Dear Mr President,I note that in a speech yesterday you said:
There are very few African-American men in this country who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me.
You really need to get over it. Being followed in a department store is not something limited to African-American men. When I was a young child, perhaps 11 or 12 years old, I would head into the local Kresge’s with a bunch of friends, all of us white. We weren’t up to no good. But, it wouldn’t be long before we would be noticed by the store security, who would then follow us around the store.I have no doubt that there may be instances where blacks are more targeted by surveillance than whites, but I tell you, from what I am reading, none of this type surveillance comes anywhere near the surveillance that is being conducted on all of us, black and white, by the United States government. There isn’t a case of private sector surveillance that comes anywhere close to the data collection and storage done by the NSA. Unlike surveillance by in-house security at a department store that stops the minute we walk out of the store, your NSA snooping can not be evaded when we are even in our homes. You have the telephone numbers of every cell phone call we make from our homes and of all incoming calls to us. It appears you also monitor our emails that we write and send from our home computers. So if you really have a problem with surveillance, and you are as color blind as you say you are, why don’t you shut down the government apparatus that is snooping on hundreds of millions of Americans?In the speech, you then have the gall to say:
The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.
Yet, your Department of Justice will have nothing to do with drug legalization, even in the face of states that want to decriminalize drug laws (at least marijuana laws). A DOJ/DEA document states:
The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all states and that this guidance does not “legalize” marijuana or provide for legal defense to a violation of federal law.
So if you really are concerned about the racial disparities in the application of criminal drug laws, why don’t you call the DOJ/DEA off drug arrests, especially for the drugs and in the cases where states have made certain drugs legal?It is perhaps time, you look in the mirror, Mr. President. You speak as though you are concerned about surveillance, but run the largest surveillance operation in the history of the world. You speak as though you are concerned about the disparities in drug busts and sentences that occur in the country, yet, via the DEA, you run the largest drug busting organization in the country.Trayvon Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel, told CNN’s Piers Morgan that cracka to her meant “ a person who act like they’re a police.” It sure seems you fit that definition, way beyond George Zimmerman. If Trayvon knew the surveillance you were conducting and the drug busting you were doing, he, for sure, according to Jeantel’s definition, would consider you one major league creepy ass cracka.
Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.