Still Not Easy Being an African-American: African-Americans Constitute 13% of the US Population but 40% of Its Prison Inmates. Experts Attribute This Alarming Situation to Racial Discrimination Perpetrated by America's Criminal Justice System against Black People. in This Piece, Lfa Kamau Cush Looks at the Effect America's Judicial Perfidy Has Had on the African-American Population

By Cush, Ifa Kamau | New African, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Still Not Easy Being an African-American: African-Americans Constitute 13% of the US Population but 40% of Its Prison Inmates. Experts Attribute This Alarming Situation to Racial Discrimination Perpetrated by America's Criminal Justice System against Black People. in This Piece, Lfa Kamau Cush Looks at the Effect America's Judicial Perfidy Has Had on the African-American Population


Cush, Ifa Kamau, New African


ON 20 FEBRUARY 2013, THE US federal judge, Edith Hollan Jones, told a group of like-minded Americans that "African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime" and are "prone to commit acts of violence." From 2006 to 2012, Judge Edith Jones served as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In an address at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in February this year, Judge Jones referred to a death penalty case in which she rejected the intellectual disability defence of an African-American man, Elroy Chester, who was executed shortly after her ruling.

The views of Judge Jones expose a salient fact about American law and American racism--they are coeval. The date of birth of America's "evil twins", Law and Racism, is to April 1606. On that day, The First Charter of Virginia, an edict issued by King James I of England, was promulgated.

The Charter is a blueprint of American mendacity. It contained a self-serving promise of the colonists to "bring the infidels and savages, living in those parts, to human civility." The "infidels" and "savages" to which the colonists referred were the indigenous people of the Americas. But there was nothing "civil" in the relationship between the European colonists and the indigenous people.

This 1606 "law" unleashed paroxysms of enslavement, mass murder and grand theft as the Europeans enforced their "law" to control "all the Lands, Woods, Soil, Grounds, Havens, Ports, Rivers, Mines, Minerals, Marshes, Waters, Fishings, commodities, and Hereditaments", "granted" them by King James I under the Charter.

The Charter led to the mass murder of the indigenous people and the enslavement of African people. Like a meme, it transmitted the idea of white supremacy from generation to generation ("for us, our heirs, and successors", the Charter said) leading up to today where, according to the Republican congressman, Steve Cohen, racism is codified in US law enforcement - "from initial law enforcement contact with a suspect to the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in prison", as Cohen puts it.

For over 400 years, US law has been used to preserve white privilege. The American professor, Robert Perkinson, in his book, Texas Tough, explains how the State of Texas created "crimes" during the r800s to target African-Americans specifically. Laws were enacted so that African-Americans (called Negroes at the time) could be arrested for "insulting" a white person.

Laws were also enacted prohibiting Africans from building houses of worship and hunting with a dog or gun. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, did not apply to African-Americans, for their living quarters could be searched at any time. Castration of African-American men was a common punishment for any infraction.

In 1748 Virginia, African-Americans who read science books were killed or, as the statute read, suffered "death without benefit of clergy". In 1770 Georgia, African-Americans were "forbidden to buy, sell, trade, traffic, deal or barter for any goods or commodities." That was 164 years after thei6o6 "law" which permitted Europeans to do the same and more.

In New York, after 1705, any African-American found travelling alone, 40 miles from Albany, was sentenced to death. In 1750 Rhode Island, no African could own a pig, cow or livestock.

All of the aforementioned laws enjoyed the imprimatur of America's courts.

In 1857, the US Supreme Court ruled that "at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted ... blacks had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." That ruling is known as the Dred Scott decision.

But it was not only the Supreme Court that was infected with racist judges. In 1847, a South Carolina judge ruled that an African "can invoke neither Magna Carta nor common law. …

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Still Not Easy Being an African-American: African-Americans Constitute 13% of the US Population but 40% of Its Prison Inmates. Experts Attribute This Alarming Situation to Racial Discrimination Perpetrated by America's Criminal Justice System against Black People. in This Piece, Lfa Kamau Cush Looks at the Effect America's Judicial Perfidy Has Had on the African-American Population
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