Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Torture and Cruelty

Alberto J. Mora, the writer of "The Question of Torture" in 2015, agrees with forbidding not only torture but "cruel treatment" as well, but he feels that there should no difference between the way we treat U.S. citizens and non-citizens. This is was also what the Geneva Conventions of 1949 established with the status and treatment of the prisoners of war. I, as well as my friend, agree with Mora's opinion because as a nation that believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness who "uphold the dignity of the individual" (Mora), we should follow these national standards developed from our ancestors who fought for our freedom. Treating their prisoners inhumanely gives other countries a "free ticket" to treat our soldiers just as cruelly. Torture is not always successful or at least not with any released information so in my opinion, it is not necessary to keep torturing someone for years and years if they have not given the necessary information about terrorism. We should treat non-citizens the same as we would treat a citizen of the U.S., even if suspected of being a terrorist.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Japanese American Incarceration

During World War II, the American military became concerned that Japenese Americans were secretly working for their enemy: Japan. "In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066, which allowed military authorities to enact curfews, forbid people from certain areas, and to move them to new areas." This is called internment. They were required to live in very basic camps which did not have cooking facilities or running water. Governments during war must find a balance between national security and the rights of citizens, but not every case is equally balanced, especially in this case. The military had the right to remove Japanese-American citizens from their homes and place them wherever the felt they best fit just because of their Japanese culture. In this situation, the government did not find that balance, because they basically just ripped people out of their homes because they weren't certain if they were dangerous to the United States or not. Their citizenship was taken away in the seconds it took to invade and evacuate these towns, which is exactly how Fred Korematsu, a U.S. citizen born in America of Japanese parents, felt as a victim of this executive order. He said, "Congress, the President, and the military authorities did not have the power to issue the relocation orders. Also that because the order only applied to people of Japanese descent, the government was discriminating against him on the basis of race."

The United States was fighting the war against three main countries: Japan, Germany, and Italy. Although Executive Order 9066 was written did not specify a race, it was used for the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. The government claimed that incarceration was for military "protect" Japanese Americans from the treatment they might face as a result of Pearl Harbor. It is known that the government reiterated the fact racial prejudice did not play a role in their treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII, but that is not true. Very few Germans and Italians if any were taken out of their homes and forced to move compared to the Japanese. These Japanese Americans were mass incarcerated because of their ethnical background while Germans and Italians, also at war with the U.S., were treated as any other U.S. citizen should. Racial Prejudice was one of the largest contributing factors to Executive Order 9066 and how the government treated these Japanese Americans during the war. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Racial Undercaste

In Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, she states, "racial undercaste - a group defined wholly or largely by race that is permanently locked out of mainstream, white society by law, custom, and practice." (Alexander 1). Jim Crow laws and mass incarceration are two historical parallels of how the racial caste system sustained white supremacy through our society in the history of the United States. A sense of deja vu is awoken because these two are similar in "political origins". Mass incarceration is influenced because of the fact we still have legalized discrimination. "Both caste systems [Jim Crow and mass incarceration] were born, in part, due to a desire among white elites to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities, and racial biases or poor and working-class whites for political or economic gain" (Alexander 1). Yes, the thirteenth and fifteenth amendments helped get rid of racial caste, but our legal system has allowed tactics used in the Jim Crow era to still suppress the black vote today. This has allowed every one in seven black man to lose their right to vote because they are labeled as felons. "Racial segregation rendered black experience largely invisible to whites, making it easier for whites to maintain racial stereotypes about back vales and culture" (Alexander 2). White empowerment has allowed racial caste to influence and maintain racial segregation in the form of mass incarceration.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Colorblindness

My mother describes colorblindness as "a pair of glasses you get from the eye doctor after laser eye surgery because you see figures but what they look like without them on is unknown. You can't see their skin color; you just hear what they sound like". My mother, born in 1964, was never exposed to racial differences in her town because she lived a predominately white community. She never was exposed to color blindness because there was no other race to differentiate from. My mother also wasn't exposed to racial caste. My grandparents never exposed her and her three older siblings to anything that had to do with the Civil Rights movement or anything that had to do with the African American race, which is kind of ironic considering my father is black. As I asked my mother what her opinion is on racial caste she asked me to tell her exactly what that is. This whole experience was so interesting because I just assumed everyone knew what the racial caste system is and what colorblindness is. 

The War on Drugs reinforces racial caste and gave rise to the notion of colorblindness. One way to reassert racial caste after the Civil Rights Movement, when it became unacceptable to talk about race or be racist, was colorblindness. As Alexander said, "This evidence will almost never be available in the era of colorblindness because everyone knows--but does not say--that the enemy in the War on Drugs can be identified by race." Although people might say things like as "why wouldn't we want equality between races?" the truth is this reinforces the racial caste system because we don't enforce this equality everyone seems to want so much. War on Drugs made it okay for law enforcement officials to stop and arrest people for drug offenses, which sounded like a great idea until we identified why this War was born: it was used to give racial beliefs and stereotypes to be morally okay. The only places these police officers would look was poor black communities in order to give poor whites a better look for themselves. Colorblindness puts a "mask" on racial caste in order to maintain it. It enforces white privilege. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Law and Order

President Nixon demanded a strict criminal justice system which related to violent and property crime through strict criminal penalties which he called  "law and order" in the 1960s. These penalties included longer terms of imprisonment, mandatory sentencing, and three-strikes laws. Candidates in the Republican Party opened so many white Southerners eyes when arguing how incarceration is the most effective when it comes to preventing crime throughout the country. This changed the demographics of the Democratic party because these white Southerners were switching over due to the equality the Democratic Party wanted. In reality, law and order was just a legal form of racism. Law enforcement officials would search through poor colored neighborhoods rather than all poor neighborhoods which gave poor whites a reason to feel more important and human than blacks. Poor whites felt more powerful and eventually became separated from blacks. Whites felt the Democratic Party was not the ideal party due to the Democrats support for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. "Law and order" was just another way to segregate and discriminate blacks in a "lawful" and "legal way. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights

Discrimination and race have been on a crazy rollercoaster throughout the history of the United States. During the Reconstruction Era, the North had control of the South after the Civil War. According to Alexander, "Reconstruction is most typically described as stretching from 1863 when the North freed the slaves to 1877, when it abandoned them and withdrew federal troops from the South" (2-3). To oppose this and to treat these blacks unequally came the Jim Crow Laws passed in the the 1880s, which legalized segregation between blacks and whites. These laws continued to discriminate people of color for many years until around the 1950s when the Civil Rights movement began to take shape. The Civil Rights activists believe that the Jim Crow Laws should be diminished and all people should be treated equally no matter the color of their skin. They fought day and night to gain these rights for years and it paid off when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to outlaw discrimination based on color, religion, gender, sex, or national origin. Our rollercoaster ride isn't over yet but we got over a big hill thanks to this act.

Time is always changing and always moving forward is an irrefragable fact and nothing can change that such as discrimination. These historical moments may have happened and changed society but it isn't  100% over. History still plays itself out such as how the 13th amendment is used against most African Americans to put them in jail if they have committed a crime. This takes away their rights as a citizen and puts their life in jeopardy because they may never find a job or a new place to live if they actually are released from jail. although slavery is abolished, blacks are still treated as so in jails due to the cruel punishment and conditions they are faced with in jail whether it's gangs or disease. Saying Jim Crow Laws have ended are not completely true because blacks are still being segregated by society in the eyes of many people. We have tried time and time again to fix the past but the truth is the past is the present. We will need to fight for the rest of our lives in order to actually obtain true equality throughout our nation and although it will be hard, it can be done. 

Racial Bribe

After Bacon's attempt to seize Native American lands in 1675, the "racial bribe" was an effort which developed a wedge between poor whites and black slaves. Elites felt intimidated that the African Americans and poor whites were becoming allies so they devised a strategy to maintain superiority in America. According to The New Jim Crow, "By the mid-1770s, the system of bond labor had been thoroughly transformed into racial caste system predicted on slavery." Racial bribe helped shape the idea of race because it degraded the status of Africans saying that they, like Indians, were an "uncivilized lesser race" with a lack of knowledge and human ability to survive in society. Thus, white supremacy and chattel slavery were born. The basic structure American society is defined by the significance of race, especially in the original structure of our Constitution. Under the terms of our Constitution, it was stated that slaves were defined as three-fifths of a man rather than a whole human being. This racist caste system rests the entire structure of American democracy. Small words from Bacon's Rebellion turned a town and state issue into a federal law, degrading African Americans their rights to equality, liberty, and justice.