Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Detainees Rights

During one of my free periods, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my classmates. She takes AP United States History instead of Modern Unites States history, so I gave her some context about Guantanamo and the government's treatment of detainees. Her take on this issue I found was similar to my own. She said that although the government had the final decision, she believed that people are people no matter if they are US Citizens or not. She also said that once you see someone suffering, or their distress levels go up then it's considered abuse. My classmate said that the government should uphold the dignity of the individual because that is something that has been so important to this country for a long time. I believe the same principals that all the prisoners of war should be treated the same way U.S. Citizens are. I think detainees should be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention was an agreement signed by many nations stating that no prisoners of war could be tortured. We as a nation should emulate how we would want other countries to treat us. We want to keep our soldiers and citizens safe, so why would we let ourselves break this agreement? It’s almost allowing other countries to do the same. However I also understand that the government can not always do what is best, and when in a moment of extreme fear, balancing civil liberties and the safety of the country may not seem possible. If I had been in a similar situation, with national security being risked, I do not know what I would do. As I stated earlier, I would want to hold prisoners of war under the terms that are defined in the Geneva Convention. But I know that it may not be ideal for national security, if one of the prisoners was possibly withholding information that could have a large impact on the safety of the country. Then comes the question, how do we uphold the rights of these prisoners? Should they be considered citizens or treated like they had already committed a crime?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Japanese Interment Camps

In 1942 the United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed the military to control the freedoms of Japanese and Japanese-American citizens. This included making curfews, restrictions on where they were permitted and moving Japanese/Japanese American  citizens to where deemed necessary.  This turned into internment camps, where both Japanese and Japanese American citizens were held during World War II. This was, in the eyes of the government, a way to ensure safety for Americans and to prevent sabotage or espionage. While this was an order the government passed thinking that this was a way to ensure safety, I believe that this failed to balance with the rights of all Americans. Those who were turned into the internment camps were stripped of many, if not all, of their constitutional rights. This also to me seemed like a waste of resources. Why spend a large sum of money on these interment camps during war time, especially when the possibility of a detained person being part of espionage or sabotage was so low.

I believe that this was also a moment of racial prejudice in American history. While Japanese and Japanese American citizens were forced into internment camps, no citizens from the other countries involved in World War II where required to do the same. There was also no screening process that possibly ruled a person out of being a possible spy. This goes further in how it did not pertain to travel, there is a possibility that someone with no Japanese heritage could have been a part of espionage, which is why it would have made more sense if the enrollment into the internment camps had a correlation to travel or communication with Japan, but the enrollment was purely based on race.  However, I still believe that the use of Japanese internment was not the way to address a possible national security problem.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Post Civil Rights Caste System

Looking back at the treatment of people of color before the civil rights movement, most people would respond that they could have never lived treating people like that. However as explained by Michelle Alexander, we are still living in the time where in our society we still reproduce systems of racial caste. During the height of the civil rights movement those who had power, the white elite, started to feel the loss of their power as poor blacks and whites started to unify. These elites dampened the progress that had been made by inserting racial caste in different ways, for example, “allowing lower courts to accept ‘silly’ and even ‘superstitious’ reasons for striking black jurors.” (2) Not only were people of color more likely to be removed from a jury, but once the War on Drugs expanded the amount of people of color labeled ‘felons’ grew, which removed their right to vote. The racial caste system became more forceful as the war on drug gave different sentences  on different styles of the same drug, as explained in one of my earlier blogs. This coupled with portrayal in the media, causes a implicit bias in people, which causes for unequal amount of arrests of people of color. Even if someone is just arrested, they still live with the label of ‘felon’, which extremely lowers their chance of getting a job, affordable housing, or welfare. The label of ‘felon’ came into use after the civil rights movement because it was another way to legally discriminate against people of color and to divide people of the same economic class by race.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017


In an excerpt from her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander expresses how the age of colorblindness shows how people aren't explicitly racial profiling people; however, police officers are engaging in ways that are “the justification for implicit double speak -- 'we do not racial-profile; we just stop people based on race’” (Alexander, 8). Police officers are now using the War on Drugs to act as a way to enforce “colorblind” laws, however, that is far from the truth.  There was harsher sentencing for different forums of the same drug, powder cocaine and crack. People of color were more frequently charged with crack, and therefore usually received a longer sentence even though it is the same drug. This then goes deeper, police are often in certain impoverished neighborhoods, because they have a higher crime rate however, “Subjecting people to stops and and searches because they live in ‘high crime’ ghettos cannot be said to be truly race-neutral, given that the ghetto itself was constructed to contain and control groups of people defined by race.” (Alexander, 8) Alexander states that police are seizing  people on stands that aren't explicitly race but more of a “colorblind” system, suspecting and searching people who fit into certain stereotypes. I asked my mom on her opinion on the topic, and she mentioned how true colorblindness doesn’t exist. She mentioned how people try to be; yet they might use race as a description when it is a person of color, but wouldn’t if the person was white.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Law & Order

In the late 1950s, the rhetoric of “Law and Order” first came into play as the Southern government officials' response to the Civil Rights Movement, to encourage white opposition to the movement. What gave this idea support was that, in the 1950s to the 1960s there was a rise in crime, this was due to the fact that the “Baby Boom” generation was in their mid-teens to mid twenties, the age that if a man was going to commit a crime in their lifetime, they would do so at this age. Southern government officials in support of “Law and Order” stated that the protests of the Civil Rights movements was the cause of the rising of the crime rate of the time. The 1964 riots in Rochester and Harlem, actually caused by police brutality, led many, including black civil rights activists, to support the idea there needed to be a “crack down on impoverished black communities” (Alexander, 2) in order to lower the crime rate. This led to a new racial bribe, where low and lower middle class whites were now against blacks who were of the same class initially. This further lead the a decrease in size of the Democratic party; now the party lost the lower middle class whites who were against integration, which led to Republican politicians saying that there was now a “'New Majority' to be created from the Republican Party, one that included the traditional Republican base, the white South, and half the Catholic, blue-collar vote of the big cities” (Alexander, 2).  Although the Democratic Party had lost its large population, now all of the members had a unifying belief of integration.

Racial Bribe

Race has always been a large influence in America, this is partly because the idea of race was conceived largely by European imperialists. This idea continued to slavery, however; what many don’t know is that many poor whites at this time received only slightly better treatment, Nathaniel Bacon utilized this to unite poor whites, indentured servants and slaves. In fear of more alliances forming, slave owners now only bought slaves from Africa knowing that they did not speak english and therefore could not communicate with the impoverished whites. Even with this the slaves owners still feared an alliance, therefore to instill a larger divide between the poor whites and slaves, poor whites were given better treatment than slaves. This is now known as racial bribe. Racial bribe is  placing a wedge between two groups of people so that they will not unite, or will do the opposite. Racial bribe further went to instigate tension between poor whites and slaves. This lead to instigating prejudice towards races that the classes of slave owning white men believed as well. Race in America now carried more of a meaning, now there were prejudices, socially placed tensions between groups of people and, people placed the same negative connotations between different races such as Native American and African-American. Another way racial bribe fed things like white supremacy, was because when slavery was abolished in the United States, poor whites and wealthy landowners in the south were both displaced because there was a sudden worker shortage. This further instilled the prejudices against black people in America enacting laws that could imprison someone for not having a job. These instances were some examples of how white men at this time tried to keep what they believed to be the ideas of democracy which included freedom, liberty and justice for all; however they did not apply them to anyone else.

The Rise and Fall of Segregation

To many of us Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement all signify a specific period in time.  However for all of these topics is it easy to see how the legislation put in place by these movements still have an effect on the society we live in today. The Reconstruction era began amidst the civil war with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and ended when troops were taken out of southern states. During reconstruction many white southerners wanted the same use of power over black people at this time so they secured it in a different way, ¨The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had abolished slavery but allowed one major exception: slavery remained appropriate as a punishment for a crime¨ (Alexander, 1). However, as we saw in the documentary The 13th, this is still true in our prison systems prisons often send their inmates to do manual labor for large companies without pay. Jim Crow is similar in the sense that it is believed to have began with segregation laws and to have ended with the removal of those laws with Brown v. The Board of Education. Jim Crow however is still very much apparent in our own society, and did not begin with the placement of segregation laws. Jim Crow was a way to keep reconstruction legislation active in the government. “Proponents of racial hierarchy found they could install a new racial system without violating the law or new limits of acceptable political discourse, by demanding ‘law and order’ rather than ‘segregation forever’” (Alexander, 5). The Civil Rights movement is known for the political reform, making school and public facilities integrated. It is widely considered to have started with Brown v. The Board of Education, and not explicitly ending. This is true, the Civil Rights movement never stopped, it simply changed form. This is what Alexander addresses, that these movements and legislation did not end but, were recreated and remade into more versions that implied a sense of organization in the state rather than segregation.