Opinion | Is segregation still alive?

By on February 27, 2018

Did you know that one out of three African-American males are thrown into prison, while only one out of 17 Caucasian males are in prison, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics? This means more than triple the amount of African-American males are populating prisons than Caucasian males in the United States.

The Civil War was supposed to bring equality and freedom to African Americans, but unfortunately that is not what many people wanted. To fix this issue, people started to target African Americans as criminals to incarcerate them so that there would be more Caucasian people on the streets than black, according to the documentary “13th,” on Netflix.

The National Association for Advancement of Colored People exemplified this by stating a statistic that if African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as caucasian people, the jail population would decrease by nearly 40 percent. I am wondering why this is occurring if we were always supposed to be equal? It is as if we “say” that we are equal without looking at the statistical evidence.

This relates back to when the criminal rate was increasing throughout decades from the 1970s to now. It has been a huge factor in political elections on how to fix the criminal rate from the time President Reagan took office until now with President Trump.

Not one of the presidents running for office said clearly that it was African Americans overpopulating prisons, but that was what they were targeting. This was demonstrated when President Clinton made laws such as the Three Strike Law. This law states that once someone was in prison twice, the third time they are put into prison would be for life or at least 85 percent of the sentence. This was supposed to take out the prisoners with minor felonies and increase the prison time for people who committed serious crimes such as murder, according to 13th.

This is not what happened.

Because African Americans were being sent to jail for long periods of time after the War-on-Drugs era, they were already on their second strike. The War-on-Drugs era was a government enforcement time period where they enforced stricter laws on those who used or sold illegal drugs. It was supposed to stop the use of illegal drugs, but it ended up being a target for African Americans. When the police found a way to get them back into jail for the third time, it was easier to segregate the streets by pushing African Americans into prison.

To put this into perspective, African Americans and Caucasians abuse drugs at very similar rates, but the rate of imprisonment for African Americans are six times higher than Caucasians, according to NAACP. Also, African Americans are being imprisoned for the Third Strike Law at a rate 13.3 percent higher than caucasians, according to a study by the LA Times.

We need to look at how different African Americans are treated from Caucasian people. For instance, in 2014, 34 percent of the prison population were African Americans.

But what about the African Americans who are not in prison? They are still dealing with segregation.

Furthermore, 17 percent of caucasian males with a criminal record are more likely to get a call back for a job, while African Americans without a criminal record only have a 14 percent chance to get a call back, according to Fusion.

This segregates our economy and locations. If African Americans are not getting call backs for jobs even though they do not have a criminal record, it can decrease their home income. This may segregate African Americans if they end up having kids because their income will not allow them to move into a better area to raise their kids. In other words, if African Americans cannot be hired, how can they move out of the bad area that they are living in?

This is what makes the “ghettoization,” according to Fusion. These are the areas where people live because they are not able to get a job that will help themselves and their families grow. Now that they can’t raise their kids, this makes the public schools in that area not as prestigious as in an area with more caucasian people.

This has nothing to do with how African Americans live, rather it is what the government is doing to them. The median income of a caucasian family is 13 times higher than the income of African Americans, according to Fusion.

So what do we do?

The government has tried to come up with ideas to lower the rate of people in prison through house arrest. But how would this work if they still have a criminal record?

In “13th,” they showed two African Americans that got pulled over for a broken tail light. Instead of giving a ticket or a warning, the cop shot the passenger.

How could this be allowed? Who does this cop think he is?

We are all Americans. I am not talking about illegal immigrants. I am talking about the issue of how African Americans live in a nation where they need to be scared.

How can they raise their families even when they are not getting hired although they have a clean record?

People believe that everyone in this generation is getting too sensitive to live. But to me, this is not true. We are finally realizing right from wrong and looking at the statistics. We are not sensitive, we are factual.

How can we let this keep happening? With all of the data and stories we here, how do we keep letting these situations slide? We need a change, and we need it now.


About Kaycie Romanello