is the recipe for a toxic sludge potent enough to destroy a heavily
populated city and inflict infection with a mere splash? Start with a
force of nature powerful beyond belief. Mix in an ample supply of
sewage, garbage, brackish water from
, floating corpses of humans and animals, and various and sundry noxious
chemicals. Blend well with a system of seriously inadequate levees
resulting from cuts in federal funding. Of course this concoction would
not be complete without heaping portions of racism, spiritual emptiness,
and avarice fueling slow and inadequate federal relief efforts.
of darkness revealed
's "heart of darkness" to the world as its leaders allowed
their own tens of thousands of Americans to suffer or die. Many
throughout the world were aware of the damage the
government was capable of inflicting upon people of other nations, but
Hurricane Katrina showed what
's decision-makers were willing to do to their own. The twin evils of
raw capitalism and imperialism were on full display as the human race
watched the events unfold on the
. As Mother Nature unleashed her ferocity, Americans witnessed the
destruction of a jewel of a city and
the pleasant fiction of the "American Dream" in the wake of
the eyes of the world upon its sole remaining superpower, President
Bush, who fancies himself to be a monarch, remained on
vacation, strummed his guitar, and led a federal response to
the disaster which moved with the speed of a wounded snail. Several days
into the aftermath, the "Queen Mum" surveyed the conditions
under which the survivors were living and remarked how things were
"working very well" for the "underprivileged". As
the lies unraveled and the truth was revealed, the people learned that
the Bush administration had significantly reduced funding for
fortification of the levees protecting
. They realized that FEMA, whose purpose is to provide federal aid in
the event of natural disasters, had been absorbed by Homeland Security
and the military industrial complex. As humankind watched the nauseating
events in New Orleans unfold, they realized that George Bush cared so
little about the welfare of his people that he would appoint a grossly
incompetent crony to head the federal organization upon which people
counted to save them in the event of a disaster. American citizens have
been in denial about the cruelty of their government's foreign policy
for years, but now that their leaders have imposed that truculence upon
fellow Americans, it will be difficult to evade the painful reality of
the depth of the corruption and malevolence of the
do they think they are fooling?
the typically compliant mainstream media made strong note of the skin
color and socio-economic status of most of the hurricane survivors, whom
the federal government left to fend for themselves for several days.
Stranded on roof-tops, taking refuge on islands formed by broken slabs
of highway, hiding in attics, or clinging to survival inside the
miserable, dangerous squalor of the "Super" Dome, tens of
thousands of poor black Americans exposed a truth they have known for
years. To the soulless plutocrats, aristocrats, white patriarchs, and
"captains of industry" who rule the United States, black
people are expendable, particularly if they are poor. The power-brokers
federal government only provided assistance for two reasons. One
was to prevent civil unrest amongst the Proletariat. Secondly, they
needed to provide window dressing in their desperate attempt to maintain
their facade as champions of "freedom and democracy" so they
could continue to justify their ongoing quest for global domination.
staggers the imagination to think that The Big Easy (the home to Mardi
Gras and the birthplace of jazz) has essentially been reduced to
memories. The perverse emphasis on property, power, and wealth over
humanity by a government "of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for
the wealthy" caused the demise of
. Under this twisted paradigm, the city was doomed when the hurricane
struck. 68% of the population was black. Less than half owned their
homes. Almost 30% lived below the poverty line. An estimated 134,000
residents did not have cars or other viable means to evacuate. The
demographics virtually ensured that the Bush administration would render
aid slowly and ineffectively, resulting in suffering and death on a
scale usually associated with third world nations.
Katrina's devastation and the
government's anemic response revealed the malevolent and wicked
face which lurks beneath the mask of "freedom and liberty".
's systems of capitalism and democracy as models for the rest of the
world, the leaders of the
have carried out an agenda of imperialism since our nation's inception.
Sorry, Mr. Rove (and your staff of cunning Orwellian
propagandists), but a true republic would not maintain a perpetual
system of apartheid (which in Afrikaans means "separateness").
Certainly many laws have been passed to enhance the civil rights of
blacks in the
, but racism, bigotry, and separatism are still very much alive, both
overtly and covertly.
provides a grim reminder that "Apartheid, American Style" is
thriving in this nation.
an address to
in June 1965, President Lyndon Johnson stated:
cannot take a man who has been in chains for 300 years, remove the
chains, take him to the starting line and tell him to run the race, and
think that you are being fair."
months later, he signed an Executive Order requiring affirmative action
by federal government contractors. Johnson understood that the journey
toward equality for blacks in the United States had been a long and
tortuous one, and even two hundred years after the Civil War, their
struggle was far from over.
's wealthy, predominately white power-brokers dominate the
government by utilizing their money to win elections, buying elected
officials through campaign finance, applying expensive lobbying efforts
to sway votes and decisions, and exerting influence through powerful
corporations. When will they take responsibility for the plight of black
citizens in the
and rectify the gross injustices of US Apartheid?
history exposes the true nature of the beast
1619, the first slaves arrived at the British colony of
, thus starting the future
United States of America
down a path of moral repugnance and turpitude. By 1850, there were 2.5
million enslaved Africans in the
. The agrarian economy in many southern states was so dependent upon
slavery that they were willing to secede from the
and to initiate the Civil War to ensure the perpetuation of an evil
institution which had enabled them to build a thriving economy with the
blood, sweat and tears human beings. White slave owners, a small
minority of the population in whose hands rested most of the
Confederacy's wealth, were able to convince poor, ignorant Southern
whites that preserving slavery was critical for them as well. So
compelling was the slave-owners' argument that poor white Southerners
died by the tens of thousands defending the "great
institution" of slavery.
triumphed and the Thirteenth Amendment made chattel slavery
unconstitutional. Despite these events, the lot of black Americans,
particularly in the South, improved little. "Mr. Jim
Crow" saw to their continued suffering. In 1830, a white
minstrel show performer named Thomas "Daddy" Rice blackened
his face and danced an absurd jig to the song "Jump Jim Crow"
as he mimicked a crippled, elderly black man singing and dancing. Jim
Crow became a popular character in American culture and grew to
represent "black inferiority". Faced with the Constitutional
mandate to abolish slavery, vanquished states in the post-bellum South
began to pass laws to ensure government-mandated suppression
of the civil rights of black Americans. Jim Crow laws became common in
most southern states starting in 1890.
the US Supreme Court opened the door for Jim Crow segregation laws. In
1883 it ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional.
The gist of the ruling was that the Fourteenth Amendment did not prevent
individuals or private businesses from discriminating against black
people. In 1896 the highest court of the "Bastion of Freedom"
upheld a lower court ruling in Plessy vs.
, which affirmed
's law mandating that blacks ride in separate railroad cars. The
ultimate arbiters in the "Land of the Free" made a ruling in
Cummings vs. Richmond County Board of Education in 1899 which enabled
local governments to maintain "whites only" schools and close
schools for blacks based on claims of financial hardship.
the Jim Crow era, blacks faced many hardships. They were denied access
to public areas and accommodations, like hotels and restaurants. Public
restrooms and water fountains were designated for "Whites
Only" and "Coloreds". White and black workers were
separated. Schools were segregated. Gerrymandering, voter intimidation,
fraud, manipulation by white landlords, literacy tests and poll taxes
prevented many blacks from exercising their right to vote. Crop lien
laws, which allowed creditors to charge outrageous interest, and
the system of sharecropping reduced black farmers to little more than
indentured servants as their debt perpetually exceeded their income.
Debts were enforced by local police, creating a system of debt peonage.
Stiff penalties for minor crimes often committed by itinerant
blacks (i.e. five year prison sentences for stealing a pig) stocked the
penal system in the South with slave labor. Prison farms and chain gangs
became the order of the day, with black convicts returned to enslavement
under unimaginable living conditions.
groups like the Ku Klux Klan did their part to suppress the black race
and guarantee they suffered. Nearly 5,000 blacks were lynched between
1890 and 1968. Virtually all of these atrocities occurred in former
Confederate states. Many more than just the perpetrators were complicit
in these murders. Railroads sold tickets for the express purpose of
attending these executions committed by mobs. Many of the killings
involved brutal torture prior to actual death. White families brought
their children to watch lynchings. After the murders, participants and
onlookers bought and sold body parts of the victims as
toward equality at last
and steadily through the course of the Twentieth Century, black
Americans made progress toward equality and civil rights. In a
significant blow to the "separate but equal" doctrine, in 1954
the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that racial
segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Tireless, courageous
efforts by people such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm
X, and Medger Evers applied tremendous pressure on the federal
government to protect the civil rights of black Americans. The Civil
Rights Act of 1964 outlawed Jim Crow laws, prohibited employment
discrimination, and enhanced the voting rights of blacks. The Voting
Rights Act of 1965 went further in protecting the rights of blacks to
vote by abolishing literacy tests. To this day, the right to vote
remains state-granted, but the Voting Rights Act and three
Constitutional amendments prevent states from discriminating in granting
the right. The push for a Constitutional amendment granting the
right to vote to all Americans continues.
despite these strides, black Americans still lag far behind their white
counter-parts. Under the brutal "trickle down" economic
policies which started in the Reagan era, the rich have enjoyed a
succession of generous tax cuts and businesses are operating in an
increasingly deregulated environment. Black Americans have simultaneously
experienced a serious decline in their situation. Chanting the mantra
that less government is better, US policy-makers have diligently worked
to diminish domestic spending and decrease taxes on the wealthy
(progressive taxes). Despite the subterfuge, their true objective has
been to line the pockets of the wealthy by diverting federal money
previously spent toward humanitarian ends (like education and health) to
military and defense, which benefits the many affluent who have heavy
stakes invested in the military industrial complex. The end result has
been an increase in regressive taxes to make up for revenue lost on tax
cuts for the rich, obscene federal deficits, and a serious decline in
funds available for education, health care, assistance to the poor, and emergency
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the
techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is
whether we have the will."
government has consistently employed policies demonstrating a lack of
will to eliminate poverty. Who has born the brunt of the obsession with
greed and power which has been such a detriment of humanity?
a concrete example, look no further than the disaster in New Orleans
(bear in mind that 68% of the population was black), the 360 deaths
verified as of 9/10, the government's emphasis on containing looters
over rescuing victims, and the countless people who have been rendered
homeless and jobless. Appropriate funding to strengthen the levees and a
quick and appropriate federal response to the hurricane could have
alleviated much of this suffering.
statistical evidence, consider the 2004 US Census figures. While the
overall poverty rate in the
stood at 12.7%, the poverty rate for blacks was 24.7%
compared with 10.8% for whites. Only 11.3% of white Americans did not
have health insurance while 19.7% of blacks lacked coverage. At $30,134,
the black median household income came in at the bottom of the ladder
compared to other race groups.
of August 2005, white unemployment came in at 4.2% while blacks were
jobless at a rate of 9.6%. Black infants are more than 2.5 times as
likely to die before age one as white infants. In 2001, the average net
worth of a white household was $468,200.00, while blacks rang in at a
mere $75,700.00. The disparities are indeed staggering.
"separate and unequal" educational system continues to exist
. How can this be, you ask, after the federal government ordered
school desegregation? "White flight" to the suburbs and
inequitable distribution of education dollars are the principal reasons.
Using their higher economic means, many whites have fled deteriorating
urban cores for the haven of the suburbs. A 2004 report by the Harvard
Civil Rights Project found that in the Midwest, 46% of black children
attend schools in urban areas which are 90 to 100% black. Of these
children, 88% are from poor families. The HCRP report found that
's schools spend an average of $1500.00 less per black student than they
do on white students. Poor black students attending under-funded
schools face decrepit buildings, archaic classroom materials,
under-qualified teachers, over-crowding, and simplistic curriculum which
emphasizes rote memory over the development of critical thinking skills.
The end result statistically? While 91.8% of white students
graduate from high school, blacks graduate at a rate of 83.7%. Of those
black males who do drop out of high school, over half do prison time.
Perhaps even more damning is the fact that only 17% of blacks have
college degrees versus 30% of whites.
us and see what happens to you
Civil Rights Movement represented a serious threat to the dominance of
the wealthy, white patriarchy dominating the federal government.
Naturally, they responded by imprisoning those challenging their
stranglehold on power. In doing so, they employed the typical guile of
government. In 1971, the
prison population was 200,000. Today it is 2.1 million. Half of the
prison population is black. While having only 5% of the world's
overall population, the
now harbors 25% of the incarcerated population of the world.
13% of prisoners worldwide are black Americans. 30% of black American
men experience incarceration during their lifetime. The most rapid
growth in prison populations began during the Reagan era, with blacks
leading the way. Federal sentencing laws passed in the 1980's virtually
guaranteed that black Americans would swell the ranks of the
incarcerated. These laws enacted federal sentencing guidelines for the
distribution of crack cocaine (used predominately in poor black
neighborhoods) 100 times more harsh than those for distributing white
cocaine powder (often the "drug of choice" for more affluent
whites). Contrary to the hysteria often created by the mainstream media
(i.e. the over-blown reports of rampant looting, raping and shooting in
New Orleans), a majority of the nation's prison population is serving
time for non-violent crimes.
were meant to be continued, weren't they?
upon the Reagan legacy, Bush II has continued to chip away at the
federal disbursements to the poor, elderly and disabled, shrinking
a safety net which the world's wealthiest nation has a moral obligation
to provide for its less fortunate citizens. While bankrupting the
to fund a grossly bloated military budget (the
accounts for 50% of world military spending to "protect" 5% of
the world's population), Bush continues to chop domestic spending (i.e.
funds to strengthen the levees in
). If you doubt that Bush's axe-swinging is disproportionately
affecting the black population, consider that the poverty rate for
blacks is 25% while the black population of
used to be 68%.
way the merciless decision-makers in the
justify their push to significantly diminish the social
welfare system, including Medicaid, AFDC, and Social Security, in
favor of private charity is to utilize the mainstream media, their
instrument of propaganda, to re-enforce common myths about welfare.
Contrary to the lies, poor women on AFDC (federal financial aid to
single mothers) generally do not bear more children to garner more
benefits. The average family receiving AFDC has 2 children. Many
media "pundits" claim that the
has spent $5 trillion on welfare since the 1960's and it has "not
worked". To put this into perspective, consider that spending on
AFDC from 1964 to 1994 was $500 billion, less than 5% of defense
spending during the same period. Most of the $5 trillion of which the
media puppets speak went to the disabled, the elderly, and the uninsured
(via Medicaid). Another common misconception perpetuated by the
mainstream media is that of the "black welfare queen". The
truth is that a majority of those receiving benefits from federal
entitlement programs are white, and many are elderly or are children.
perverse individuals like George Bush, who is devoid of empathy and
compassion, continue to impose their sick will upon
by diminishing domestic spending and increasing defense spending to seek
global dominance, black Americans will continue to suffer. They will see
significant declines in federal programs which aid them in their quest
to reach a level playing field. The quality of their education will
further deteriorate. Aid available to the 25% of black Americans living
in poverty will continue to vanish. More will find themselves in
prisons. Many black mothers will find themselves grieving for the loss
of sons lured by slick recruiters (and a dearth of opportunities) to
's latest imperial conquest. Urban cores will further decay, encouraging
more "white flight". Despite the promises of Reagan and his
successors, the money is not "trickling down" to black
. How many more travesties have to occur, and how many more cities
lose before spiritually evolved Americans demand an end to
"Apartheid, American Style"?
illegal occupation in
and the American Apartheid revealed by events in
provide ample evidence that it is time that "We the People"
oust the scoundrels who are "leading" our nation. It is
incumbent upon the poor and the working class, the true majority in the
, to exercise our social consciences and wrest the power from the
unworthy hands of the wealthy minority who now hold that power. They
have proven their moral bankruptcy and ineptitude as leaders. A
non-violent, "velvet" revolution is evolving and gaining
momentum. If you have not done so already, I hope you join.
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer
with a degree in liberal arts. He works in the transportation
industry, and is a husband and a father to three boys. His
affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans
United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.