The R Word

Blackmon’s book describes what he calls the “Age of Neoslavery,” in which newly freed slaves found themselves entangled in a legal system built upon involuntary servitude — which included the selling of black men convicted of crimes like vagrancy and changing employers without receiving permission........ “The constitutional amendments that were supposed to free African-American slaves did something for about 10 years, then there was a North-South compact that granted the former the slave-owning states the right to do whatever they wanted,” he explained. “And what they did was criminalize black life, and that created a kind of slave force. It threw mostly black males into jail, where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves.” ...... “If you’re a slave owner, you have to pay for — you have to keep your ‘capital’ alive. But if the state does it for you, that’s terrific. No strikes, no disobedience, the perfect labor force. A lot of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 19th, early 20th Century was based on that. It pretty must lasted until World War II.” ....... by the 1970s and 1980s it’s going back to the criminalization of black life.” ....... “It’s called the drug war, and it’s a racist war. Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist — though he denied it — but the whole drug war is designed, from policing to eventual release from prison, to make it impossible for black men and, increasingly, women to be part of [American] society.”
Obama shared personal anecdotes about the racist double standard she had encountered as the wife of the nation’s first black president


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