How The War On Drugs Is Recreating Slavery, Explained In Two Minutes (VIDEO)

Still think racism’s a thing of the past? We hate to burst your bubble, but — thanks to the war on drugs and for-profit prisonsslavery in America isn’t even close to a thing of the past.

In Atlanta Blackstar‘s exclusive interview with Larry King, Def Jam Records’ Russell Simmons explains how our failed war on drugs and the unfettered political and financial power of this country’s corporations are recreating slavery in America.

Simmons explains how the war on drugs disenfranchises and unfairly penalizes blacks and other people of color.

“You take these people out of the ‘hood for being diseased, you educate them in criminal behavior, you dump them back in the community without a chance for employment, you do it so much so that jail culture becomes the culture of the community.”

Simmons specifically refers to narcotics laws in New York State, but the war on drugs and criminalization of Marijuana and other drugs are similar nation-wide. Consider these alarming facts from the Center for American Progress:

  • People of color are 30 percent of our population and account for 60 percent of people in prison.
  • One out of three black men will wind up in jail.
  • Thanks to the school-to-prison pipeline in which blacks, Latinos, and other children of color are disciplined more harshly than Anglo/white children, over 70 percent of underage students who get arrested and/or referred to police are black or Hispanic.
  • Blacks make up just 14 percent  of “regular” drug users but comprise 37 percent of people who get arrested for drug offenses.

Simmons goes on to lay the blame on corporations, deregulation, and Citizens’ United:

“It goes back, Larry, a big part of it, to corporate control of our government.”

And this isn’t nearly as crazy as it sounds. Imara Jones, the journalist and economist, explains in ColorLines that America’s corporations and Wall Street’s financiers have historically enjoyed an extremely lucrative relationship with “the peculiar institution.”

Slavery laid the foundation for the modern international economic system […] Many firms on Wall Street made fortunes from funding the slave trade.

Global Research reports that corporations even use our nation’s two million prisoners for cheap labor and pay them as little as 25 cents per hour.

For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

You’ll be amazed at how many of the things we buy — as consumers and through our tax dollars — come from for-profit prison camps.

The federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

No wonder corporations and their bought-and-paid-for conservative lawmakers vehemently oppose unions, taxes, welfare, and a living wage, while supporting global sweat shops globalization, the war on drugs and for-profit prisons. They lost their slaves after the civil war and have been looking for new sources of cheap slave labor ever since.

Corporations don’t really care what color skin their slaves have, but people of color still make convenient targets; it’s so easy to make their angry and downwardly mobile white neighbors and coworkers turn against them.

What better way to disenfranchise people of color than a phony war on drugs that unrealistically criminalizes recreational drug use? Plus, all those drug arrests conveniently fill up all those privatized for-profit prisons.

Simmons and King discuss the war on drugs.

Watch the video with Russell Simmons and Larry King discussing how the war on drugs is creating the new slavery.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
William Faulkner, “Requiem for a Nun.”

Transcript of Simmons’ and King’s war on drugs interview.

Here is the full transcript of Russell Simmons’ and Larry King’s chat on the war on drugs and slavery.

King: You compare the war on drugs to slavery. How do you explain that?

Simmons: Look, when I fought the Rockefeller drug laws — and we had all the rappers come out, everybody came, every rapper you could ever think of showed up , Hillary Clinton came (she was then Senator), Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, all the progressives, but really all the rappers, hundreds of thousands of kids — we were fighting to change the Rockefeller drug laws. At that time, and we did make a change, and then another change later, at that time, 94.5 percent who were incarcerated under the Rockefeller drug laws were people of color.

And the thing [is] that people of color use and sell drugs at the same rate as whites.

So for various reasons, it turned out that only people of color were incarcerated under that law. So not only was it not effective, you take these people out of the ‘hood for being diseased, you educate them in criminal behavior, you dump them back in the community without a chance for employment, you do it so much so that jail culture becomes the culture of the community.

And that sad reality has torn the fabric of the black community down.

King: To create a criminal.

Simmons: To create a criminal community, even.

King: Dr. Karl Menninger — the late, great psychiatrist — said the greatest failure, systematically, in America, is prison. Prison is a failure. Why don’t we think in new ways? New ways to treat things?

Simmons: [Sighs] It goes back, Larry, a big part of it, to corporate control of our government. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I want to make it crystal clear.

I slept in the park. I “occupied.” I think that if you can legally bribe a politician, that points to a very flawed democracy. And our democracy is deeply flawed, because of the fact that we can buy our politicians.

That’s our reality.


Featured photo: Video screen grab via Atlanta Black Star.