Worth Reading: On the Drug War and Post-Racialism

A New Lecture: “Anti-Black Discrimination in the Age of Obama” by Dr. Algernon Austin

The simplistic idea that impoverished African Americans have only themselves to blame for their poverty, due to their poor cultural values—a notion advanced by many, including black public figures such as Bill Cosby—is believable only if a blind eye is turned to those inconvenient things social scientists like to call “facts.” Algernon Austin soundly refutes the “culture of poverty” argument by paying careful attention to marco-economic data about long-term poverty trends and sociological case studies about persistent discrimination. In other words, unlike the glib punditry, Austin actually looks at the “facts.”
--Dr. Andrew Hartman, professor and audience member, Illinois State University

Contact Dr. Austin to arrange a speaking engagement.

It's Time to Legalize Drugs

Excerpts from Peter Moskos and Stanford "Neill" Franklin, The Washington Post, August 17, 2009:

. . .

When it makes sense to deal drugs in public, a neighborhood becomes home to drug violence. For a low-level drug dealer, working the street means more money and fewer economic risks. If police come, and they will, some young kid will be left holding the bag while the dealer walks around the block. But if the dealer sells inside, one raid, by either police or robbers, can put him out of business for good. Only those virtually immune from arrests (much less imprisonment) -- college students, the wealthy and those who never buy or sell from strangers -- can deal indoors.

. . .

Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies -- and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men -- have we and other police officers begun to question the system.

Cities and states license beer and tobacco sellers to control where, when and to whom drugs are sold. Ending Prohibition saved lives because it took gangsters out of the game. Regulated alcohol doesn't work perfectly, but it works well enough. Prescription drugs are regulated, and while there is a huge problem with abuse, at least a system of distribution involving doctors and pharmacists works without violence and high-volume incarceration. Regulating drugs would work similarly: not a cure-all, but a vast improvement on the status quo.

Why the Right is Winning Its War Against Obama

Excerpts from Earl Ofari Hutchinson, The Huffington Post, August 15, 2009:

Obama's worst mistake has been to misread the election results. Much is made that he got more white votes than John Kerry or Al Gore, revved up young whites, and totally exorcised race from the campaign. Obama's win supposedly was final proof that America had finally kicked the racial syndrome. This is the stuff of media talk and wishful thinking. Despite a GOP racked by sex and corruption scandals, an anemic presidential opponent, a laughingstock vice presidential candidate, a collapsed economy and an outgoing GOP president with a rating worse than Herbert Hoover's, McCain still crushed Obama by a twelve point spread among white voters.

The route was not just among old, Deep South unreconstructed or latent bigoted white male voters, but in virtually every voter demographic among whites, including a dead heat with Obama among a majority of younger white voters. This doesn't tell the whole story of the sharp racial divide Obama faces. A sizeable percentage of whites were disgusted enough with Bush's policies to stay home on Election Day, but not disgusted enough with him and his policies to vote for Obama. The Henry Louis Gate's affair and the right's town hall rabble rousing have made more whites wary of Obama's policies. Polls after the Gates outburst showed that a majority of whites condemned Obama for backing Gates and even more ominous expressed grave doubts about his policies. A painful reality is that the crushing majority of whites who oppose Obama or disavow his policies for racial, party, or ideological reasons or personal prejudices, are fast forming the backbone of the radical right's counter insurgency against him.