel several weeks ago. The Rev. Marvin Hightower, president of the Peoria chapter of the NAACP, sat down for an interview with CW several days later.

Their message: don’t look at racism in isolation. Connect the dots. What emerges crystal clear is that pervasive institutional racism is poisoning America. The kindest interpretation of that is people just don’t understand the truth about institutional racism. The kindest reaction to that lack of understanding: It’s imperative we all figure this out because the country is at a tipping point.

Here are some problems both men discussed:

We have widespread initiatives to implement ever more onerous voter ID laws despite the near-nonexistence of voter fraud. The real goal of onerous voter ID is to disenfranchise minorities, a group that historically votes for Democratic candidates.

Corporate news and social media giants are taking control of access to news and information. Sinclair Media will likely acquire media outlets controlling access to 70 percent of American households. Sinclair is a far-right, conservative corporation. That creates a filter for information seen and heard by a majority of Americans.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white supremacist who shot and killed nine African Americans attending a Bible meeting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., got his fake information about black-on-white crime from hate groups on the Internet, not from credible newspapers or FBI crime statistics.

Donald Trump recently declared a national health emergency and pledged to fight the opioid epidemic decimating communities. Opioid addicts need treatment, not punishment, he said.
Where was that thinking when crack cocaine swept through black communities with devastating damage? Anyone possessing or using crack got prison time. Families were ripped apart with fathers sentenced to prison for decades or for life, creating generational harm.

Marijuana use is equal between blacks and whites, yet black people are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana use. With this system in place creating ever growing prison populations, corporations saw profit. Privatization of prisons began.

However, the entire prison system needs to be evaluated based on a Brennan Center for Justice comprehensive study concluding incarceration has negligible impact on reducing crime.

Madison pointed out that the rate of spending has increased more for prison construction than school construction. Equally discouraging, every single state spends more to incarcerate a person than to educate a child.

We now have a secretary of education who knows nothing about public education, the cornerstone of American democracy. Betsy DeVos is working to shift money from public schools to charter
schools. Public schools serve all children, but charter schools can select and decline “certain” children.

For those who still think maybe Confederate monuments should be preserved for historic value, Madison pointed out the Robert E. Lees of the Civil War fought to destroy the country and preserve the immoral, unethical institution of slavery. Contrary to what White House Chief of Staff John Kelly tries to contend, the Civil War was about slavery, not about an inability to compromise.

The confederate flag is a symbol of white supremacy. Displaying it shows insecurity, ignorance and fear.

“This is a pattern of systemic racism,” Hightower said. “African Americans can be prejudiced, but they can’t be racist because racism is a system created by people in power. The system aims to disenfranchise and keep African Americans in poverty. Once you see the pattern, it’s eye opening. The NAACP was not founded by black people but mostly by white people. We are a fusion coalition.”

Hightower said everyone in the black community is apprehensive these days. People need to be alert and cautious, including white people who stand with people in the black community.

“We are living in a dangerous time,” he said. “If the Republican Party will not speak up, we have to vote for candidates who will.”

Access the short video “Racism is Real” produced by Brave New Films to see eight indicators institutional racism exists.

Clare Howard

Clare Howard is the editor of the Community Word. She can be reached at communityword@yahoo.com

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