My Philosophy: Three Examples On How Whiteness Has Manufactured Discord, Disharmony, And Destruction In Black America.

“Let us begin, what, where, why or when
Will all be explained like instructions to a game
See I’m not insane, in fact I’m kind of rational
When I be asking you, “Who is more dramatical?”
This one or that one, the white one or the black one” — My Philosophy by Boogie Down Productions

In 1982 President Reagan declared an new “War on Drugs” after Nixon’s first utterance of the phrase. Nixon’s proclamation was the means of a corrupt and unfit man to harm his enemies: white people who protested the war and black people. When Reagan declared war, only 2% of the American population thought drugs were a problem. Fast-Forward to 1986 and we have a new drug on the scene called crack. The nightly news showed burnt out cities with black men getting arrested, doing perp walks, for crack. Reagan then starts to bribe police departments with grants and military hardware. We now have the rise of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams. These teams were designed for hostage rescues, but are instead used to serve no-knock warrants. In some jurisdictions the use of SWAT teams went from 2 times a year to over 392 uses of them. All to stop the spread of crack.

In the 90s when Americans were asked to imagine what a drug dealer looks like, 95% of all Americans described a young black male with baggy clothing. Now here is the audacity of whiteness: more white people as a number and a percentage than blacks use and sell crack than black people. See The New Jim Crow for more information on this subject.

When I learned this, I was angry. I wondered why or how this had been concealed from the American population, but it was not. This information was not sequestered in some obscure blog. It was not hidden in a law journal that few people read. Nor was this published on a crap website maintained in the basement of the author’s parents? This was actual data that was presented in a United States Supreme Court case that the SCOTUS agreed was actually true and correct. The case is Armstrong v. United States of America.

Photo by Bill Mason on Unsplash

Through court cases and laws we know that a real disparity exists between how those convicted of possessing crack vs. powder cocaine are sentenced. These sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine are simply egregious, at one point as high as a 500 to 1 difference. How is this even possible, since you said white people use crack more than black people? Easy, white people are/were not being charged with crack possession, only black people. When a white person was caught with crack, the State or the Federal Government downgrade crack to powder cocaine and thus they receive a smaller sentence. That is how whiteness works.

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Second example of whiteness at work : in the 80s there was a horrible drunk driving accident that caused 27 people to die. From the ashes of that tragedy MADD was formed. These Moms went hard and created new laws to hold people who drive while intoxicated accountable for their disregard to their community and to themselves. Now here is the rub, white people are the group most likely to be drunk drivers so politicians did not want to go too hard after their main constituency. 22,000 people were dying, each year, from drunk driving in the 80s. Over 100,000 people were being injured each year from drunk driving. Compare that to 21,000 people dying from ALL illegal drugs that included people overdosing, AIDS (using dirty needles), violence associated with drug-dealing, etc. It was less than people dying from drunk driving.

Yet, the penalties of drunk driving were and are no where close to what they are for drugs. There is only one reason: whiteness. Many politicians have driven home drunk or they know someone who has. Accordingly, they did not want to penalize their “friends” and their core constituency by enacting more serious consequences for such reckless and wanton behavior. Drunk driving was and continues to be a plague upon America. Yet, most black people, especially in urban areas, do not drive. White lawmakers, do not want to punish their own, that is why they allowed sentences for drugs to be higher than for drunk driving. This cannot be overstated: more people died each year from drunk driving than illicit drugs. More people were harmed from drunk driving than illegal drugs. Yet, because it is easier to target black people, who actually use drugs at a lower rate than white people, and black people lacked the political power to fight back, these (majority) white male lawmakers allowed these unconscionable laws to be enacted to harm the black community.

Photo by Taylor Friehl on Unsplash

Final way that whiteness has made us all less safe. When mostly white men, changed laws for the War on Drugs they created incentives for local law enforcement agencies. President Reagan created a nasty bribe called civil forfeiture, which allowed police to keep 80% of the value of whatever property they “thought” might be used in the drug trade. Police departments shifted their focus away from rape and murder towards going after drugs. Again, we know there is more violence associated with drunk driving than there is with drugs. Yet, there is no money to be made be made investigating rape (my god have you seen the backlog of rape-kits), murder, or drunk-driving. Imagine, how many DUI checkpoints there would be if the police could seize and keep your vehicle, if you were suspected to be intoxicated while driving?

Police started aggressively employing invasive and demeaning tactics such as stop-and-frisk (Terry Stops) to search black people. The city of Ferguson was found by the DOJ to use black people as their own piggy bank. They stopped and harassed black people as an income generating machine. Yet, when tactics such as stop and frisk are used on white people, they prove to work 300% more than when used against black people, yet law enforcement rarely use this effective tactic on white people. That is the value of whiteness.

Further, the white lawmakers who were the most strident and vocal opposition of the Civil Rights movement and who supported segregation the most, were now the biggest cheerleaders of the War on Drugs. Reagan had created a colorblind way to target black people, without expressly or explicitly telling everyone what he was doing: being a racist. 75% of all people in jail for drugs are black and brown people. Yet, we know that all races do drugs about the same (most data supports that white people do drugs at a slightly higher rate).

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Whiteness continues to prey upon the black community at the detriment to everyone. When Reagan bribed police departments with civil forfeiture resources were diverted away from other areas. This cannot be overstated: rape is one of the two crimes that white men commit more than any other race in America. Whiteness is also built on misogyny. Originally only land owning white men were able to fully unlock all of the protections and privileges of whiteness, and that include rape. The reluctance to take rape seriously, is not a flaw of the system, it is by design.

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Garrick McFadden

I am a civil-rights attorney. I write about #whiteness, #racism, #hiphop, policing & politics.